This week, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly embarked on a significant visit to Israel, underscoring the important bonds between the two nations. His arrival coincided with the solemn anniversary of the September 11 attacks, prompting him to focus his message on the collaborative efforts of Israel and the United Kingdom in confronting terrorism.
The UK stands as an enduring and vital partner of Israel. Shared values as democracies have deepened over time and economic and security ties have become fundamental pillars of our relationship.
During his speech at a conference hosted by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy at Reichman University in Herzliya, Cleverly emphatically reiterated the UK’s unwavering support for Israel. He highlighted that both ISIS and Hamas target innocent victims, referencing recent attacks against Israelis and reaffirmed his country’s steadfast support for the Jewish state.
Israel-UK ties: Unique, deep, and crucial
Our historical ties with the UK make our relationship unique. It was on British soil that early Zionist pioneers found support for their vision of a national homeland for the Jewish people, and the Balfour Declaration holds a significant place in Israel’s history. Additionally, the British Mandate over the region that eventually became Israel played a pivotal role in providing the necessary conditions for the growth of key institutions. These include law enforcement, the judiciary, transportation networks, and labor unions, and remain the building blocks of our nation – as true today as they were in the 1920s.
It is important to acknowledge that despite our historical relationship, Israel and the UK haven’t always seen eye to eye, or that there haven’t been challenges along the way. Nevertheless, true friends and allies emerge stronger after navigating complex issues.
While the nature of terrorist threats may evolve, both the UK and Israel are adapting to effectively confront them. Both nations have felt the impact of extremist activities, and Cleverly emphasized the need to address Iran’s unacceptable statements and behavior, while also noting the fragmentation of terrorist networks compared with the past.
Cleverly also held meetings with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who recently returned from Bahrain. The trip raised the possibility of a new economic corridor stretching from India to Europe through the Middle East and Greece, a development that could greatly benefit the UK.
Following Brexit, the UK has assumed a new role in global trade, making bilateral agreements with Israel all the more significant. Cleverly highlighted Israel’s supply of medicine for the UK’s National Health Service and its prominence as a technology hub.
This week, numerous Israeli defense companies participated in the DSEI defense expo in the UK. Israeli companies are at the forefront of equipping European nations with cutting-edge defense technology, including systems such as Iron Fist and Trophy that enhance armored vehicle protection. Israeli drones and AI systems that guide these technologies were also showcased.
This holds particular relevance for the UK, as new Challenger tanks and armored vehicles may incorporate Israeli technology. Cleverly personally witnessed the Iron Dome system during his visit and commended Israel’s vital contributions to defense technology.
In the years ahead, investing in this multilayered partnership with the UK will be crucial. A shifting global order has far-reaching implications across various aspects of daily life, with food security in the Middle East emerging as just one concern amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. London’s firm stance in support of Kyiv, coupled with sanctions against groups such as Wagner, is impacting issues ranging from trade to inflation.
Collaborating closely with the UK assumes heightened importance in this context, especially considering the UK’s historical partnerships with the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and others in the region.
Israel’s current position in the Middle East is undeniably intertwined with Britain’s historic role in the region. In this evolving world, our ties with London must remain unwavering and robust. Cleverly’s positive visit and his expressions of solidarity with Israel symbolize the enduring strength of our bond.
The next step ought to be a long-overdue visit by the British sovereign, King Charles III, which would be the ultimate manifestation of that bond. We hope it happens sooner rather than later.