Boris Johnson has pledged to continue standing up for Israel after his mayoralty ends, writes Justin Cohen.
The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who David Cameron has suggested as a potential successor as Tory leader, was speaking just a month after leading a trade delegation to the Jewish state.
Johnson used that visit to repeatedly condemn boycotts of Israel – his unequivocal comments cited as the cause of the cancellation of scheduled meetings in Ramallah.
Asked if he would continue to stand up for Israel after his second term ends in May, he told the Jewish News: “I first spoke in favour of the state of Israel at the age of about 18. It’s complicated and there are difficult questions on both sides but in the end Israel is a massive positive force in the world. Of course I will continue to stand up for Israel and for my beliefs.” “
He also looked ahead to the Tel Aviv in London culture festival, which he provided the impetus for and is due to take place in 2017. “I hope it will be a wonderful event. I wish everyone a fantastic festival.
“Tel Aviv is going gangbusters! I much enjoyed enjoyed my time with Ron Huldai – the mayor of Tel Aviv. In many ways he’s a man after my own heart – there’s a lot of things he’s doing that I really approved of. The more people understand, get to know each other, the less prejudice there is.” Culture, he added, was a great way to showcase the country.
On the conflict, he added: “Everybody wants a solution to the Palestinian question. I want that sorted out and so does every Israeli. We want peace.”
His comments came during his final appearance as mayor at the Chanukah celebrations in Trafalgar Square, which he said he had never seen so packed for the annual event.