House of Lords, Speech, Lord John Taylor of Warwick, Brexit

Balfour Declaration Centenary

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, for securing this important debate. In June last year, I was privileged to be invited as a guest speaker at the Israeli embassy in London. I spoke about the special role that Israel has in the world, a true democracy in the Middle East. My wife, Lady Taylor, and I have had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant Mr. Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, on that and a number of other occasions. We were also delighted when our daughters were chosen to sing the Israeli national anthem at the Tower of David, the Jerusalem Citadel.

There is only one race: the human race. The centenary of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November provides an excellent opportunity for the British Government to renew their support for Israel and the Middle East peace process.

The Holy Scriptures emphasise: “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Surely trade is one of the most powerful pathways to peace. The UK is Israel’s second-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth £5 billion per year. Brexit opens the door for the UK to build on and expand its trading partnership with Israel. What plans do the Government have to further the already prosperous trade relationship that the UK has with Israel?

There are other road maps to peace which the centenary could be used to promote; for example, to feature educational organisations which bring together Israelis and Palestinians in harmony rather than division. One such organisation is the Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow. Another is the Warwick Leadership Academy, which I founded to provide mentoring for young people from different nationalities and cultures. So far, we have invested in the futures of young leaders from 50 nationalities, including Israeli and Arab.

Some of the amazing Israeli inventions and discoveries which have benefited mankind should also be highlighted. I am privileged to be involved in an exciting development where Israeli innovation has established renewable energy and water technology projects in a number of African states. Let us not forget that there have been black African Jews from Ethiopia, including the Falasha, settled in Israel since 1934.

The path to Middle East peace may not be easy, but as John F. Kennedy said:

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate”.