Victoria Petroff
International journalist and producer

What does Brexit mean for British-Israel relations?

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Facebook/IsraelinUK)

Israel’s experience in foreign policy is an interesting thing practiced on the world’s stage. It does not contradict other countries of the world, and in some ways even resembles British politics today. Many experts even make comparisons between the situation of Israel in the Middle East and the future place of Britain with respect to a federal European state after Brexit. What is this similarity expressed in?

After Brexit, the EU may see Britain as a threat. A prosperous and quiet England may deprive the European project of meaning and emphasise the many shortcomings of European federalism. Britain’s success could also inspire other European states to leave the EU. And if Britain and the European Commission can agree on a reasonable divorce agreement during the transition year, relations between the two sides could be tense and could be the subject of sabotage attempts by European leaders. In fact, Britain may find itself in the same setting of regional isolation and hostility in Europe as Israel was isolated in the Middle East.

Israeli Children Waving the Israeli flag (Facebook/IsraelinUK)

Of course, the similarities between Britain and Israel are not the same. The goal of European leaders with regard to Britain is not total destruction, as is the case with Israel. But European politicians may want to undermine British sovereignty to deter other EU members from wanting to follow the same British scenario. Israel’s experience can help British politicians if they try to chart a successful course for their country. In general, relations between Israel and Great Britain have always been warm and friendly.

The former Conservative Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes believes that Britain’s exit from the EU will not only improve these relations, but also open up new trade routes.

The former Conservative Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes (Facebook/Richardbarneslondon)

“The UK and the British government have always been relatively close to Israel, – says Richard Barnes. – Many of the bureaucracies within the Foreign Office have been what we call “Arabists”, taking the argument from the Arab side and against the Jewish side. But the people of England are very much pro-Israel. And what was in the EU we couldn’t have any particular trading relationship with Israel, which is contrary to the EU policies, but now Brexit gives us the freedom to have trade relationships free, trade whatever relationships with all the world 195 countries that are represented in the United Nations as against 27 others within Europe. I would guess that Israeli market is not particularly large, it is important to all the industries that trade there. We hope that in time we have a better and closer trading relationship because we have the freedom to make our own decisions that’s what the challenge will be and that’s what the joy of it will be. We are looking forward to having closer and better relationships and trading relations between Israel and UK. Israel is a strong country, it is the only democracy in the Middle East and as a democratic nation who’s just expressed its support for democracy and its total commitment to democracy”.

Today, Israel and the UK is very important not only to support each other on the world stage, but also to take an example from each other. The first steps were taken not so long ago – Britain officially supported Israel’s decision on Hezbollah. The UK Treasury Department has included the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement on the list of terrorist organizations whose assets are to be frozen.

President Reuven Rivlin greets UK Ambassador Neil Wigan (Facebook/ukinisrael)

Israel and Great Britain also signed a new free trade agreement between the two states. The document was signed by Israeli Minister of Economy Eli Cohen and former U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. The trade agreement guarantees that after Britain leaves the EU, Israel will remain a reliable economic partner for the United Kingdom. Israel is one of the first developed countries with which Great Britain wanted to continue trade relations after Brexit and confirmed this with this agreement on a free trade zone.

About the Author
Victoria Petroff (Petrova) has over eleven years of experience in the field of media (including online, print media and TV). She is an editor, celebrity journalist, international producer, correspondent, and chief-editor on the big federal TV-channels. Victoria did contract work as a chief-editor in different countries and took part in the world-wide project from NBC Channel (USA).
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