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2 Feb, 2018 15:48

‘We’ll always be Israel’s friend’ - UK defence secretary vows to stand by ally at London gathering

‘We’ll always be Israel’s friend’ - UK defence secretary vows to stand by ally at London gathering

The UK’s new defence secretary has risked stoking tensions over Britain’s role in the Middle East after he heaped praise on Israel, while omitting to mention Palestinians.

Months after President Trump announced he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively becoming the first nation to recognize the ancient city as the capital of Israel, Gavin Williamson praised the country as a “beacon of hope.”

He added that Britain will “stand up for” Israel, while making no mention of the Palestinian people. “We shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it is to keep that light bright and burning,” Williamson added.

“If we are not there to stand up for a country, whose views and ideals are so close, or are simply our own, what are we as a nation? What are we in politics, if we cannot accept and celebrate the wonderful blooming of democracy that is Israel, but instead always turn to a narrative of spite, envy?”

The UK and Israel, Williamson noted, have “a strong and firm relationship of working together.” “It’s a relationship of partners… It’s a partnership of equals, a partnership of friends,” he said.

Speaking at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s Annual Parliamentary Reception, Williamson — MP for South Staffordshire — hailed Israel as a “beacon of light and hope, in a region where there is so much hatred and hurt.”

He said that the United Kingdom “will always be Israel’s friend.”

The 41-year old, who was propelled into the role of defense secretary from chief whip, was criticized at the time of his appointment for having forced his way in, despite having no real defense experience.

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