Ambassadors get on Board for 250th reception

By Jessica Elgot, October 28, 2010
Tesuo Ktada from the Japanese embassy views some historic artefacts

Tesuo Ktada from the Japanese embassy views some historic artefacts

Turkish, Tunisian and Egyptian diplomats stressed their friendship with British Jews at an event on Monday celebrating the Board of Deputies' 250th anniversary.

Jordan, Russia, America and Chile were also among the 30-plus nations represented at the ambassadors' reception at Kent House in Knightsbridge.

Turkish deputy head of mission Kerem Kiratli said that despite his country's displeasure with Israel over the Gaza flotilla deaths, "our relationship with Israel is very important to us - and so, of course, is our friendship with British Jews".

Egyptian ambassador Hatem Seif el Nasr hoped for a fresh start to the Middle East process, voicing frustration on the importance placed on Jewish settlements as a precursor for talks. "I am waiting for them to concentrate on the really important issues, like borders and security."

He praised the Board for its achievements.

Tunisian ambassador Hatem Atallah said: "This is a very historic occasion and it was important to me to be here. I was delighted to be invited."

Guest speaker was Middle East Minister Alistair Burt, MP, who said he had "imbibed Judaism" during his Bury Grammar School days.

The government would "continue to push for two democratic states with rights to peace, security and prosperity. We cannot allow those who want to pursue violent means to prevail, and those who wish to use the conflict for their own ends. We want to help Israel down the path to peace."

He reiterated the government's pledge to legislate on universal jurisdiction by the end of the year.

Board president Vivian Wineman spoke on its work with ambassadors to the UK to promote Jewish communities worldwide.

Last updated: 4:08pm, October 28 2010