PM Netanyahu with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. (Haim Zach/GPO) (Haim Zach/GPO)
PM Netanyahu with Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong in Jerusalem

Singapore’s president Lee Hsien Loong praised Israel’s innovation and industry. “Israel is the second largest contributor of foreign direct investments in Singapore from the Middle East, and we admire your technical prowess and ecosystem.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, who is in Israel on an official visit, the first ever by a Singaporean leader. He is heading a delegation of some 60 members, including Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan and Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli Bin Masagos Mohamad.

After the welcoming ceremony, the two prime ministers met privately and then held an expanded meeting in which National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz and the ministers accompanying Lee participated.

The two leaders discussed increasing bilateral cooperation in cyber, security, economic matters, increasing trade and other possible collaborations.

Lee invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to make an official visit to Singapore.

Netanyahu lauded the meeting as a “truly a historic occasion,” and said he was honored to be the first Israeli prime minister to host a prime minister of Singapore.

“I think your arrival here reflects a coming-of-age of the relations between our two countries,” Netanyahu told Lee. “There is a deep friendship between Israel and Singapore. We have so much in common. We are small nations that leave a very large imprint on the world scene.”

Both nations’ success have received international acclaim, Netanyahu said. “Innovation and entrepreneurship have allowed us both to punch well above our weight. We both understand that strong economies with a very powerful incentive for enterprise are the foundations of strong countries and our cooperation with each other has made each of us even stronger.”

Israel and Singapore are “anchors of stability and strength” in their respective regions, the Israeli premier underscored, as both countries are working together in many diverse fields.

Netanyahu invited Lee to “overcome our common challenges and seize our shared opportunities” together

Lee praised Israel’s innovation and industry. “Israel is the second largest contributor of foreign direct investments in Singapore from the Middle East, and we admire your technical prowess and ecosystem. You have the highest number of scientists, technicians, technologists, engineers per capita in the world. You have the third highest number of patents per capita, and I know that many Singaporean firms are interested in doing business with you, investing in Israel, as some have already done.”

He thanked Israel for their decades-long defense aid to his country. “We are very grateful to Israel that when independence was thrust upon us in August 1965 and when Singapore’s security and survival were in doubt, you helped us, the IDF helped us to build up the Singapore Armed Forces when other countries turned us down.”

He recalled his last visit to Israel in 1977 as a young army officer accompanying the Chief of General Staff, who now serves as Singapore’s ambassador in Israel. “I’m very happy to be back here again after all these many years to thank you personally and to thank Israel for your help and support over the years, and to see for myself developments in Israel, which we follow closely from a distance: your economic success, your technological progress.”

On Monday, Israel and Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding authorizing cooperation between the two countries, and the Hebrew University signed an agreement with Singapore’s national research foundation, as well as with two universities in Singapore, to expand research and development cooperation.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel