Israel's new ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss is hopeful that the two nations will further strengthen ties under the new administration.
Fluss, who was appointed late last year, describes himself as "diplomat balikbayan" having served as Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Manila from 1995 to 1998.
He said the Philippines is close to his heart especially because his second son was born here.
He vows to further strengthen the two countries' relations as he embarks on his new journey as ambassador to the Philippines.
Fluss, who already met President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, said he plans to pursue various programs with the Philippines in many fields. These include health, defense, agriculture, and business, among others.
He said he will also push for "getting the 2 countries closer in the area of innovation and technologies," citing the many startups in Israel that may partner with Philippine counterparts or businesses.
Stronger economic ties are also on the agenda. He is looking at investments both from Israel to the Philippines, and the Philippines to Israel in various fields such as BPO, semiconductors, and electronics.
He is looking at a stronger partnership in agriculture as well.
"Israeli agricultural companies who are looking to enter joint ventures in the Philippines. And we're looking more into a few sectors such as dairy, we're looking into horticulture production," said the envoy.
He is looking forward to the signing of agreements on the promotion and protection of investments, the establishment of a joint economic commission between the two countries, and cooperation in the area of innovation.
Fluss said he hopes direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manila will begin soon.
It was supposed to start this year, but Philippine Airlines has postponed the plan.
The ambassador said about 25,000 Filipino tourists visited Israel in 2019 and close to 30,000 Israelis visited the Philippines. If there is a direct flight, the numbers would double, he said.
"With the exchange of tourists between the two sides and the business interest and cooperation, the flight will be very profitable," he said.
He reiterated that Filipinos need no visa to enter Israel.
This is part of Israel's "open-door" policy toward the Philippines because of the Philippines' role in welcoming Jewish refugees many decades ago.
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