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Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has suggested a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the Holy Land could help to bring peace.

Rivlin offered the invitation as he welcomed the UK’s new ambassador David Quarrey during a ceremony at the President’s Residence on Thursday, as he received the diplomatic credentials of five new envoys.

Last month senior diplomat Quarrey replaced Matthew Gould as the UK’s ambassador to Israel. He is familiar with the region, after serving as the Director of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Near East and North Africa Division.

Welcoming Quarrey, the president said: “During your term here, we will celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which perhaps marks the beginning of the diplomatic relations between Israel and Britain.”

Stressing the important role Britain can play in helping to build confidence between Britain and Israel, Rivlin told Quarrey: “We look forward, with your abilities and great experience, to receiving your assistance in building this confidence. I want to also convey my warmest regards to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and extend to her an invitation to visit our region.

“I know that we are in a conflict here, but rather than something that could come at the end of the conflict, a visit from her Majesty may iindeed help bring an end to the conflict.”

Quarrey said he hoped to develop ties in trade, investment, science and technology, adding: “They are of great benefit to both countries, and the best answer we have to those who call for boycotts of Israel.” 

On issues of security, he said the UK and Israel must be “partners in the struggle against extremism,” but that there was “a great need for progress toward peace in the region – that need is very urgent, and we will do whatever is needed to support the difficult decisions required to achieve peace”. 

On a lighter note, Quarrey noted that the UK had another anniversary coming up, and invited Israel to take part. “I would also like to see more cultural collaboration between the UK and Israel,” he said, “and I hope to be able to give that a higher profile. Indeed, we are marking 400 years since the death of Shakespeare next year, and we look forward to marking that in Israel”.

The meeting came days after the president hosted former cabinet minister Eric Pickled as part of a CFI delegation.

During the meeting he spoke of the overall threat of Iran as perceived by Israelis, claiming that its support for terror was the most immediate threat.

He told the group: We need to understand the intimidations of the Iranians. I must tell you that the nuclear ability of the Iranians is not the most really decisive matter,” adding: “That threat of Iran comes from their ability to support terror, and we know they have 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel, whether from the north or south.”