Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP voiced support of Israel in Foreign Office Questions this week, stating “nobody should underestimate the very real security threat facing Israel”, and underlining that the UK Government is “firmly on the side of the Israelis as they face that threat”.
The Foreign Secretary made the statement in response to a question from CFI Vice-Chairman John Howell OBE MP, who raised concern about Hamas’s full restoration of its rockets arsenal and highlighted that settlements are not the sole issue in the conflict. Mr Howell asked: “Were the representations on settlements set in the context of Hamas fully restoring its military strength to levels before 2014—an illustration that peace does not entirely depend on this one issue?”
Foreign Secretary Johnson replied stating: “We are aware of the preparations being made by Hamas in Gaza and we remain very concerned about the situation.
He continued: “It underscores the reality that while Israel is of course at fault for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank—we have made that absolutely clear—on the other hand nobody should underestimate the very real security threat facing Israel. We are firmly on the side of the Israelis as they face that threat”.
A number of Conservative MPs asked questions regarding Israel, including raising concern about the activities of Hamas and other terror groups, and calling for stronger ties in technology between the UK and Israel.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP highlighted the long-agreed peace framework by Israelis and Palestinians to include negotiated land swaps in his question.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary, Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP, raised concern about the activities of Hamas and Islamic State in the Sinai, asking: “Alongside concerns about the rearmament of Hamas and the rebuilding of its network of cross-border terror tunnels, does my right hon. Friend share the growing alarm at the new activities of Daesh in the Sinai desert, which, together with the activities of Hamas, point to the prospect of further violence in the region and a new wave of terror attacks on innocent Israeli citizens?”
In response to a question from Labour MP David Winnick who accused Israel of “at no stage over the years” supporting a Palestinian state, Foreign Secretary Johnson said: “Every Israeli Prime Minister in the last 20 years has supported a two-state solution, and that is the right way forward”.
Mr Johnson underlined that he “completely rejects” boycotts of Israel, in response to a Labour MP’s suggestion that trade ties with Israel should be revisited.
Nadhim Zahawi MP highlighted the closer security ties between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council, and asked the Foreign Secretary about the GCC’s role in the peace process: “The Israeli Prime Minister has recently spoken about coming together with the Gulf Co-operation Council on security issues. Countries such as Jordan and Egypt have played a significant role in previous peace processes. Does the Foreign Secretary think that the GCC has a significant role to play in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?”
The Foreign Secretary replied stating: “I do think that the GCC and the Arab countries more generally hold the key, and that a variant of what used to be called the Arab peace plan is indeed where we will end up. What it will take now is for both sides to see that, and to make progress”.
MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, Chris Davies, asked the Foreign Secretary: “We all look forward to the day when a sovereign Palestinian state exists alongside a safe and secure Israel. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that can be achieved only through face-to-face negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis?”
Foreign Secretary Johnson agreed and added: “those negotiations should take place as fast as possible and without preconditions”.
Stephen Hammond MP praised Israel as a “high tech beacon” and called on a strengthening of UK-Israel ties, asking: “Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there are no barriers to the UK joining future collaborative ventures, and that the UK intends to pursue those collaborative ventures with high-tech beacons around the world, including Hong Kong and Israel?”
Click here to read the exchanges in full.