Israel’s ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, described the bilateral relationship as “very good” while highlighting “the open and sincere political dialogue” that exists between the governments of both countries.
In an interview with the AJN Agency shortly after embarking back to Jerusalem, Peled noted that Israel “always looks at Latin America with great expectation and great friendship.”
In addition, the diplomat said that the presence of Iran and its constant support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas remain one of the “main concerns”.
Next the most important of the interview with Jonathan Peled.
-AJN: What is your assessment of the management of the Israeli Embassy in Mexico?
-JP: It’s been 4 fascinating years here in Mexico. A time with many events, I think with many achievements and with a change of government here in Mexico that is also a challenge for Israel. In all, I believe that the relationship with Mexico today is very good and we have consolidated a lot the economic and commercial relationship until we have an open and sincere political dialogue between both governments, which is also very important because we do not always agree on everything.
–AJN: What is your analysis of Israel’s presence in Latin America and how does it describe its role in that process?
-JP: Israel always looks at Latin America with great expectation and with great friendship, because in the end, the Latin American countries were the decisive ones in creation, that is, in the Partition Plan and by the UN Resolution. Except with two or three countries, we maintain a very good relationship in Latin America, also at an economic and political level, despite the changes of governments in different countries. I believe that we have maintained common interests and also managed to maintain an open dialogue so that we can always present their concerns, and in many of these countries, there are very important Jewish communities, which of course is the case of Argentina, also of Mexico and Brazil. I believe that the visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2017 is a manifestation of the importance that Israel is giving to Latin America in general and to Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico in particular. We are also an observer country with aspirations to do more with the Pacific Alliance: Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. Except for these two or three countries that do not want to have relations with us, I think the relationship is good with Latin America and the expectation is to make it grow more, especially economically.
–AJN: Can you specify the objectives achieved during your mission in the bilateral relationship between Mexico and Israel?
-JP: At the political level a more open dialogue has been established, especially after the discussions and problems we had in the voting pattern of Mexico, and as a result, we have achieved a more open, more sincere dialogue, with fewer surprises. This does not mean that we agree on everything, but we do share many interests in global multilateral issues. Of course, we had the visit of President Peña Nieto, the only Latin American president who went to the funeral of Shimon Peres in 2016. Then, of course, the visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu in Mexico in 2017; and also exchange of ministers, political dialogues. We have had in these years the signing of important agreements in the framework of the visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu. You can’t mention the earthquake of September 19, 2017, where Israel, like 32 years before, was one of the first countries to send a plane with rescuers, something that was a very clear expression of solidarity and friendship between Israel and Mexico. This is at the political level. Some governors visited Israel. On a commercial level, in economic terms, Israeli investment in Mexico has increased, which today reaches more than 3 billion dollars, with more than 200 Israeli companies, mainly agricultural technology, water technology, public safety, alternative energy. On a cultural level, I believe that we have also managed to make our public more open, our celebration for Israel’s 70th anniversary last year, something that was not done in the past, to take it out of the community and do it more for the general public. And I think that indirectly the new administration, the new government of Mexico.
–AJN: It seems that from the 70th anniversary, Israel’s international image linked to the conflict with the Palestinians was modified by a role more linked to innovation, to technological advancement. Do you do the same reading?
-JP: True, I think it is part of Israel’s foreign policy in recent years that manifests itself throughout the world, but particularly now in Mexico and Latin America, it is really giving an image of Israel beyond the conflict. We see it, of course, also in our region, the Middle East. But returning here to our region, Israel is a country not only with a great culture and economic capacity, but also a country with a lot of education and technology that wants to contribute and share it with the countries of Latin America, and that is precisely what they need. It is technology, this venture, this innovation and being a region far from the Middle East, I think it is a relatively easy or favorable message to sell. At least in Mexico, they are not interested in what is happening in the Middle East,
–AJN: What is your opinion about Iran’s presence in Latin America, taking into account its responsibility in the attack on the headquarters of the AMIA, in Buenos Aires?
JP: They remain our main concerns. The issue of Iran, its constant support for terrorist organizations: Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, its investment or its invasion if one wants from Syria, approaching the northern border of Israel is something of concern to us, it is something we should face and how to prepare better. I believe that the issue of global territory is something that unites us with many other countries in the world, there we share the same desire to find a way to eliminate this threat as much as possible, it is an interest of many countries. In fact, this issue of Iran is also a topic of interest, of concern for many countries, not only for Israel, and there we also agree with other countries on the need to cooperate and deal with this threat. And as for the region, to Latin America,
–AJN.- Finally, how do you rate the link between Mexico and Israel?
-JP: I think the relationship between Mexico and Israel is very good, perhaps one of its best moments, it has overcome several challenges and interest is very common, we share the same values, we also share a neighbor for Mexico and an ally for Israel That is the United States. It is also a very important factor that the relationship with the United States for Mexico and for Israel is crucial.
There we also have several things in common, and now the challenge is really to see that despite the economic difficulties, the distances, we can continue to build an ever deeper and wider relationship. Now we have to update the Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and Israel, which was signed in 2000, this is one of the few, we have a Free Trade Agreement with Mercosur and we are about to ratify one with Colombia, But we don’t have so many Free Trade agreements in Latin America. That is why Mexico is important to update it now, after 19 years of validity. I still see great potential in this relationship and much still to be done.