Press release: Minister for the Middle East visits Israel

Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood visited Israel on 6-7 October. He met Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi to discuss the peace process, Gaza, UK-Israel relations, Iran, and the region.

Mr Ellwood met community leaders in Israel’s south, hearing about the impact of Gazan militant rocket fire, and visited an Iron Dome battery in Ashkelon. He visited Yad Vashem, and laid a wreath in memory of those who died in the Holocaust. He met Israeli Chief Rabbi Lau and reaffirmed the importance of the UK’s engagement with Israel’s Ultraorthodox community, later visiting a bustling Succot Market. He met Israeli tech entrepreneurs, who discussed their innovative collaborations with British companies, facilitated by the UK-Israel Tech Hub.

Commenting on the visit, Mr Ellwood said:

I have had open and constructive conversations with Ministers Livni, Steinitz and Hanegbi about Gaza and the urgency of progress on the peace process. Having heard first-hand from residents of Israel’s southern communities about their experiences of living under rocket fire, I reaffirm the United Kingdom’s determination to stand by Israel’s right to self defence.

I expressed my sincere hope that Israel can take the opportunity offered by the Cairo talks to address the fundamental causes of the conflict in Gaza, including a lifting of restrictions, and to end the cycle of violence, providing lasting peace and security to Palestinians and Israelis.

I reiterated the UK’s long-standing concern about settlements, including the recent announcement about additional units at Givat Hamatos, which undermines trust between the parties and has serious implications for the prospects of a two-state solution.

I was impressed to see the strength of the UK-Israel partnership first hand. It was a privilege to meet leaders from Israel’s Ultraorthodox community, including Rabbi David Lau, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, and to also hear about a series of exciting UK-Israeli tech collaborations.

Finally, it was profoundly moving to stand in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem. It reinforced to me the importance of the work the UK conducts in Holocaust Education. The UK is determined to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial wherever it exists.
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