By Jessica Buxbaum
May 15, 2023:
Clearing House -- "MPN"
-- In March, the United Kingdom and Israel signed an
agreement strengthening ties in trade, technology, and the military. Known as
2030 Roadmap for UK-Israeli Bilateral Relations, the British government
lauded the deal as boosting the economy, but activists say it makes the U.K.
complicit in apartheid while ignoring the realities on the ground.
The agreement promises to tackle a number of issues, including antisemitism
and anti-Israel bias, stating, “the U.K. and Israel will work together to tackle
the singling out of Israel in the Human Rights Council as well as in other
Currently, the UN’s Human Rights Council is
investigating human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian
territories and throughout 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel). The
ongoing probe has been
slammed by Israeli politicians as “antisemitic.”
Additionally, the U.K. rejected using the term “apartheid” to describe
Israel, despite several human rights organizations, including
Human Rights Watch and
Amnesty International, recently declaring it an apartheid state.
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Opposition to the U.K.’s policy decision was swift, with several
pro-Palestinian British groups denouncing it.
In a statement, Kamel Hawwash, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) chair,
This appalling paper erases Palestinians from the picture, making no
reference to the Netanyahu Government’s intensification of the violation of
their rights and Israel’s claim to the whole of historic Palestine in
defiance of international law. In this moment, to promise to deepen
relations with Israel rather than holding it accountable, gives Netanyahu a
green light to continue entrenching Israeli apartheid policies.”
“The British government has a responsibility to call Israel what it is — an
apartheid state — and to impose sanctions on Israel for its flagrant and
repeated violations of international law and systematic human rights abuse,”
Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), a U.K.-based NGO advocating for Palestinian rights,
told MintPress News, noting how 2023 has been one of the most violent
years for Palestinians in decades.
Last year was the
deadliest for Palestinians since 2004, with Israeli forces and settlers
killing 146 Palestinians. This year is on track to becoming even more fatal,
with 89 Palestinians killed in the first three months, according to
“It is utterly shameful that this government is instead choosing to
strengthen economic and security ties with an apartheid state,” FOA said.
The deal also reasserts the U.K.’s objection to the Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions movement and its commitment “to ending any such campaigns by public
bodies, including through legislation.”
The British government recently proposed an anti-boycott bill, which aims to
prevent public bodies from “engaging in boycotts that
undermine community cohesion…[and]
making any boycott,
divestment or sanctions decisions that aren’t in line with U.K. government
foreign or economic trade policies.
Great Britain has a sordid history with Palestine, beginning with the
notorious Balfour Declaration, a 1917 British pledge to establish a Jewish state
in Palestine. The letter from then-foreign secretary Arthur Balfour, to Lionel
Walter Rothschild, a leader in Britain’s Jewish community, arguably triggered
the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces in the decades following.
Since then, the country’s relationship with Israel has significantly cemented
its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.
Most notable is the arms trade between Israel and the U.K. According to
War on Want, a British nonprofit aiming to combat the root causes of
poverty, London approved nearly $500 million of military technology and arms
exports to Israel from 2016 to 2021. F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters,
which contain components manufactured by British arms company
Systems, have been used in Israeli attacks against Palestinians, such as in
Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip. According to the U.K.-based
Campaign Against Arms Trade, Britain also spends millions every year on
“battle-tested,” meaning used in Israeli assaults on Palestinian weapons from
The new U.K.-Israel deal suggests these arms deals will increase.
“Of deep concern is the fact that the roadmap includes a further
strengthening of cyber-security relations,” PSC said in a
statement. “The cybersecurity sector in Israel is interwoven with the
military – with Israel being central to the development and export of
military-grade spyware. This poses a danger to human rights across the world.”
Beyond military cooperation, British prime minister Rishi Sunak has
significant business interests in Israel.
Infosys, an Indian IT firm founded by Sunak’s father-in-law N.R. Narayana
Murthy, is linked to Israel’s military. Sunak’s wife,
Akshata Murty, has a 0.93% stake in Infosys and collects £11.5 million (more
than $14 million) in annual dividends from the company.
Infosys signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel to boost
cooperation between it and Israeli corporations.
The firm is co-directed by Israeli entrepreneur Uri Levine, who
served in the Israeli Military Intelligence
Unit 8200, an elite agency responsible for
gathering private information about Palestinians. Infosys, as well as its
subsidiaries, all employ former Israeli military personnel.
Kreiman, the current deputy chief of mission of Israel in Portugal, worked
as a process specialist at Infosys in 2018 and, before that, was a combat
trainer in the Israeli army.
Eyal Cidon, who worked as a software engineering intern at Infosys in 2012,
served in the Israeli army from 2007-2010.
Israeli subsidiaries, LivePerson, Panaya, and CloudEndure, are also tied to
who works as LivePerson’s business operation manager, was a major in the Israeli
army and served for nearly eight years.
Jaime Locketz, a current Israeli military spokesperson, worked as an
internal communications specialist prior to joining the military.
Panaya’s director of technology from 2009 to 2013, worked as a software engineer
in the Israeli military.
Panaya’s vice president of research and development, worked in the Israeli
Army’s Military Intelligence Corps from 2004 to 2018 and then went on to become
head of the military’s cyber business unit.
Infosys was also a
key seed investor in CloudEndure, a tech company founded by
Leonid Feinberg and
Ofir Ehrlich, who both served in the Israeli army.
At a time when Israel is slammed with criticism,
activists are decrying the U.K. for choosing to side with apartheid and a
failing fascist state in exchange for military, technology, and financial
Jessica Buxbaum is a
Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and
Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News