Boris Johnson arrives in Israel for three-day trade trip
Boris Johnson arrives in Israel today ahead of efforts to boost London's economic ties with a region pursuing ever-increasing trade with Britain.
The London mayor's trade mission begins in the Israeli financial centre of Tel Aviv before moving to Jerusalem and the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
He will meet senior Israeli politicians, business leaders, fellow mayors, Palestine's first female governor Leila Ghannam and f ormer Israeli prime minister and president Shimon Peres during the three-day trip.
Mr Johnson plans to lay a wreath during a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
A return to the sporting arena is also on the cards for the Conservative MP, weeks after he flattened a 10-year-old boy while playing street rugby in Japan.
The rugby-mad mayor is expected to play football with Jewish and Arab youngsters during a training session in Jerusalem.
Mr Johnson's visit is the latest attempt to boost London's economic links around the world, with his mayoralty also including similar trips to Japan and China.
It is also likely to fuel talk that Mr Johnson is seeking to establish himself on the international stage ahead of a future Conservative Party leadership contest, with David Cameron not planning on seeking a third term as Prime Minister.
But Mr Johnson kept his focus on the trade opportunities before flying out, insisting his visit is about exploring the possibilities of a region which offers "enormous potential for stronger links" with the capital.
He will be joined by 15 London tech firms in an attempt to secure business with their Israeli counterparts.
Mr Johnson's trip takes place amid continuing violence in the area which has seen several knife attacks against Israelis and a number of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli security forces.
Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood warned last month the conflict seemed to have entered a new phase with young people appearing "unafraid of death".
UK MPs have previously condemned the "terror attacks" on Israel's citizens, which have occurred in Jerusalem and elsewhere, and aggression against Palestinians.