MANILA — The Philippines and Israel on Monday signed an agreement that will enhance the two nations' interactions on environment protection and technology sharing.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection was signed at the conclusion of the bilateral meeting between Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and visiting Israel Foreign Minister Eliyahu Cohen in Manila.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the deal would provide opportunities for both the Philippines and Israel to share best practices in addressing common challenges related to the environment, preservation of ecosystems, disaster risk management, and promotion and dissemination of environmental technologies, among others.
“We believe that close cooperation in the field of environmental protection can provide an important contribution to the friendly relations between our two states and to help in addressing issues of sustainability, climate change and help protect our planet,” Cohen said.
In a separate statement, Cohen said Israel is also keen to improve existing partnerships with the country, particularly in agriculture and water, citing "huge potential" to make the two nations' 65-year-old relations more meaningful for its people.
“I see my visit to the Philippines as a strong political and economic message, a response to former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's visit to Israel in 2018, which resulted in the establishment of Israeli Defense and Economic Attaché offices in Manila, the signing of bilateral agreements on OFWs, and the expansion of defense cooperation,” he told the Philippine News Agency.
“I am sure that this visit will improve our already existing partnerships in agriculture, water, innovation and technology, and economic cooperation,” he added.
Over the past years, thousands of Filipinos have received training in Israel through its agency for international development cooperation, Mashav, in various areas such as agriculture, water management, education, gender equality, women's empowerment, sustainability, and health, among others.
Cohen said some 5,550 Filipinos are currently completing an 11-month agricultural internship to learn about and experience contemporary and lucrative farming.
Israel also extended humanitarian assistance to the Philippines when Typhoons Yolanda, Odette, and Paeng battered the country.
"With this visit and the Israeli Embassy's active involvement in the public and business sectors in the Philippines, we look forward to a brighter future for our relations," he said.
Cohen's trip to the Philippines is the first by an Israeli foreign minister after more than 50 years.
The last Israeli minister of foreign affairs to visit Manila was Abba Eban in 1967. (PNA)