Press release: Minister for the Middle East visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel

On his first visit to the region since being re-appointed as an Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, Mr Burt laid a wreath at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Gaza and heard from Gazans about current humanitarian challenges, before visiting Susiya village in Area C of the West Bank and Hebron to understand recent developments on the ground. While in Ramallah Mr Burt met with a number of representatives from the Palestinian Authority including Foreign Minister Malki and reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the working with the Palestinian leadership to achieve a two-state solution.

Summary of Minister Burt’s visit to the West Bank and Gaza

UK commitment to Middle East peace

Speaking after his visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories Minister Burt said:

I was delighted to return to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) following my re-appointment to the Foreign Office as Minister of State for the Middle East.

I came to see and hear what has changed since my last official visit in 2013 and to reaffirm the UK’s strong support for a two-state solution to secure peace and prosperity for both Palestinians and Israelis.

I am grateful for the hospitality and warmth shown to me across the OPTs, in Gaza, Susiya, Hebron, Jerusalem and Ramallah, and for very constructive meetings with Foreign Minister Malki, Finance Minister Bishara, Education Minister Saidam and PLO Chief Negotiator Erekat.

The UK will continue to support efforts to improve conditions on the ground for ordinary people and to enable negotiations to resume. I look forward to working with the parties and the wider international community, including the UN and the US, to make progress in the months ahead.

Minister Burt then travelled to Jerusalem and met a number of government officials and political figures to discuss wide-ranging issues affecting the UK’s relations with Israel. He emphasised the UK’s strong relationship with Israel and its commitment to the Middle East Peace Process.

He also attended the launch ceremony of El Al Airlines’ first Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane at Ben Gurion Airport. El Al’s new fleet of Dreamliners is equipped with British-made Rolls Royce engines, a result of the biggest-ever trade deal between the 2 countries, signed in 2016. Mr Burt went on to meet young tech developers and see first-hand how a London-based initiative, the free coding school Founders & Coders, is expanding to Israel through a successful branch in the city of Nazareth.

Minister Burt attends the launch of El Al Airlines Dreamliner plane

UK Israel trade and tech partnership

Speaking in Tel Aviv Minister Burt said:

The UK is a great friend of Israel and during this visit I have reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East. We will continue to work with and support those in Israel and beyond who want to achieve a viable solution.

We have a longstanding relationship with Israel and I have witnessed first-hand the strength of this partnership in many areas from trade and investment to technology and innovation. This relationship will continue to grow and benefit both of our nations.