The Speaker of the Knesset will deliver a rare address to members of both houses of the British Parliament during a UK visit this week, sparking an angry response from pro-Palestinian activists as he vowed to “tell the truth about Israel”.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein will speak to around 100 MPs and peers as part of a visit which will also include meetings with senior politicians, the media and the Jewish community. His trip comes as Jews across Britain and indeed Europe face increasing hostility in the form of violent anti-Semitic acts, as Breitbart Jerusalem has reported.
Mr. Edelstein has been Speaker of Israel’s Parliament since 2013. He previously served as minister of immigrant absorption and diaspora affairs minister. Born in the former Soviet Union, he spent three years in jail after being arrested for his faith and was one of the last refusniks to be freed.
Mr. Edelstein will speak with members of the House of Lords and House of Commons at an event organized by the British Inter-Parliamentary Union and thereby become the first Israeli Knesset speaker to appear before the “Mother of Parliaments.”
In an interview with i24news, Mr. Edelstein stressed the importance of his visit, saying that “we have ongoing relations with Britain, less so with the British Parliament. And I think that we have to improve the bilateral cooperation with the British Parliament because it’s just not doable to leave Britain as hostages of BDS and all these small and vocal groups.”
“We have to tell them the truth about Israel and I’m going to do so,” he added.
Mr. Edelstein’s announced intentions were met with a protest by Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to London, who harshly criticized the invite to the Knesset Speaker.
“Mr. Edelstein lives on an illegal Israeli settlement built on Palestinian land and he publicly opposes Palestinian statehood,” Hassassian wrote in the Independent last week.
“He even supports initiatives such as the Lobby for Greater Israel, whose members want to colonize what is left of Palestinian land.”
He added: “I am quite incredulous that Mr. Edelstein is being given a platform in Parliament itself… the self-same Parliament that only a short time ago voted to recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and a state of their own.”
Mr. Edelstein also hopes to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron to “describe the complexity and the situation and the way it really is in Jerusalem.”
When asked whether he believes Cameron might give in to pressure by pro-Palestinian groups to cancel the meeting with the Israeli Knesset speaker, Mr. Edelstein told i24news he does “not believe that would happen because of where I live.”
“When I was hosting Prime Minister David Cameron as well as, I would dare say, hundreds of different leaders over the last three years, no one ever said to me that he wouldn’t meet me or wouldn’t come to the Knesset because of where I live.”