Ambassador’s message to New Zealand

May 10, 2010 Agencies
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One of Shemi Tzur’s first tasks before his official accreditation as Israel’s new ambassador in Wellington was to to send a message to New Zealanders.

The following piece was written by Shemi Tzur and published in the New Zealand Press….

Shemi Tzur l. presents his credentials to Governor-General Sir Anand Satayanand

This week marks a new era in relations between Israel and New Zealand, as I officially become the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand.

The Embassy of Israel has re-opened after an eight year absence in New Zealand. In 2002 the post was closed because of financial constraints and the Canberra-based ambassador accredited to New Zealand.

The reopening of our Embassy reflects the importance that Israel attaches to its relations with New Zealand. The primary aim of the new Embassy is to advance ties between our two countries. Israel and New Zealand share expertise in a number of fields including technology, agriculture, fisheries, medicine, trade and water management. We also share a “do-it-yourself” attitude, which makes us the perfect partners for co-operation.

Ties between the two countries were strengthened in March with Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s visit to Israel and the signing of the New Zealand – Israel Working Holiday Scheme. This programme will bring our young people closer together and promote friendship among Israelis and New Zealanders.

Israel recently celebrated the 62nd anniversary of our young state. Despite its achievements since its inception, Israel has yet to attain its highest goal: peace with all its neighbours. While negotiations have succeeded with the Egyptians and Jordanians, currently the Palestinians are refusing to begin direct negotiations. Yet with the start of indirect talks, we have not given up hope that a fair resolution can be found to the conflict – for the benefit of all the children of our region.

In the short time I have been in New Zealand I have been struck by the similarities between the two states, despite the many thousands of kilometers that separate us. Most striking are the parallels between our two peoples. Like many Kiwis I have met, Israelis appreciate qualities such as friendliness, hospitality, innovation and self-reliance. Our difficult history has taught us the importance of rugged individualism, tempered by a strong identification with communal goals.

Despite the enormous distance between our two countries, we share common values and hold common goals. We both believe in freedom and democracy, and both hope for a peaceful world based on tolerance and mutual respect.

Like New Zealand, Israeli society is diverse. It is multicultural, composed of minority groups, including Arab-Israelis, Bedouins, Druze, and Circassians. These minority groups constitute 20 percent of the Israeli population and enjoy all the rights and privileges of every Israeli citizen.

Although we do not share your gift of geographic isolation and have had to face unfriendly neighbours, we are always striving to find the best balance between security and democracy.

I look forward to many years of service in New Zealand and would like to express my gratitude for the warm welcome I have received from the people of this beautiful country.

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