Chris Koney column: A look at the growing Israeli – Ghana relations    

Ami Mehl

 

Israel is a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea and regarded by Jews, Christians and several others as the biblical Holy Land with the most sacred city being Jerusalem, a place of pilgrimage and worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims since the biblical era.

Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine (a 7th-century Islamic shrine with a gold dome), the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (a Christian pilgrimage site). Israel’s financial hub, Tel Aviv, is known for its Bauhaus architecture and beaches.

After reopening its diplomatic mission in Ghana in the year 2011, Israel has enjoyed a thriving diplomatic relationship with Ghana. This is evident in the partnerships between both countries in several areas, from agriculture, economic, communication, health, education, water to cyber security. There are also other trade and investment ventures open to citizens of both countries for mutual benefits.

To further strengthen this relationship and increase the level of cooperation between Israel and Ghana, the Israeli Embassy in Ghana dedicated the last week of October 2017 to celebrating a fusion of Israel and Ghana cultures through arts, music and fashion. The week also witnessed an impressive selection of Israeli dishes prepared by Chefs Shaul Ben Aderet, Ben Shaham and Chef Itamar Fadida, with Israeli wine, which was presented by Tal Gal Cohen.

In an interaction with the Israeli Ambassador to Ghana in his office in Accra, Ami Mehl didn’t mince words describing some of the activities successfully undertaken due to the good relationship between both countries at the moment. He described Ghana as a leading democratic country on the continent with a lot of potentials to achieve greater things in a matter of time.

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“In September this year, through the Embassy and the Ghana Israel Business Chamber (GIBC), we were able to mobilize and facilitate the participation of professionals from the water and sanitation industry to participate in the Water Technology and Environmental Control Conference and Exhibition 2017 which took in Tel Aviv. Ghana’s Agriculture Minister also went on a 10-day visit to Israel to learn more about the Israeli Agriculture Technologies,” he added.

On the subject of national development, the head of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Ghana advocated for Ghanaians to champion the course of the county’s development and believes it can be achieved with the contribution from all Ghanaians at every level. He has no doubt Ghana has the capacity to develop further with all hands on deck.

A lawyer turned diplomat and former member of the Israeli army during his mandatory military service, Ambassador Mehl described his little over two year experience in Ghana as very interesting, different from his previous job roles and also quite challenging.

“Ghanaians are very nice people, the country is good, peaceful and makes it better to work compared to other countries. Just like any other country, Ghana has its own problems but it is easier to deal with such issues in a democratic state like Ghana. That is a huge advantage for the country which should be capitalized on to attract investment and also make the country a desired destination,” he added.

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In response to the direction of the Israeli mission in Ghana under his leadership, Ambassador Mehl said the core mission as an embassy is to have a good diplomatic relations with Ghana.

With Ghana being an agrarian country, the ambassador revealed a partnership being developed for the agriculture sector after a meeting between President Nana Akufo-Addo and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu at the ECOWAS Forum in June 2017 in Liberia.

“We have our international corporation which we refer to as Marshav with some of these activities taking place in Ghana. After the high level political contact between the Israeli Prime Minister and Ghanaian President, we are designing a program for Ghanaian graduates and students in agriculture to have a period of study and work in Israel. After that, they will come back to implement what they have studies and the knowledge they have acquired”.

About visas and whether they are issued on quota basis or not, Ambassador Mehl revealed that Israeli entry visas issued by the mission in Ghana are based on merit rather than quotas. In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Mehl expressed his optimism about a growing Ghana-Israel relationship and advised young Ghanaians to take their studies serious in order to scale into the next chapter of their lives.

 

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