Holness invites Israeli prime minister to visit Jamaica

Thursday, January 12, 2017

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make an official visit to Jamaica, following a meeting yesterday in Jerusalem.

The two men discussed possibilities for cooperation in water, agriculture and domestic security.

"Jamaica, like Israel, is a strong democracy, and we have long admired the advances that Israel has made in technology, particularly in cyber security and in agriculture, and in other areas. The potential for cooperation between our two countries is great and Jamaica is very interested in exploring those areas of cooperation," a Jamaica House release quoted Holness.

"The Jamaican people and the Caribbean region is a zone of peace, and we wish peace for all the peoples of the world. And we do extend our sympathies to the people of Israel for the very unfortunate attack on your soldiers recently.

"We would want to also pursue with Israel economic cooperation. I believe that in building strong economies we can build a peaceful world," Holness said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in welcoming Holness, said it is the first visit ever by a prime minister of Jamaica to Israel, so "it has a double significance for us".

He added: "Our relations are always friendly. We appreciate the fact that you didn’t join the recent vote against Israel, the absurd vote in UNESCO. But quite beyond that we’re talking about extending our cooperation. We just did for just a brief few minutes that we spoke; I can see all the potential for cooperation in a variety of fields that relate to economy, to security, to technology. This is something that we eagerly are interested in doing with you.

"There is a natural affinity between us. We’re both democracies. We each have our own challenges but we flourish under challenge. And we’ll be able, I think, to provide a better future for our people if we cooperate, and this visit is a hallmark of cooperation.

"You also invited me to come to visit you and I intend to do that sometime in the future, but I want to tell you how much we appreciate the fact that you’re here, and I look forward to our discussions," Netanyahu said.

Just last month Israel called for deeper relations with the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesperson at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking with a group of visiting Caribbean journalists, said Caricom together represents a political and diplomatic weight in world affairs. "We see it at the United Nations, we see it in other organisations," he said.

He said that he was hoping that the 15-member Caricom grouping will consider other information when arriving at their positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Nahshon said he was convinced that Caricom leaders would be inclined to change their position on the Arab- Israeli conflict if they visit Israel.

"I think that the more that decision makers from the Caribbean will be exposed directly to the reality here, they more they will have a clear picture of the situation. That’s what I am saying. I am saying ‘come and visit… Come here, see the situation, talk to people and then it will give you a better understanding of what is happening here.’

"Living far away and saying those guys are good and those guys are bad, it doesn’t make sense. You need to see for yourself what is the reality, how complex is this reality," Nahshon said, appealing also to the religious beliefs of Caricom nationals, saying that Israel is one of the few safe places for Christians in the Middle East.

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