Prime Minister Theresa May hosted her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for the Balfour Declaration centenary, where she attacked the emergence of a “new anti-Semitism” in her speech.
The visit marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which signalled Britain’s commitment to the creation of a “Jewish homeland” in Palestine.
Jewish communities across Europe welcomed the pledge while Palestinians and Muslims in general regarded it as a historical injustice.
The British government has rejected calls to apologise for the declaration and has said it is “proud” of its role.
Speaking alongside the Israeli prime minister, PM May challenged “a new and pernicious form of anti-Semitism” in which people use criticism of Israel to question the Jewish state’s right to exist.
PM May and Netanyahu attended a gala dinner at Lancaster House on Thursday night as the guests of Baron Rothschild, whose great-uncle was a leading Zionist lobbyist and the original recipient of the Balfour Declaration.
PM May said the UK is proud of its “pioneering role in the creation of the state of Israel.”
She added: “We are proud to stand here today together with Prime Minister Netanyahu and declare our support for Israel. And we are proud of the relationship we have built with Israel.”
She called for a two-state peace deal “with a secure and prosperous Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian State.”
However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused an invitation to the dinner, and instead sent Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry in his place.