The UK and Israel’s foreign ministers have declared that they will work “night and day” to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon as they sign a “historic” 10-year plan for deepening ties.
In a joint article for The Daily Telegraph (see below), Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, and Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign affairs minister, preview their new “memorandum of understanding”.
The agreement, which will be signed on Monday, will enable the UK and Israel to work more closely on issues such as cybersecurity, technology development, defence, trade and science.
It will see Israel become one of the UK’s most trusted allies in thwarting cyber attacks, according to a Foreign Office insider. Talks on a trade deal are also set to begin early next year.
A renewed commitment to stop Tehran ever getting nuclear weapons
“We believe that a democracy rooted in freedom – which empowers citizens with the opportunity to innovate, create and fulfil their dreams – is the finest form of government,” the two ministers write.
One of the most eye-catching aspects of their joint piece is a renewed commitment to stop Tehran ever getting nuclear weapons – a subject of talks that start again this week.
Negotiators from the UK will join those of other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal as talks restart in Vienna today.
The original agreement was struck in 2015 and saw Iran agree to stop pursuing its nuclear programme in return for economic sanctions being lifted by the other countries.
There have been hopes of a renewed deal with President Joe Biden
However, Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal during his presidency and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to push ahead with its nuclear advancement once again.
Since Joe Biden has taken over the White House there have been hopes of a renewed deal with Tehran but talks remain at an impasse.
The original signatories to the JCPOA were China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the UK, the US and the European Union.
Barack Obama hailed the original agreement as one of his most significant foreign policy achievements but Mr Trump dubbed it the “worst deal ever” and made it a campaign issue in the 2016 election, which he won.
Israel and the UK have a trading relationship worth £5 billion. Rolls-Royce supplies jet engines to Israel’s national airline and the Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva provides one in six of the NHS’s prescription medicines.
Ms Truss was closely involved with preparations for trade deal talks as international trade secretary, the role she held until Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle in September.
Still only two months into her job as Foreign Secretary, Ms Truss has said she wants to put economic diplomacy at the heart of her approach to reshaping Britain’s foreign policy.
Together we can propel both our nations to safety and prosperity
By Liz Truss and Yair Lapid, Israeli foreign minister
Many fear the skies are darkening worldwide due to the pandemic, the threat of terrorism and hostile actors seeking the upper hand. But we believe that with the right approach, freedom and democracy will prevail over malign forces.
That is why Israel and the United Kingdom are today coming together in London to take a major step forward: transforming our close friendship into an even closer partnership by formally agreeing a new strategic plan for the next decade spanning cyber, tech, trade and defence.
This pact will spur technological breakthroughs which have the potential to change the world, create high-quality jobs in both our countries and provide tools to our security forces. But more than that, it is a victory for optimism.
We believe that a democracy rooted in freedom – which empowers citizens with the opportunity to innovate, create, and fulfill their dreams – is the finest form of government. As outward-looking patriotic nations, we know that the best way forward lies in building stronger economic, technological and security ties with like-minded partners.
Our great nations can do so much more to create jobs and fuel economic growth
Our recovery from the pandemic will be fuelled by free enterprise, free trade, and investment. We have built up a trading relationship worth £5 billion, led by companies like Rolls-Royce supplying jet engines to Israel’s national airline and the Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva now providing one in six of the NHS’ prescription medicines.
But our great nations can do so much more to create jobs and fuel economic growth. That is why we will pave the way to negotiating a bespoke UK-Israel free trade agreement, which would help us seize new opportunities in the industries of the future like services, science and technology.
We know the opportunities of the future will come from technology, which is why Israel and the UK are going further and faster to push new frontiers of innovation. Our partnership will keep us at the forefront of the technological revolution and maximise our competitive advantage. The UK will also open its doors to high-growth Israeli tech firms, offering a gateway for them to realise their ambitions in areas like AI and quantum computing.
With the world increasingly threatened in cyberspace, we will work closer to defend ourselves. Israel will officially become a Tier One cyber partner for the UK, recognising how much more we can achieve together as tech leaders with world-class cybersecurity expertise.
This is testament to the forward-leaning ethos at the heart of Israel and the UK’s partnership. Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, was also a renowned scientist who once lectured at the University of Manchester. He said: “Science will bring to this land both peace and renewal of its youth.”
As science and tech superpowers, Israel and the UK are putting our prowess into action, leading the world in our vaccine rollouts and in developing billion dollar tech unicorns. It is no surprise that the UK was the first country to establish a special mission to Israel to boost tech cooperation, helping us set the standard for modern business.
We stand united in condemning the appalling attacks on Israel and its representatives
Of course, we know the world has to be safe for freedom-loving democracies. That is why we are working robustly as security partners. Our air forces now conduct regular exercises and HMS Richmond showed the strength of our ties when docking in the crystal blue waters of Haifa’s port, as part of the Carrier Strike Group’s global deployment.
We stand united in condemning the appalling attacks on Israel and its representatives, from the shooting in Jerusalem last week by a Hamas militant to the unacceptable hounding of Israel’s ambassador Tzipi Hotovely outside the London School of Economics.
There is no place for anti-Semitism around the world. That is why the UK has moved decisively to support Israel in this fight by proscribing Hamas in its entirety. The Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre planned near Parliament will stand as a constant reminder, and answer to the question of why we must stamp out anti-Semitism and hate wherever and whenever it is found.
We will also work night and day to prevent the Iranian regime from ever becoming a nuclear power. The clock is ticking, which heightens the need for close cooperation with our partners and friends to thwart Tehran’s ambitions.
There is no greater sign of what can be achieved through open dialogue than the Abraham Accords. The UK was one of the first countries to publicly celebrate this historic step towards normalisation in the Middle East led by Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco and mediated by the United States. One year on, the UK is continuing to play its part in supporting Israel as it works more closely with partners in the region.
Israel and the UK are the closest of friends, and today we are deepening that partnership to become even closer. Together, we will forge ahead and ensure the future is defined by liberal democracies who believe in freedom and fairness.