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Sri Lanka increases ties with Israel in the midst of Gaza conflict

The Sri Lankan government announced it was increasing air connectivity with Israel last week, as ties between the two countries continued to grow in recent months.

On Thursday (15), Colombo signed a direct air service agreement with Israel, its Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said during a press briefing. “The agreement, signed between the Israeli Ministry of Transport and our Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, marks the beginning of direct flights between Israel and Sri Lanka, aiming to enhance passenger convenience,” de Silva said.

Israel’s Minister of Transport and Road Safety, Brig. Gen. Miri Regev in a tweet on X says this agreement will accelerate the process of sending Sri Lankan migrant workers to Israel and it will also enable Israeli businessmen to visit Sri Lanka with their families.

“I promised Sri Lanka that since they helped send Sri Lankans to work in Israel after the war started, I would swiftly expedite this agreement,” said Regev.

Regev also met with Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremasinghe at the Presidential Secretariat, where the latter affirmed Sri Lanka’s “unwavering commitment to advocating for their safety and safe return of all Israeli hostages.”

A communique on the Presidential Media Division noted that Wickremasinghe reiterated a call for “an immediate cessation of violence, underscoring the paramount importance of peace and stability in the region.” He also highlighted Sri Lanka’s stance for the support of an establishment of a Palestinian State. 

Previously however Wickremasinghe has called for a “four-state solution” to the Isreal and Palestine war. Speaking at an event held by a think tank that he founded, the Geopolitical Cartographer, Wickremesinghe first told the audience that he had concerns over whether the United States could “multiple international issues simultaneously”.

Last year, a month into the war, Sri Lanka signed a deal with Israel that will see Colombo send 10,000 farm workers to the country after as many as 20,000 Palestinian agricultural workers were banned by the Israeli government. The agreement was reportedly signed by Israel’s Minister of Interior Moshe Arbel and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Israel Nimal Bandaranaike, as Israel continues its offensive into Gaza.


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