Sadiq Khan said he will visit Israel as soon as possible, but seemed to rule out next year because of his re-election campaign.
The Mayor of London spoke about the importance of economic and cultural ties between the capital and Tel Aviv, as well as fighting antisemitism in London, while talking to Jewish News at Chanukah in the Square.
Khan appeared to rule out a visit to the Jewish state in 2019 however, saying: “To be honest, next year I might be focused on winning re-election in 2020, but as soon as I can I’m going to go.”
“I’ve met with the mayors of some of the great cities in Israel in the past, and I’m keen to go whenever I can. I’m keen, if for no other reason, but to reassure the world post-Brexit …we’re going to carry on being open-minded”.
He praised Londoners “working with Israelis, businesses in London working with Israeli businesses. I want that to continue.”
The Mayor also supported furthering cultural links between London and Israel, after having backed the Tel Aviv in London Festival in September 2017.
Asked whether he’d support the return leg in Israel in 2019, he said “culture is a big area we want to work closely with Tel Aviv with, but also tech as well.”
He said London can learn “how to be a smart city. I was very impressed by Tel Aviv’s moves to encourage more people to walk and cycle, so there are always things we can learn from each other.”
The week-long festival ‘London in Tel Aviv’ follows the success of the inaugural Tel Aviv in London extravaganza, which showcased Israeli dance, music and food at the Roundhouse last year to more than 10,000 people.
Khan also urged non-Jewish Londoners to “try and understand the psychological trauma our Jewish friends feel when they saw the terror attack at the synagogue in Pittsburgh”, calling it a “crime against the entire community”.
“I want Jewish Londoners to have a sense of belonging in this city, and that’s why this giant menorah in Trafalgar square is so important”.
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
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