Boris Johnson’s huge Conservative victory in last month’s general election could lead to a deeper security relationship between the UK and Israel, according to a Middle East think-tank.
The Tories’ 80-seat majority, coupled with Labour’s worst performance since 1935, spelled good news for bilateral UK-Israel relations, according to a report published on Tuesday from the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM).
Successive British prime ministers have been committed to Israel’s security but the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street would have caused angst and gloom among those convinced that the two countries should continue working together.
“The large Conservative victory in the December 2019 election, combined with Britain’s departure from the EU, could serve to deepen and enhance the Britain-Israel security partnership as Britain seeks to redefine its foreign policy and security strategy while strengthening relations with allies outside of Europe,” said BICOM.
Labour’s manifesto promised to suspend the sale of arms to Israel “used in violation of the rights of Palestinian civilians”. It also promised to “reform the international rules-based order to secure justice and accountability for breaches of human rights and international law, such as the illegal blockade of Gaza”.
However BICOM suggested that UK arms exports to Israel accounted for only one percent of Israel’s military imports, whereas Israel was the third largest arms supplier to the UK, in particular selling its drone technology.
The think tank published its latest report on the eve of Prince Charles’s official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, and warned that the legal designation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights could be “an area of increasing diplomatic divergence between Israel and the UK”.
Benjamin Netanyahu has said he intends to apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the West Bank settlements, with Donald Trump likely to support it, but the UK has remained “firmly committed to its traditional policy positions”.