Borders MSP leads first Conservative delegation to Israel

John Lamont MSP (right foreground) with UK ambassador David Quarrey during the delegations visit to Israel.
John Lamont MSP (right foreground) with UK ambassador David Quarrey during the delegations visit to Israel.

Borders Conservative MSP John Lamont last week led the first-ever official delegation of Scottish Conservatives to Israel.

The party’s chief whip at Holyrood, Mr Lamont was one of nine Tory MSPs on the trip, hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI).

Ahead of the visit, Mr Lamont said: “The UK-Israel relationship is stronger than ever, and Scotland is playing an increasingly central role in this.

“I look forward to exploring ways we can further these political, cultural and economic ties with the Jewish state.”

Interviewed at his Jerusalem hotel, Mr Lamont told the Times of Israel: “We’re keen to use the Brexit result as an opportunity to build closer ties with Israel and to ensure people know that Scotland and the UK are still looking for business.”

Addressing the perception that the Scottish Government appeared to be pro-Palestinian, Mr Lamont said: “The vast majority of Scots are relatively passive but are influenced by that very vocal minority.

“It’s not because people have very strong views on either side of the debate, but because they hear one perspective and that influences their thought process about Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

“Part of this exercise is making sure more and more people are at least getting a balanced position and a positive view of Israel.”

During the visit, the delegation met UK ambassador David Quarrey in Tel Aviv, toured a charity in Holon providing life-saving heart surgery for children from developing countries, including the Palestinian territories, and visited the controversial West Bank Wall, erected by the Israeli government in 2007 and since deemed a violation of international law by the International Court of Justice.