William Hague has described science as “one of the cornerstones of the relationship between Britain and Israel” at an event marking co-operation between the two countries in the field.
The Foreign Secretary, who is in Israel for a two-day-long official visit, revealed funding allocations for ten joint British-Israeli scientific ventures, including one exploring methods of coral reef conservation in the Red Sea.
The projects, which all tackle different areas of energy and environmental research, are to be backed by grants from the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX).
Launched in 2008 by the British Council, the BIRAX scheme has been made possible with donations from the Pears Foundation and the UJIA.
In total, 10 British universities – including Bath. Cambridge and Glasgow – are involved, along with seven Israeli institutions.
Mr Hague praised the fact that both Britain and Israel “have built up our economies and our identity through being leaders in science and technology.”
Mr Hague made the announcement at an event hosted by Matthew Gould, Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel. Professor Daniel Hershkowitz, Israel’s Science Minister, said that the co-operation was “additional proof of Israel’s status as a world scientific power.”
He said: “The language of science bridges differences and gaps between peoples and different world societies.
“Cooperation between Israel and Britain will advance not only these two countries, but the entire world.”
David Willetts, Britain’s Minister for Universities and Science, prised the partnership and said: "I hope to see even more high-quality joint-research between the UK and Israel in the future.”
Mr Hague leaves Israel on Thursday morning. During his visit he signed a partnership deal bringing together the British and Israeli film industries, and met the parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.