By Joyce Ann L. Roca
MANILA – The Philippines and Israel celebrated 65 years of friendship on Sunday, marking an already warm and historic relations with increased interactions in the areas of agriculture, commerce, and development.
In the past 12 months alone, the two nations signed various deals — from a memorandum of understanding to initiate joint activities on trade and investment to a cooperation agreement in technological innovation, research, and development.
The “milestone” Philippine-Israel Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement was also concluded in June 2022, signaling the two nations commitment to create environment for investments in water management, agriculture, cybersecurity, defense industry, smart transportation, manufacturing, and diamond industry development, among others.
Envisioning an even closer economic relations in the years beyond, Israel Ambassador to Manila Ilan Fluss sees the field of innovation as an area the two countries could further develop.
“My vision is that we will establish bridges of innovation in technology between Israel and the Philippines,” he told the Philippine News Agency in a recent interview.
“For this, we’re working a lot on both on two levels, one on the startup community and how we can get an exchange between startups and to get Philippine startups enter into Israel,” he added.
As an innovation hub, Fluss believes Israel could support the Philippines in building a stronger startup industry through training and guidance in “internationalizing” Filipino startups.
In 2022, there were over 6,000 startups active in Israel, making the country a world leader in startups per capita.
Israeli firms, on the other hand, could enter the Philippines and provide solutions that address challenges unique to the country.
“[The Philippines] could help Israeli startups who are usually focused more on the developed markets, enter into the Philippines, adjusting what they’re doing to the challenges in the Philippines which are different than Europe and the United States,” Fluss said.
“So we want to help them diversify and enter the Philippine markets. So this is a very major effort that we are doing in the embassy,” he added.
Israel and the Philippines’ friendship is founded on deep historical and moral connections, with Manila opening its doors to 1,300 Holocaust refugees in late 1930s even before Israel became a state.
The Philippines was one of the 33 countries to vote in favor of a United Nations resolution in 1947 that created the State of Israel.
Formal diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Israel were established on Aug. 9, 1957.
On Feb. 26, 1958, the two states finally signed the Treaty of Friendship in the spirit of “perpetual peace and firm and lasting peace”. (PNA)