The Centenary of the Balfour Declaration

Thank you for contacting me about the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

I am proud of the role the UK played in the creation of the state of Israel and I believe it is vital to remind ourselves of the context in which the declaration was written. The Jewish people had suffered centuries of persecution and founding a homeland in a place of historical and religious importance to their faith was the right and moral thing to do.

I think it is correct that the UK marks the centenary with pride. However, I know the Government understands the sensitivities which exist.

The Government continues to fully support a two-state solution with a state of Israel, as the Jewish homeland, and a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, reiterated this position when he visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in March. I would like to assure you that it has long been the UK position that Israeli settlement activity is illegal under international law. Settlement activity by Israel undermines the viability of the principle of two states for two peoples.

Nevertheless, Israel today is a symbol of openness and a thriving democracy. I look forward to the future where I hope UK – Israel cooperation continues to grow in a wide range of areas, including trade and investment, innovation and technology and defence and security.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.