Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reaffirmed the UK’s resolute support for Israel at Conservative Friends of Israel’s Annual Business Lunch on Monday. The event was attended by more than 650 people, including 200 Conservative Parliamentarians, 20 Cabinet members and four former UK Prime Ministers.
Also in attendance were several hostage families, including Orly and Ran Gilboa, parents of 19 year-old Daniella Gilboa, who is still being held captive by Hamas. They met privately with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron at the lunch.
Prime Minister Sunak spoke of Hamas’ 7th October massacre as “an attack on the very idea of Israel. It was an assault on the idea that there should be a homeland in which Jews are safe”. He asserted: “Hamas must be defeated… Let me be clear, there will be no meaningful peace with Hamas – with its genocidal intent – in charge of Gaza”.
Addressing South Africa’s controversial ‘genocide’ case at the International Court of Justice, the Prime Minister said that this his “Government has condemned the completely unjustified case… There is a horrific irony in Israel, of all countries, being accused of genocide”.
The Prime Minister condemned Iran as being at the “heart of [the] nexus…of malign actors who seek to destabilise the Middle East”. He stressed that Iran “should never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons”.
“The brutal, barbaric and indiscriminate attack was redolent of the worst moments of history”, the Prime Minister said. “Anyone—or any organisation—that cannot unequivocally condemn the evil that Hamas did that day has no conscience, no morality, no decency and deserves no respect”, he added.
“Hamas would do it [7th October] all over again. That is why Hamas must be defeated”, declared Prime Minister Sunak.
“We must never forget that it is Hamas who bear the moral responsibility for what has happened”.
“Under my leadership, this country will always stand by the right of our friend and ally Israel to defend itself”, the Prime Minister professed.
The Prime Minister noted that Iran -who have funded and trained terrorist factions in the region including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – “does not want a new Middle East. One infused with the spirit of the Abraham Accords where Israel and its neighbours, including the Palestinians, live in peace in an increasingly prosperous neighbourhood”.
He underscored that “Hamas were trying to destroy the prospect of a new Middle East, one where Israel and its neighbours live in peace and prosperity”, vowing “we will not let them succeed in that aim”.
“Let me be clear, there will be no meaningful peace with Hamas—with its genocidal intent—in charge of Gaza. That is why one of our conditions for a sustainable ceasefire, alongside the release of the hostages, is that Hamas cannot remain in charge of Gaza. This is essential for the restoration of Israel’s security and the future of the people of Gaza”.
Speaking of the hostages, the Prime Minister noted that “today, we must remember there are still hostages being held at gunpoint in the tunnels under Gaza. To the families of the hostages here today, you are in all our thoughts and prayers and I can assure you that this government will continue to do everything we can to secure their urgent release. Let us say with one voice, BRING THEM HOME”.
The Prime Minister highlighted that “since October 7th, we have seen something else that echoes further afield – an appalling rise in antisemitism”.
A painful reminder—if one were needed—that anti-Zionism all too often morphs into antisemitism. It is sadly the case, that when Israel responds to terrorism to some people it automatically becomes the aggressor”.
“Those people who rip down posters of hostages reveal themselves to have no humanity. Those who chant “from the river to the sea” are either useful idiots who do not understand what they are saying or, worse, people who wish to wipe the Jewish state from the map”.
“We will have zero tolerance for those who promote or glorify terrorism or peddle antisemitism on our streets” the Prime Minister declared. “That is why we have banned Hizb-Ut Tahrir. Let me be clear, Jews in Britain should never have to hide their identity. That is completely unacceptable”, he added.
On BDS, the Prime Minister said that the Government “are legislating to end publicly funded bodies adopting BDS policies. We have passed it through the House of Commons – in the face of opposition from our political opponents – and it will commence its passage through the Lords imminently. In this party, we won’t let tin pot, town hall Jeremy Corbyn’s run their own anti-Israel, foreign policy”.
The Prime Minister praised CFI, describing our organisation as “an integral part of our party and you should be proud of the role you have played in bringing our two great nations closer together than ever before”.
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog sent a special video message thanking Prime Minister Sunak, the Conservative Party and CFI for their “indispensable” support and “moral clarity”. He said: “I have seen how your strong and unified voice for Israel has run clearly. I have seen it cut through the dishonesty, cowardice, intimidation and hypocrisy of so many corners of the world”.
Former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak was in attendance.
The event was also addressed by Ambassador of Israel H.E. Tzipi Hotovely.
She thanked attendees for their “incredible support they have given the people of Israel since Hamas launched their barbaric attack on the 7th of October”.
She thanked the Prime Minister for being one of the first world leaders to visit Israel after the attack, and for his support whilst “Israel faces one of the most dangerous threats to our existence in recent history”. The Ambassador also thanked him for “call[ing] out Hamas for what they are. Terrorists”.
The Ambassador paid tribute to the hostages and the “pain their families are going through”.
“The stability of our region”, she said, relies on “the removal of the threat of Hamas”. “Indeed, the safety and security of everyone here in the UK, in Israel, and around the world, depends on it. It also means standing up to the threat of Iran”.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Lords) Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles, also spoke.
He noted that the Lunch was “a different occasion to the one we normally have, because after the 7th of October, the world changed”.
Discussing Hamas’ terror tunnel network, and its misuse of aid, The Lord Pickles said that “we look forward to better times, with neighbours in the Middle East and beyond. To ensure together, we can work for democracy, for the rule of law, and above all, the firm survival of Israel”.
CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE thanked the Prime Minister for “banning Hizb ut-Tahrir”. He called for the proscription of the IRGC “who are in control of all of this”.
CFI Chair, Hilda Worth, led proceedings.
She underscored that “there has never been a more important time to be a friend of Israel. As we all reflect on the tragic and barbaric events in Israel on the 7th of October. The horrific loss of innocent lives everywhere, and remembering the hostages”.
Hilda noted that the hostages “are living a nightmare. A nightmare we cannot even begin to understand”.
Thanking the Government, Hilda exclaimed that “during these unprecedented times, we have been reassured to see, at every level of the Conservative Party, the UK standing with Israel”. “The Prime Minister has led our Government in standing with Israel”, she added.