Health Secretary Sajid Javid has declared that “Israel’s security is our security” and said that Britain and the Jewish state share a "pact of steel" as he partied at a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration.
Appearing as a guest of honour alongside Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, at the bash, Mr Javid said: “As Home Secretary, I banned Hezbollah and later as Chancellor, I froze their UK assets.
“Britain will never be a safe haven for those who would threaten Israel’s security. Because Israel’s security is our security.”
The leading Tory politician hailed the Jewish state’s pandemic successes, adding: “UK foreign policy is crystal clear: the UK-Israel partnership is unbreakable. And through this pandemic, we’ve led the world together.
“From the rapid rollout of jabs… to the benefits of boosters… we’ve learned from each other.
“So this evening is about celebrating our remarkable friendship. Because the UK and Israel share a pact of steel. It can never be broken.”
Mr Javid and Ms Hotovely also donned a pair of virtual reality goggles to take a road trip through Israel’s main streets and sights.
Politicians and other guests danced in an Israeli-style disco to mark the Jewish state’s 74th birthday.
The Independence Day event was the first to be held since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, and the first since the Abraham Accords normalised Israel’s relations with a number of its Arab neighbours.
Ms Hotovely welcomed representatives to the party from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates.
Discussing UK-Israel relations, the ambassador said: “So much has been achieved in the last year and I am looking forward to continuing our work together in the future.
“Importantly, our ability to highlight the excellent relationship that exists between our two countries could not be possible without the support of our friends here this evening.”
The signing of a new strategic partnership agreement between the two nations in 2021 ought to lead relations to a new high, Ms Hotovely added.
She said: “We are expecting to launch our ‘Health System in 2030’ project – a special Israel-UK summit that will focus on sharing knowledge and expertise in fields like the future of healthcare, community health and digital health – sharing best practices from our two nations.”
The partnership, agreed in November of last year, commits Britain and Israel to ten years of cooperation in areas from cybersecurity to tackling climate change.
Announcing the pact, Lizz Truss and Yair Lapid - the two nations' respective foreign ministers - said they would “work night and day to prevent the Iranian regime from ever becoming a nuclear power”.
“Our partnership will keep us at the forefront of the technological revolution,” they added.
Under the terms of the deal the Jewish state will become a Tier One cyber partner for the UK, meaning British firms will find it easier to access Israeli innovation.
Ms Truss and Mr Lapid said this would, “spur technological breakthroughs, which have the potential to change the world, create high-quality jobs in both our countries and provide tools to our security forces”.
In February of this year, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan launched an eight-week consultation with Israel in preparation for a new free trade deal.
The UK is currently Israel’s second largest trading partner with an overall relationship worth £4.8 billion. Around 500 Israeli firms operate in the United Kingdom, with that number projected to grow if a free trade deal is inked.