Middle East Monitor / January 15, 2020
A veteran pro-Israel lobbyist in Westminster believes the recently-elected Conservative government represents an important opportunity to advance Israel’s interests amongst British decision-makers.
Lord Polak, a Tory peer, and president of Conservative Friends of Israel, was speaking to right-wing news outlet JNS days after a speech in the House of Lords in which he attacked the so-called “singling out” of Israel in international forums such as the United Nations.
“I have no problem with legitimate criticism where it is due, but this obsession with Israel needs to be addressed. This singling out of the Jewish state is wrong, unjustified and plays a role in the rise and rise of anti-Semitism,” Polak told the chamber on 7 January.
In his speech, Polak echoed a familiar complaint of the Israeli government, namely the payments made by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to prisoners in Israeli jails and to the families of those killed by occupation forces – what the Tory peer described as “salaries to killers and murderers”.
“We must find a method by which aid payments serve the recipients who need our support in Palestinian society, and at the same time, serve the interests of the British taxpayer,” he added.
In his subsequent interview with JNS, Polak claimed that the substantial Conservative majority in Parliament means that now is the time to raise the issues they want and “set an agenda”.
“My speech was signal that this is a priority for the pro-Israel community,” he told the news site.
During the speech, Polak also praised the government’s proposed legislation attacking the right to boycott companies complicit in Israeli human rights abuses.
“The promise by the government to legislate against BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] was a first and shows where the new government is at in relation to these sorts of issues,” he told JNS.