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Record-large British House of Lords delegation visits Israel, seeks closer bilateral relations

A group of members from Britain's House of Lords at the Knesset, May 2023. (Photo: Knesset Spokesperson)

A record-large delegation of British House of Lords arrived in the Jewish state on Thursday in an effort to boost bilateral British-Israeli relations. The bipartisan delegation includes Lord Eric Pickles, Great Britain’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues and former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard.

The United Kingdom has long viewed the State of Israel as a partner against Islamist extremism and terrorism. However, Lord Pickles says, Britain today also views the Jewish state as an important center of innovation.

“We have moved on from just seeing Israel as a good ally in the battle against terrorism to a partner in innovation,” he said.

This is particularly true in the area of medicine. Israeli patented pharmaceuticals reportedly make up one-sixth of all medicines used by the British National Health Service (NHS).

“We have moved on from a position of being polite and interested to one in which our economies are increasingly integrated,” he added.

Great Britain and Israel have both established developed economies that are export-oriented. In 2022, bilateral British-Israeli trade reached £7.2 billion (almost $9 billion).

Pickles believes that the current British government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is one of the most pro-Israeli governments ever in London.

“I doubt that we have had a situation where there is a more pro-Israel government in power,” he said.

In March, Netanyahu flew to London to meet with Sunak and discuss the Iranian threat in the context of the two countries' shared security and economic interests.

Speaking at an event organized by the Conservative Friends of Israel in October, Sunak recognized the Jewish state’s ties to Jerusalem, stressing the city is the “indisputably the historic capital.”

Sunak also articulated his support of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.

“You will have my total commitment that I will fight very hard for the security of people in Israel,” vowed Sunak.

Read more: UK

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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