The Israeli Embassy in Asunción, Paraguay, was reopened last week in the presence of Ambassador Peleg Levy and outgoing Foreign Ministry Director-General Nissim Ben-Shitrit. Paraguay was represented at the opening by Minister of Agriculture Jorge Gattini and other top officials.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry noted prominently that the government of Paraguay stood by Israel during last year's Operation Protective Edge, even when Israel was criticized by many countries, and has been supportive of Israel at major international forums. Israel cooperates with Paraguay in the battle against terrorism and maintains a supportive role in actions against Hezbollah at the tri-border region.
The event took place in conjunction with other festive ceremonies, which included the ambassador's credential-presentation ceremony and the affixing of a new mezuzah at the Israeli Embassy in Asunción.
The embassy’s reopening represents a full historic circle after it was closed in 2002, along with 15 other embassies and consulates around the world, due to budgetary constraints in Israel.
This is the third of the 15 to be re-opened. The Israeli Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, for instance, reopened in 2010. The Foreign Ministry announced at the time that the re-opening would "promote cooperation and dialogue [and] bilateral trade and sports and cultural activities. It will also sustain the connection with the 6,000-strong Jewish community on the island."
Also in 2010, Israel re-opened its consulate in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Sao Paolo is the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and serves as an industrial, economic and communications center for all of Latin America. The city also has a large, 80,000-strong Jewish community.
Still closed, however, are the embassies or consulates in Marseilles, France; Sydney, Australia; Zimbabwe; Belarus; Montreal; and others.
Israel and Paraguay maintain a bilateral free trade agreement in the framework of Mercosur – the South American Common Market. Sophisticated Israeli risk-prevention systems have been installed at the Itaipú hydroelectric power plant, one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world. The bilateral balance of trade stands at $ 200 million. Large-scale meat imports form a large portion of Israel’s trade with Paraguay. Israel maintains close cooperation with Paraguay in the areas of water, agriculture, education and medicine, and recently the Ministers of Agriculture of the two countries exchanged visits and signed agreements of cooperation in the field of agricultural technology.