Britain's new Business Secretary has hailed the UK's booming economic ties with Israel, in a speech which saw him deliver a robust rejection of calls to boycott the Jewish state.
Conservative Sajid Javid hailed the current "golden era" of trade between Israel and the UK, but added: "what really excites me are the possibilities for the years that lie ahead."
Javid, a secular Muslim who has been touted as a possible future leader of the Conservative Party, was speaking to some 250 people at the British Israeli Business Awards on Monday night.
He said bilateral trade between the countries now totals over £4.5 billion (roughly $6.9 billion).
"Over the past 67 years, Israel has made business boom in the barren desert," he said, expressing his admiration for the State of Israel, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
"It’s one of the many reasons I have long admired the country. I travelled there extensively, both for business and with family.
"Over the years, I have taken a great interest in its affairs. The values that make Israel such a success are values that matter a great deal to me. I share Israel’s love for freedom and democracy. I admire its tenacious determination when the odds are stacked against it."
Javid continued by directly addressing calls by anti-Israel activists to boycott the Jewish state, saying he was fundamentally against such moves and condemning the recent announcement by the National Union of Students that it was officially aligning itself with the BDS movement.
"For me, freedom is an absolute concept," Javid continued. "Today I talk on the freedom to trade, the freedom to go about your business in peace. Today I talk of the idea that underpins the entire political philosophy that I hold: that of free enterprise.
"It simply does not make sense to say, 'I believe in the free market, but…'
"So let me be very clear. I don’t believe in boycotts. Nor, I’m proud to say, does my party, my prime minister, or for the most part, my country.
"On the contrary, my department, including UKTI (UK Trade & Investment), are working hard to boost Anglo-Israeli trade and investment. And I, as business secretary, will do anything I can to support and promote it."
Javid has been one of the most outspoken pro-Israel voices within the center-right Conservative Party, led by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
At a meeting with activists from the Conservative Friends of Israel group in 2012, he reportedly said that if he had to choose any other country in the world to live in, it would be Israel.
According to a Jewish Chronicle report at the time, "Only there, he said, would his children feel the 'warm embrace of freedom and liberty.'"
The UK has seen an alarming rise in anti-Semitism over the past year, particularly since last summer's war between Israel and Islamist terrorist groups in Gaza.
Anxiety among British Jews over increasingly hysterical anti-Israel sentiment emanating from the Conservatives' left-wing rivals led the community to overwhelmingly back David Cameron's party in May's general elections, which he won handily.