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Boris Johnson to honour Holocaust victims during Israel visit

Published 10/11/2015

Mayor of London Boris Johnson meets with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres at his offices in Tel Aviv, Israel, at the start of a four day trade visit to the region.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson meets with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres at his offices in Tel Aviv, Israel, at the start of a four day trade visit to the region.

Holocaust victims will be remembered by Boris Johnson as part of a Middle East trade mission which has done little to dampen talk of his leadership ambitions.

The London mayor travels to Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims, to lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance where a stone crypt contains ashes of those who died in the extermination camp and a flame burns continuously.

The Conservative MP is also due to return to the sporting arena just weeks after he made headlines by knocking over a 10-year-old boy during a game of street rugby in Japan.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin will become the latest senior politician to meet Mr Johnson, with the pair attending an event in which Arab and Jewish youngsters will play football - with the mayor expected to join in.

His arrival in Jerusalem marks the start of the second leg of a three-day trade mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Mr Johnson is hoping to improve trade links between the capital and the Middle East and appealed to his audiences in Tel Aviv by claiming a trade embargo on Israel would be "completely crazy", adding it is only supported in the UK by "corduroy-jacketed, snaggletoothed, lefty academics".

UK MPs have recently condemned random stabbings on Israel's citizens while also criticising the Israeli security forces' aggression against Palestinians.

Mr Johnson also used a panel discussion with former Israeli prime minister and president Shimon Peres to outline the approach a leader should adopt.

He told an audience of around 200 young people that great leaders must risk their popularity by being prepared to "betray" and "greatly cheese off" their supporters.

Mr Johnson, regarded as a candidate to replace David Cameron as Conservative leader, added it takes a "huge amount of guts" to be willing to "forfeit sometimes" this backing in pursuit of doing the right thing.

Senior Israeli politician Ron Huldai also said mayors have the "most important experience" to become prime ministers when he met Mr Johnson.

The Tel Aviv mayor is believed to harbour ambitions to lead Israel's Labour Party.

Mr Johnson plans to visit the Palestinian city of Ramallah before his tour concludes.

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