Israel Eyes Possible Renewal of Relations With Cuba

YERUSHALAYIM -

The warming of relations between the United States and Cuba could be followed in the not too distant future by a similar rapprochement with Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

Modi Ephraim, the head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Latin America and Caribbean division, said that while no discussions have been opened with Havana on a renewal of relations, perhaps better relations with Cuba will come.

Israel has no formal diplomatic relations with the island nation. The Cuban dictator Fidel Castro severed relations in 1973, when he ran for president of the Non-Aligned Movement. Since that time, Havana has been an outspoken opponent of Israel.

But despite the official alienation, Ephraim said that people-to-people contacts between the two countries have continued, especially in the health, culture, and agricultural fields, and as a destination for Israeli tourists.

Meanwhile, the election in December of Argentinean President Mauricio Macri has been a welcome change, and a visit by the country’s vice president is expected in the coming months, Ephraim said.

While numerous Latin American leaders have visited Israel over the years, no incumbent Israeli prime minister has ever visited the region. A planned visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2014 never materialized, but a visit to Mexico and Colombia, two of Israel’s closest friends in Latin America, is being planned for either 2016 or 2017.