Israel's concurrent Ambassador to Paraguay (and Uruguay) Yoed Magen Wednesday announced the South American country was considering the opening of a commercial office in Jerusalem, after meeting in Asunción with President Mario Abdo Benítez.
Magen also explained that the opening of an Israeli embassy in Paraguay will have to wait a little longer due to budget issues.
”The president (Abdo) made a decision after almost two years to open a commercial office in Jerusalem and is determined to comply with that decision,” Magen told a news conference.
This important rapprochement between the two countries comes after almost two years the Abdo administration moved the Paraguayan Embassy back to Tel Aviv after the previous government of President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018) had opened it in Jerusalem. Israel responded to Abdo's decision by closing its own embassy in Asunción.
About plans for the reopening of an Israeli embassy in Asunción, Magen explained that budget cuts to face the current pandemic have delayed that possibility. But also we signed peace agreements with Arab countries several months ago and we opened embassies in those countries, and that obviously weighs heavily on the budget of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. However, the issue is constantly being analyzed and hopefully a reopening can be announced in the future, he said.
Magen recalled that Abdo's promise to open a commercial office in Jerusalem dates back to 2019 but has also been put on hold due to the pandemic.
Hopefully soon, Paraguay will be able to open a commercial office in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people, it is symbolic and significant. It is important that the countries recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, said the ambassador.
Abdo posted on his Twitter account that We celebrate the friendship that unites us with the Israeli people and Ambassador Yoed Magen, we appreciate the cooperation of medical teams with modern technology that we receive from Israel, with whom we continue to exchange experiences that help us overcome the pandemic.
In that regard, Magen underlined the fact that so far, Israel is the only country that has been able to overcome the pandemic, with the immunization of 54 percent of its population, which has led to herd immunity.
“Today, Israel has very low infection rates, we are talking about less than 100 infected people a day. The Government is slowly opening the economy and trying to reactivate tourism and opening everything. We are very happy to share our experiences with friendly countries like Paraguay,” Magen said.
But nevertheless he warned that ”there are many strains (of the Sars-CoV-2 virus) in the world and we do not know how effective vaccines are against some of them and therefore we have to proceed very cautiously and not open everything at once. People in Israel continue to wear masks indoors to prevent another wave of covid-19 from returning.”
Israel currently does not have a vaccine of its own, although one is under development, the ambassador explained as he referred to the donation to Paraguay of Israeli-made respirators. “The respirators are already in operation in hospitals. We are also going to donate four OrCam devices for blind people that allow them to read text and identify objects,” he added.