Johnson focuses on trade and peace
FOREIGN SECRETARY Boris Johnson reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to the two-state solution and longstanding opposition to settlement building during his visit to Jerusalem on Wednesday.
At his meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister announced that he would be visiting London a second time this year to commemorate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
Mr Johnson stressed that the current British government are “firm supporters of Israel” and that the government’s policy is still to support a two-state solution
“We would like to help bring that about in our small and modest way,” he said.
The only hint of disagreement between the two was when Mr Johnson spoke of the need “to remove obstacles (to peace) like the settlements”.
Mr Netanyahu responded: “It’s evident that we agree on most things but not all things”.
In his view, the real obstacle to peace was “the persistent refusal to recognise a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundaries”.
This disagreement seemed to be secondary to Mr Johnson’s evident enthusiasm to discuss Israel and Britain’s future trade relations, praising the increase of Aston Martin dealerships in Israel and, in an interview with TV station Channel Ten, the growth in the sales of Scotch whisky.
The Foreign Secretary noted that Israel is also “a huge contributor to the UK economy” and that in last month’s meeting with Theresa May in London, Mr Netanyahu had agreed to set up a working group on the future trade deal between Israel and Britain. He said the UK was “building a global identity and leaving the EU”.
Mr Johnson also spoke of his time as an 18-year-old working on a kibbutz when he made his own “not very substantial contribution to the Israeli economy”.
During the one-day visit, Mr Johnson also met leaders of opposition parties, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni of Zionist Union and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, as well as receiving a briefing on settlement building from Peace Now.
He also held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Boris Johnson with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem this week