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'Dark and furious energy' is fuelling anti-Israel activism in UK, warns Michael Gove

Environment Secretary makes speech at Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, attended by 170 parliamentarians, including Priti Patel

    Michael Gove addresses the CFI lunch (Photo: John Rifkin/CFI)
    Michael Gove addresses the CFI lunch (Photo: John Rifkin/CFI)

    Michael Gove has attacked anti-Israel activists who chanted antisemitic slogans in London.

    The Environment Secretary said the reach of such activists extended far, with more than 170 anti-Israel events in Britain last month.

    There was, he said, a "dark and furious energy" fuelling such activism.

    "These people keep showing their true colours, again and again and again," he added.

    Speaking at the annual Conservative Friends of Israel lunch in Westminster, Mr Gove said Israel was "a light to the world and let's hope that light shines for all time".

    Mr Gove said that in the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration, Britain should "feel proud of the role it played" in creating modern Israel.

    "That land has always been the historic homeland of the Jewish people - it is their birthright," he added. "Every inch of that land has been fought and died for."

    The minister said Israel's enemies wanted "not a smaller Israel, but no Israel at all".

    Mr Gove said CFI was "in rude health" and thanked Lord Polak, the group's president, who he said was a "special friend".

    Eight cabinet ministers and around 170 parliamentarians attended the lunch, including Priti Patel, who resigned as International Development Secretary last month over a series of meetings she held with Israeli ministers alongside Lord Polak.

    Theresa May, last year's guest of honour, was unable to attend.

    Alistair Burt, Middle East Minister, said the peace process had been made harder by Donald Trump's announcement last week that the United States would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But he said friends of the country "cannot let the chance of peace slip". 

    Andrew Heller, CFI chair, said the group had had a "bumpy ride" recently, but there remained "much to be proud of this year".

    Others in attendance included Mark Regev, Israel's ambassador to Britain; Lord Balfour and Silvan Shalom, former Israeli minister.

    WATCH: Michael Gove's speech to the lunch:

     

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