Rishi Sunak vows to visit Israel next year for ‘landmark’ 75th birthday

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Rishi Sunak vows to visit Israel next year for ‘landmark’ 75th birthday

The Prime Minister tells a packed Conservative Friends of Israel reception: "I will fight very hard for the security of the Jewish state."

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rishi Sunak speaks to CFI reception
Rishi Sunak speaks to CFI reception

Rishi Sunak has told a packed Conservative Friends of Israel reception he will visit Israel next year for its “landmark 75th birthday.”

Speaking at an event attended by three former prime ministers – Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Theresa May- the Prime Minister said: “Next year I will visit Israel on what will be its 75th birthday and landmark year – after so many years of struggle – and also success.”

Sunak said Israel was now at the forefront of “remarkable achievements” in technology which he said were “something which Israel’s detractors in the BDS movement would do away with.”

Stressing his admiration for Israel he added: “I will fight very hard for the security of the Jewish state.”

“But it has also never been more important. It is a friendship which makes all of our systems healthier.”

The PM also used his speech to confirm that the UK will vote against a forthcoming resolution at that United Nations General Assembly relating to the International Court of Justice along with “our allies.”

The resolution requests an advisory opinion on Israel’s occupation in the West Bank, a move branded “outrageous” by Israel’s ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely in her speech at the lunch.

Sunak also noted how the past year had been “one of the bloodiest” in the Middle East for years, “with an appalling double attack in Jerusalem just last month.”

He observed that Israel faced an “unenviable security challenge.”

The PM also used his speech to offer a tough stance in relation to Iran saying they although Israel remains on the frontline “we must recognise its activities aren’t confined to the Middle East.”

Sunak noted “last year an Iranian diplomat was convicted for a bomb targeting an opposition rally in Paris.”

He noted how the IRGC had also been linked to at least 10 threats to UK based individuals but added “of course Israel finds itself at the “frontline of the threat from Iran’s IRGC impulses.”

The PM said he was “committed to utilising the full range of tools at our disposal to protect UK citizens from the threat of the IRGC and Iran.”

The PM also committed his party to the completion of a free entry Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to parliament.

He also wished all Jewish attendees a Chanukah Sameach

It was a testament to CFI’s continued strength with the Tory Party, that despite the snow and freezing weather, so a high turn out of MPs still managed to attend Monday’s event.

Lord Polak, CFI’s honorary president, offered a personal greeting to many on their arrival.

Israel’s ambassador to the UK also praised the “deep commitment” the PM and all at the CFI event “showed to Israel.”

Also at the lunch were 14 members of the current cabinet, including foreign secretary James Cleverly, and ministers for skills Robert Halfon.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and the chief rabbi of Ukraine also attended the event, held at a central London hotel.

In her speech new CFI chair Hilda Worth praised her predecessor Andrew Heller, saying “you’ve left me with a thriving organisation and big shoes to fill.”

Earlier Lord Pickles delivered a well-received speech in which he urged the 700 strong gathering – including a record 225 MPs and peers- to pay their respects to Lord Young, a message also relayed to guests by the Prime Minister.

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