Clockwise from top left: Miss Andrea Molina (Moderator, Foreign Service Institute), Assistant Secretary Alfonso Ferdinand A. Ver (Office of Middle East and African Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs), Ambassador Saleh Asad Saleh Fhied Mohammad (Embassy of Palestine in Manila – State of Palestine), Professor Julkipli Wadi (Institute of Islamic Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman)

The Philippines and Palestine have many common points that both countries should take advantage of in order to enhance their already flourishing diplomatic relationship. This was the central theme of Ambassador Saleh Asad Saleh Fhied Mohammad’s discussion in the Foreign Service Institute’s Mabini Dialogue titled “Navigating Philippines-Palestine Relations: What’s Next?,” held on 24 February 2022.

The virtual forum highlighted opportunities and common points when navigating the developing relationship between the Philippines and Palestine. Experts and distinguished speakers were invited to share their thoughts and insights.

Ambassador Mohammad emphasized the Philippines’ unwavering support for Palestine and how much this assistance is valued by the Palestinians. He cited possible areas of cooperation, such as tourism, religion, cultural and knowledge exchanges, trade, and agricultural exchange. Ambassador Mohammad sees the occupation of Palestinian lands as a key hindrance to increasing tourism and commercial linkages between the Philippines and Palestine because all ports of entry into and departure out of Palestine are controlled by Israeli authorities. In view of the Palestinians’ difficulties, he asked for stronger political support from the Philippines in bilateral and multilateral forums.

Ambassador Mohammad expressed interest in the prospect of a joint business council between the Philippines and Palestine. Such a collaboration would substantially benefit both nations in terms of sharing agricultural techniques and products.

Assistant Secretary Alfonso Ferdinand A. Ver of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Middle East and African Affairs emphasized the Philippines’ position, which is rooted in support of a two-state solution in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. Asec. Ver spoke about the history of Philippine-Palestinian relations as well as their future prospects. He echoed Ambassador Mohammad’s suggestions for areas of cooperation, which could lead to strengthening the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Palestine.

Prof. Julkipli M. Wadi of the Institute of Islamic Studies of the University of the Philippines Diliman brought the academic perspective to the discussion. He dissected the meaning of the word ‘navigating’. For Prof. Wadi, “to navigate is to wade through the ocean, whether serene or rough. This attempt to navigate this complicated relationship between the Philippines and Palestine would need certain points that would fill in the certain gaps.” He stressed the importance of expanding the understanding of the Philippines-Palestine relationship beyond the historical framework by viewing support for Palestinians’ right to self-determination as a matter of defense of human rights. Developing the diplomatic relationship between the two countries, he said, would need the guidance of realism.

The participants to the Mabini Dialogue were from the DFA, foreign service posts, the diplomatic corps, other government agencies, and the academe.