Below is the transcript of Mr Major’s speech at the arrival ceremony held in Jerusalem on Sunday 12th March 1995.
Prime Minister and Mrs Major, members of the British delegation, dear friends, welcome to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel and the heart of the Jewish people. The history of the relations between Britain and Israel has known pleasant hours as well as painful ones. This is a very pleasant hour. We choose to remember today the pleasant moments between us, the Balfour Declaration which established a national homeland for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, Britain’s courageous stand during World War in fighting the Nazi [Inaudible] and all that we have absorbed of the British culture and during the British mandate. These will forever bind us together. You have come back to us today, 47 years after you left Israel, and this time Israel extending its hand to you and embracing you warmly with open arms.
Mr Prime Minister, we are witnessing today close and very friendly relations between Jerusalem and London. Even if in the past, and maybe in the future, there have been differences of opinion between our two countries, we know that you have always been concerned about the problems and peace and security of Israel and the Middle East, the strong and friendly ties between our countries today are largely due to your efforts, Mr Prime Minister, and we thank you for that.
Mr Prime Minister, this is also a wonderful opportunity to congratulate you personally, the members of your government and your people, on the steps you have taken towards reconciliation and peace with Northern Ireland. From first hand experience in making peace I understand the challenges and the difficulties and I wish you every success. In the short time we have together you will get to know the Israelis as a people who pursue peace, who are building a new country with tremendous determination and with great sacrifice, while combating the difficult battle against terror and enemies who rise to murder us, a people who daily fight hardship and who are making history these days in their efforts to achieve peace.
During your visit we will try to give you, and the delegation accompanying you on this journey, a true picture of the state of Israel, the challenges, the opportunities and the struggles. We want you to know, Mr Prime Minister, that we see you and your people as dedicated partners and sincere friends. The government and the State of Israel warmly shake your hand and thanks you in appreciation. From the bottom of our hearts we say to you, Shalom and welcome to Israel.
Mr Prime Minister, Mr Speaker, Mr Chief Justice, Ladies and Gentlemen. Norma and I have looked forward to this particular visit to Israel for a very long time. We are delighted to be here today, and to be here not only with colleagues from government, colleagues from Parliament, colleagues from industry, commerce and education, but bringing with us the very best wishes of millions of people in my country who look with admiration to what has been achieved by the State of Israel in the last few years.
I hope to see in the brief period I am here on this occasion just a few of Israel’s remarkable achievements. Prime Minister, as you and I have discussed on previous occasions, the links between our two countries go back deep into history and they are reflected in very many ways. From time to time we have had our differences, we have had our periods of great friendship and I believe we are embarked upon that and I hope it will last perpetually in the future.
We see great links at every level between our two societies. They are certainly reflected in very remarkable fashion in the huge contribution that the Jewish community make to British life day, after day, after day.
You mentioned, Prime Minister, as I did, that there have been difficult times in the past. But in this year perhaps of all years, the year that marks the 50th anniversary of VE Day, we must never forget how we have fought together against common enemies. Today, 50 years on, let me say to you and all the people of Israel, we will continue to stand by your side as you build your nation and secure your peace for the future.
We have made common cause on many occasions because we share common values. Standing here on this site as one looks around one can see the Knesset, the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister’s office. And perhaps of all the tangible and intangible symbols that bind our nations together, they are perhaps symbols of the greatest bond, that unshakeable belief in democratic principles and in the rule of law.
I have brought a very unusual and remarkable team with me. I mentioned the range of interests that they cover a moment or so ago. Amongst the businessmen are not just businessmen from some of the largest and most efficient and effective companies in the United Kingdom, but the most senior businessmen from those companies. Many of them know Israel well, many of them do not, for some it will be their first visit here. But each and every one of them share my belief that even stronger economic and financial ties between Britain and Israel will strengthen the bonds that already unite us.
And I believe also that they can make a contribution to the peace that you and your government have been seeking with such great courage in the Middle East. No-one ever imagined that seeking that peace would be easy, that it would not be without set-backs, that it would not face critics. But I do not believe any dispassionate or rational observer would doubt the enormous courage and commitment that you and your government have entered into, or the remarkable progress that has been made.
One of the methods with which the international community can underline that progress is by encouraging the development of trade, the development of business links and the development of business interests to raise the living standards of all the people in the region, right across the whole of the Middle East.
Above all perhaps, Prime Minister, the relationship between Britain and Israel is about people, about ties of family and the warmest possible friendship. So let me say to you at this moment at the outset of this visit we have looked forward to for so long, we come to Israel as friends to be among friends and we believe that we are. I am grateful for your very warm welcome and I look forward to the next couple of days with huge interest and very great delight.