Foreign Ministry Keeps Cuba Business Trip at Arm’s Distance

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Foreign Ministry is allowing a delegation of Israeli business leaders to make a trip to Cuba, though it has issued no official endorsement, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

The government has made “no objections” to the project, to promote trade with state-owned companies and the Cuban regime itself, according to CEO Gabriel Hayon.

The ministry has insisted, however, on maintaining a distance from the plan. The ministry’s logo, which appeared on a flyer advertising a seminar hosted by the Israel Latin-American Chamber of Commerce on “Doing Business with Cuba,” was removed after it became known to officials, who asked that the logo be taken off.

“This is a private sector initiative, in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not involved,” spokesperson, Emmanuel Nahshon, told The Times, though he would not elaborate.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Cuba. But the ministry’s refusal to be associated with the project likely also stems from the Trump administration’s putting the brakes on a renewal of relations with Cuba undertaken by the Obama administration.

The trip, scheduled for early December, will be the first-ever visit to Cuba sponsored by the Israel-Latin American Chamber of Commerce, a non-governmental organization seeking to advance Israeli business interests in the hemisphere.

Between 15 and 20 Israeli executives from the fields of agriculture, renewable energy, water, food production, real estate, pharmaceutics and chemicals are expected to join the delegation.