© Photo by Yakir Zur -2271

Boris addressing Chanukah in the Square (© Photo by Yakir Zur)

Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his plans to lead a trade delegation to Israel before he leaves City Hall.

The Mayor of London told Jewish News during this week’s Chanukah in the Square that he would “definitely” visit before the conclusion of his second term.

He said: “Some time next year – probably towards the end – or at the beginning of 2016 I will be leading a City Hall trade delegation to Israel. We had discussions about it just this week. It’ll probably be a whirlwind tour but we’re definitely going to do it.”

Johnson first spoke of such a delegation to the Jewish News in summer 2013, when he revealed it could happen as soon as this year. “We think there’s lots of synergy between Israel and London, particularly in the tech sector,” Johnson said at the time.

“Israel is an incredible illustration of what a country can do without any natural resources to speak of. Just energy, dynamism, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit – that’s what we need in London. “We need to create something like Israel’s culture of innovation. That’s what I want to go and talk about.”

BICOM’s Professor Alan Johnson said: “This is good news for London and Israel. The world is beating a path to Israel’s door to find out the secret of the ‘start-up nation’. If all the entrepreneurial spirit of Israel and London can combine, that will be a sight to see.”

Despite the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting the Jewish state, the government has condemned boycotts and the countries enjoy a burgeoning trade relationship. Israeli exports to the UK rose by 38 percent during the first eight months of this year and Britain is now second only to the US in terms of Israel’s export markets.

Johnson has been selected to contest the safe Tory seat of Uxbridge in May and so the visit is now likely to take place when he is both mayor and an MP. He spoke to Jewish News on Tuesday night, after addressing record crowds at Chanukah in the Square.

The event – organised by the Jewish leadership Council, London Jewish Forum and Chabad – saw the lighting of Europe’s tallest menorah as revellers enjoyed musical entertainment and 6,000 free doughnuts in Trafalgar Square.

The mayor said: “It’s great to see so many people here… It’s a wonderful, happy occasion and I’m delighted to be able to support it.”

Asked if the community could rely on him to attend next year’s celebrations even if he has to balance additional political commitments, he replied: “The community can certainly rely on me in every possible way. I haven’t missed a Chanukah yet and I certainly won’t miss the next one.”