The United Kindgom announced electing former foreign minister and Conservative party head Liz Truss on Monday to lead the nation as prime minister.
What can British Jews expect from the new leader? In her lead-in to the premiership, Truss pledged to eradicate anti-Semitism in Britain and to change the “woke” “civil service culture,” which she says is “straying into anti-Semitism.”
“I want to see the scourge of anti-Semitism eradicated. That means driving it out from our culture, starting with the schools,” she told the Jewish Chronicle in August.
According to a new survey, anti-Semitism in British schools tripled over the past five years, yet most schools have no policies in place to deal with it.
“There have to be mandatory policies in place, and we need to make sure staff are educated to understand that,” Truss said. “On the other hand, the rise of anti-Semitism isn’t only a problem for schools. We have to eradicate it in our wider society as well.”
As foreign minister, Truss showed herself a strong supporter of Israel, a characteristic even her political opponents have noted.
“Anyone who believes in strengthening the relationship between Britain and Israel should be delighted by the appointment of Liz Truss as the new foreign secretary,” said former Labour MP Ian Austin, an independent member of the House of Lords and the prime ministerial trade envoy to Israel. “There is no doubt about her support for Israel and its right to defend itself.”
In October, Truss said Britain had “no closer friend and ally” than Israel. As foreign minister, she signed a cooperation agreement with Israel on cybersecurity, technology, defense, trade and science.
Truss has said that she is considering moving the Embassy of the United Kingdom to Jerusalem, and claimed that Israel and Britain have a “unique partnership,” a term that she has not used even regarding Britain’s relationship with the United States.
“I understand the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British Embassy in Israel,” she wrote during her election campaign. “I’ve had many conversations with my good friend [Israeli Prime Minister Yair] Lapid on this topic. Acknowledging that, I will review a move to ensure we are operating on the strongest footing within Israel.”
In 2021, Truss supported the U.K.’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.
According to Lord Stuart Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, Truss was “outstanding at the Foreign Office,” where she “challenged a lot of their positions and proved herself to be a very good friend and built a very good relationship with Lapid in a short time.”
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Truss could become the most pro-Israel prime minister that Britain has ever had:
“In her year as foreign secretary, Truss has gone out of her way to profess her staunch support for Israel and take a hard line on Iran,” Haaretz wrote. “When Yair Lapid, as foreign minister, visited London last November, she made sure not only to have a long official meeting with him but a private dinner, as well. Over the past year, the routine condemnations of Israel’s policy in the West Bank were reduced to the bare minimum, their language toned down – as well as the level of officials delivering them … it’s pretty safe to say Truss can be expected to be the most pro-Israel prime minister Britain has ever had.”
Truss’ election was greeted with enthusiasm in Israel, with the prime minister calling her “a true friend.”
“I congratulate my new friend, a true friend of Israel, Liz Truss, who was elected prime minister of Great Britain,” Lapid said on Monday. “I expect to continue working together for our countries and for our security.”
Israel’s most important security threat comes from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has made threats to annihilate Israel and has moved steadily toward nuclear capability.
“We have to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons. That is very, very clear,” Truss said. Nevertheless, the new prime minister has communicated very little about her view on Britain’s role in such a goal.
She has not said whether she will back military operations against Iran, only saying that she will “do what it takes,” along with Britain’s allies, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.