UK’s Osborne pays tribute to Israeli innovation

British Chancellor of the Exchequer says Israel is “a remarkable success story when it comes to hi-tech and is a beacon to the world.”

George Osborne 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
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 world.”
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 government.
Osborne said that the government believes that the solution to the problem is delivered through negotiations by both sides.
“We have made it clear, as previous British governments have, that the building of settlements is something that makes negotiations more difficult.
We have 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 problem.
“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 two countries.
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,” he said.