Photo Credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kazakh President Nazarbayev at Presidential palace in Astana

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was welcomed Wednesday at the Presidential palace in Astana by an honor guard and the national anthems of both countries, the first Israeli prime minister to visit Kazakhstan.

PM Netanyahu and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev first met together privately, and then held an expanded meeting.

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During that meeting, the Israeli prime minister asked the Kazakh president to support the Israeli bid for the Security Council seat. In the past, Israel supported Kazakhstan’s successful bid to be in the Security Council. Now the State of Israel plans to make a bid to win a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations in 2019, but the Jewish State requires the support of at least several Muslim states to get there: hence this week’s good-will tour.

The two countries signed agreements on research and development, aviation, civil service commissions and agricultural cooperation, as well as a declaration on establishing an agricultural consortium. It was also agreed that teams would be established to study high-tech and security development.

At a joint media briefing following the meetings, PM Netanyahu noted that his visit coincided with the country’s 25 years of independence.

“We congratulate you on your stunning achievements. Look around and you see a new nation rising from the soil and I appreciate and applaud your view into the future,” he smiled. “You say, correctly, that the important thing is to take a raw material economy and to move it up. And we believe that this is a task in which we could join hands and do many things together.

“We did not have, until recently actually, the blessings of raw material,” Netanyahu noted. “We just found gas in the sea. I have a problem, Mr. President, of thinking about Israel as an energy exporting country but it’s a fact. But until then, before then we had to export other things and so we are now in the happy position of having both natural resources and man-made resources which I think allows for a perfect marriage between what you’re trying to do here and what we’ve been doing there.

This is expressed first in our commitment to EXPO. We want to be partners with you in all the things that you said, specifically three areas: one, agriculture; second, science and technology; third, security and anti-terror. We formed working groups and we are going to have a follow-up meeting in Israel.

“This will be the President’s, I think, fourth visit to Israel so I still have to come back here but we would like to have there these groups meet in Israel with concrete programs so that we can move forward on this very ambitious plan.

PM Netanyahu also commended the Kazakh president for his “attitude of tolerance towards Jews. This is something that is Jews who are here feel and Jews who came from Kazakhstan to Israel value deeply. You’re right, they’re a human bridge, but they’re also your best ambassadors. They speak very warmly of Kazakhstan and of the attitude towards all religions here.

“This is something that I think is important today for the world. What you see today are the leaders of a Muslim state and the leader of a Jewish state shaking hands, working to cooperate to create a better future for the citizens of our countries. But I think that this example of Muslim-Jewish cooperation is something that reverberates throughout the world.

“In this context, I asked President Nazarbayev to support the Israeli bid for the Security Council seat. You know that we supported Kazakhstan’s successful bid to be in the Security Council. Now if you want a real change in the world, imagine the State of Israel on the Security Council of the United Nations – that’s a change. And it’s supposed to be in 2019, and I think it’s possible. And with your help, it will be realized.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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