25 March 2017 - 27 Adar 5777 - כ"ז אדר ה' אלפים תשע"ז
Israel hosts representatives from China’s National Development and Reform Commission E-mail

In November, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with representatives from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, a macroeconomic management agency with broad administrative and planning control over the Chinese economy, to discuss ways to promote the trade between the two countries.

The meeting was part of the schedule of a three-day summit that saw upward of 200 Chinese officials and businessmen arrive in Israel for strategic dialogue with local businesses, entrepreneurs and officials.

The Chinese delegation is working on a programme optimising the ties in a number of key areas. Those include establishing a climate that’s conducive to business transactions between the two states, including assisting Israeli imports, launching more direct flights between the countries, encouraging contacts between businessmen and academics on both sides and, most importantly, signing a free trade agreement.

Israel has been seeking to establish a free trade zone with China for the last few years. During a July 2013 visit to China by then-Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Beijing agreed to conduct a special survey to assess the potential of a free trade zone.

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Israel marks first “Aliyah Day” E-mail

With over 40% of Israelis having been born outside of the country, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption marked its first-ever “Aliyah Day” on 8 November to celebrate the contributions immigrants have made to building Israeli society.

About 40% of Israel’s population of around eight million citizens were born outside of the country. Over three million people have immigrated to the Jewish state since its inception in 1948, coming from every corner of the globe, ranging from the US to Mozambique.

According to Ministry of Immigrant Absorption figures, two million Jews have immigrated to Israel since 1972. The country with the most Jews making aliyah was the former USSR, with 700,000 people moving to Israel in the 1970s and 1990s. The US follows with 117,000 – a trend that has picked up in the last few decades.

The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s director-general, Alex Kushner, said that the numbers of people making aliyah from North America have remained stable, at about 3,000 people a year.

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Airline competition to fly direct from Asia to Israel will now clearly be stepped up with the announcement that Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific will launch direct flights in March 2017.

The airline will begin operating four weekly flights on 26 March. Currently, EL AL Israel Airlines offers the only direct flight to and from Hong Kong. In April this year, China’s Hainan Airlines launched direct flights between Beijing and Tel Aviv, joining EL AL as one of only two airlines operating an Israel-China route. Korean Airlines also flies to Tel Aviv via Seoul daily.

Cathay Pacific will offer three ticket classes: tourist, business and a separate 28-seat premium economy department. Cathay Pacific has not previously operated in Israel. They have an arrangement through Tal Aviation, which is also the Israeli representative of Air Europe, Germania, American Airlines and Air Baltic.

Cathay Pacific’s new route will be subject to final government approval. As reported in the September 2015 issue of Jewish Times Asia, there are many other Asian carriers in the process of getting clearance to fly to Israel. These include Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Israel and Japan signed an aviation agreement in July 2015. Israeli and Japanese airlines will jointly operate up to 14 weekly flights in each direction. The new aviation agreement will allow for the introduction of a regular route between the two countries, although no official starting date has yet been approved. More recently, Singapore Airlines has also been in negotiations to fly between the two countries.

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Adolf Hitler’s home to be torn down E-mail

Adolf Hitler’s birthplace in Austria will be torn down and a new building with no connection to the Nazi leader will be built in its place. The plan was announced recently by the country’s Interior Ministry.

The plan must still be written into legislation and passed by Austria’s Parliament, the Associated Press reported. The vote is due take place before the end of this year, and likely would be a formality, according to the news service.

The Austrian government has initiated formal legal procedures to dispossess the home in the German border town of Braunau from its owners, in an attempt to prevent the site from becoming a shrine to the neo-Nazi community. Hitler was born in the home on 20 April, 1889, and Gerlinde Pommer’s family has owned it for more than a century. The town has tried for decades to purchase the building. The ministry had rented the home for decades and sublet it to charitable organisations.

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China and Israel agree on 10-year multiple-entry visas for citizens E-mail

Israel’s Interior Ministry has announced that the Chinese Israeli 10-year multiple-entry visa agreement will take effect this month on 11 November. The agreement was signed at the second meeting of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation on 29 March 2016. Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the signing ceremony.

The Chinese-Israeli 10-year multiple-entry visa agreement is another major move after Israel and China agreed on a mutual visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport-holders this January. According to the agreement, Chinese tourists will be able to have multiple entries to Israel, with the maximum duration of each stay being 90 days.

In recent years, ChineseIsraeli relations have been developing rapidly in various fields, including intergovernmental platforms such as the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation, and co-operation in trade, bilateral investment, culture, academia and tourism. The visa agreement is expected to continue to strengthen co-operation between the two countries.

China’s tourism industry is the fastest-growing in the world. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel has been increasing by 30% annually. Israel welcomes Chinese tourists and hopes that this momentum will be long-lasting.

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