British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly condemned Iranian-backed terror against Israel and pledged his support for a two-state resolution to the Palestinian conflict as he opened a three-day visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah.
“The UK and Israel work closely together to keep our people safe,” Cleverly said at the start of his trip. “I’ll be using my first visit… as foreign secretary to renew our close security partnership, in the face of unacceptable threats from the Iranian regime.”
Cleverly's visit to Israel
While in Jerusalem on Monday, he visited Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Center and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen as well as with Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife, Lucy, and two daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 16, were killed this year in a Palestinian terror attack.
Dee, who is British-Israeli, serves as a Foreign Ministry special envoy for social initiatives.
While in Yad Vashem, Cleverly said, “We must never forget the atrocities of one of the darkest moments in our collective history. The UK will always stand with Israel in the fight against antisemitism.”
On Tuesday, Cleverly is expected to address the World Summit on Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. He is also expected to meet with PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh in Ramallah and to visit the nearby Jelazoun refugee camp.
In speaking of his support for two states, Cleverly said it was “the only way to bring about security, stability, and prosperity for Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider region. I’ll be making clear that all parties must take steps to advance this cause.
Cleverly arrived ahead of a critical showdown between the government and the Supreme Court over Netanyahu’s judicial reform plan. Netanyahu has argued that the plan would strengthen Israeli democracy while its opponents have warned that it would transform the country into a dictatorship.
Forty-one British Jewish rabbis and leaders from the Center to the Left of the political and religious map wrote a letter to Cleverly in advance of his visit. They urged him to take a stand against the judicial reform plan by stressing the important role democracy plays in the British-Israeli relationship.
“We appeal to you not to treat this trip as business as usual. We ask that you make it clear on your visit that Britain’s relationship with Israel is contingent on both countries’ adherence to democratic norms and also make it known that British Jews will not stand by as Israel’s future is imperiled,” the leaders and rabbis wrote.