Peace is essential to us—Israel

Accra, May 11, GNA - Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Shlomit Sufa, says Israel has made progress with its normalisation accords with Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates and gradually having countries in the Middles East join others that have made peace with it.

“Peace is essential to us, so we have reached out to nations around us in the Middle East… So much more can be achieved in cooperation and friendships than war,” she said.

The Ambassador said this at a reception in Accra on Tuesday to mark the 74th Independence Day of Israel.

She said the story of Israeli’s independence and survival could be described as a miracle and that it had achieved so much in 74 years and looked forward to doing more in innovation, high-tech, agriculture, water, cyber-tech, health, and space among others.

Madam Sufa described Ghana as a priority country in the Israeli Economic and Development policy due to its huge economic potential, stability, democracy, dominant role of civil society and press freedom.

She said the Israeli International Agency for Development Cooperation (MASHAV), which had been working in Ghana since 1958, continued to lead in partnering with the Government on trainings and projects in Agriculture, Health, Education, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation.

The Ambassador said Israeli was proud to be part of the Government’s success story in Agriculture with the contribution of Israel’s flagship programme-Foreign Trainees in Agriculture.

“Currently, Ghana has a quota of 200 agricultural students in Israel. In total, we have had about 400 plus agricultural graduates benefitting from this project since its inception in 2018,” she said.

The Ambassador said in health, MASHAV continued to support the two Mother and Baby Units in Kumasi South and Suntreso Hospitals.

“Just this March, about 60 midwives, nurses and paediatric specialists from these hospitals graduated from a training programme facilitated by MASHAV and the Soroka Medical Centre in Israel.”

She recounted collaborations and supports for Ghana in Innovation, Education and Trade and said in February this year, through a collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Africa Fertilizer and Agribusiness (AFAB), and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, there was a forum on soil health with specific focus on fertilizers and that in June, “we hope to host one of the biggest events in the Fintech sector.”

“All of these success stories give impetus to the efforts we are making to grow the trade and economic relations between Israel and Ghana as envisioned in the Government’s beyond Aid agenda,” Madam Sufa said.

She said Israel was also committed to strengthening people to people relation with different public diplomacy activities and that in October last year, Israel held one of the most innovative virtual cultural events dubbed: “Dance Bridges” where students and professors from the University of Ghana Dance Department and the Jerusalem Dance Academy had an “impressive” collaboration of artistic dance choreographies of Israeli and Ghanaian dance.  

“Our ‘Children Drawing Jerusalem of Ghana Competition’ gave opportunity to Sunday school children of the Christian community to exhibit their talent in drawing and the outcome was just amazing,” the Ambassador said.

She commended the Ghanaian government for the “impressive efforts and bold initiatives” in fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic and “most, especially to make improvement in the economy.”

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture, in a speech read on his behalf, called for immediate end to the incitement and perpetration of violence, which was undermining the prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine.

He said Ghana welcomed the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco and expressed the hope that the prevailing peace would promote economic development and prosperity in the Middle East.

The Minister said the bilateral relations between the two countries had witnessed an increase in people-to-people contacts in the participation of several Ghanaian students, public servants, and private individuals in various MASHAV training programmes in health, education, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and innovation, with many making significant contributions to Ghana’s development.

He said the country was happy about the increased business to business engagement and the several Israel companies flourishing in Ghana following the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and urged businesses in the two countries to work together and take advantage of the market of about 1.2 billion people.

The event attracted members of the diplomatic corps and religious leaders.