An electronic information board at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Close and strengthening economic ties between the UK and Israel prove that attempts to boycott, sanction and divest from Israel are failing, UK Ambassador Matthew Gould said Tuesday.
“If the boycott were getting any popular traction, that would be having an impact on the economic figures,” Gould told a group of economic reporters at his Ramat Gan residence. “I don’t think the boycott is having an effect on the economic relationship.”
Despite headline-grabbing attempts to boycott Israeli goods, particularly during the summer war with Hamas in Gaza, trade between Israel and the UK is up 26 percent this year in comparison to the same period last year. This year alone, eight Israeli companies have gone public on the London Stock Exchange.
“It would be very hard for anyone to live their lives without using Israeli technology,” Gould added, specifying that the sentiment was his personal view, not an official one. One in six pills sold in the United Kingdom, for example, are produced by Teva, while Israeli technology is pervasive in chips, computers and mobile devices.
The two countries continue to invest in closer ties as well. The embassy houses the UK-Israel tech hub, whose eight employees devote their efforts to strengthening tech ties. Last week, Avi Hasson, chief scientist of the Economy Ministry, visited London.
“We feel that there still exists unrealized potential to advance R&D cooperation with the UK,” he said.
Even if economic ties continue to flourish, however, Gould says Israel should be concerned on its policies’ long-term effects on public opinion. Even if many consumers would never think of boycotting Israel full stop, he said, more are open to boycotting settlement goods.
“I think there is a level of frustration in Europe with repeated announcements toward settlements, and this has been made very clear very publicly on a number of occasions,” he said, referencing the European Commission’s recent push to enforce rules that would effectively ban agricultural products from beyond the Green Line in Europe. “We worry where a long-term absence of peace will lead Israel,” he added.
The UK may also be considering tough tax transparency laws similar to the ones the United States has put into effect.
“We’re going to have a much more transparent relationship,” Gould said, refusing to specify if the UK was seeking harsh penalties for those who fail to report foreign accounts, as the US has.
“Now is the time for anyone in the UK who thought they could hide money in Israel to come clean,” he added.