It is my honour and privilege to be here today to present to Your Excellency my letter of credence as the new Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Republic of Ghana.
Ghana was the first African decolonized country to establish diplomatic relations with the State of Israel in the late 1950’s. The diplomatic relations, which were good and beneficial to both countries, were broken in October 1973 following the war between Israel and its neighbours – Egypt and Syria. They were restored in 1994, and since then have been cordial with a clear tendency of growth.
Mr. President, Israel considers Ghana a key player in Africa, in particular, a strong mobilizing force in the West African region. There is significant Ghanaian contribution to progress, stability and democracy in the continent, as reflected in Ghana’s role in regional and sub-regional organizations like ECOWAS and the AU.
We have watched with appreciation the success of the democratic process in Ghana – especially the 2000 and 2004 elections and the upcoming one for 2008 – which have set your country as a role model to Africa. Ghana’s achievements, development and economic growth, are of immense benefit to the future of its people, and indeed, to the entire region.
Israel and Ghana are cooperating in the area of capacity building. Our main mechanism is MASHAV – the center for International Cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Under MASHAV, annually, over 25 trainees from Ghana are attending post graduate programs in Israel in fields such as agriculture, sciences, medicine and public health, rural development and education. We will invest
more effort in increasing our activities through this channel, in close cooperation with relevant authorities.
In the agricultural field, we are lately in close contact with the Minister of Fisheries and her staff so as to find the best way to implement the M.O.U which was signed by both governments last year.
In 2003, the State of Israel – through MASHAV –established a modern trauma unit in the medical center in Kumasi and trained its medical staff in conjunction with the hospital. A follow–up programme was conducted lately in which medical Staff were trained in dealing with mass casualty incidents.Unfortunately ,a few months later, a large fire occurred in Kumasi caused by a gas cylinder explosion.Fortunately, many lives were saved due to the training that the Medical staff received from the Israeli experts.
Ghana is not “Terra Incognito” to the Israeli Investor. We believe that today there is a very conducive environment for business communities to work together through joint ventures. We shall not relent in our determination to work together for the mutual benefit of our nations.
There is a very significant presence of Israeli companies in Ghana in various fields, among them Construction and infrastructure, trade and telecommunication. Technological equipment including Israeli satellite communication systems which is the most advanced of its kind has been introduced.
In the agricultural field, the latest technologies existing in the world today are being introduced in Ghana, among them computerized irrigation systems,high quality seeds, new methods of fertilization of the soil etc.
Large scale projects are being managed by Israeli companies, working hand in hand with the local corperations and with the government of Ghana.
Mr. President, in the global world of today, the economic ties between countries are of an extreme importance. The quality of our diplomatic relations would be determined to a great extent, by the quality and intensity of our economic ties. I can assure you Mr. President that as the Israeli Ambassador I’ll spare no effort to strengthen this relationship for the benefit of both people.
In 2007, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the commencement of Israeli relations in Africa. Palm tree dancing group came specially to Israel to perform at the auspicious event.
As a sport fan, I was watching with great interest the African Cup championship games that took place in Ghana last month, and I was impressed with the very professional way that the event was conducted, mainly due to the excellent work of the host country.
Mr. President, we understand the importance of a permanent resident embassy in Ghana, and its impact in leveraging the immense potential of our relations. I hope that in the future a full-fledged embassy would be open here.
At this point, I would like to share with Your Excellency, some of our views about the recent development in the Middle East.
Our region is still one of the most volatile regions in the world.
However, we think that maybe we should put aside the past perceptions of the conflict in the region that promotes the use of terminology like “Israeli–Palestinian” conflict, or “Jewish–Arab” struggle but rather look at the distinctions, divisions ,conflicts and struggle in the region.
I believe it is right to say that the conflicts we face are between extremists and moderates. And regardless of the fate of extremism, extremists are those looking to deprive others of their rights. According to this understanding, the camps, allies and alliances in the region have changed rather dramatically.On one side we can see radical elements which are sometimes represented by a state like Iran, or by international terrorists organization like Al-Qaeda. We can see them in Lebanon too being represented by Hizbullah, which is the long arm of Iran. We see Hamas, which is not only a terrorist organization but a radical movement.
Our vision of peace, Mr. President, which represents the vast majority of opinions in Israel, is the vision of two states for two people. One, Israel the homeland of the Jewish people; the other, Palestine the homeland of the Palestinian people.
The other basic element in any peace treaty is that the two nations are living side by side in peace and security. So, Israel’s security should be one of the basic pillars of any peace treaty.
The battle against terror is a relentless one, and should be fought with no interruption, so that we can make this world a better place to live in.
Israel will do whatever it takes to move on in the political track and negotiate with moderate elements in the Arab world especially with the Palestinians and will fight and chase the perpetrators of terror.
We believe that our fight is just and right, and that with the concentrated effort and determination of the free world, terrorism will be reduced.
Like other friendly countries, Israel should be regarded as partner with potential ability to cooperate with Africa towards a better future for its people. In view of this, Mr. President, we seek Ghana’s support and assistance to normalize our relations with the African Union.
Mr. President, I would like again to profoundly thank you for the audience, and to reassure my commitment – as the new ambassador of Israel to Ghana – to work hard towards strengthening and cementing the already cordial warm relations between our countries.