Potential Inclusion of Northern Ireland-Based Democratic Unionist Party in UK Governing Coalition Could Be ‘Good News for Israel,’ British Jewish Activist Says
A potential Conservative-led governing coalition in the UK that includes the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could be “good news for Israel,” a British Jewish activist said on Friday, following the surprising parliamentary election results that saw Prime Minister Theresa May lose her majority in the House of Commons.
In remarks she made outside of 10 Downing Street after returning from a meeting at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, May vowed to form a government with the Northern Ireland-based right-wing nationalist DUP that would “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country.”
Steven Jaffe — a consultant to the Board of Deputies of British Jews — wrote in the Jewish News on Friday that on Middle Eastern-related issues, the DUP — which won 10 parliamentary seats in Thursday’s election — would be a “friendly and positive influence for Israel.”
DUP’s MPs, according to Jaffe, are among the “staunchest supporters of Israel in the House of Commons.”
“There are fewer than 80 members of the Jewish community in Northern Ireland,” Jaffe explained. “So it seems hard to reconcile the DUP’s interest in Israel and matters of Jewish concern with electoral self-interest.”
“But Northern Ireland is the UK’s bible belt,” he continued. “Like the American south, Christian Zionism is a potent force amongst Ulster’s church-going Protestant community, the traditional heartland of DUP support.”
Furthermore, DUP members “draw parallels between Northern Ireland’s experience of terrorism and Israel’s and feel that both Ulster unionists and Israeli Jews get an unfair hearing in the world’s press,” Jaffe said. “In particular, their experience of peace making in Northern Ireland makes them wary of international interference which is one-sided or prescriptive.”
Simon Johnson — the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council — told The Algemeiner on Friday, “DUP on Israel issues has been supportive, with many pro-Zionist MPs.”
Rachel Frommer contributed to this report.