Diplomacy

WATCH: Foreign Secretary Hunt Hails “Very Strong Relationship” between Britain and Israel

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has issued an apparent apology for Britain’s 1939 policy to cap immigration into Palestine, calling it a “black moment” in history, in what is believed to be the first such remarks by a British foreign secretary.

Hunt made the comment in an address to the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual parliamentary reception on Tuesday, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The secretary hailed the “on the whole very strong relationship” between Britain and Israel that started with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, adding that the two nation’s shared history has been one of “strong, deep-rooted friendship based on a huge historic admiration for what the State of Israel has achieved against all the odds.”

The secretary expressed regret, however, for the 1939 White Paper, which limited the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine to 75,000 for five years during the Nazi Holocaust. “There have been some black moments when we have done the wrong thing,” Hunt admitted.

He went on to say that Britain’s “support for Israel’s right to self-defence is absolutely unconditional,” and observed that “the democracy of which Israel is a shining beacon, and which Britain always stood for, these democratic values cannot be taken for granted in the modern world.”

Hunt said that, despite of many enemies that are committed to its “total destruction and elimination,” Israel has “absolutely thrived as a modern high-tech country with a huge amount of prosperity.”

British International Development Secretary Liam Fox, alongside Israel’s Minister of the Economy Eli Cohen, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week that the principles of a post-Brexit trade deal with the Jewish State were in place. “Because of our great friendship, trade is mushrooming between our two countries,” Hunt observed.

The secretary also spoke of the need to stamp out anti-Semitism and to “learn the lessons of history.”

Other speakers at the event included Israel’s Ambassador Mark Regev, who described news that Israel’s air force has been invited to participate in its first-ever joint drill with the Royal Air Force in September as “the latest example of the strong defence partnership.”

[Photo: Conservative Friends of Israel / Facebook ]