First openly gay UK ambassador ‘proud’ to be in Israel

David Quarrey presents his diplomatic credentials to President Rivlin, who invites Queen Elizabeth II to visit the region

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin welcomes Britain's new ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, at the President's House, Jerusalem, August 06, 2015. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin welcomes Britain's new ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, at the President's House, Jerusalem, August 06, 2015. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

The first openly gay British ambassador presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin during an official ceremony in Jerusalem last week.

David Quarrey introduced his spouse, Aldo Oliver Henriquez, to Rivlin during the event at the President’s Residence.

Rivlin welcomed the ambassador, who took up his post in July, and told him of his hopes in using Quarrey’s diplomatic experience for confidence-building measures in the region.

“During your term here, we will celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which perhaps marks the beginning of the diplomatic relations between Israel and Britain,” Rivlin told Quarrey referring to the November 1917 document in which the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary at the time, Arthur James Balfour, stated his government’s support for establishing a national homeland for Jews in Palestine.

In a post to his Twitter feed Quarrey spoke of his pride in serving in Israel.

During the official event Quarrey stressed his desire to improve bilateral ties between Israel and the UK “in trade, investment, and in science and technology, which are of great benefit to both countries, and also is the best answer we have to those who call for boycotts of Israel.”

He pointed out that during his four-year term Britain will mark 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare.

“I would also like to see more cultural collaboration between the UK and Israel and I hope to be able to give that a higher profile. Indeed, we are marking 400 years since the death of Shakespeare next year, and we look forward to marking that in Israel.”

“I hope that you will feel at home in Israel and I am very happy to host you here in my home, good luck you to you both,” Rivlin told Henriquez as they shook hands.

Rivlin issued an informal invite for the British monarch to come to Israel.

“I want to also convey my warmest regards to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and extend to her an invitation to visit our region,” he said.

The couple recently celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary in Israel, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Monday.

Quarry was in Israel when an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed several people during the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade on July 30, killing Shira Banki, a 16-year-old high school student.

Together with Henriquez, Quarrey took time to visit the Jerusalem Open House and meet with gay Israeli youths.

The ambassador, who has worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for two decades, previously served as the prime minister’s private secretary and was director for foreign policy at the National Security Secretariat. He has also served overseas at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, in India and in Zimbabwe.

The previous UK ambassador, Matthew Gould, who was the first Jew to occupy the post, served in the position since 2010, was outspoken in his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — which protests Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians — and was active in promoting business and science ties between the countries.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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