George Osborne 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
LONDON – British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has paid tribute to
Israel as a center for innovation and industry and said that the relationship
between the two countries, in areas of security and economics, has grown under
the current government.
The Chancellor was speaking at the Conservative
Friends of Israel’s (CFI) annual business lunch in central London on Monday,
where he told an audience of over 500 MPs, diplomats, business leaders and
community officials that he and British Prime Minister David Cameron are great
friends of Israel.
He spoke about a recent trip to Israel, as part of a
delegation to launch a hi-tech hub in the British Embassy to enhance cooperation
between the two countries, and paid homage to the Jewish state saying it is “a
remarkable success story when it comes to hi-tech and is a beacon to the
In a conversation with journalist Daniel Finkelstein, chief
leader writer of The London Times, he was pressed on the issue of settlement
building, which he said had been a problem for the current British
Osborne said that the government believes that the solution
to the problem is delivered through negotiations by both sides.
made it clear, as previous British governments have, that the building of
settlements is something that makes negotiations more difficult.
been clear with the Palestinians that some of the activities and threats they
have posed – such as Hamas’s threat to the security of Israel – is a major
“So being a supporter of a two-state solution does not undermine
our friendship – a security friendship, a cultural and economic friendship with
the State of Israel,” he added.
Speaking at the lunch, Israel’s
Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub thanked the chancellor for his “long standing
and forthright support” for Israel and for coming through on his commitment to
change the law on universal jurisdiction.
The ambassador also paid
tribute to the strong relationship between Israel and the UK and how science and
the spirit of innovation is becoming a bridge for deeper cooperation between the
Highlighting the areas of cooperation between Israel and
the UK – with recent agreements in the world of science, medicine and film, and
the visit to Israel this past week of a British hi-tech team – and with two
Memorandums of Understanding being signed by government departments in the
coming weeks, the ambassador said the friendship between the UK and Israel “is
built through innovation and business and is really more important today than
has ever been.”
Talking about the current challenges in the region, Taub
said that one of the major themes is that the tensions are not between Israelis
and Arabs or Muslims and Jews.
“They are between people who are trying to
build a better future and the people who are trying to drag us back to the past
and that is why building academic ties, doing business together and investing in
each other – these are the best ways of saying that we believe in the future,”