Britain-Israel science links ‘undermine boycott movement’, says ambassador


Britain’s Ambassador to Israel hailed the “flourishing” bilateral relations between the countries after Israeli scientists met UK counterparts at a special conference on Monday.

Speaking ahead of the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership conference (Birax), where delegates announced a new science strategy for collaboration between the countries, David Quarrey said the event undermined the anti-Israel boycott movement.

He said: “What comes out of this meeting will have the potential to better the lives of millions worldwide. It is one more example of the flourishing UK Israel science relationship, which has deepened in the past few years and benefited hundreds of researchers.

“Through this conference, the UK government is showing its commitment to developing this partnership between two science superpowers and its complete rejection of those calling for boycotts.”

It is hoped the strategy will boost UK-Israel collaboration in a variety of scientific fields, including research into tackling diabetes, heart diseases and Alzheimer’s.

The two-day conference at Oxford University and due to be attended by 100 Israeli and 250 British leading medical researchers, has been described as the biggest ever event of its kind.

The Birax research initiative has invested more than £7m since its inception in 2011, funding 15 research projects which have led to developments such as breath tests to diagnose Parkinson’s disease and using heart cells to rebuild damaged heart muscle.

British Council chief executive Sir Ciaran Devane said: “The British Council was founded to create a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world and for the UK and Israel there is no better example of this than in science, where leading thinkers are devising innovative ways to solve some of the fundamental problems confronting the world.”

Nobel peace prize winner Professor Ada Yonath, a founding member of the UK-Israel Science Council, which is made up of 30 scientists from both countries, said: "There is no substitute for international collaboration between scientists, and UK-Israeli partnerships are no exception.”

She added: “The results benefit not only both countries, but the entire world."

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