In a positive sign of Israel’s expansion with new Asian alliances, Singapore’s Prime Minister, along with his wife, will be arriving in Jerusalem for an historic first visit.
By Nitsan Keidar, Ari Yashar
In recent years as Europe grows more hostile Israel has increasingly been turning to the East, building alliances with Japan, China, India, Taiwan and South Korea – an historically groundbreaking visit on Monday reveals that Singapore is the latest key Asian ally of the Jewish State.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is to arrive on Monday in a four-day official visit to represent his southeast Asian technological powerhouse city-state, which has increasingly been doing business with Israel. An international aid agreement is to be signed in the visit.
Making Lee’s visit with his wife all the more significant is the fact that this is the first visit ever by a Singaporean Prime Minister to Israel since Singapore was founded 51 years ago; diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 1969.
Bilateral ties have long been strong but recently they have been expanding rapidly, as evidenced by President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Singapore in March 2015 to pay his respects to the late Lee Kuan Yew, founding father and the first Prime Minister of Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew was the father of the current Prime Minister.
Rivlin’s visit that year was the first visit to Singapore by an Israeli President since that of President Yitzhak Herzog in 1987.
In the visit on Monday, following a stop in Jordan Lee is to arrive with a 60-person delegation after accepting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s invitation. Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Environmental and Water Resources Minister and State Minister are to accompany him.
Lee and his delegation will be received in an official ceremony on Monday in Jerusalem, before holding work meetings with Netanyahu. Then on Monday evening Lee and his wife will be hosted by Netanyahu and his wife Sarah for dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
During his time in Jerusalem Lee is to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, the Old City, and Hebrew University on Mount Scopus where he will receive an honorary doctorate in philosophy.
Netanyahu is to be present at the university and give a speech during the ceremony, which will coincide with the signing of three agreements: one with the Singaporean government and two with Singaporean universities.
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