Following last week’s report of a British academic boycott of Israel, FM Livni met with Bill Rammell, the minister in charge of higher education in Britain.

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni met with Bill Rammell, Britain’s Minister of State at the Department for Education and Skills, in Jerusalem on Sunday evening, 10 June.

Minister Rammell’s visit was arranged after Foreign Minister Livni spoke on the phone last week with her British counterpart, Margaret Beckett, about reports that the University and College Teachers Union (UCU) and British labor unions were planning on imposing a boycott on Israel.

Livni told the British minister that Israel takes an extremely grave view of the boycott initiative. "This is a very important issue to us and we are determined to deal with it in a thorough manner," she said.

Rammell replied that the visit itself demonstrates Britain’s support of Israel and the British government’s strong opposition to the boycott.

During their meeting, the two ministers agreed on a series of concrete measures designed to emphasize the obligations of both governments, particularly at this time, to promote cooperation in the field of education and higher education. Several projects were proposed:

• a convention on the subject of bi-national education (Israeli-British)
• visits to Israel by heads of important higher education institutions in Britain
• regular dialogue among the heads of the academic establishment of both states

The ministers also agreed to thoroughly examine the possibility of renewing the activities of the Britain-Israel Technology Foundation (Britech) that were frozen in 2005.

In addition, possibilities for promoting joint scientific initiatives in the framework of the EU will be examined.