AJC delegation led by AJC executive director David Harris (centre) meets with Panama President Juan Carlos Varela (left of Harris)
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- An American Jewish Committee (AJC) leadership delegation has concluded a two-day visit to Panama.
The trip was highlighted by a 90-minute private meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela. During the discussion, Varela, who assumed his current post on July 1, expressed his strong support for Israel's right to defend itself in the current conflict with Hamas.
The president also expressed his hopes that bilateral relations with Israel will continue to strengthen over his five-year term, adding that he felt optimistic about Panama's future as a global crossroads for trade and commerce.
The AJC delegation also met with Minister of Interior and Justice Milton Henriquez, mayor of Panama City José Isabel Blandón, and the US and Israeli ambassadors to Panama.
"We visited Panama to express our appreciation for Panama's long history of support for Israel, and to express our hope that the strong bilateral relationship will continue well into the future," said AJC executive director David Harris, who first visited Panama in 1989, immediately after the US invasion.
"We also continued to emphasize the importance of vibrant US-Panamanian relations," Harris added.
"For 25 years, AJC has been the most persistently supportive global Jewish organization of our community," said Isaac Btesh, president of the Central Committee of the Hebrew Community of Panama.
AJC formalized ties with the Central Committee when an association agreement was signed during a solidarity mission in 2010. At that time, 20 senior AJC leaders traveled to Panama.
AJC has long maintained relations with Panamanian diplomats in the US and Europe, and through regular consultations among Latin American Jewish communities organized by AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute.
The AJC was established in 1906 to safeguard the welfare and security of Jews worldwide and is one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations in the United States.
Over the course of its long history, the American Jewish Committee has worked to safeguard minorities; fight terrorism, anti-Semitism, hatred, and bigotry; pursue social justice; advance human dignity; support Israel’s right to exist in peace and security; defend religious freedom and provide humanitarian relief to those in need. Through innovative programs, education, research and extensive diplomatic outreach and advocacy, AJC works to advance freedom, liberty, tolerance and mutual respect.