At the conclusion of their meeting in Hanoi last week as part of a state visit, Israel’s president asked his Vietnamese counterpart to reconsider his country’s votes concerning Israel at different international organizations.
The meeting between Reuven Rivlin and Trần Đại Quang was particularly warm and friendly, and Rivlin’s tone in his request was cordial.
“We are friends, and friends tell each other the truth, even when it’s not always comfortable,” Rivlin began. The Israeli interpreter who was relaying his words to Quang lowered his voice.
The Israeli president continued, “We ask of you, as friends, to consider Vietnam’s votes in international institutions. I’m of course not asking you to go against your heart, but saying that Jerusalem is not part of the State is Israel is like saying that Hanoi is not part of Vietnam.”
At the conclusion of their meeting, Quang commented, “We support the parties’ efforts to achieve peace for the Palestinians, for Israel and for the rest of the residents of the region leading towards the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestine, living alongside the State of Israel in peace."
The economic and security relations between the two countries are flourishing. Vietnamese government and business leaders speak of Israel in terms of admiration.
As part of its security collaboration, Israel has upgraded T-54 tanks for the Vietnamese army. Israel defense institutions are providing Vietnam with aerial defense systems, drones, rockets, cyber-defense systems and more. An Israeli company has even established a small-arms factory inside the socialist republic.
The Vietnamese are keen to purchase as much as possible, but Israel is proceeding cautiously to prevent sensitive technology from being leaked to the Chinese or Iranians.
During Rivlin’s state visit, the Vietnamese pressured the Israeli president on this, but he made it clear to them that Israel must maintain its military superiority.
Despite this collaboration, Vietnam’s voting record at the UN on political issues related to Israel is more hostile, along with the country recognizing a Palestinian state. Vietnam consistently votes in support of the Arab bloc's positions.
Recently, Hanoi voted in favor of the controversial UNESCO resolution that disregards the Jewish religious connection to Jerusalem.
UN resolutions regarding the Jewish state that lack more overt political components have received Vietnamese support, however, such as in 2014 on a resolution submitted by Israel on entrepreneurship.
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)