Four new ambassadors from Angola, Jamaica, the Philippines and South Sudan presented their diplomatic credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on Wednesday, December 12. At an official ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the four ambassadors spoke of the importance of strengthening ties between their own countries and Israel.
“Israel has played an important and significant role in assisting infrastructure and agricultural development in Angola, and we are benefiting from the experience and understanding which you bring in these fields,” noted the incoming Ambassador of Angola, Mr. Feliciano Antonio Dos Santos. The African nation, which is the seventh largest country in Africa, and whose official language is Portuguese, aims to strengthen cultural partnerships with Israel as well.
President Rivlin commented that Angola has a central role in Africa. “We are impressed by your progress in the area of water and agriculture, and successful use of natural resources,” Rivlin told the Angolan ambassador.
The Philippines too has an important partnership with Israel and historic relations with the Jewish people. The incoming Ambassador of the Philippines, Mr. Nathaniel Imperial stated during the ceremony that he was delighted to serve his country in the Holy Land.
“The good will, which characterizes the relationship between our countries, began already in the late 1930’s, when our President initiated the ‘open door policy’ for Jews fleeing persecution at the hands of the Nazis. We released many visas, and if it had not been for the war in the Pacific, I have no doubt that many more Jews would have found shelter in our state. This ‘open door policy’, was an expression of the solidarity between Israel and the Jewish People, and the Philippines,” said Imperial, who is also a renowned poet.
“In Israel, there are many workers from my country, and they enjoy safe employment with good conditions, for which I am both grateful and very proud,” added the Philippines ambassador.
The Philippines was the only Asian country to vote for Israel during the UN vote for the creation of the Jewish state on November 29, 1947.
“In Israel, there is a strong and vibrant community from your country, whose integration and contribution to Israeli society is evidenced by so much, including the success of a member of the community on a leading Israeli television talent show,” said Rivlin, commenting on Filipino caregiver Rose Fostanes’s win on Israel’s X-Factor earlier in January.
Also, for the first time, Israel received the first ambassador from South Sudan, the northeastern African nation that gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The Ambassador from South Sudan to Israel, Mr. Ruben Marial Benjamin, stated that “I am happy to serve my country in Israel, and I have been sent here following the long and warm relations between us.”
“We understand what it means to be in a long struggle, and Israel is an important friend who has helped us greatly and we appreciate this. I am happy to say that I feel at home in Israel,” said the South Sudanese ambassador.
Finally, the Jamaican (non-resident) Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Margaret Ann Louise Jobson presented her credentials to President Rivlin and said, “It is a great pleasure for me to serve as Ambassador to Israel. When I left Kingston, they said to me that Israel is an important country for us.”
“Jamaica has special bonds with Israel; the Jews of Jamaica were some of the earliest settlers on the island, and have contributed immensely to the economy and development. I believe there is a strong and sound basis to deepen our ties in the future,” said the Jamaican ambassador.