Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a “wave of Islamisation” across Europe.
Mr Netanyahu’s comments come amid increasing tension in Europe following the Paris massacres, which killed 17 – including four in a Jewish grocery store, and as Britain’s former chief Rabbi warned Britain’s Jews were scared to go to their local shops.
The Israeli leader welcomed Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to the country today, disclosing plans to expand trade with the Far East because of the perceived hostility against Jews in Europe.
“We definitely want to reduce our dependence on certain markets in western Europe,” Mr Netanyahu told a weekly cabinet meeting ahead of the trade delegation visit.
“Western Europe is undergoing a wave of Islamisation, of anti-Semitism, and of anti-Zionism. It is awash in such waves, and we want to ensure that for years to come the state of Israel will have diverse markets all over the world,” he is reported as having said.
The comments are the latest sign of Israel’s decision to move its economy away from its present dependence on the European Union.
In 2014, the EU remained Israel’s largest trading partner, however, Asia outstripped the United States for the first time.
Mr Netanyahu has pushed for stronger ties with the East since coming to power in 2009 – previously due to the economic recession, but recent events appear to have catalysed this process.
In pictures: Anti-Pegida protesters
In pictures: Anti-Pegida protesters
A police officer talks to a counterprotestor at the sidelines of right-wing movement 'Baergida' (Berlin Patriots against the islamization of the Occident), a Berlin version of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident), protest in Berlin
Participants of right-wing movement 'Baergida' (Berlin Patriots against the islamization of the Occident), a Berlin version of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident), protest in Berlin
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida with a sign reading 'Stop agitation against Islam' in Berlin
Participants of the 'Alliance against Racism' demonstrate against right-wing initiative Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) in Berlin. Counterdemonstrations against racism and xenophobia have been planned in Dresden, Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart. The demonstrations staged by the anti-Islamic Pegida movement produce a series of slogans arguing that Germany is taking in too many foreigners, that the social structures are about to collapse due to the rising number of asylum-seekers, and that there is the threat of an 'Islamisation of the Occident'
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas takes part in a protest against the march of a grass-roots anti-Muslim movement in Berlin. The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), has shaken Germany's political establishment
The lighting of the Brqandenburg Gate was switched off to make a statement against racism as People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Berlin
A left wing activist struggles with the riot police during a protest against a planed march of the Pegida movement in their first Berlin demonstration, which they have dubbed 'Baergida'
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Hamburg
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Munich
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Stuttgart
His comments coincide with a police warning in Germany claiming a “concrete threat” had been issued against the latest Pegida – an anti-Islamisation organisation in Germany – rally in Dresden.
The rally was abandoned as were counter-marches against the group. Thousands of ordinary Germans have mobilised in recent months and taken to the streets against what they perceive as rising Islamisation of their country.
German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have condemned the Pegida marches.
Additionally, in January of this year the Financial Times reported on a series of “tense” negotiations with EU diplomats over a €1.5 billion loan package from Brussels. The stipulation that money was only to go towards Jewish businesses not on occupied Arab land was perceived by some Israelis as indicative of a move towards partial economic isolation.