Missouri and Israel could see future relations

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JEFFERSON CITY - The highest ranking Israeli official in the Midwest visited mid-Missouri Thursday to talk talk about the state's economic relations with Israel. 

Roey Gilad, who is Consol General of Israel to the Midwest, spoke to Missouri House members about two things this morning: the challenges Israel faces with Iranians, and economic opportunities between Missouri and Israel.

He said there are a lot of similarities between Israel and Missouri's economies. 

"Missouri is a very agricultural state. There is also a stronger agricultural element in our economy. Both have a lot of interest in water technology. Water is an issue to both states. Energy is another element that is significant to both economies," Gilad said. 

With these similarities, Gilad said he wants Israel and Missouri to come together within the auto-industry. 

"Missouri has the second biggest auto industry in the states after Michigan. We do not produce cars in Israel, but we produce a lot of parts for cars. We already cooperate with Michigan, so I see no reason not to bring Israel litigations over here," Gilad said. 

He also spoke about current affairs in Israel.

"The state of Israel is going into elections on the 17th of March. Israel will be facing two sets of challenges, the domestic and the regional," Gilad said. "We have a very stable economy, just as we have a very stable state, but every now and then there are things that try to destabilize the economy." 

Gilad said the cost of living and the cost of real estate are very high in Israel, making young people concerned.

With recent escalations in the conflict with Palestinians, Gilad said he thinks the next step for Israel is regaining confidence.

"The main thing now is not a lack of solution, but a lack of confidence. Unless you have confidence, mutual confidence, people will not agree to make fundamental concessions on the ground." 

Gilad said he believes the U.S. will always have a personal relationship with Israel. 

"The relationship is leaning on two very strong pillars, one is shared values, and the other is common interest," Gilad said. "I think the long run, the strategic relationship, will manage to contain this tension, and the relationship will only improve," Gilad said. 

Last year, the General Assembly authorized the Department of Commerce to open an office in Israel to promote Missouri's economic partnership, but Gov. Jay Nixon didn't allocate the money for it. 

"Although a lot has been done already, there is always room to improve," Gilad said. 

He had planned to speak with Nixon Thursday, but Nixon cancelled after the announcement that Auditor Tom Schweich had died. Gilad said visiting with the governor will help promote a partnership between Israel and Missouri.

"I'm encouraged. I think the sky is the limit for this economic partnership with Missouri and Israel. I think in the future we should see a dramatic change. Already there is a significant infrastructure of corporation, but I think we can achieve more," Gilad said.