The British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey said Friday the United Kingdom will continue being a friend to Israel from outside the European Union, which Britons chose to leave on Thursday following a fraught referendum.
The results prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron, a strong supporter of Israel, to announce he would resign in the coming months.
Israel, Quarrey said, will now have to navigate relations with the European Union without the United Kingdom while maintaining separate ties with London.
“We have been a friend of Israel in the EU, we’ll be a friend of Israel outside the EU, but Israel’s relations with the EU in the future will have to be determined without Britain at the table,” he said in an interview with Channel 2.
“I don’t think that things will change very significantly between the UK and Israel. I don’t see any likely change in the desire on our part for a strong relationship with Israel based on trade, investment, security, cooperation, technology and science
“A decision has been made and there is no going back,” said Quarrey, adding that the role of the British government now was to implement the wishes of the British people.
Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heaped praise on Cameron, who announced he would resign later this year following the shocking results reverberating around the world.
Cameron is a “respected leader and a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Without directly addressing the results of the referendum, Netanyahu said that throughout Cameron’s premiership, “the security, economic and technological cooperation between the United Kingdom and Israel has greatly expanded,” and that “together we laid a strong foundation for continued cooperation.”
Netanyahu echoed sentiments made earlier by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan who said he was “sad” to see Cameron resign, calling him a “fair, responsible” politician, a “real gentleman,” and friend to the Jewish state.
Erdan also praised the British premier for his support for Israel.
Cameron demonstrated a “profound friendship toward Israel” as prime minister, added Erdan, “and recently led an important decision against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.”
In his speech on Friday, Cameron promised to try to “steady the ship” over the next months and did not give a precise timetable for his departure, but said a new leader should be installed by early October.
“I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” the British leader said outside his Downing Street residence in London.
He said his successor should trigger the formal process for Britain to leave the European Union.
“I think it’s right that this new prime minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50,” Cameron said.
“I would also reassure Brits living in European countries and European citizens living here that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances,” he said.
Flanked by his wife, Samantha, Cameron said he had fought to retain Britain’s membership of the EU “head, heart and soul — I held nothing back.”
But he added: “The British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and, as such, I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.”
Britons decided by 52 percent to 48% in favor of quitting the EU, a margin of more than one million votes, final results showed.