Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) greets Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Foreign Office in London, February 6, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/POOL)
The top contenders to replace outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced her resignation on Friday, are viewed as pro-Israel friends of the Jews and are likely to continue the strong ties between the Jewish state and Great Britain.
Leading them are Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
When the German parliament approved a motion earlier this month equating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement with antisemitism, Hunt tweeted his support for the gesture.
“Tremors, turbulence & terror in Mid East remind us of urgent need for peace: two-state solution. But the foundations for peace are respect & coexistence. Boycotting Israel – the world’s only Jewish state – is antisemitic. I salute Germany for taking stand,” Hunt wrote.
Johnson, a Conservative lawmaker, is the favorite to replace May. In 2015, when he was mayor of London, he visited Israel and prayed at the Western Wall.
At the time, The Jerusalem Post reported that he told Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz that he had Jewish ancestry.
“Yes, I have Jews in my family from Moscow, some of them rabbis,” Johnson said. “That’s on my mother’s side.”
Johnson, who is a member of the Anglican faith, wrote in the Western Wall guest book, “It is a great privilege to come to this Wall for the first time in my life, and I join the prayers for peace in Jerusalem.”
Speaking at a conference in Switzerland, Johnson spoke in support of May, who he said had been “patient and stoical” in facing all the difficulties around the country’s departure from the EU bloc.
She tried and failed three times to get a deeply divided Parliament to ratify her divorce deal.
“The job of our next leader in the UK, he or she, is to get out of the EU properly and put Brexit to bed,” Johnson said.
“And to make sure we have an exciting, dynamic, but also socially compassionate conservatism that can see off Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party,” he said, referring to the main opposition party.
He declined to give further details of his own leadership campaign, in which he will face rivals including Hunt and probably former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, ex-leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, and several others.
“I don’t wish to elaborate on what I’m going to do and how we are going to do it, but believe me, you will hear possibly more about that than you necessarily want to in the next few days,” Johnson said.
Steve Linde and Reuters contributed to this report.
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