The UK and Israel have signed a deal boosting economic, security and technology ties ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to London on Friday.
The Foreign Office said the the deal builds on 75 years of close relations between the two countries and includes shared commitments to “tackle the scourge of antisemitism.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly hosted his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in London yesterday to sign the agreement that will define bilateral relations between the two countries until 2030.
The timing of Tuesday’s agreement is controversial since it will be seen as a mark of approval for Israel’s far-right government, which has put settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank at the top of its agenda.
New multi-million-pound programmes announced in the deal include around £20 million of joint funding commitments on technology and innovation, and a commitment by the UK to promote “fact-based knowledge of the Holocaust and strengthen media and information literacy.”
The Foreign Office said: “The UK and Israel are committed to a modern, innovative and forward-looking relationship that continues to focus on mutual priorities for mutual benefit. The 2030 Roadmap for Israel-UK Bilateral Relations is an ambitious agreement that will ensure the partnership remains modern and continues to innovate to address shared challenges. Adopting a thematic approach, the Roadmap contains detailed commitments for deepening cooperation across the breadth of the Israel-UK relationship, including on trade, cyber, science and tech, research and development, security, health, climate and gender.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly added: “The UK-Israel Bilateral Roadmap is a testament to the strength of our close and historic relationship. As we approach the 75th anniversary of UK-Israel relations, our Roadmap will allow us to fully take advantage of the opportunities in areas of mutual interest, including tech, trade and security.
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“The UK and Israel also stand together, defiant in the face of the malign influence of Iran in the region, and against the wider scourge of antisemitism.
“The UK-Israel relationship has already delivered huge benefits to both economies. Our trade relationship is worth around £7 billion, and there are more than 400 Israeli tech firms operating in the UK. Israeli investment into the UK drives growth and jobs, adding around £1 billion gross value to the UK economy and creating about 16,000 jobs in the last 8 years.”
On the other hand, Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs director, said: “We’ve repeatedly warned ministers that the new trade deal currently being negotiated with Tel Aviv could end up providing further cover for Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian territory by failing to differentiate between goods produced in Israel and those made in the illegal settlements.”
Israel and the UK had already planned to host reciprocal prime ministerial visits to mark Israel’s 75th anniversary.
Netanyahu’s visit to London will complete a series of European capitals having visited Paris, Berlin and Italy in the last month, with “the Iranian threat” being his top priority.
In the months ahead Prime Minister Sunak it is anticipated to make a reciprocal visit to Israel.