Jeremy Hunt

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You are Jeremy Hunt, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

File:Hunt.jpg

Notable Quotes

“I am clear that the UK government is deeply committed to promoting our trade and business ties with Israel and accordingly is strongly opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. I do not believe that imposing sanctions on Israel would be a constructive step.”

“The UK position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”

Early Life and Career

You were born on November 1st, 1966, in the Kennington district in the south of London. Your father, Admiral Nicholas Hunt, had an illustrious career with the British Navy, completing his career by serving for two years as NATO Allied Commander-in-Chief for Channel and the Eastern Atlantic. Indeed, you are a member of a very prominent family—you’re even a distant relative of Queen Elizabeth! You crew up in the wealthy community of Godalming in Surrey, and you attended the famous Charterhouse School (founded in 1611!) where you were Head Boy (in case you’re wondering, the Head Boy or Girl is elected by their fellow students, and typically represents the school at events, often making public speeches and bringing the interests of the students before the administration). You then studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, heading the student Conservative Association while you were there. After college, you taught English in Japan, worked in public relations, and then became a very successful entrepreneur, starting a company that publishes college guidebooks.

In 2005, you successfully ran for a seat in the British House of Commons, representing Surrey, and when Conservative David Cameron was elected Prime Minister in 2010, your political ascent truly began. You served first as Minister of Culture, Media and Sport and then as Minister in charge of the 2012 Summer Olympics that took place in London, an event that was generally regarded as being a big success. With the Olympics over, you were appointed Minister of Health in 2012, and you served in this position for six years, under both David Cameron and his Conservative successor, the current Prime Minister Theresa May. Your tenure as Minister of Health was a controversial one, as you came in with both a very strong anti-abortion stance and an avowed belief in homeopathic medicine (which involves herbal remedies, deliberately given at low doses), which most doctors in the National Health Service (the British program of medical care for all) view skeptically, feeling that there is little evidence for the value of homeopathy. You later backed off on your advocacy for homeopathic medicine, but you got into additional trouble when, after the passage of the s0-called “Brexit” ballot initiative withdrawing England from the European Union, you advocated for ridding the National Health Service of all foreign doctors. In July 2018, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson resigned his post in protest over an agreement negotiated by Prime Minister May that he felt went too slowly on the implementation of Brexit. You accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to replace Johnson, taking office on July 9th of 2018.

YOUR TASK

The Prime Minister will need your support and your political skill as she tries to work with a British Parliament that has sought both to put more pressure on Israel to stop the building of settlements in the West Bank, and to be more public about advocating for an independent Palestinian state. In this latter connection, the British Parliament overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution in October 2014, calling on the British government to recognize the state of Palestine. Though many of those voting for the bill were in the left-wing Labour Party, there were also many supporters from among the ranks of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Many parliamentarians believe that if your government truly wants to support a negotiated settlement, then its best course of action is to recognize Palestine, so as to even the scales in a negotiation where they see Israel holding most of the cards, while others believe that recognition should be the end result of direct negotiations, and that to offer this prize to the Palestinians now would undermine the very process that ostensibly will lead to the desired outcome. Given the tenor of the parliamentary debates, you can be sure that your stance on this question will be put to the test.

YOUR BELIEFS

You have criticized some of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, particularly the demolition of homes in Bedouin towns near Jerusalem. Regarding such plans you said that “demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, call into question Israel's commitment to a viable two-state solution; and, in all but the most exceptional cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law.” As noted in the quote that began this profile, you were also critical of the decision by the Trump Administration to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, stating that the ultimate status of Jerusalem should be determined through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leading to shared sovereignty over the city.

These criticisms notwithstanding, you consider yourself to be a strong supporter of Israel, and you have been outspoken in opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions initiative, a worldwide movement to bring economic pressure on Israel over its continued occupation of the West Bank. You have described this initiative as being akin to “combat,” and have stated that the UK is committed to its trade and business ties with Israel and you do not feel that “imposing sanctions on Israel would be a constructive step.”

Elsewhere, you have been reluctant to offer any criticism of Saudi military policy in Yemen, stating that more must be done to relieve the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, but not speaking out against the actual Saudi bombing of Yemen. Especially given President Trump’s strong connections with the Saudis, connections that many say underpin American hopes for a grand bargain on Israeli-Palestinian peace with strong Saudi support, you will likely continue to treat the Saudis very delicately. You have, however, been highly critical of Hezbollah, advocating for a complete ban on Hezbollah in Britain, even as others have distinguished between Hezbollah’s military activities and the humanitarian assistance they provide in Lebanon and have opposed an outright ban. You stated that “Hezbollah’s beliefs are outrageous, disgusting, and should be condemned at every opportunity,” adding that you “deplore the group in its entirety.”

ROLE-PLAYING NOTES

It is fair to say that you saved the day for Prime Minister May when you agreed to take over for Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. Ms. May’s government is considered to be shaky, and Mr. Johnson was not the first Conservative politician to leave her cabinet, a move that many consider to be the ambitious Mr. Johnson’s way of distancing himself from a government that may soon fall. Johnson was one among many who have been critical of Ms. May’s decisions as she tried to carry out the will of British voters on Brexit, while accounting for the reality that leaving the European Union is highly complicated and will damage the British economy—her efforts to negotiate a so-called “Soft Brexit” were carried out with this delicate balance in mind. In the end, it may be easier for other Conservatives with aspirations for higher office to abandon the Prime Minister as she tries to make the best of a difficult situation. You are thus in a position where you could either be badly stained by being seen as loyal to a failed government, or you could gain stature by being willing to stick around and work through the thorny details of enacting Brexit.

You are a true man of the British establishment, and it is said that you have a knack for avoiding trouble. It is likely that your move to this prestigious post in the May Cabinet will win you much admiration among old-school “Tories” (a nickname for British conservatives that dates back over 100 years to when the Conservative Party was initially formed by former members of the Tory Party), and if you can continue to avoid trouble, you could emerge as a true statesman in a party, and a government, that badly needs such people.

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