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Mayor's hi-tech hopes

    The Lord Mayor of London has said that the capital is a "natural home for Israeli companies" after returning from leading a business delegation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

    Michael Bear, a member of New North London Synagogue, visited Israel earlier this month to promote UK-based financial and professional services and to explore opportunities in the OPT.

    He met Israeli president Shimon Peres, Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. Mr Steinitz expressed surprise at what he saw as growing animosity in the UK towards a Jewish state in Israel and said he hoped that political leaders could help calm these trends.

    The Lord Mayor was "struck by the enormous economic progress that Israel has made over the last decade, including coming through the financial crisis in robust health" and said the country had a "world-class" high tech sector.

    He also visited Ramallah and met Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Faayad.

    Members of the delegation plan to return to Israel to pursue opportunities to work more closely in finance and technology.

    Alderman Bear said: "As the world's pre-eminent financial centre, the City of London is a natural home for Israeli companies and I hope my visit will help us along the path towards greater bilateral co-operation - particularly with regards to the high-tech sector - removing barriers to trade and facilitating greater market access."

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