Theresa May: Balfour should prompt new resolve for ‘lasting peace’

The Prime Minister will address a gala dinner on Thursday night to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration


Theresa May will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration by telling a gala dinner that Britain is proud of its “pioneering role” in the creation of the State of Israel.

The Prime Minister will also say that there are no excuses for hatred against Jews.

Mrs May is expected to address Thursday night’s event – the focal point of the anniversary celebrations – alongside Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, who is due to arrive in Britain earlier in the day.

She will tell guests that the relationship between the two countries demands “a renewed resolve to support a lasting peace that is in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians – and in the interests of us all”.

Mrs May will call for “a peace deal that must be based on a two-state solution, with a secure and prosperous Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian State”.

Her speech at the London event, excerpts of which have been seen by the JC, is set to include a condemnation of antisemitism, as well as an attack on hatred against Muslims, Christians and other people of other faiths.

The Prime Minister will add: “And yes, this means recognising that there is today a new and pernicious form of antisemitism which uses criticism of the actions of the Israeli government as a despicable justification for questioning the very right of Israel to exist.

“This is abhorrent and we will not stand for it. That is why the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of an international effort to create a new definition of antisemitism which explicitly calls out this inexcusable attempt to justify hatred.

“Let me be clear. Criticising the actions of Israel is never – and can never be – an excuse for questioning Israel’s right to exist, any more than criticising the actions of Britain could be an excuse for questioning our right to exist.

“And criticising the government of Israel is never – and can never be – an excuse for hatred against the Jewish people – any more than criticising the British government would be an excuse for hatred against the British people.

“Put simply, there can be no excuses for any kind of hatred towards the Jewish people. There never have been – and there never will be.”

Mrs May will meet Mr Netanyahu for talks in Downing Street, before the Israeli leader also meets Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Netanyahu, who will remain in Britain over the weekend, is also expected to hold a meeting with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Thursday’s gala event has already been the source of controversy after Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said he would not attend. Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, will take his place, but has repeatedly said the anniversary should be “marked” rather than “celebrated”.

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