Netanyahu visit shows vitality of UK-Israel relations, says Arkush

Commenting on the forthcoming visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the UK, Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “I am sure I speak for the overwhelming majority of the UK Jewish community when I say how delighted we are that Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming to the UK.

“As the leader of the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy, Israel represents the hope of what could be achieved more broadly in a region with massive untapped potential.

“Israel was a country born out of the ashes of the Holocaust, wrestling for more than its 67 years with neighbours bent on its destruction, but has emerged notwithstanding as a resounding success. In a region of dictatorships, Israel is a vigorous democracy. In a region of sickly economies, Israel is a dynamic and innovative investment opportunity. In a region where gross intolerance of minorities on the grounds of religion or sexuality is the norm, Israel represents a robust liberalism that guarantees legal equality and strives for its full realisation. The UK, and especially the UK Jewish community, will continue to champion and encourage the values of this still-young state, which has succeeded against all the odds.

“Israel’s search for peace and safety for its citizens continues. It is threatened by Hamas and Hezbollah on its borders, by an Iran whose violent rhetoric makes the prospect of its nuclear programme deeply concerning, and by the wider regional horror of the so-called Islamic State. In a world which has throughout history been too frequently willing to ‘look the other way’, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been fearless in pointing out the dangers of complacency and wishful-thinking, not to Israel alone, but to the wider world.

“The UK Jewish community continues to hope and pray that, in spite of these serious challenges, Israel and the Palestinians will find their way forward to a better future of peace, security, prosperity and equality for all, whose echoes will be felt far beyond the borders of these national communities.

“The thriving relationship between Israel and the UK is a testament to the shared values of our two countries. In 2014 bilateral trade between the two countries reached a record high of £3.9bn and the strong cooperation in the fields of security, academia, culture and more is of enormous benefit to both societies.

“When our Prime Minister, David Cameron, greets Prime Minister Netanyahu, he will be meeting a warm friend and admirer of the UK. The few areas of disagreement will be the disagreements of firm allies, and the overall tone will be one of celebration for a relationship that continues to be mutually enriching and vital in an uncertain world.”

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