On 4 to 5 November Hugh Robertson, the FCO’s new Minister of State for the Middle East, visited Israel in his first overseas visit in the role. He then went on to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jordan as part of the same visit.
Mr Robertson’s visit was a chance to see firsthand the flourishing partnership between the UK and Israel and to take stock of progress on recently re-launched peace negotiations with the Israeli government.
The minister received a briefing from the UK-Israel Tech Hub which partners British companies with the best of Israeli innovation. He was shown the “ReWalk” by Inbal Pezaro, an Israeli paralympic swimmer who won three bronze medals at London 2012. She demonstrated the Israeli-designed bionic walking assistance system used by Claire Lomas to light the torch at the London 2012 Paralympics. Mr Robertson also discussed the strong cooperation between the UK and Israel on regional and security issues with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
At the end of the visit, Mr Robertson laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, the memorial of the Jewish people to those who died in the Holocaust.
Commenting on the trip, Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson said:
I was delighted to return to Israel as part of my first overseas visit as Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It was extremely encouraging to see firsthand such a flourishing partnership. Whether it is in tech, science, trade or education, the UK and Israel are forging links that we are excited about.
I discussed the peace negotiations with my Israeli counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Elkin. We strongly support the courageous decisions taken by both Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to re-enter talks. I made clear my understanding of Israel’s security needs and the UK’s admiration for the bold steps taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu in releasing prisoners, but I reiterated the UK’s strong concern over recent settlement announcements. The UK has consistently condemned settlement expansion, and I told Mr Elkin that these announcements are eroding support for Israel in the UK.
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