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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Israel Publicly Thanks International Community For Assistance In Time Of Tragedy

When tragedy strikes a country, quite often friends reach out the help and sometimes even opponents put aside differences and reaches out with a helping hand.

Israel has done this consistently when disaster has hit other countries and now, in return, some of those same countries are reaching out and providing assistance to Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon takes to the pages of The Jerusalem Post to offer heartfelt thanks for the help offered and tendered after the Carmel fires spread out of control and overwhelmed Israeli forces battling the fire.

UPON HEARING that the fire was moving beyond the control of our domestic firefighting forces, the Israeli government reached out to world leaders to request assistance for the desperate battle against the raging fires, which started on Thursday.

We were immediately sent ten airplanes and three helicopters; four planes from Greece, one from Cyprus, two from Turkey, two from Russia and one from France, one helicopter from Cyprus and two from Britain. On Saturday, six additional airplanes and three more helicopters arrived; two planes from the US, two from France and two from Russia, two helicopters from Russia and one from Switzerland. On Sunday, we are expecting nine additional planes; five from Spain, three from the US and one from Germany.

Bulgaria has sent around 100 firefighters, and dozens of nations from Italy to Azerbaijan, and including our immediate neighbors, have also provided significant assistance.

The Foreign Ministry’s Heder Matzav, situation room, was promptly opened and staffed around the clock to ensure that all assistance would reach its intended destination. The Foreign Ministry’s increasingly good relations with nations far beyond our borders have meant that expressions of concern and assistance have been received from some unlikely sources.

The rapid internationalization of this government’s foreign policy has been amply demonstrated by the sheer breadth and number of the offers of assistance. It is an incredible and much needed response and is proof that Israel can count on its friends during a time of national tragedy. To these, and the many other nations that offered assistance and aid, we send our most heartfelt appreciation.

Emphasis mine on "immediate neighbors".

It has also been reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reached out to offer condolences and according Haarezt, any necessary help.

In a time of tragedy it is good to see everyone put away their rattling sabers and step up to help each other as human beings.

I see criticism from Steve Clemons from Huffington Post as to why the Palestinians were not named by name publicly:

Danny Ayalon's note is generally a good one. But this is the sort of disaster when somone of Ayalon's stature and role should reflect magnanimity and inclusion.

A bit of unsolicited counsel to Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon and the Foreign Ministry: Express thanks to the Palestinian people for their support -- by name -- and not just as the "immediate neighbors."

Being as Clemons was not in on the phone call he should keep his unsolicited counsel to himself and consider that it is just as possible that Abbas walks a fine line with his own people and perhaps does not want a spotlight on exactly what was offered and accepted.

No one knows exactly what was said on that phone call, nor if Ayalon was privy to those details before penning his Jerusalem Post piece, but Netanyahu's office did issue a public statement acknowledging the offer.