Britain and Israel to sign ‘historic’ 10-year trade and defence deal

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (Henry Nicholls - Reuters)

Middle East Eye  /  November 29, 2021

The deal comes amid mounting allegations that Israeli spyware was used to hack foreign officials and journalists.

Britain is joining forces with Israel to sign a “historic” 10-year trade and defence pact on Monday where they will cooperate on cybersecurity and commit to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons on the eve of new talks. 

The deal comes amid mounting evidence that Israeli spyware was used to attack Middle East Eye and spy on British lawyers advising Princess Haya, the ex-wife of the Dubai ruler.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid announced the pact on Monday in a joint article for the Telegraph newspaper. 

Both ministers said the pact would “spur technological breakthroughs” and that “Israel will officially become a tier-one cyber partner for the UK” with this deal.

The pact also doubled down on Britain’s commitment to stamping down on antisemitism by condemning protests against Israel’s ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, outside the London School of Economics and supporting the UK’s decision to proscribe Hamas as a terrorist group

Lapid arrived in London on Sunday for a two-day trip to the UK and France, a day before nuclear talks with Iran will resume. 

The Israeli foreign minister is expected to sign the deal with Truss on Monday before meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where they will both give speeches. 

Israeli Channel 13 reported that Lapid’s visit aimed to ensure banking restrictions were not lifted during talks with Iran. 

Earlier this month, the UK government refused to say whether it has or will complain to Israel following reports that MEE was among targets of an alleged cyber-attack linked to Candiru, a Tel Aviv spyware firm sanctioned in the United States. 

The alleged attack, which a cybersecurity firm said has “strong links” to Candiru, a highly secretive Israeli firm that only sells its spyware to governments, follows earlier reports that the NSO Group’s Pegasus software was used to target phones in the UK. 

Britain’s High Court also found that Fiona Shackleton and Nick Manners, the lawyers advising Princess Haya during her court hearing, was hacked using software from Israeli spyware firm Pegasus. 

The court believes the Pegasus hack on Princess Haya and her lawyers was ordered by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed who denies the claim. 

This pact also comes as the international community enters talks with Iran to restart nuclear talks after a five-month gap in Vienna.