Britain and Israel building new strategic partnership


What happened: British trade with Israel is booming and bilateral relations are expanding in defence, science, tech, business and cybersecurity in what amounts to a new strategic partnership between the two countries, according to BICOM’s new report Britain and Israel: The new strategic partnership published today. The report is a major study of bilateral relations with chapters on trade, foreign affairs and defence, education and science, UK public attitudes to Israel and culture.

  • BICOM CEO James Sorene said: “In just a few years Britain-Israel relations have been transformed. Britain and Israel are sharing expertise and experience at every level to counter similar national security threats and our armed forces are carrying out joint exercises to test capability and learn from each other. When the UK leaves the EU, Israel will be a vital partner as Britain looks to intensify innovation and export more products to distant markets.”
  • UK Ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, said: “I have seen the vast potential for UK-Israeli collaborations. Our two countries complement each other’s strengths. There is potential to do even more, including after Brexit. High tech collaboration is thriving, to the benefit of both sides. We are ambitious about scientific and academic collaboration, where current work highlights untapped potential. The security relationship has grown exponentially since I was last here in 2006. The visit of HRH Prince Charles highlights the depth of our connection. 2020 and beyond looks bright for the bilateral relationship.”
  • Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, said: “In these past 70 years of full formal Israel-UK diplomatic relations, the progress we have made is remarkable. We are partners whose shared prosperity and security is built on our common values of democracy, liberty and the rule of law, and the visit of His Royal Highness is but the latest cause for us to celebrate all we have achieved together.”
  • UK Trade Envoy to Israel, Ian Austin, said: “I know that our friendship with Israel will continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come”

Context: Bilateral trade was worth $10.5bn in 2018, an increase of 72 per cent since 2012 and British exports to Israel increased by 132 per cent in the same period.

  • The increase in British exports to Israel was largely driven by a 14,000 per cent increase in oil exports worth $3.8bn in 2018. Israeli exports to the UK were worth $4.34bn in 2018, an increase of 21 per cent since 2012. The increase in Israeli exports to the UK was largely driven by a 52 per cent increase in pharmaceutical products worth $2.8bn in 2018. The UK is Israel’s third largest export market, behind the US and China.
  • UK-Israel commercial cooperation in cyber is growing stronger. Israeli cyber security experts play an important role maintaining London’s status as a safe and secure global financial centre. The UK-Israel Tech Hub generated 175 partnerships worth £85 million between 2012-2018.
  • The UK provided the Palestinian Authority with aid worth £500 million between 2011-2017.

Looking ahead: Bilateral relations will get an extra boost this week when HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, embarks on his first ever official visit to Israel. Prince Charles will be in Israel from the 22- 24 of January, where he will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He will meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and also travel to the West Bank to meet with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem.