Ecuador pledged to take a more balanced approach toward the Jewish state at the United Nations, President Guillermo Lasso told his hosts during his visit to Israel which included the opening Thursday of an innovation office in Jerusalem.
“President Lasso told his counterparts, his Israeli hosts, that Ecuador will change its voting pattern at the United Nations and be more balanced and supportive of Israel in multilateral arenas,” Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Jonathan Peled told The Jerusalem Post.
Ecuador has in the past been part of the bloc of nations that consistently voted against Israel at the UN, where the majority of the 193 member states consistently support the Palestinians.
Each nation that stands with Israel, abstains or is absent from a vote, helps the Jewish state improve its standing in arenas that it views as hostile or anti-Israel.
Jerusalem and Quito have had formal diplomatic ties since 1949, but Lasso’s arrival here on Monday marks the first time that the country’s president has visited Israel. He was joined by Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguín; Production, Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Julio José Prado; and National Secretary for Public-Private Alliance and Development Roberto Salas Guzmán.
The Ecuadorian officials on Thursday visited the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they held a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new technology and innovation office.
“A turning point for the country’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem!” Holguín tweeted Thursday after the ceremony.
The new office will be housed in the trade office Columbia opened in Jerusalem last year.
“We are opening a new page in our relationship with Ecuador,” Peled told the Post.
Peled, who heads the ministry’s Latin American Division, said that Lasso, who was elected into office last year, has sought to improve ties with Israel as part of his desire to strengthen his relationship with the United States and the West.
“For 15 years, Ecuador was aligned with the Bolivar movement in Latin America, which identified itself with Venezuela, with Bolivia, with Cuba,” he said. “Now, for the first time in a decade and a half, they have shifted their foreign policy.”
Lasso, a Center-Right politician and a former banker, “is shifting toward the West, the United States and toward Israel,” Peled explained.
“Ecuador is a small but important country” that neighbors other Israeli Latin American allies, Columbia and Peru, in northwestern South America, he said.
Now “that they have decided to shift from an anti-Israeli policy to a more forthcoming policy, we are of course very interested on the political level and we see a great opportunity on the commercial and economic level,” Peled said. “Opening an innovation office is another way to increase cooperation.”
During Lasso’s visit, which ends Friday, the two countries signed cooperation agreements in science and trade, Peled said, adding that Ecuador is particularly interested in Israeli technology with regard to homeland defense and cybersecurity.
Ecuador in turn is one of the leading countries in the export of bananas, pineapples, cocoa and coffee.
The high-level visit took place alongside one by a 100-member business delegation.