Despite the challenging circumstances, CFI has continued to ensure that Israel’s case is still heard by parliamentarians, and that you, our supporters, are up to date on all things Israel. Throughout, Conservative parliamentarians in both houses continued to raise important issues, including Iran’s nuclear programme, Palestinian incitement in textbooks, peace talks and UK-Israel cooperation in the fight against Covid-19.
Over 100 Conservative MPs and Lords have spoken in support of Israel and in condemnation of antisemitism and Iran’s regional aggression in the Houses of Parliament this year, in more than 440 oral and written contributions. CFI was joined by as many as 125 Conservative parliamentarians at our events this year, both online and in person before lockdown.
CFI is delighted to release our new video showcasing our work in 2020 – a must-watch.
The political drama in Israel has also continued. At the time of writing this, the country has called its fourth election in the space of two years, as the Netanyahu-Gantz unity government collapsed on Tuesday evening after just seven months.
2020 has been a year that can be remembered too as one marking a new era for the Middle East; one of peace and prosperity. The normalisation of diplomatic ties between Israel and four Arab countries, and particularly the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, is certainly news to celebrate.
We’d like to reiterate how deeply grateful we are to all of our supporters for your continued backing, which is so invaluable to our work.
We look forward to better times ahead and meeting you all in person again.
January – March
Following the excitement of a landmark election victory for Boris Johnson and the decisive rejection of Corbynism in December, 2020 started on a high for CFI with exciting events in Parliament. After holding our biggest Annual Parliamentary Reception yet in January we were delighted in February to be joined by 40 of the newly elected Conservative MPs for a special lunch with Israel’s Ambassador.
It has been a pleasure getting to know so many of the new intake MPs; many from seats that have turned blue for the first time. Ahead of the election we were joined in Israel by as many as ten Conservative parliamentary candidates from target seats who now sit on the green benches, and the waiting list grows by the week for new MPs wishing to visit Israel when it is safe to travel again.
In February, CFI coordinated a delegation to Israel and the West Bank with seven Conservative parliamentarians, many of whom were visiting for the first time. The itinerary featured a series of high-level meetings with Israeli politicians, journalists, entrepreneurs and academics, as well as strategic briefings and visits to organisations that promote peaceful coexistence.
The following month, over 50 Conservative MPs and CFI supporters attended a panel event hosted by CFI in Parliament to mark International Women’s Day. On the panel were Deputy Ambassador of Israel, Sharon Bar-Li, Women2Win co-founder Baroness Jenkin, CFI Officer Mary Robinson MP, and Nicola Richards MP. The event was chaired by CFI deputy Chair Hilda Worth.
In Parliament, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Jonathan Gullis, led his first Westminster Hall debate on the subject of radicalisation within the Palestinian school curriculum, with 20 Conservative MPs in attendance.
April – June
As the pandemic affected life in the UK and around the world, we hosted dozens of Conservative parliamentarians for virtual briefing events throughout lockdown, including a memorable event with outgoing Ambassador of Israel Mark Regev in June, where Conservative parliamentarians paid tribute to his four years in London.
Conservative parliamentarians joined us for online sessions on issues as wide-ranging as Israel’s political situation, Israel’s response to the pandemic, as well as a briefing with the IDF about the security threats facing the Jewish State. Among speakers we hosted webinars with included Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, International Spokesperson of the IDF Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Magen David Adom’s Uriel Goldberg, infectious diseases expert Professor Allon Moses, and former Israeli Government Spokesperson Col. (Ret.) Miri Eisin. Many of our webinars are available to watch via the Events section of our website.
In April, we joined together remotely with our parliamentary friends to celebrate the 70th anniversary of UK-Israel relations. The occasion provided a timely opportunity to reflect how far the relationship has come and the exciting opportunities on the horizon following the UK’s departure from the European Union. From record trade and tourism to science and security cooperation, the UK-Israel relationship has never been better and in Boris Johnson Israel has a deeply committed and outstanding friend.
July – September
Throughout the summer months, CFI continued to spearhead campaigns and host virtual briefings for Conservative parliamentarians with key speakers.
In August, we welcomed the announcement of Israel and the UAE’s normalisation of ties as “a monumental moment for the Middle East”, adding that “the UK is well-placed to help expand these relations with our unique connections in the region”. Since the announcement, over 50,000 Israelis have visited the UAE, and Israel has normalised relations with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
In the same month, CFI Parliamentary Chairmen Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles, and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE, have urged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to support an extension to the UN arms embargo on Iran, describing the UK’s decision to abstain on a recent UN Security Council Resolution to extend the embargo as “deeply regrettable”.
At the end of the summer, CFI published its first ever digital edition of Informed Magazine. In his letter to Informed readers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrated the UK-Israel relationship, emphasising: “I have always been proud to be considered a friend of Israel”. He underlined that the Government’s “commitment to Israel’s security will be unshakable while I am Prime Minister”. The magazine features articles by a number of Conservatives, including Candidate for Mayor of London, Shaun Bailey AM, and CFI Vice-Chairman Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP. It also includes an interview with Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, as well as a feature spotlighting new Conservative MPs.
October – December
In October, we were delighted to unveil our new group of Parliamentary Officers, who will work closely with CFI Parliamentary Chairmen, Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP (Commons) and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles (Lords). This leading group of parliamentarians come from all corners of Britain and both Houses, and will work to further strengthen the record-breaking UK-Israel relationship.
CFI has had a busy schedule of online webinars throughout the last part of the year, as well as parliamentary debates. We hosted online events for parliamentarians with speakers that included Times of Israel founding editor David Horowitz, and Professor Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central. A week before the US election in November, CFI hosted a special election briefing with renowned American political commentator and pollster, Frank Luntz, which was attended by 30 Conservative MPs and peers.
In October, more than 80 Conservative parliamentarians wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson with concerns over the expiration of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran and expressing “regret” at the UK Government’s failure to support efforts to extend it, in a letter coordinated by CFI. The parliamentarians, including Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the Defence Select Committee and a series of former Cabinet members, sought assurances on UK Government policy towards Iran. In a Westminster Hall debate in December led by CFI Vice-Chairman John Howell OBE MP, 11 Conservative MPs urged for the UK to introduce a tougher policy on Iran, including proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In December, numerous Conservative parliamentarians took part in the first ever virtual UK-Australia-Israel️ Leadership Dialogue, including Rt. Hon. Liam Fox MP, Chair of the Defence Select Committee Rt. Hon. Tobias Ellwood MP, Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, and CFI’s own Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles.
We ended the year on a high by welcoming the new Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Tzipi Hotovely, in a special Zoom meeting which was attended by over 80 Conservative MPs, peers and supporters.