Newly-appointed UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is a vocal supporter of Israel and a critic of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The elevation of the former London Mayor to such a high profile Cabinet position should ensure UK-Israel relations remain on a stable path that continues outgoing premier David Cameron’s strong links to the Jewish state.
Just last November Mr. Johnson spoke out in favour of Israel during a trade visit when he repeatedly denounced calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, describing the campaign as “foolish”, “completely crazy” and promoted by a “few lefty academics in corduroy jackets”.
Mr. Johnson backed Israel as the only democracy in the region and the only place in the region that has “a pluralist open society.”
As the Times of Israel reports, during his visit Mr. Johnson met various Israeli leaders and toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum. He joined a football match with Arab and Jewish children before being photographed trying out Tel Aviv’s bicycle sharing-system in the company of Mayor Ron Huldai.
He also launched a day of trading at the TA Stock Exchange.
Such was his public show of support for the existence of the State of Israel that Mr. Johnson, who had been expected to meet with a Palestinian youth group, instead found himself banned after what the group described as his “inaccurate, misinformed and disrespectful remarks” regarding the BDS movement.
The Sharek Youth Forum posted a statement saying it had refused to host the then-mayor as Mr. Johnson “fails to acknowledge our very existence as Palestinians”.
It said in part: “Following Johnson’s inaccurate, misinformed and disrespectful statement regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on 9 November, stating that he ‘cannot think of anything more foolish’, it is our conclusion, supported by the Palestinian youth that we represent, he consciously denies the reality of the occupation that continues to oppress them and all Palestinians.
“As Palestinians and supporters of BDS, we cannot in good conscience host Johnson, as a person who denounces the international BDS movement and prioritises the feelings of wearers of ‘corduroy jackets’ over an entire nation under occupation.”
Mr. Johnson has previously provoked controversy with his comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, declaring himself a ‘passionate Zionist’ on LBC radio during the most recent Gaza war.
The appointment of Mr. Johnson has not been without criticism in the British media.
UK Media Watch reports that the Guardian published a story today (July 14th) by Chris Johnston on the appointment titled ‘Britain’s new foreign secretary Boris Johnson: a career of international gaffes. Mr.Johnston tweeted:
The new Foreign Secretary:
— Paul johnson (@paul__johnson) July 13, 2016
He counted amongst those gaffes comments by Mr. Johnson made while on his trip to Israel that can be seen in the video at the top of this page where support for Israel is listed in the Tweet as having ‘insulted Palestinians’.
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