Boris Johnson (L) with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) (Wikimedia)

UK Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson declares his love for the State of Israel, willingness to launch sanctions against Iran.

In a recent exclusive interview with the UK-based Jewish News, British MP Boris Johnson, a leading candidate to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, praised Israel and said he would pursue Palestinian leaders about their “pay for slay” policy.

May will be leaving her post this month.

Johnson, who was mayor of London from 2008 until 2016, described himself as a “passionate Zionist” and referred to Israel as a “great country” that “I love.”

As for the Iran’s breaching of the nuclear deal, Johnson told the Jewish News, “I think that there are enough tensions in that region without triggering a nuclear arms race, whose consequences would be very hard to foresee, and which would certainly pose very difficult choices for any Israeli government.

“I certainly think you could not fault the UK government for being tough on Iran’s sanction busting. As Prime Minister, I’d make sure we continue to do everything we can to constrain Iran’s disruptive behaviour in the region,” he said.

Concerning a Palestinian state, Johnson said that should only happen when Palestinian leaders “meaningfully recognize Israel and stop threatening to revoke recognition.”

In 2016, the British government froze $30 million earmarked for aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA.) Though the PA had claimed the money was to pay civil servants in Gaza, it was used to support terrorists in Israeli jails and their families.

“There are funds that are made available to the Palestinian Authority that end up in the pockets of terrorist families, and that is indeed a point I raised with Mahmoud Abbas, and will continue to raise,” Johnson said in the Jewish News interview. “I think it’s ludicrous that there should be any kind of financial incentive or compensation for terrorist activities.”

Johnson added that he would take “all the necessary steps” to ensure that terrorist organizations like Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade remain banned in Britain.

The IDF launched Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 following the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers by Hamas terrorists and years of rocket fire from Gaza against southern Israel. Asked by the Jewish News about his comment at the time that Israel’s actions were “disproportionate,” Johnson replied, “Israel has a right to respond, Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel has a right to meet force with force. I absolutely agree with that, but all I was saying is I believe in Israel. I support Israel. I will always support Israel. I just joined with those who say ‘I want the Israeli response to be proportionate’.”

Johnson added, “I am always sensitive in the concerns of the Jewish community and other monitory groups and will continue to be true to that.”

‘World Would Be Greatly Poorer Without Israel’

This was not the first time that Johnson has expressed his positive views on Israel. In an interview in 2015, held during his three-day trade mission to the country, he shared with the Jewish News, “It’s an incredible country that’s changed out of all recognition since I worked on kibbutz 30 years ago. I’m here because of that economic change.

“Israel has been responsible for everything from USB memory sticks to all sorts of apps that are of great value,” he continued. “The country has played a huge role in computing generally and the whole tech explosion. But it’s more fundamental than that: the world would be greatly poorer without Israel. The world would be impoverished without a state – for all its faults and all the the criticisms you can level – is far and away the most free, open, democratic in this neighbourhood. It’s a great thing and we need to preserve that.”

In January 2016, Johnson joined hundreds of American and European mayors in signing the “Mayors United Against Antisemitism” initiative, which was launched by the American Jewish Committee the previous July.

The former U.K foreign secretary’s comments are a refreshing break from those of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who considers Hamas a “friend” and who has been widely labeled an anti-Semite.

Concerning Corbyn, Johnson told the Jewish News, “I think there is no question that he is indulging and condoning anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that is quite extraordinary and reprehensible. It would never have been tolerated 20 years ago.”