Israel’s leaders on Friday congratulated British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his landslide victory in the country’s elections, with some of the reactions feting the result as a “glorious defeat” for his rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has long been accused of anti-Semitism.
Johnson’s Conservative Party on Friday won a majority of seats in Britain’s Parliament — a decisive outcome to a Brexit-dominated election that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the UK out of the European Union next month. The party took the 326 seats needed and looked set to win in a landslide.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the Conservative Party’s victory in the election was a “great day” for the British people and for the relationship between the UK and Israel.
“Congratulations my friend Boris Johnson on your historic victory. This is a great day for the people of Great Britain and for the friendship between us,” the prime minister posted, with a photo of the two leaders shaking hands in London.
Congratulations my friend @BorisJohnson on your historic victory.
This is a great day for the people of Great Britain and for the friendship between us. ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/UukrDHqCc4
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 13, 2019
Corbyn, who has been leader of the opposition since 2015, has been engulfed in various anti-Semitism scandals and is known to be very critical of Israel. He previously vowed that if elected, he would immediately recognize a Palestinian state and halt arms deals with Israel.
President Reuven Rivlin said he was confident bilateral relations would strengthen as a result of Johnson’s victory.
“Congratulations to my friend Boris Johnson!,” Rivlin said in a statement.
“On behalf of the Israeli people, and personally, I wish you great success as you continue to serve as prime minister of the United Kingdom,” he added. “I am confident that under your leadership the important relationship between the two countries will continue to strengthen and that together we will be able to face the challenges of our times on every front.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said the outcome was a loss for “anti-Semite” Corbyn and for those who hate Israel.
“A huge victory for Israel’s friend Boris Johnson in the UK. A glorious defeat for his anti-Semitic rival Corbyn and haters of Israel. This is very important to the State of Israel. I congratulate Mr. Johnson and I am sure he will continue to succeed,” Edelstein tweeted.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz congratulated Johnson and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the Conservative Party’s victory.
“Congratulations to PM Boris Johnson & and my colleague Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on their historic electoral victory. Looking forward to working together to strengthening even further the Israel/UK partnership,” he wrote.
Raab held onto his seat despite a Liberal Democrat surge in his constituency due to what was thought to be tactical voting. The UK’s top diplomat has a Jewish father and reportedly spent the summer of 1998 at a university near Ramallah and worked with former Palestinian negotiators of the Oslo peace process.
Katz’s deputy, Tzipi Hotovely, added her congratulations to Johnson.
“I congratulate Boris Johnson on the big victory in the election. Johnson is a great friend of the State of Israel. The close relationship and great cooperation on economic and security matters will continue to strengthen,” Hotovely tweeted.
Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid called the result a “defeat for anti-Semitism.”
“I congratulate my friend Boris Johnson on his election victory. His victory is a defeat for anti-Semitism. I’m sure that under his leadership we can strengthen and deepen the relations between Israel and Great Britain. Congratulations Boris and good luck,” he said.
I congratulate my friend @BorisJohnson on his election victory.
His victory is a defeat for antisemitism. I’m sure that under his leadership we can strengthen and deepen the relations between Israel and Great Britain. Congratulations Boris and good luck! pic.twitter.com/IYRJONUas9
— יאיר לפיד Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) December 13, 2019
Lapid on Monday called UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a racist and anti-Semite.
“The experts on anti-Semitism are Jews. We can tell an anti-Semite when we see one,” said Lapid, who is the centrist Blue and White list’s designated candidate for foreign minister.
Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog praised Johnson’s fight against anti-Semitism.
“Big Mazal Tov and congrats to Boris Johnson on this remarkable victory! His determination to fight anti-Semitism, as displayed in his recent letter to me and by his actions, is a source of hope for UK’s citizens and friends, Jews and non-Jews. Best of luck Mr. Prime Minister,” Herzog tweeted.
Earlier this year, Herzog wrote to European leaders about his concerns over the rise of anti-Semitism in the wake of the Halle synagogue attack in Germany.
Likud MK Nir Barkat, a former Jerusalem mayor, praised Johnson for seemingly defeating “the anti-Semitic Corbyn.”
Results poured in early Friday showing a substantial shift in support to the Conservatives from Labour, after an exit poll predicted the Conservatives would get 368 of the 650 House of Commons seats to Labour’s 191. In the last election in 2017, the Conservatives won 318 seats and Labour 262.
It would be the biggest Tory majority since Thatcher’s 1980s’ heyday, and Labour’s lowest number of seats since 1935.