Honorable Minister Israel Katz, Director-General Yuval Rotem, Foreign Ministry directorate, Israeli Ambassadors worldwide and foreign ministry staff, who are watching today. Today, as I begin my role as Foreign Minister of Israel, I am accompanied by a sense of mission. I take on this office with a great sense of respect and responsibility during one of the most complex periods in Israel and in international and regional relations. I have served our country all my life and have gained more than I’ve given.
“On my way to this ceremony, I bowed my head in respect at the memorial to the foreign ministry personnel who fell during their service. Every day, we remember the cost of our independence, which we continue to bear, even today. I’ve traded my army uniform for a suit, but the mission remains the same – to serve Israel and its citizens. There are those whose responsibility it is to defend Israel by means of arms, including in the intelligence services. Our duty is to take every possible measure to prevent war and to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In this latter duty, we lead. The obligation of a country that sends its children to carry out operations on its borders, and beyond, is to ensure that it does everything possible to avoid war, and bring opportunities for peace closer.
The Foreign Ministry is an integral part of the national security infrastructure of the State of Israel. The diplomatic corps are its “warriors out of uniform”. The Foreign Ministry and its staff were at the forefront of Israel’s efforts to combat the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. Israeli diplomats ensured that our embassies remained open, and conducted their work on behalf of the citizens of Israel, including in the most challenging of circumstances in Asia, Europe, and North America, even when they themselves were exposed to, or infected with the virus. Diplomatic relations, established over many years, facilitated repatriating thousands of Israelis from all corners of the world; significantly contributed to securing medical equipment and supplies; and provided valuable information on the activities and exit strategies of other countries. During this period, Foreign Ministry staff did not neglect their core duties, and continued to advance Israel’s relations. My appreciation and deep gratitude goes to each and every person who took part in this important national task.
“Coronavirus is a global challenge; however, it also represents an opportunity for us at the Foreign Ministry to present Israel’s abilities and excellence in combatting this virus. As the world exits from the Coronavirus crisis, is our duty to renew and broaden our dialogue, engagement, and diverse relationships with countries across the globe.
We are facing significant regional opportunities, first and foremost is President Trump’s peace initiative, which I see as a significant milestone. President Trump has presented us with a historic opportunity to shape the future of the State of Israel and its boundaries for decades to come. The plan will be advanced responsibly, in full coordination with the United States and maintaining all of the State of Israel’s peace agreements and strategic interests. The United States is Israel’s closest ally and most important friend. I would like to thank the American administration for standing firmly with Israel to curb Iran’s nuclear project and preventing their entrenchment along our borders.
The diplomatic effort to stop the Iranian threat was and remains our most important mission. We have to continue using all the tools at our disposal, in the diplomatic area of course, in addition to actions in the defense arena. Like military strength, peace with our neighbors is a strategic asset, which we must maintain. I am part of the generation that fought in the Yom Kippur War. I know the price of war and understand the value of peace. I see great importance in strengthening our strategic ties with the countries with which we already have peace, Egypt and Jordan. They are allies of the utmost importance in facing regional challenges. In parallel, I will work to advance relations and cooperation with additional countries in the region, in order to strengthen the strategic position of the State of Israel.
Israeli diplomacy is deployed in over 100 embassies and missions across the world, from Asia through Africa to Latin America. I look forward to enhancing our important relations with Moscow and to continuing a meaningful dialogue with our allies in Europe to develop our relations and cooperate on the many international challenges. Israel and Europe are important partners, and I am sure that the relations we share will be fruitful and beneficial for both sides. I hope and look forward to continuing to strengthen Israel’s significant economic collaboration with countries across the world and in the fields of high-tech, science, agriculture, and more.
I would like to thank the outgoing Minister, my friend Israel Katz, for his work and his contribution to the State of Israel’s foreign relations during a sensitive and complex period. We have known each other for many years and I know how committed he was to the job of promoting Israel throughout the world. I wish him good luck as he begins the challenging role of Finance Minister. My friend Israel grew up on a Moshav, as I did, and understands that great achievements cannot be accomplished without hard work. This is how he acted throughout his time in both the Ministry of Transportation, and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dear MFA staff,
Decades of command have taught me that an officer never marches alone. Your unique experience, and the professional knowledge that you have accumulated, plays a crucial role in propelling the State of Israel’s foreign relations forward. You have all contributed significantly to the strength and security of the State of Israel. I see it as my duty to provide the Foreign Ministry and its staff with the tools and resources needed to not only deal with the growing threats that Israel faces, but also to take advantage of the opportunities that are available. Together we will meet the unique challenges facing us. I am proud of you, and excited to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Let our actions speak on our behalf.