New foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt is a critic of Israel but opposes BDS sanctions

He was 'disappointed' when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem but says boycotts are 'not constructive'


New Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has regularly criticised Israeli policies towards the Palestinians – but has also made clear his opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Mr Hunt, who replaced Boris Johnson following his resignation from the government on Monday, has made his views on the Middle East clear.

A series of statements on his constituency website relate to Israel and the Palestinians. Of the 13 international cases referred to on his constituency website when he was appointed, eight were about issues concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Addressing the issue of BDS, Mr Hunt wrote: “I am aware that the matter of Israel and human rights is important to many of my constituents.

“I welcome the fact that the government continues to support a range of projects and organisations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel which work on promoting human rights, dialogue and coexistence.

“I am clear that the UK government is deeply committed to promoting our trade and business ties with Israel and accordingly is strongly opposed to the BDS movement.

“I do not believe that imposing sanctions on Israel would be a constructive step.”

In a further statement, Mr Hunt said he was “disappointed” by President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Mr Hunt wrote: “The UK position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”

Mr Hunt has also expressed "concern" over Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian villages in the West Bank, including the Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar.

He wrote: “Demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; call into question Israel's commitment to a viable two-state solution; and, in all but the most exceptional cases, are contrary to international humanitarian law."

In another message to constituents Mr Hunt addressed “extremely worrying” allegations over the detention of Palestinian children by the Israeli military.

But he added: “Israel has made some progress on this issue. However, the UK assessment is that Israel is still falling short and needs to do more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care.”

Mr Hunt, 51, who is a close ally of Theresa May, is expected to attend the Nato summit in Brussels on Friday before returning to Britain for Mr Trump’s visit.

Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, tweeted: “Mazal tov to Jeremy Hunt on his appointment as Foreign Secretary. Looking forward to further strengthening the Israel-UK partnership."

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