“Like many of you, I am different, I come from a different background and our society is strongest when that diversity is respected. There are people who are trying to stir up hatred and division and I will always strive very hard to protect that diversity,” said Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first Prime Minister of Indian heritage, during a visit to a Jewish school in London this week.
As he interacted with students against the backdrop of the devastating Israel-Gaza conflict in the Middle East, Sunak reiterated that support for Hamas, a banned terrorist organisation in the UK, is illegal and could be punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
He said: "I'm determined to ensure that our Jewish community is able to feel safe on our streets, that there is no place in our society for antisemitism and we will do everything we can to stamp it out and where it happens.
“I stand with all of you, the Jewish community not just today, tomorrow but always and I really mean it.”
His school visit and address to the House of Commons this week came after a weekend of pro-Palestinian protests, which ended in several arrests for criminal offences.
“Numerous arrests were made as a result of pockets of disorder, violence and hate. To all those who saw fit to promote genocide, glorify terrorism and mock the murder of Jewish people, including women and babies – the police are coming for you,” warned UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
Last week, she led a roundtable meeting at 10 Downing Street with police chiefs where the UK government announced £3 million in additional funding for the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that works to improve the security of the Jewish community, amid a worrying rise in antisemitic attacks Britain since the conflict in the Middle East intensified earlier this month. The announcement came as CST recorded 139 antisemitic incidents in the days after the conflict erupted, which represents an increase of 400 per cent compared to the same period in 2022.
“This is now the third deadliest terror attack in the world since 1970. The United Kingdom must and will continue to stand in solidarity with Israel,” said Sunak.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts remain ongoing as the UK PM met King Abdullah II of Jordan at Downing Street over the weekend and is scheduled to hold further talks with international partners, including Middle Eastern leaders, in the coming days to prevent a regional escalation.
Sunak added: "Israel has been very clear that Hamas is the entity that's responsible for this and what they want to do is ensure that their people are safe and that this doesn't happen again, and that the focus of the attention of self-defence is on Hamas.
"And I think that's right, nobody wants to see regional escalation. And certainly, the Israeli Prime Minister does not, when I've spoken to him."
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