Some 40 United Nations ambassadors arrived from New York this week for a historic visit as part of Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations. The delegation, including ambassadors from Europe, Africa and Latin America, is being led by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in cooperation with the American Zionist Movement (AZM).
This is the largest ambassadorial delegation to visit Israel and it was planned over many months. Some of them joined Dannon for the March of the Living in Poland to mark Holocaust Memorial Day while others arrived early this week for a five-day visit including meetings with senior Israeli figures like President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat, as well as meetings with residents throughout the country.
The delegation also visited the Western Wall, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, Ma'aleh Adumim and Tel Aviv. They tried out the famed mud of the Dead Sea, ascended Masada, visited the Mahane Yehuda Market and the Israel Museum.
The ambassadors will take part in the events marking Independence Day. They will view the air show and then proceed to the events hosted at the President’s residence. They already visited the City of David National Park and on Tuesday they toured the southern border, received a security briefing and met with residents of the towns bordering the Gaza Strip.
Richard D. Heideman, AZM President, said: “Seventy years after the United Nations played a key role in the founding of the State of Israel, it is significant that so many foreign Ambassadors to UN are visiting Israel to see firsthand the history and accomplishments of the country. By being in Israel these diplomats will gain a greater appreciation for the threats and challenges which Israel faces daily, as well as an understanding of the importance of the country to the Jewish people and to all its inhabitants. At a time when UNESCO denies the Jewish connection to Jerusalem it is important that the Ambassadors have seen the Jewish history of the city as well as the respect accorded to all faiths by Israel. Israel’s commitment to protecting access to the Holy Places and respect for people of all religions is exemplary and noteworthy to the Ambassadors.”
Danon said, “We are glad to host friends from throughout the world who have come to celebrate with us 70 years of independence and prosperity and strengthen the relationship between our countries with this historic visit.”
He added, “In the face of attempts at the UN to deny the connection between the Jewish people and their land, the ambassadors viewed archeological findings that confirm in the best way possible the ancient and eternal link between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.”
Guatemalan Ambassador to the UN Jorge Skinner-Klee said: “I'm excited to be here, this place so important in history and is now a place of tolerance between religions and cultures. The positive feelings of Guatemala towards Israel have accumulated over the years, not only because of the bible but also because of the principles of the state of Israel today, as a state which contributes much to the world in the fields of science and technology. I believe that the ties between our two countries will continue to strengthen in the future as well.”
Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN Tekeda Alemu commented on the visit to Jerusalem: “It was a fantastic experience, the primary outtake is the fact that there is a clear connection between the old city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people and this cannot be denied.”