18 June 2019 - 15 Sivan 5779 - ט"ו סיון ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Jewish Times Asia

The already prosperous economic ties between Vietnam and Israel seem to be strengthening, with both governments confirming that a bilateral free-trade agreement is under negotiation and could raise the two-way trade deal to an estimated worth of US$3 billion.

Diplomatic relations have grown steadily since Israel’s President Reuvan Rivlin made a state visit to Vietnam in March 2017.

The latest initiative was a joint roundtable conference on business and investment opportunities in Vietnam, which was held in Tel-Aviv on 22 May. A total of 30 companies participated. Sabine Segal, Deputy Director General for International Business Affairs at the Israel Export Institute, said the conference was an initiative of the Vietnamese embassy. It is intended as an effort to help Israeli firms study the Vietnamese market and its opportunities. Highlighting the growth of the two countries’ economic trade and investment relations, she stressed the importance for yet more bilateral, multifaceted collaborations.

At the conference, Vietnam’s Ambassador to Israel, Do Minh Hung, delivered an overview on Vietnam’s economic development and integration, as well as its foreign investment attractions. He pointed to cooperation pillars of the two countries, including trade, agriculture, tourism, investment, and science-technology.

Vietnamese trade counsellor at the embassy Le Thai Hoa also gave a presentation on business climate in the Southeast Asian nation. Hoa also introduced a number of legal frameworks for Vietnam/Israel ties, Israeli investment in Vietnam, as well as the current situation and prospects of trade ties between the two countries. He encouraged Israeli firms to seize opportunities offered by the Vietnamese market, which could be a gateway for them to reach a wider market of the ASEAN Economic Community.

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Israel’s population soars past 9 million on Independence Day E-mail

Israel’s population has surpassed 9 million individuals, as reported last month by the Central Bureau of Statistics on the eve of the nation’s 71st Day of Independence.

At the time of printing, Israel reportedly houses 9,021,000 citizens, more than ten times its population of 806,000 at the time of the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. Around 45% of World Jewry currently reside in Israel.

The population has grown by an exponential 2% (or 177,000) since Independence Day 2018. Over the past year, 188,000 babies were born, 31,000 people immigrated to Israel, and 47,000 people have died.

The Central Bureau of Statistics projects that Israel’s population will reach 10 million by 2024, 15 million by 2048, and 20 million by 2065. Statistically, 6,697,000 of the Israeli population are Jewish (74.3%), with 1,890,000 (20.9%) identifying as Israeli Arab, and the remaining 434,000 (4.8%) belong to other religions and communities.

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Strong turnout for Pro-Palestinian march E-mail

Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists marched through central London for the National Demonstration for Palestine.

The marchers demonstrating on 12 May called to “free Palestine,” demanding for a “right of return” for Palestinians, and for the end to “unprecedented attacks on Palestinians by Israel”.

The event, which marks the 71st anniversary of the Nakba – or catastrophe, referring to the formation of the state of Israel – was organised by the Palestine Campaign. They are supported by and affiliated with the support of Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al-Aqsa, and the Muslim Association of Britain, as well as several trade unions and the Momentum faction of the Labour Party. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, offered his support to the demonstrators in a statement that he also posted on Facebook.

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Royal Thai King’s Guard spotted carrying Israeli rifles E-mail

During the official coronation ceremony of the appointment of Thailand’s new King Maha Vajiralongkorn in May, soldiers of the Royal Thai King’s Guard were carrying goldenplated and painted Israeli Tavor bullpup rifles.

According to the Israel Defense, the rifles appear to be the older Tavor 21 IDF models, which may have been sold to Thailand at a discount after the later-generation Tavor models entered the market.

The Tavor TAR-21s produced by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), were spraypainted gold in the “old tradition of the Royal Police,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

Thailand purchased TAR-21 bullpup assault rifles to replace its M16-A1 assault rifles as the standard issue rifle of the Thai Royal Army and, according to local Thai reports, has around 76,000 TAR-21 rifles in use.

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Genesis Prize Foundation grants US$1 million toward Spacecraft Beresheet 2 E-mail

The Genesis Prize Foundation has granted US$1 million toward Beresheet 2, a second attempt to land an Israeli spacecraft on the moon. The first Beresheet mission crashlanded on the surface of the moon on 11 April.

“This grant deviates from our traditional philanthropy, which focuses on one initiative each year in partnership with our laureates. But in its essence, support of Beresheet 2 is exactly why we established our foundation: to inspire the Jewish people, to strengthen the bond between Israel and the Diaspora, and to instill a sense of pride in Israel’s achievements,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation.

Beresheet had cost nearly US$100 million, mostly funded by donors, and the results of an investigation into the crash will be published later this month.

Less than 48 hours after the crash, SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn announced the launch of the Beresheet 2 project. The South African-born billionaire donated much of the funding for the first effort.

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