Israel’s relations with Arab nations are deeper and broader than ever before, even if they take place under the radar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told foreign ministry staff Wednesday, at an annual toast to mark the Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) holiday.
“What is happening today de facto with the Arab bloc has never happened before, even when we signed agreements,” Netanyahu said. “Our cooperation, in different fields and at different levels, has not crossed the threshold of visibility, but even under the threshold of visibility that cooperation is a lot greater than at any previous period in Israel’s history.”
The annual toast was brought forward by a week due to Netanyahu’s historic visit to Latin America next week. The prime minister will leave for Argentina on Sunday night to take part in a ceremony to mark the terrorist attacks at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and at the AMIA Jewish Community Center in the city in 1992 and 1994, respectively. 115 people were killed in the blasts.
Netanyahu will also visit Colombia and Mexico, and will meet with regional leaders in what is the first trip to Latin America by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
“Latin America is huge market with important countries. We are breaking into the region and I will tell you why this is happening: The assumption was that if we reached an agreement with the Palestinians, something that we wanted and still want, then the world would open up to us. There is no doubt that would help, but the world has opened up without [an agreement],” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s foreign relations are currently undergoing a sea change, Netanyahu continued, with the country returning to Africa and deepening its ties in Asia, in particular with important countries such as China, India and Japan, and even with Muslim countries like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
“These are enormous changes, the world is changing,” Netanyahu said. “That doesn’t mean that it is changing yet in international fora [such as] at the United Nations, at UNESCO, but what we have here is an enormous change that is happening despite the fact that, unfortunately, the Palestinians have yet to change their conditions for a diplomatic agreement.
“It is happening because we are developing two strengths that together bring a third. We are developing as a policy our economic-technological prowess that enables us to develop Israel’s military-intelligence prowess and together this allows us to develop our diplomatic strength,” Netanyahu said.