UK envoy: My gov’t will amend universal jurisdiction

"We cannot accept a situation where Israeli politicians feel unable to visit Britain,” Gould tells Tel Aviv crowd.

November 18, 2010 03:33
2 minute read.
British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould.

311_UK ambassador Gould. (photo credit: Courtesy of British Embassy )

British Ambassador Matthew Gould told the annual Balfour Dinner that he sees no contradiction between being a British Jew and representing the United Kingdom as ambassador to the State of Israel.

He explained that his appointment was met with some “suspicion, both from some of Israel’s most fervent supporters, and from some of her detractors” and that he has been accused of “dual loyalty.”

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But, the ambassador told a packed ballroom at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv, there is no conflict between his loyalty to Britain and his love for Israel: His identity as a proud Jew does not detract from his loyalty as a British citizen.

The ambassador explained: “Britain is my country. I am a loyal British subject. I love my country, I take pride in its history, I am moved by its values, and I cry with its football fans every four years... And as a British Jew, I love Israel. I want to see Israel live in security, and prosperity, at peace with its neighbors, and respected in the world.

“I take pride in Israel’s achievements, I grieve for its lost children, and I yearn for the day when Gilad Schalit is returned to his parents. And there is no contradiction between the two.

“How can I be so confident? Because if I am wrong, my job here as the first Jew to be British ambassador to Israel would be impossible. As a British Jew, sent to the State of Israel to represent my country, I am a personification of this issue.”

Gould stressed that he represents “a government that is firm in its friendship for Israel. A prime minister and foreign secretary who have instructed me to build the best and most positive relationship I can between our countries, where our relationship is about the things we do together rather than just the things on which we disagree. A government that will not compromise in her support for Israel’s security and legitimacy.

A government that wants Israel to enjoy the lasting security that will only come with peace and a two-state solution, that knows lasting peace will require what Ariel Sharon called ‘painful concessions’ on both sides, and which is determined to walk with Israel as Israel takes the difficult steps down the path to peace.”

As an example of the strength of this friendship and the British government’s commitment to Israel, Gould announced that “we will very shortly table the legislation to amend the legal anomaly around universal jurisdiction,” as we cannot accept a situation where Israeli politicians feel unable to visit Britain.”

He added that he knows that “the best service I can do my country is also the best service I can do Israel, which is to report back to my prime minister and foreign secretary as objectively and insightfully as I can. I need to help Britain really understand Israel, and see Israel clearly.”

The event was organized by the Israel- Britain Commonwealth Association.

Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman gave the Israeli keynote speech this year.

Gould said that his agenda for his four-year stint in Israel is “long, and ambitious, and immensely positive.”

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