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UK has never had a more pro-Israel gov’t, member of House of Lords says

June 1, 2023 at 3:14 pm

Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak (L), greets Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Downing Street on March 24, 2023 in London, England [Carl Court/Getty Images]

A high-profile British delegation from the House of Lords touched down in Israel on Sunday for a four-day fact-finding mission, in an effort to strengthen the increasingly close relations, reported the Times of Israel.

The 20-member delegation, organised and facilitated by the European Leadership Network and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Britain-Israel, includes former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard and Labour politician David Watts.

During the visit, they visited the Al-Buraq Wall (known in Israel as the Western Wall) of the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. They then proceeded to the Knesset, where they met with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and other lawmakers.

Moreover, Eric Pickles, the United Kingdom’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from Tel Aviv that the delegation took the opportunity in meetings with Israeli officials to address concerns regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contested plans to tighten controls on the Supreme Court.

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Issues were also raised about security concerns in the occupied West Bank. There has been an increase in the number of Israeli raids across the occupied West Bank this year, particularly in Nablus and Jenin, coupled with violence carried out by illegal settlers who have, at times, even turned against Israeli forces.

“Most of the discussions we had had with the Israelis have been less on the philosophical and more on the practical,” Pickles said.

“We have moved on from just seeing Israel as a good ally in the battle against terrorism to a partner in innovation. We have moved on from a position of being polite and interested to one in which our economies are increasingly integrated,” he added.

The delegation also visited the Kerem Shalom (Erez) crossing yesterday, Gaza’s only functioning commercial terminal between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel had closed three commercial terminals with the Gaza Strip since 2006 amid a years-long blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

The delegation’s visit to Israel comes after Netanyahu’s visit to the UK in March, during which hundreds of people gathered in protest outside Downing Street in London, as he met his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak.

“I doubt that we have had a situation where there is a more pro-Israel government in power,” said Pickles, after which he expressed hope that King Charles would be making a visit to Israel next. “It would be a wonderful thing for him to come,” added Pickles.

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