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Her Majesty Queen Sofia attended the Thursday night concert of the Israel Philharmonic at the Auditorio National in Madrid. At intermission she received Zubin Mehta for a private audience, congratulating the Maestro and the orchestra on their visit to Spain.
The program had an especially Spanish "flavor"; Albeniz "Iberia", De Falla "Noches en Los Jardines de Espana" ("Evenings in the Gardens of Spain"), Debussy "Iberia" and Rimsky-Korsakov "Capriccio Espagnol". Piano soloist Javier Perianes performed De Falla's "Noches" with the orchestra. Her Majesty was greeted by applause from the standing audience and orchestra when she entered the auditorium. She has a personal friendship with Maestro Mehta and is known to members of the IPO as a faithful supporter of the orchestra's concerts over the years.

Queen Sofia is a great supporter of the arts and sports. She represented Spain in its 1960 Olympics sailing team. Two years ago she attended the Wimbledon Tennis Championship to see Rafael Nadal's victory, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup when Spain was crowned champion. Madrid's major museum of modern art carries her name.
The Queen who is a member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty, is wife of Spain's King Juan Carlos I.



Regional danger has never been greater while at the same time peace is so attainable I call upon Abbas, for whom I have great respect: Let's start negotiations.

President Shimon Peres hosted a New Year's reception for members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps posted in Israel. Ambassadors from more than 60 countries including Jordan and Egypt were represented at the reception for members of the foreign diplomatic corps.

The President greeted the Ambassadors for the New Year and during his address spoke about the peace process and the recent events at the United Nations. He stressed that the regional danger has never been greater while at the same time peace is so attainable. The President reiterated his recent calls for Abbas to return to the negotiating table.

He said: "I call upon Abbas, the President of the Palestinians, for whom I have much respect and sympathy, and I must say here and now that I think the present leadership of the Palestinians is the best we could have, and say: Let's start. Let's start in two ways, openly and quietly. We have to do these two things in a parallel manner. Let's not waste time. We are in an unfinished and undecided situation in the Middle East."

The President added that framework and timeline provided by the Quartet to start and advance the negotiations is important and can lead to peace.

The President also used the opportunity to sharply criticize the United Nations and said he felt deeply ashamed that Ahmadinejad is invited to the United Nations. "For an Israeli to see him on the stage of the United Nations is revolting. It is actually the antithesis of the United Nations. He calls for the destruction of Israel, he threatens to use his strength, he denies the Shoah (Holocaust), and he acts against the basic aims and philosophies of having a world organization that is trying to overcome conflicts and introduce a new tone. He is a dangerous man and still heading terror activities here, supplying weapons to Hamas and Hizbullah.

Many diplomats and friends attended the celebration of the Swedish national day in the Ambassador's residence. H.E. Ambassador Elinor Hammarskjold was thrilled to host the guests and welcome them personally.


After greeting all the arrivals, Ambassador Hammarskjold was introduced and came up to the stage to say some words. Ambassador Hammarskjold welcomed the crowd and minister Shalom Simchon, representative of the government in the event. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold started by saying that Sweden and Israel have a long history of relations between themselves. She wanted to share with the audience some of her experiences since she arrived to Israel last year. Ambassador Hammarskjold shared stories about people who told her that they sought refuge in Sweden during and after the Holocaust, in this matter she also mentioned the vast cooperation between Israel and Sweden regarding Holocaust education. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold spoke of the other fields of cooperation in which both states share, Fields such as technology, environment, art, human rights and others. She mentioned that some of those fields both countries cooperate with the Palestinians as well. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold went on and spoke about the importance of pursuing peace. She said that Sweden plays an important role in bringing both sides closer, hopefully to an agreement in the future. The ambassador mentioned Swedish foreign minister Bildt's visit to Israel in the past year and the importance of it in the matters of foreign and security policies. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold's next topic was the trade between Israel and Sweden. She mentioned proudly the increase of 20% in trade during last year and said that both countries enjoy a high investment rate which makes them leaders in the statistics. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold and Minister Simchon. (Eva Taylor)
The Ambassador thanked the sponsors of the event and also acknowledged the presence of the Honorary consuls of Sweden in Haifa and Eilat, Mr. David Castel and Mr. Uri Pri-Gal. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold pointed out the last ambassador of Sweden made his speech from the roof, She said that she is happy that this is not possible anymore due to the solar panels that covers it and highlight the commitment of Sweden to environmental issues. 

Ambassador Hammarskjold finally thanked the guests for coming and wished them to enjoy the evening. 

After the ambassador's speech minister Shalom Simchon took the stage. Minister Simchon said that he is happy to be representing the government of Israel in this event and he would like to wish Sweden all the best. 

As minister of Industry, trade and labor, Mr. Simchon elaborated of the many fields of the cooperation between both of the countries. He said that there is much more room to expand this cooperation and he is looking forward of meeting the minister of industry, trade and labor of Sweden. 

Minister Simchon spoke of the special relationship of Israel and Sweden and its history. 

Finally, Minister Simchon wished a happy national day to the guests and the speeches were closed with the national anthems. 

After the speeches the crowd was free to mingle and get to know each other and enjoy the fine food.





Photo Eva Taylor





The Korean Embassy hosted a special ceremony to celebrate the unveiling ceremony of the new Embassy building. The event was hosted by the Korean Ambassador, Mr. Young-Sam Ma with the presence of the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Danny Ayalon and the Mayor of Herzliya, Mrs. Yael German.

On April 2009, the Government of the Republic of Korea has decided to purchase a 4 dunam plot of land in order to establish a permanent Embassy building. This decision is considered as a very unique step because usually, most of the foreign Embassies are renting or purchasing existing offices and buildings. By doing so, Korea has proven its sincere intentions in strengthening its bilateral relationship with the State of Israel.

This land and the future Embassy is not just a regular asset: It is the first asset owned by Korea in the 'holyland'. The fact that Korea chose to buy land and own a permanent property in the 'holyland' of Israel is of great significance to Korea. This is a unique step that reflects the serious intentions on forming a continuous friendship and stable ties which will go on and strengthen even more in the future.In this regard it is important to remember that back then, on April 2009, such a deal was considered as an exceptional deal in light of the global economical crisis which has plagued most countries in the world. This is a further proof of the Korean government strong commitment to the State of Israel.

This project is very complicated in terms of logistics since it involves a foreign government. However, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Municipality of Herzliya are doing everything they can to assist the Embassy to promote the project and complete it as quickly as possible.As for the planned schedule, the initial construction work on the ground will start in about 10 month and will be followed with approximately 20 month of construction. Hopefully, the opening of the new Embassy building will take place on the beginning of 2014.

During the ceremony, the Ambassador of Korea, Mr. Young-Sam Ma carried out few words and highlighted the great significance of the Government of Korea's decision to acquire land and own an asset in the holy land. Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Danny Ayalon stressed the importance of good relations between Korean and Israel. Herzliya Mayor, Mrs. Yael German said that she is proud and appreciate the Korean Embassy’s decision for choosing Herzliya as its permanent location.Before the speeches, the ambassador, together with Mr. Danny Ayalon, Yael German and the Head of the Korean Community in Israel (Mr. Lee Kang-Gun) unveiled the curtain over the new embassy sign and exposing the new Embassy design.

Among other participants in the ceremony there were the Ambassador of Israel to Korea, Mr. Tuvia Israeli, Korean Honorary Consuls: Mr. Eitan Haber and Advocate, Amichai Orkaby, representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the municipality of Herzliya and members of the Korean Community in Israel.

Members of the Italian community in Israel, businessmen, members of the Israeli government and friends gathered in the Italian ambassador's residence in Ramat-Gan to celebrate the national day of Italy.
Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo

The ambassador of Italy to Israel, H.E. Luigi Mattiolo and his wife welcomed the guests to their beautiful home and wished them happy Italian national day.

The ambassador spoke about the great relations between Israel and Italy and mentioned the recent economic agreement that will allows the two states to increase their trade between themselves. 

Among the guests were Chairman of the Israeli parliament, Rubi Rivlin, minister of education Gideon Sa'ar, MK Silvan Shalom, MK Gideon Ezra, minister of agriculture, Orit Noked and many more. President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu sent their greetings as well.

The guest enjoyed a variety of top quality Italian cheese, wine and drinks imported specially for the event.  

Italy's National Day. (Diplomacy.co.il)   

Ambassador's residence. (Diplomacy.co.il)


Photos by Diplomacy