Thursday, 10 September 2015
Netanyahu: ‘Support us, or risk losing our business’
Mr Netanyahu and his wife Sara meet communal leaders on Wednesday
Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to London this week was dismissed in the Israeli press as a relatively low-key affair — but the Israeli Prime Minister brought a powerful message for his British counterpart, who he was due to meet on Thursday morning.
Mr Netanyahu planned to impress on Prime Minister David Cameron that European governments are risking losing out on Israeli know-how and strategic influence in the Middle East, a senior Israeli source said.
According to the source, Mr Netanyahu would convey the message that as the EU discusses ways to stop doing business with Israeli companies that have links to settlements, China and India could soon take Europe’s place as the major investors in Israeli high-tech.
Ahead of his two-day visit to London, Mr Netanyahu told reporters that Europe also needed to work closely with Israel because the continent was under threat from violent Islamism.
He said: “Europe should support Israel — not pressure Israel, not attack Israel, but support Israel, which is the only real shield that Europe and the Middle East have against extremist Islam, which is surging.”
Mr Netanyahu wanted to make explicit to Mr Cameron that the refugee surge and the war with Daesh were flip-sides of the same problem and needed to be dealt with at source in the Middle East.
Mr Netanyahu, who is travelling with his wife, Sara, was also expected to meet UK Jewish leaders, including the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and Bicom.
Mr Netanyahu is visiting the UK at a time when bilateral relations are extremely strong by historical standards. Mr Cameron gave a strikingly pro-Israel speech in the Knesset during a visit to Israel last year and Israel-UK trade reached £5.5 billion last year, up eight per cent on 2013.
Due to his tight schedule, the Israeli leader backed out of a planned meeting with business groups during his stay.