FM Ashkenazi: Trump’s peace plan is a historic opportunity


“Much like military power, peace with our neighbors is a strategic asset and we must preserve it,” says incoming Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

“We are facing significant regional opportunities, first and foremost, [US] President [Donald] Trump’s peace initiative, which I see as a significant milestone,” incoming Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday, at a ministerial exchange ceremony with his predecessor Israel Katz.

Ashkenazi stresses that as part of the peace plan, introduced in January, “President Trump presents us with a historic opportunity to shape Israel’s future for decades to come. The plan will be implemented responsibly and in coordination with the United States, all while preserving [Israel’s] peace treaties and Israel’s strategic assets.”

Commenting on the warning issued by Jordan’s King Abdullah that Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to large parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley would trigger a “massive conflict” between Jerusalem and Amman, Ashkenazi said, “Like military power, peace with our neighbors is a strategic asset and we must preserve it. I lend great importance to strengthening the strategic ties with Egypt and Jordan. They are very important allies in tackling the challenges in the region.”

Ashkenazi further lauded Israel’s warm relationship with the US, which he said was “the closest and the most important ally Israel has. I thank the US administration for its steadfast support in Israel with respect to curbing the Iranian nuclear project and curtailing Iranian presence on our borders.

“The diplomatic campaign to stop the Iranian threat has been and remains our main mission. We must continue to use all the tools at our disposal in the diplomatic arena, alongside the security activity in this regard,” he said.

Touching on the coronavirus crisis, the incoming foreign minister said the Israeli diplomatic corps “stood at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic.

“Our Foreign Service personnel kept the [overseas]missions open and never faltered in their efforts on Israel’s behalf, even in the most hard-hit places in Asia, Europe, and North America, and even when they themselves were exposed and even infected with the virus.

“The diplomatic ties built over the years helped get thousands of Israelis from around the world back home; contributed greatly to the procurement of medical and pharmaceutical equipment, and provided invaluable information on the counter-pandemic activities and exit strategies devised by other countries around the world,” he said.

“Even during this period, Foreign Ministry officials did not abandon the core issues and sought to advance Israel’s global status.”

Ashkenazi noted that Israeli diplomat are stationed in over 100 missions around the world, from Asia, through Africa, to Latin America. I also look forward to bolstering our important ties with Moscow and to maintaining vital dialogue with our allies in Europe, to deal with the many challenges we face in the international theater.

“Israel and Europe are important partners and I’m sure our relationship is mutually beneficial.”

Outgoing FM Israel Katz, named the finance minister, said that Israeli embassies “are Israel’s economic front worldwide.”

Commenting on the government’s efforts to extract Israelis stranded worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak, Katz said, “The operation I promoted to rescue Israelis stranded abroad was not a Foreign Ministry mandate – we just did it. The work at the [Foreign Ministry’s] Situation Room and in all places, it was exemplary work. Few countries mounted such efforts.”

Foreign Ministry Director Yuval Rotem told Ashkenazi: “The Foreign Ministry is Israel’s first line of defense. Not everyone is familiar with our actions. All employees are at your disposal. ”

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