Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has reaffirmed the UK government’s commitment to fighting Palestinian terror, condemning recent attacks on Israel as unacceptable.
He said David Cameron “has been clear in condemning Palestinian incitement to violence; from schools named after terrorists to official Palestinian Authority television programmes glorifying attacks against the Israeli people. For this to be acceptable throughout Palestinian society is wrong; driving children, some as young as 11, to take a knife and try and kill an Israeli.
“We are clear on this, and our Prime Minister is clear on this; the recent wave of violence is unacceptable and Israel has the right and, indeed, the obligation to defend its citizens.”
Mr Crabb made the comments yesterday at an event at Finchley Synagogue in London marking Israel Independence Day.
He added: “The success of a lasting two-state solution rests upon the Palestinian Authority starting to teach its young people about peaceful coexistence, rather than radicalising them.”
Welsh-born Mr Crabb, a Christian, noted that Israel was one of the few places in the Middle East where Christians were free to practise their religion.
“At a time when the Christian population of the Middle East is in steep decline due to systematic and sustained persecution, Israel continues to be a place where Christians are welcomed and feel safe,” he said, adding: “Israel’s Christian community, as with all its diverse citizens, are free to live their lives as they wish and this should be celebrated.”
The event, organised by Orthodox youth movement Bnei Akiva, was attended by Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mivis, Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann and Lord Polak, the honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel.
It also marked Yom Hazikaron, the day Israelis remember IDF soldiers who have given their lives for the country.
Mr Crabb said: “We remember those who have given their lives in the defence of Israel... as I have been told, their sacrifice was a true Kiddush Hashem and has helped Israel continue to provide a Jewish homeland for those who need it.”
Referring to Israeli victims of terror, he added: “Our thoughts tonight are with their families too, and with those who were killed and wounded in despicable and cowardly attacks.
“It is all too clear that the safety of the Jewish people cannot be taken for granted. I would like to assure you that the government of the United Kingdom, of which I am a member, does not take the safety of the Jewish people for granted. The need for a Jewish state remains as crucial now as it was in 1948.”
Mr Crabb, who visited Israel for the first time in 2007 as part of a CFI delegation, said: “As a Christian, I have always felt a very close affinity with the Holy Land. It was a delight to see places that I had learned about during my own childhood at Sunday school and in the pages of the scriptures we were encouraged to read. I was struck by just how small Israel is. In fact it is identical in size to my own homeland of Wales – just over 20,000 km2 – with hills especially around Galilee just as green as the ones in Wales.”
He went onto condemn the rise of antisemitism in the UK and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to boosting bilateral trade and academic ties with Israel.