Ambassador Matthew Gould and Israeli President Shimon Peres .
(photo credit: Mati Milstein, courtesy of the British Embassy in )
The British government vehemently opposes boycotts of Israel, British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould affirmed Monday night "clearly and unambiguously," as his embassy hosted a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 87th birthday. "They (boycotts) do nothing to build understanding, they put up walls when we should be tearing them down," he asserted.
While Gould acknowledged that the two countries "don’t always agree on everything," pointing to the issue of settlements, he said that "the important thing is that we disagree as friends, and we will stand alongside Israel as a friend."
This year, the annual event was held at Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot to celebrate and honor scientific relations between the two countries.
Speaking to the guests ahead of a speech by President Shimon Peres, Gould broke his teeth to praise, in Hebrew, the two countries’ cooperation in science and technology. Later, reverting to his native language, he lauded cooperation on security in the face of challenges in the region, and spoke of Britain’s ongoing support to the end of reaching peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
"The friendship isn't limited to science," he stressed. "In the past year we’ve built huge strides in building a relationship in technology; we’ve continued to grow the level of trade between Britain and Israel, so we are now Israel’s biggest export market in the world, after the United States."
"We’ve built an even stronger security relationship," he said, specifically mentioning the Iranian nuclear threat.
Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ambassador said that the desired amount of progress had not been made over the past year, and looked to US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to reignite the peace process, emphasizing that Britain will do everything it can to "turn this around."
Echoing past statements by Peres, Gould directly addressed the president, saying, "as you have said... peace between Israelis and Palestinians is urgent, necessary, crucial, and possible."
For his part, Peres used the occasion to thank the ambassador for Britain’s cooperation.
"Mr Ambassador I came really to thank you for this occasion, for your wise choice to make it at the Weitzman Institute," the president said. "It couldn’t be a more proper occasion and a proper way to express our thanks and admiration for Great Britain as an empire and Great Britain as a partner."
"We have today our best relationship in the domain of science, of technology, of culture, and it’s great to feel that we passed through these two great challenges finally in the right way and hopefully in the right future. God bless the Queen. God bless Great Britain," the president said, raising his glass and making a toast in honor the queen.