Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi ended his diplomatic trip to South Korea overnight Monday, amid rocket fire and other violence from Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem.
While in Seoul, Ashkenazi held a meeting over video conference with senior Foreign Ministry officials and ambassadors from 20 core countries.
“Israel will not allow its sovereignty and its civilians to be harmed, and will act with severity against Hamas and terrorist organizations,” Ashkenazi warned.
The minister emphasized that Israel sees Hamas and Palestinian terrorist organizations as responsible for the deterioration in security.
“They chose the way of terror and violence, while they continue shooting rockets from Gaza to towns in the south, and endless incitement, while Israel has acted all along to try to prevent a deterioration and allowed freedom of worship,” Ashkenazi stated.
Ashkenazi instructed the ambassadors to pass on “strong messages” to the countries in which they’re posted and in the media.
Economics Minister Amir Peretz remained in Seoul to sign a free trade deal between Israel and South Korea on Wednesday, accompanied by Israeli Ambassador to South Korea Akiva Tor and Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Asia-Pacific Gilad Cohen.
South Korea is the first country in Asia with which Israel will have a free trade agreement, and Israel is the first in the Middle East to sign such an agreement with Seoul. South Korea is the 12th-largest economy in the world and Israel’s third-largest trading partner in Asia.
The Foreign Ministry said earlier this week that the free trade agreement is expected to significantly increase trade between Israel and South Korea and give Israeli industry a competitive advantage, as well as lower the cost of Korean products imported to Israel.
The countries will also sign an agreement to double the budget of KORIL-RDF, a joint research and innovation fund for companies in Israel and South Korea.
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