PM hails first visit to Israel by Jamaican counterpart

Israel thanks Jamaica for skipping controversial UNESCO vote

Netanyahu welcomes Kingston’s refusal in Oct. to back ‘absurd’ resolution, which ignored Jewish ties to Temple Mount

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Jamaican counterpart Andrew Holness arrive to a joint press conference in Jerusalem, on January 12, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Jamaican counterpart Andrew Holness arrive to a joint press conference in Jerusalem, on January 12, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked his Jamaican counterpart for his country’s refusal to participate in the UNESCO vote that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“Our relations are always friendly. We appreciate the fact that you didn’t join the recent vote against Israel, the absurd vote in UNESCO,” Netanyahu told Andrew Holness during his three-day visit to Israel that ended on Sunday, reported the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

In a secret ballot, the resolution passed in Paris on October 26 with less than a majority of the World Heritage Committee’s 21 members — 10 states voted in favor and two were opposed, with eight abstaining and one absent — Jamaica. Among Latin American countries, Cuba voted in favor and Peru abstained.

Both prime ministers met Thursday in Jerusalem in the first such visit by a leader of the Caribbean nation to the Jewish state. They discussed possibilities for cooperation in water, agriculture and domestic security.

“I think this is the first visit ever by a prime minister of Jamaica to Israel, so it has a double significance for us,” Netanyahu told Israeli media, citing a “natural affinity” between Israel and Jamaica and stressing that the visit is a “hallmark of cooperation.”

“I can see all the potential for cooperation in a variety of fields that relate to economy, to security, to technology. This is something that we eagerly are interested in doing with you,” he added.

Holness drew parallels between Israel and Jamaica being “strong democracies” and extended his condolences for the recent truck ramming attack in Jerusalem which killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded another 17.

“The Jamaican people and the Caribbean region is a zone of peace, and we wish peace for all the peoples of the world.” Holness said, inviting Netanyahu to visit Jamaica soon, which he accepted.

Holness and some government officials intend to identify and capitalize on opportunities for collaboration and expanded exposure to best practice aiming at fostering economic growth and prosperity through pioneering and sustainable policies, reported the Jamaica Information Service, calling the visit “historic.”

Jamaica is home to about 300 Jews in a population of 2.7 million.

The Caribbean island is the third-most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada, Jamaica is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state.

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