Jerusalem – Israel does not intend to give up on the Pacific Ocean islands and let them fall into the hands of Iran, as happened with the Solomon Islands. The support of the Solomon Islands, however, was “bought” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s country for a grant of only $200,000.

Next month, the presidents of three of the island states that are considered strong supporters of Israel – Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru, will be coming to Israel for an official visit. They will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and, perhaps, also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and will be paid royal honors.

Israeli officials ascribe great importance to the support of these Pacific islands, mainly because it can be transferred easily from one side to another. A year ago, Iran signed a memorandum with the Solomon Islands stating that it would fund scholarships in the amount of $200,000 for students living there to study medicine in Cuba. The payment was not long in coming: The Solomon Islands voted in the United Nations (U.N.) for adopting the conclusions of the Goldstone Report, which blasted Israel for its counterattack in Gaza last year.

The vote surprised Israel because the Solomon Islands were considered a strong ally.

“This is part of a long-term effort to preserve and nurture relations with countries with which we would like to keep in contact,” explained Michael Ronen, the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Pacific desk. Mr. Ronen, who also serves as the ambassador to these islands, emphasized that Israel does not intend to offer money, as Iran did. “I will defeat the Iranians on my court by offering humanitarian and medical assistance, which Israel has made sure to give these islands throughout the years, without promising money or making my assistance conditional upon political support, as the Iranians have done,” he said.

The Pacific Ocean region has sixteen countries, including Australia and New Zealand. All the rest are tiny countries. Since size does not matter, the votes of 13 of these countries matter in votes that take place in the U.N. Tiny Micronesia’s vote is equal to that of enormous China.

Israel was among the first of the countries outside the Pacific region to recognize the independence of the island nations in the 1980s and formed diplomatic relations with them. Since then, Israel has worked a great deal in those countries, sending them medical equipment, vaccines, medicines and medical specialists. Thus, for example, an Israeli ear, nose and throat specialist has been in Nauru for the past three weeks at the request of the Nauruan government. Equipment worth $130,000 was sent to Samoa as assistance in coping with the damage from the latest tsunami. Israel also assisted the Solomon Islands, despite its vote in favor of the Goldstone Report, and continued to send it medical equipment in order to help it cope with diabetes, which is widespread there. The result of this ongoing assistance has been that in the U.N. votes, these countries have supported Israel or abstained from voting against it.

However, in recent years, countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba have tried to change this situation by means of money, and Israel is trying to stop this from happening.

“Israel extends its hand to all countries, great and small,” Mr. Ronen said. “In the Pacific region, we have found tiny and far-flung states that know a great deal more about us than we know about them, and that have shown us extraordinary friendship. In the U.N., there is an almost absolute majority against Israel and, therefore, we are making every effort to keep them with us.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

SHARE
Previous articleRabbi David Saperstein Gives Keynote Address at Global Interreligious Conference
Next articleU.S. Forces Training Possible Terrorists
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

1 COMMENT

  1. Israel needs to enhance more economic activities in the pacific island nations, in order to stimulate good mutual relationship that builds on economic strength.
    Secondly it needs to intergrate the rigid economies through man power training and military assistance.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here