Boris Johnson: I love Israel, but not annexation

Johnson pens op-ed in Hebrew newspaper saying he is “a passionate defender of Israel,” but urges it to shelve unilateral annexation plans.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote an op-ed published Wednesday on the front page of Israel’s Yediot Aharonot Hebrew-language daily, saying he loves Israel but calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop plans to apply Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“I am a passionate defender of Israel. Few causes are closer to my heart than ensuring its people are protected from the menace of terrorism and anti-Semitic incitement,” Johnson wrote, saying the UK’s commitment to Israel’s security “will be unshakable while I am Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.”

Johnson then said the proposals to annex the settlements had left him saddened because he believed the only way forward was a bilateral peace process where both sides agreed on the outcome.

“As a lifelong friend, admirer and supporter of Israel, I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests,” Johnson said.

“Annexation would put in jeopardy the progress that Israel has made in improving relationships with the Arab and Muslim world. I have never been more convinced that Israel’s interests overlap with those of our closest partners in the Arab world, including potential security cooperation against shared threats.”

Calling the move a “violation of international law,” Johnson said he felt annexation would set back Israel’s improving relations in the Arab world and “Israel’s enemies would seize upon it, and use it against those in the Middle East who want to see progress.”

I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead. If it does, the UK will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties,” Johnson warned, saying “the only way forward” is a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians that would “require compromise on all sides.”

“I welcome the commitment that President Trump has made to find a way forward. We will work tirelessly with the U.S. – and other partners in the Arab world and Europe – to try to make peace a reality,” he said, referring to the Trump peace plan.

In his op-ed Johnson said his history with Israel started when he was an 18-year-old volunteer on a kibbutz. Before entering parliament, Johnson was mayor of London and served as Britain’s foreign minister before becoming prime minister in 2019.

In England, The Jewish Chronicle news site called Johnson’s op-ed an “unprecedented move” by the British leader, while The Independent newspaper called it a “last-gasp plea,” but noted that “despite the strong words, the UK is not thought to be threatening any action against Israel if it defies international pressure and goes ahead” with annexation.