I attended the annual Conservative Friends of Israel Business Lunch today, (a lavish affair at the Dorchester), where the principle topic of conversation naturally turned to peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately today's event coincided with the breaking of the Hamas sanctioned ceasefire, with a number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel overnight, and marked almost 2 years since the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanese Hezbollah insurgents.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with all three IDF soldiers kidnapped by militants - Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Israel is one of only two conventional democracies in the region, the other being Iraq, and tries to demonstrate leadership in the region in it affairs. It is surely incumbent upon all reasonable nations to demand the release of these three young people who only wanted to serve their country with pride and their families deserve to know they are alive and being treated humanely.
Israel is not perfect - then again what democracy is? When she does things that are wrong we in Britain should criticise her, as good friends are able to do to one another. Today, however, those of us at the Dorchester spared just a moment to hope for the safe return of the kidnapped and an end to killing in the region.
A two state solution for the region sometimes seems like a remote pipe dream but, today I left London full of hope that I will see peace in my time with a secure Israel and a democratic Palestinian state.