Myanmar- Israel 60 Years of Freindly Relations
Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Minister U Ba Swe –December 1961
U Nu was the first foreign Prime Minister to visit the newly independent State of Israel in 1955 and David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) spent one of the longest official trips abroad for an Israeli Prime Minister, with a two-week sojourn 1961, which included also studies in Buddhism. Among the other landmark visits from Israel warrant mentioning are those of President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Foreign Ministers Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, Abba Eban, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres.
Israel and Myanmar have undertaken many international cooperation ventures in the fields of agriculture, health and education. Through Mashav – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, and other public organizations, collaborations on an ongoing basis are taking place in various commercial, agricultural, cultural, tourism and other fields. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, assistance from the people of Israel and its government came in to Myanmar and Israel is still taking part in reconstruction projects.
Thousands of students from Myanmar have received training in-country and scholarships for studies in Israel as well. Many Israelis visit Myanmar every year for its friendly people, natural beauty and wonders; some also practice Myanmar’s unique classical Theravada Buddhism.
A historical photo exhibition that was arrived in 2008 illustrates the first years of relations between The State of Israel and The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. It acknowledges and pays homage to all the many people who have contributed to the good relations over the course of these years. We all look forward to similarly warm relations in the coming years as well.
Bilateral Relations: Relations Overview
Prime Minister David Ben Gurion dressed in Burmese National Costume during his visit to Yangon as Guest of Prime Minister U Nu
The State of Israel and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar achieved independence in the same year - 1948. Myanmar was the first country in Southeast Asia that recognized Israel as an independent state. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established at the beginning of the 50’s.
In the years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have nurtured a strong bond of friendship, which have included visits of high level officials from both countries.
Bilateral cooperation has developed in various fields of endeavor, including education, agriculture, health, and the economy. Under the sponsorship of MASHAV, the Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, and through other channels, government officials and professionals from various ministries in Myanmar have visited Israel for study tours as well as for training programs. Moreover, numerous “on-the-spot” courses in Myanmar have been conducted in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Commerce and Science and Technology as well as International NGOs like UNDP.
Since 1994, successful ongoing collaboration in the fields of agriculture and livestock is taking place in cooperation with AICAT (Arava International Center for Agricultural Training) and the Granot Agro-Studies Group and later also with the Ramat Negev Agro Research Centre. During this period, the number of Myanmar trainees that have participated in the program and have experienced training in Israel is well over one thousand five hundred. The trainees from Myanmar are introduced to modern methods of irrigation; growing vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and livestock breeding by means of computers and advanced technologies in cooperation with Israeli farmers.
Cooperation between the two countries has always been wide in the education sector as well. A trilateral academic cooperation has been formed between the Israeli Embassy, the Myanmar Ministry of Education, and non-governmental organizations like UNICEF, in order to deal with issues of early childhood education, like naturalistic language enrichment.
After Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, the Israeli government and people expressed their condolences to the victims, and made the following donations:
1) A cargo of 8 tons of medical supplies was sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel and the JOINT (American – Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), and was donated to the victims through Malteser International;
2) A cargo of more than 2 tons of food and shelter supplies was sent by “Latet” (which means “to give”) – a humanitarian Israeli organization.
Israel is also participating in other rehabilitation projects of several villages in the delta region.
There is a great potential for developing economic ties and for expanding the extent of bilateral trade. In 2011, H.E. Deputy Minister for Commerce Dr. Pwint San had attended WATEC Israel 2011 conference with Myanmar Delegation from Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation Chamber of Commerce (RUMFCCI) whch signed MOU with Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC).Companies from the two countries can look into opportunities for doing business, and such cooperation already exists, for example, in the fields of livestock and fisheries, and information technology.
In 2013, H.E. U Myint Swe and H.E. U Ye Myint , Chief Ministers from Yangon and Mandalay Region Governments visited Israel WATEC exhibition.
H.E. Dr. Daw Khin San Yee, Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar attended the “International Women Leaders’ Conference” from November 3 to 8, 2013 in Haifa, Israel..
On October 2014 in the DICA office in Yangon, the Israeli Ambassador to Myanmar, H.E Hagay M. BEHAR and DICA D.G., H.E U Aung Naing Oo, sign an agreement for Reciprocal Promotion and Protecting of Investments.
In 2015, H.E. Deputy Minister for Ministry of Agriculture, U Khin Zaw and delegation led by H.E. U Myint Than, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Mandalay Region participated in Agritech Israel
Again in 2015, H.E. U Hla Myint , Mayor of Yangon joined Israel WATEC exhibition.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces also made an official visit to Israel in 2015.
From Israel,Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. H.E. Tzachi Hanegbi visited Myanmar in 2014 and during his visit; the draft agreement for the cooperation between the State of Israel and Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the fields of Culture and Sports was signed in the Ministry of Culture.
Israeli Agriculture & Rural Development Minister, H.E.Yair Shamir also visited Myanmar and met his counterpart Minister ,H.E. U Myint Hlaing in 2015.
During the recent flood in Myanmar, Embassy of Israel also assisted one of flood affected areas of Bago Region, Tharyarwaddy Township to donate dry noodles, hygiene kit, impregnated bed nets and medicines for the flood victims on 7th August 2015. The Embassy planned to donate 14,000 US dollar for the flood victims of Myanmar and part of the amount will continue to be used in the rehabilitation of the flood victims.