Mayor’s trade mission to Israel & the Occupied Palestinian Territories
This week, the Mayor is visiting the cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah. On this three day trade mission he’ll meet business leaders, key investors and senior politicians. His aim is to build stronger ties with the region. With just a two hour time difference, the Mayor believes London is in a great position to attract investment. He’ll use the trip to showcase London’s skills, vibrant communities and global links. He’ll also be banging the drum for the capital’s booming tech sector.
Israel’s economy is renowned for its high tech expertise and the UK is the country’s biggest trading partner in the EU. In Tel Aviv, the Mayor and representatives from 15 London tech firms will be looking to boost their bottom line by partnering with their Israeli counterparts.
He’ll highlight a shared spirit of entrepreneurship between London and the Palestine business community in Ramallah. Trade between the two is booming. UK exports to the area were up 400 per cent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year. At the same time, Palestinian exports the other way increased by 127 per cent.
The Mayor started the day at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to push the button and officially open trading. He was there with Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange and a delegation of UK tech businesses. After, he joined Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai for a bike ride down Rothschild Boulevard, one of the city’s most famous streets. He then met Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom to talk about the role London can play in supporting Israeli companies to create wealth in Israel.
The Mayor then visited the city’s Google Campus and made the case for collaboration between London and Israel’s booming tech sectors. There James Layfield, CEO of UK workspace provider, Central Working, announced the organisations plans to bring 20 leading Israeli start-ups to London. As well as getting workspace in London, the businesses will benefit from mentoring and support to help speed up growth. The Mayor also revealed that James Layfield will be appointed a technology ambassador for London to help promote the capital’s tech sector on the world stage.
Later on, he met former President Shimon Peres at the Peres Centre for Peace. The pair discussed how leadership and innovation can shape the future, in front of an audience of 200 young Jewish and Arab Israelis.
View pictures from day one of the Mayor's trade mission
The Mayor spent the second day of his trip in Jerusalem. He started off with a moving visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official holocaust memorial, led by Dr Rob Rozette, the museum’s Libraries Director.
Afterwards, he visited bustling Mahane Yehuda marketplace near the city centre. Known as ‘the shuk’ this historic market is famous for selling everything from fresh fruit and veg, to fish, cheese, seeds and spices, wine, shoes and clothing. The Mayor was guided around the market by Assaf Granit, Executive Chef at London restaurant The Palomar, which is the sister restaurant of local eatery Mahane Yehuda. After buying fresh produce in the market, the Mayor joined Assaf to help cook lunch in the restaurant’s kitchen.
In the afternoon, the Mayor met President Reuven Rivlin to discuss London and Israel partnerships. They then joined in a kickabout with a group of 30 children aged 10-12 at the Equaliser football project. Funded by the British Embassy, the scheme encourages Israeli Jewish and Arab youngsters to unite through sport.
Next, the Mayor went to see a demo of the pioneering ‘Cycle Safety Shield’ technology. Developed in Israel by Mobileye, this potentially life-saving system will be used in the UK by Amey. They’ll be fitting it on 200 bin lorries, including over 100 here in London. Amey then plan to roll it out across their fleet nationwide.
The Mayor then went to talk to his Jerusalem counterpart Nir Barkat about building stronger ties between the two cities. Finally, after being invited by The Jerusalem Foundation, the Mayor gave the first speech in the Winston Churchill Memorial Lecture series.
View pictures from day two of the Mayor's trade mission
The Mayor began the final day of his trade mission with a tour of the Old City, where he visited Jerusalem’s most important holy sites, the Temple Mount, Western Wall and the Holy Church of the Sepulchre.
In Judaism, the Temple Mount is revered as the location of the First and Second Temples, the remains of which lie beneath its surface. The Western Wall, believed to be the last remnant of the Second Temple, is Judaism’s holiest place of worship. For Muslims, the Haram al-Sharif, including the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Mosque of Omar (the Dome of the Rock) on top of the Mount, is Islam’s third holiest site. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is where Orthodox and Catholic Christians mark the crucifixion and burial of Jesus and six different denominations worship there.
The Mayor then travelled to Ramallah, where he met with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Rami Hamdallah. They enjoyed a positive discussion on improving trade between London and the Palestinian Territories, the importance of a two state solution, and events in Syria.