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LONDON - The Israeli Embassy in London has made a donation to the Gurkha Welfare Trust at a meeting in central London on Tuesday.
The Â£300 donation was the money returned to the embassy by the Edinburgh International Film Festival in May, after the festival organizers succumbed to pressure from pro-Palestinian activists to return the donation.
At a meeting in Browns Hotel in the Mayfair area of central London, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor presented the donation to Joanna Lumley, the well-known British actress and lifelong campaigner for the Gurkhas - Nepalese soldiers who have been part of the British army for nearly 200 years.
During that period, the Gurkhas have won 13 Victoria Crosses and served gallantly in most of Britain's conflicts.
"Joanna Lumley's passion and dedication for helping Gurkha soldiers who have fought alongside British forces inspired me to make this donation," the ambassador said. "In Israel, we see our children conscripted at the age of 18, leaving Israeli families in constant fear and anxiety. Our care for our solders is reflected in Joanna's passion for helping others who have fought and died to protect their country."
The ambassador decided that if the film festival would not accept a donation from the Israeli government, then it should go to another worthy cause.
"Since Israeli money is not good enough for those at the Edinburgh Film Festival, it was absolutely fabulous that the Gurkha Welfare Trust and Joanna Lumley were so appreciative for this little gesture," he said.
Established in 1969, the Gurkha Welfare Trust provides financial, medical and community aid to alleviate hardship and distress among Gurkha ex-servicemen of the British Crown and their dependants.
Joining Lumley at Tuesday's meeting was Gen. Sir David Richards, chair of the trust, Colonel William Shuttlewood, the trust's director and trustee Diana Donovan.
"The donation will help support 10,000 Gurkha soldiers and widows who have no other form of income," the trust's deputy director Katherine Ayres told The Jerusalem Post. "We note with delight that this donation will fund the monthly welfare pension for 17 of these deserving people.
"The trust is extraordinarily grateful for this gift, as it reaffirms the enormous affection felt for the Gurkha soldier by not only people in Britain but also many others across the world."
Lumley recently led a high-profile campaign for Gurkha rights which led to an embarrassing defeat for the government in May after a motion submitted by the Liberal Democrats forced the government to allow equal right of residence in the UK for Gurkha veterans.