Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson today (Wednesday, 8 March 2017), at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I had a wonderful meeting in London, a good meeting with Prime Minister May and with you. I look forward to coming to London for the hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and also to celebrate the great partnership between us. We are enhancing our cooperation in economics, in technology, in security, in cooperation in the field of cyber, in many, many other areas. And we also seek a world that’s secure and peaceful, and I look forward to discussing both of these things with you.”
UK Foreign Secretary Johnson: “I first visited when I was – as I never tire of telling you – when I was 18 and worked in a kibbutz and made a not-very-substantial contribution to the Israeli economy back then.
“All I want to say is, of course, our government in the UK, Theresa May and I and all our government are, as you know, firm, strong supporters, rock-like supporters of Israel. And what we want is to see an Israel that is at peace with its neighbours. And I should remind you that the policy of our government is for a two-state solution, which is what we want to achieve and hope to help to bring about in a modest and humble way. And obviously there are… We want to help remove the obstacles to that solution. Israel has a, first and foremost, an absolute right to live in security and the people of Israel deserve to be safe from terrorism. That’s our absolute priority and we work with you, as you know, in all kinds of ways to ensure the stability of the entire region. And of course, we must also try to remove obstacles to peace and progress, such as the settlements, which you and I have discussed before.
“But, I think and I know that you agree with this, I think there is an opportunity now. I think things have changed in the world. I know that you’re flying around a great deal and talking to people across the world. I do think there’s a chance to look at this issue afresh. And what we want to emphasise is that we are not only here to help, but we are, as you know, building a global identity as a Britain that’s coming out of the EU and we want to build on our trading partnership with you. We are the biggest European trading partner with Israel. I think I am right in saying that we have the largest, fastest growing Aston Martin dealership anywhere in the world here in Israel. And we’ve done some fantastic export deals with you in the last few months.
“But you are also huge contributors to the UK economy. So I’m very pleased that one of the things that you agreed with our prime minister, Theresa May, was to set up a working group so that we could go forward together towards a new free trade agreement, and that’s what we will achieve.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Well, obviously I look forward to doing that. It’s evident that we agree on most things, but not on all things. And one of the things, I think the source of it when you analyse a problem, get to its roots and reason the we haven’t had peace for a hundred years is not the settlements, but the persistent refusal to recognise a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundary. I think if you want to solve a problem, go to the core of the problem, and that is something I look forward to discussing with you further. I think we should get going. Thank you. Welcome, Boris.”
During Boris Johnson’s visit, President Reuven Rivlin asked him to relay an invitation to theBritish royal family to visit Israel. Rivlin invited the monarchs to mark the upcoming centennial anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Deceleration, which expressed the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Holy Land.
“This is a very important year in the history of the relations between Israel and the United Kingdom,” Rivlin said in a meeting in Jerusalem with Johnson. “We will mark 100 years since the Balfour Declaration and I am greatly honoured to extend an official invitation to the Royal family to visit Israel to mark this event.”
The meeting between Rivlin and Johnson was the first in a series of meetings scheduled during the UK diplomat’s one-day trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Johnson arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday for his first working visit to the region in his current role. Johnson attended former president Shimon Peres’s funeral in September and in 2015 visited Israel as mayor of London.