James Cleverly pledges ‘Israel’s security is our security’ as new Iran sanctions announced

The Foreign Secretary made the announcement and pledge after a three-day visit to Israel


Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said that “the UK understands the threat posed by Iran” and announced new sanctions against senior members of the Islamic Republic.  

Speaking in a video shot during his tour of Israel this week – which included meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, defence minister Yoav Gallant and senior figures in the IDF – Cleverly said, “Israel’s security is our security… A strong Israel is vital to the security of the region, which is in everybody’s interests.”

Standing in front of a missile defence battery, he added: “Behind me is part of the Iron Dome. Its purpose is to destroy rockets that threaten Israel from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. This is state of the art technology and it protects regional security and stability.”

Today, the Foreign Office announced sanctions against the senior regime figures responsible for enforcing Iran’s mandatory hijab law, ahead of tomorrow’s anniversary of the killing of Mahsa Amini, who was beaten to death by the morality police.

Speaking at a conference at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) at Reichman University in Herzliya, Cleverly recognised the threats Israel faces today, from Iran to Hamas and Hezbollah.

During the trip, Cleverly also met Israeli Gallant at Israel’s elite 8200 unit, along with IDF General Aharon Haliva and ambassador Tzipi Hotovely. The setting reflects the “depth of our intel cooperation”, Gallant said.

The intelligence cooperation and sense of shared strategy to confront terror threats was hinted at during Cleverly’s comments at the ICT, although neither the Israelis or UK went into specifics.

As the JC reported this week, however, Cleverly is not currently in favour of proscribing the regime’s key military unit, the terrorist IRGC.

Israel-UK defence ties have their origins in the era before the state of Israel was founded, when future officers in the IDF served in British army units. The Israel Defence Forces acquired British Centurion tanks in the latter half of the 1950s when an arms embargo was lifted. Hundreds were eventually exported to Israel.

Today, however, much has changed and it is Israeli technology that is on British tanks and Israeli defence companies are making major inroads into the UK.

In London, the Defence and Security Equipment International, a massive trade fair focused on defence systems which brings together companies and governments, took place from September 12 to 15.

The conference underscored Europe’s hunger for Israeli defence equipment as countries ship older systems to Ukraine and are in need of the latest technology, from artillery to protection systems for tanks; or air defence systems like the Arrow and David’s Sling.

Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, which makes the Iron Dome, has been supplying its Trophy Active Protection Systems to the Ministry of Defence, which is currently adapting the technology to the Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank.

Dr Ran Gozali, executive vice president and general manager of the Land and Naval Division at Rafael, said: "We are encouraged by the latest tests, praising Trophy’s effectiveness and Rafael’s proficiency in integrating the system on yet another platform.”

The system, which is also used on Israeli and American tanks, has entered its third and final phase of integration on the Challenger. In September 2022, Rafael acquired Newcastle-based Pearson Engineering, which this year announced a new contract from defence giant KNDS to make “mission modules” for the British Army’s Boxer, an infantry vehicle.

Elbit Systems, another Israeli defence company, also owns a subsidiary in the UK. Elbit Systems UK has provided training technology for British forces, drones, ground-based radar, and other kit.

Israeli forces also conduct joint training with British counterparts. In 2019, British, US and Israeli F-35s did a joint drill over the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2021, the UK joined Israel and US for another drill in Italy with F-35s. British F-35s flew from the HMS Queen Elizabeth during the exercise.

As militaries shift from the global war on terror, where British troops served in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, to prepare for possible confrontation with Russia, China or other countries, Israel-UK defence cooperation will be even more relevant.

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