Burt out but Berger’s new health role

Israel supporters have paid tribute to Alistair Burt’s fairness in dealing with Middle East affairs after his departure from the Foreign Office in David Cameron’s reshuffle this week.

The MP for North-East Bedfordshire stepped down as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State after a three-and-a-half year tenure, during which time he won favour among the community for his close work with Israel.

He has been replaced by former Sports Minister Hugh Robertson.

Stuart Polak, director of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said: “During a period of significant regional instability in the Middle East, Alistair Burt has been fair-minded, honest and consistent in his dealings with the various parties in the area. He maintained a balanced and neutral position and never deviated from his view that two states for two peoples was the key to peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Before he was an FO minister, Mr Burt, who is a member of CFI, helped campaign for visiting rights for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas.

In January he warned of the damage being done to Israel’s international reputation by its decision to build settlements beyond the Green Line.

Mr Robertson, a former army major who is also a member of CFI, made headlines earlier this year when he defied MPs who called for a boycott of Israel as hosts of the UEFA under-21 football championships.

Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger was moved from Climate Change to Shadow Minister for Public Health in Ed Miliband’s reshuffle on Tuesday.

Expressing delight at her new role, she said: “The health of our nation and defending the NHS is going to be one of the biggest issues of the next election. It’s going to be a great challenge. I can’t wait to get started.”

Last updated: 4:45pm, October 10 2013