In his first public address as acting Foreign Minister, Israel Katz encouraged over 100 leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to inspire additional countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem.
“This is a priority of ours,” Katz said, immediately turning to the country that has already done so. “There is no greater friend to Israel than the United States. With President Trump, our relationship has gotten stronger.”
He emphasized that Israel was a strong country. “We are a world leader in technology, innovation, security and many other fields,” he said, “yet we are still faced with challenges. There are many countries that still do not recognize the State of Israel and there are countries that wish to destroy us.”
He referred specifically to Iran. “As a member state of the UN,” he said, “it has called for the destruction of the State of Israel. This country instills fear in the entire Middle East. There are forces out there trying to undermine our state and destroy us, but despite our challenges, we stand strong.”
Katz screened a short film outlining a strategic program he proposed in his capacity as Minister of Transportation. The program envisions using Israel as the starting point of a railway system that would take freight and passengers from the Mediterranean coast east through Jordan and on toward Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.
“We have a dream for a real transformation in our region,” he said. “May our dreams come true.”
Later, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely began her remarks by addressing the worldwide rise in anti-Semitism.
“People who don’t believe in the legitimacy of the existence of the Jewish state are proof of a new, ugly anti-Semitism,” she said, going on to praise French President Emanuel Macron’s statement that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
Yet she also spoke about rising support from other countries. “Numerous countries, including a number of central European nations, have said they will establish branches of their embassies in Jerusalem as a first step. Hopefully, Brazil will soon follow.”
She emphasized these moves were clearly a diplomatic success for Israel.
She also addressed the dangers posed by Iran, praising the leadership of the US for renewing sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Europe, on the other hand, “is still trapped in the concept that if Jerusalem is divided, it will help lead to peace. This,” she stated, “is simply not true.”
Noam Katz, Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, outlined some of the regional challenges facing Israel, again primarily pointing to Iran.
“Iran is posing an unprecedented threat toward regional stability and peace,” he said. “We have to ensure that the Iranian regime gets an international signal that its activities are unacceptable. We chose this year, the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, to convince other countries of the dangers, and we need your help – in the US, Iran has unfortunately become a partisan issue.”
All three praised the work of the Presidents Conference and urged it to continue its vital efforts to build bridges between Israel, the Jewish People and nations around the world.
Off-the-record break-out sessions were held with senior Foreign Ministry experts and analysts to discuss such key areas as Israel’s strategic challenges and opportunities, Israel-Diaspora relations, Israel-US relations, the dangers posed to the region by Iran, and Israel’s 60 years of efforts to enrich developing countries through the ministry’s MASHAV program.