Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hailed the “miracle of Israel” and stated that the creation of the country is “one of the greatest political triumphs of the 20th century”, in a cross-party Board of Deputies (BOD) parliamentary reception to mark the Balfour Declaration centenary on Monday.
The BOD cross-party reception was held in partnership with All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group and in association with Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel. It was attended by more than 150 parliamentarians, diplomats, senior civil servants, and Jewish community leaders.
Among Conservative parliamentarians in attendance were Minister for the Middle East Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP, International Development Minister Rory Stewart OBE MP, former Conservative Party leader Rt. Hon. Lord Howard, CFI Vice-Chairmen Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP and Rt. Hon. John Howell MP and Andrew Percy MP, CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE, and CFI Officers Bob Blackman MP, Will Quince MP, and Paul Scully MP.
During his speech, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the creation of Israel is “an amazing achievement by humanity”. He underlined: “The Balfour Declaration, whatever its defects, whatever its unfulfilled nature, paved the way for one of the greatest political triumphs of the 20th century, the creation of the State of Israel, which, after all, is a democracy, a liberal society, a beacon of hope and which shares the values in which I passionately believe. This is an amazing achievement by humanity”.
The Foreign Secretary said: “Speaking as an ex-kibbutznik, who spent most of his time doing the washing up, I recognise the magic, the genius, and miracle of Israel. And that is why we should mark Balfour with pride and with respect”.
Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Mark Regev addressed the audience, stating that “in the vast Middle East, there is only one country whose Arab citizens have consistently enjoyed the privileges of living in a democracy, and that is in the State of Israel”.
CFI Vice-Chairman Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP emphasised in her speech that: “We were the first major power in the world to put the case for self-determination for the Jewish people – a revival of the State of Israel”.
She added that the anniversary was a “brilliant opportunity to celebrate the huge achievements of the State of Israel in its 69 year history, and of course the strength of the Britain-Israel relationship”.
LFI Parliamentary Chairman, Joan Ryan MP, LDFI Vice-Chairman Baron Monroe Palmer OBE, and BOD President Jonathan Arkush also gave speeches at the event.