Photo Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israel’s Ambassador to India Ron Malka and Ambassador of Bhutan to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel with their delegations at a signing ceremony establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, December 12, 2020.

Another beautiful Chanukah gift: another nation chooses to increase light and widen the circle of peace!

The Kingdom of Bhutan, a Buddhist nation in the Himalayas bordering India and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, established full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel on Saturday evening.

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“I welcome the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Bhutan, which is additional fruit of the peace agreements,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in statement welcoming the expanding circle of peace. “We are in contact with additional countries that want to join and establish relations with us.”

Israel’s Ambassador to India Ron Malka signed the final agreement together with his Bhutanese counterpart, Ambassador to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel, in a ceremony to normalize diplomatic ties between the two nations. The agreement was signed at Malka’s residence in India.

The foreign ministries of the two countries have been holding secret talks over the past year, albeit in an effort entirely separate from the Abraham Accords.

Bhutan has a population of slightly more than 770,000 people, and only began to allow foreigners into the country in 1970. Internet and television were legalized in 1999.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, said he hoped to host Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in Jerusalem for “a first state visit of its kind.”

Ashkenazi also thanked Ambassador Malka and his staff for strengthening the relationship with Bhutan, and for “building the outline that led to the signing of the agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations between us.”

Israeli delegations have secretly visited the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu, and Bhutanese officials have secretly visited Israel as well.

Ironically, Bhutan does not have official diplomatic relations with the United States. Nor does it have ties with China, the UK, France or Russia. The kingdom has embassies in only seven countries, and in fact has formal diplomatic ties with only 53 other nations.

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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.