The Israeli and Filipino business community in the country looks forward to a productive working relationship with new Israel Ambassador to the Philippines, Rafael Harpaz. Malacañang recently welcomed the ambassador in a Presentation of Credentials ceremony.
“Israel and the Philippines share an extensive and warm [partnership] in many areas, including economic and trade relations, security cooperation, agriculture, development assistance, and tourism,” he said, during the event.
Harpaz replaced Ephraim “Effie” Ben Matityau, who was Israel’s ambassador to the country for four years. Before Harpaz’s appointment here, he served as:
- Director, Central Asia and Caucasus Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
- Israel’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan
- Director, Public Affairs Department, Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C.
- Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Stockholm, Sweden
- Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Bern, Switzerland
- Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Within MFA, he handled the positions:
- Economic Department Head for Africa and the Americas
- Export Control Coordinator of the Strategic Affairs Division, and
- Deputy Division Director of North Africa
In his speech, Ambassador Harpaz recognized the 30,000 Filipino caregivers currently employed in Israel and expressed his appreciation to them. He also thanked the Filipino professionals and students who have participated and are participating in Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. Lastly, Harpaz commended over 600 Filipino students in Israel who are currently engaged in an 11-month internship related to modern agriculture.
The positive relationship and cooperation between the Philippines and Israel date back to World War II when the late President Manuel L. Quezon implemented an Open-Door Policy. This policy allowed the Jews who fled Nazi Germany to take refuge in the country.
“Israel is eternally thankful to the gracious deed of the Philippines to save Jewish lives,” the ambassador stated.
The Presentation of Credentials to the President of the Philippines was held one week before the departure of President Duterte and his entourage for a 4-day visit to the State of Israel. The Chief Executive’s visit was a fruitful one, with him securing more than $80 million in investments and deals covering technology, military hardware, transportation, tourism, science, labor, trade, and joint oil exploration.