Israel Normalizes Ties With Bhutan

Israel's ambassador to India, Ron Malka, right, signs a deal with his counterpart, Ambassador of Bhutan to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, at Malka's residence in India, December 12, 2020. (Foreign Ministry)

Israel established full diplomatic relations with the Southeast Asian country of Bhutan on Motzei Shabbos.

The final agreement was signed on Motzei Shabbos at a ceremony at the residence of Israel’s Ambassador to India Ron Malka with Bhutan’s Ambassador to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel.

The two countries have been holding secret talks over the past year in efforts to establish official ties, with delegations making reciprocal visits in Timpo, the capital of Bhutan, and Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter on Motzei Shabbos that he “welcomes the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Bhutan, which is an additional fruit of the peace agreements. We are in contact with additional countries that want to join and establish relations with us.”

“Last weekend, I spoke with my colleague, the Bhutani Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji,” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi stated. “We agreed to establish full diplomatic relations between us beginning this evening December 12, 2020. We also spoke about formulating a joint work plan in the areas of water management, agriculture, health and more.”

“The Foreign Ministry works with Bhutan through its Mashav Division, and in Israel, students from Bhutan receive agricultural training. Secret contacts between the countries in recent years, including reciprocal visits, have been led by the Foreign Ministry, with the aim of establishing diplomatic relations.”

“The circle of those who recognize Israel is growing. I would like to thank Israelโ€™s ambassador to India for his work and the Kingdom of Bhutan for its decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. This is a milestone in Israelโ€™s deepening ties with Asia.”

Bhutan, a small Buddhist country bordered by China to the north and India to the south, maintains an isolationist policy in an effort to preserve its culture and its lack of relations with Israel was not related to the Palestinian issue, as was the case with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. In fact, Bhutan doesn’t maintain official diplomatic relations with the U.S. [or the UK, Russia, or China], but the US and UK do maintain informal contacts with Bhutan through India.

Bhutan is South Asia’s second least populous country (after the Maldives) with a population of only 770,000. Due to its isolationist policy, it limits tourism and in the past banned television and the Internet, only legalizing both in 1999.

The video below shows a plane landing in Paro International Airport in western Bhutan. Paro is the only international airport in the country and is considered one of the most dangerous in the world. Only a few pilots are allowed to land at the airport which is located in a deep valley surrounded by mountains.

(YWN Israel Desk โ€“ Jerusalem)