British PM hails UK-Israel ties in greeting for Jewish New Year

Theresa May highlights Balfour Declaration centennial, vows to fight BDS and says ‘Britain would not be Britain without its Jews’

Britain's new Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street in central London on July 13, 2016. (AFP/OLI SCARFF)
Britain's new Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street in central London on July 13, 2016. (AFP/OLI SCARFF)

In her first address to the British Jewish community as prime minister, to mark the upcoming Jewish New Year festival, Theresa May praised the relationship between the UK and Israel and reaffirmed the British Government’s long-held position of support for Israel’s right to self-defense.

Writing in the latest edition of the magazine for the Conservative Friends of Israel, a pro-Israel group in her ruling Conservative party, May said that the UK’s relationship with Israel was “as strong as ever.” She heralded the close ties between the two countries, in particular in bilateral trade, scientific research, security cooperation and shared values.

May highlighted the fact that the UK and Israel will soon mark the 100-year anniversary of affirmation by then Conservative foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour of the “UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” — in a document now known as the Balfour Declaration.

In a reflection on her first visit to Israel during her stint as home secretary in 2014, May wrote that she was “reminded of the deadly threats the people of Israel face every day, with the terrible news that the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers had been found.”

Singling out the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups, May said the “dangers that confront Israel remain considerable,” and pledged that the UK “must do everything we can to ensure [Israel’s] citizens feel safe and secure in their own country.”

Addressing Britain’s Jewish community, May said she was determined to “stamp out injustices,” including anti-Semitism in the UK and boycotts of Israeli goods and events. She also expressed her pride in working with British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the cross-party UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation to “deliver our commitment” to a new National Holocaust Memorial and an associated learning center.

“Britain would not be Britain without its Jews,” May wrote, wishing the community “Shanah Tovah” (Happy New Year) and a “happy, healthy and peaceful year ahead.”

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