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.
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 recovery from the pandemic will be fuelled by free enterprise, free trade and investment. We have built 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’s 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. We know the opportunities of the future will come from technology, which is why Israel and the UK are going further and faster to innovate. 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.
With the world increasingly threatened in cyberspace, we will work together 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.
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 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 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 anywhere in 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 for near Parliament, will stand as a constant reminder, and demonstrate why we must stamp out anti-Semitism and hate.
We will work night and day to prevent the Iranian regime from ever becoming a nuclear power.
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 celebrate publicly 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 become even closer. Together we ensure the future is defined by liberal democracies who believe in freedom and fairness.
Liz Truss is Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Yair Lapid is Israel’s foreign minister