Duterte to visit Jordan, Israel next month

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit Israel and Jordan next month, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced Tuesday.

Roque said Duterte has accepted the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, making him the first Filipino leader to visit Israel since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1957.

The Israel trip of the President will happen on Sept. 2-5.

“This historic visit will highlight the enduring friendship between Filipinos and Israelis, which began when former president Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines as a sanctuary to an estimated 1,300 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

He said Duterte and the Israeli PM are expected to discuss common concerns and ways of expanding cooperation in areas, such as labor, tourism, trade, agriculture, counterterrorism, security and law enforcement.

Roque said Duterte will also meet with Israel President Reuven Rivlin “to discuss development cooperation and the close historical and people-to-people ties between the two countries.”

Duterte will also deliver a keynote address in a business forum to be attended by the different sectors representing the Philippine business delegation.

“Several agreements are expected to be signed during the visit,” Roque said.

He said Duterte will also take the opportunity to meet with members of the Filipino community in Israel.

When asked to comment on human rights activists urging Israeli leaders not to meet with Duterte, Roque said: “It’s up to them.”

“If they can persuade the Prime Minister to call off the visit, of course, we will call it off. There is no problem,” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque also announced that Duterte will embark on another foreign trip in Jordan after his trip in Israel.

He said the details, including the tentative date of his trip to Jordan will be given to the media in the coming days.

“We want to promote ties with all peoples of the Middle East,” Roque said.

He said Duterte is also expected to push through with his visit to Kuwait in September to thank the Kuwaiti leaders for signing an agreement protecting Filipino workers in the Gulf State. PNA