What Does Brexit Mean for UK-Israel Relations?

Although there may be some short-term disruption in trade with Israel due to Great Britain’s decision to leave the EU, and the Jewish state will lose an important ally within the European Union, James Sorene believes there may also be long-term benefits:

The UK is Israel’s second-largest trading partner; bilateral trade is worth £5 billion a year and has doubled in the last decade. . . . Britain will need to negotiate a separate trade agreement with Israel as Israel’s association agreement with the EU will no longer apply. If the UK falls into recession, bilateral trade could decrease in value as UK consumers spend less money. But there could be enhanced terms for some Israeli exports, especially agricultural produce, to the UK market once it leaves the EU.

The impact of Brexit on the EU’s policy toward Israel is debatable. In the past, the UK has [sometimes] been an important moderating voice, but often falls in line with common EU positions. The UK will no longer be present for these debates, so Israel will look to other allies in the EU such as Germany. While the UK was a very significant player in EU foreign policy, Israel has been building up relations with several countries in Eastern Europe and most recently became significantly closer to Greece and Cyprus.

In the longer term, the UK’s foreign policy could rebalance away from Europe and gravitate more to U.S. positions. Britain may feel the need to rebut any suggestion of diminished influence by taking more of a lead on the global stage. The UK has a very large foreign-aid budget and the best armed forces in Europe. It has committed significant resources to the fight against Islamic State and shares common strategic interests with Israel. None of this work is connected to EU membership, but is a function of the UK’s military and intelligence capability and its existing alliances in the Middle East.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, United Kingdom

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount