British PM Sunak says he’ll visit Israel next year for its ‘landmark 75th birthday’
Speaking at Conservative Friends of Israel event, UK prime minister vows to ‘fight very hard for the security of the Jewish state,’ vote against UN resolution on ICJ probe
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak plans to visit Israel next year for its “landmark 75th birthday,” he announced on Monday at an annual business lunch hosted in London by the Conservative Friends of Israel
“Next year I will visit Israel on what will be its 75th birthday and landmark year — after so many years of struggle — and also success,” Sunak said at the event, according to a report in the UK Jewish News.
The British prime minister, who took office in October, vowed to “fight very hard for the security of the Jewish state.”
During his address, Sunak also confirmed that the UK will vote against an upcoming UN General Assembly resolution that requests the International Court of Justice weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “occupation, settlement and annexation.” The prime minister said that, along “with our allies,” Britain will vote against the resolution in the plenary.
Sunak met last month with President Isaac Herzog at the COP27 UN climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. At the time, Sunak said that Israel was “one of our closest friends, our closest allies, and there is an enormous amount for us to continue working on together.”
Last month, Sunak congratulated prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on his win in the November 1 national election. The British prime minister, who took office amid political upheaval in the UK after the 44-day tenure of Liz Truss, tweeted that he was looking forward to “working with the returning prime pinister” in areas including trade, security, and technology.
While Truss had floated the idea of the UK relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a spokeswoman for Sunak said last month that there were “no plans” to do so.
Truss’s proposal drew broad criticism, with ambassadors to London from every Arab country reportedly penning a letter urging her not to go ahead with the idea.
In the past, Sunak had expressed support for such a move, telling a Conservative Friends of Israel event in August that Jerusalem was “indisputably the historic capital” of Israel and that there was a “very strong case” for moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
“It’s something I’d like to do,” he said at the time.
But Sunak also acknowledged “sensitivities” over the issue, saying: “If it was that easy, it would have been done by now.”