Israeli envoy says PH-Israel ties ‘stronger’

Ambassador Rafael Harpaz and President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang (Photo courtesy of the Israel Embassy in Manila)

Outgoing Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz said Friday the relations between the Philippines and Israel have grown stronger in the past three years. The envoy ends his Philippine tour of duty shortly.

“I’m ending my term as the Israeli ambassador in this beautiful country with the bilateral relations between Israel and the Philippines stronger,” Harpaz said.

“It’s a wonderful country, Israel and the Philippines enjoy wonderful relations and we have special thanks to the tens of thousands of Filipinos in Israel who are taking such good care of our elders in Israel,” the diplomat added,

Harpaz cited the two countries’ engagement between them at the height of the pandemic where Israel sent aid and even health experts to support Manila’s response against the Covid-19 onslaught.

Harpaz started his tour of duty as Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines in August 2018. His first mission was as official escort of President Rodrigo Duterte during his historic visit to Israel in the same year which brought significant cooperation developments in the fields of  agriculture, tourism, and the economy, among others.

Last week, Duterte hailed Harpaz’s key role in ensuring humane and orderly treatment of overseas Filipino workers in Israel and the implementation of bilateral agreements on the temporary employment of Filipino home-based caregivers and workers in the hotel sector.

With several linkages established between various groups based in Israel and the Philippines, Embassy Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Nir Balzam said Harpaz’s term was “very fruitful”.

“Ambassador Rafael Harpaz’s term was very fruitful. On behalf of the Embassy of Israel in the Philippines, we would like to thank him and wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” the official said.

Last June 18, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also thanked Harpaz for his “significant contributions to the enhancement of Philippines-Israel bilateral cooperation.”

President Duterte has conferred Harpaz the Order of Sikatuna honors, Rank of Datu (Grand Cross), Silver Distinction, in recognition of the envoy’s significant contributions to Philippines-Israeli relations during his farewell call in Malacañang.