Bilateral relations between Jerusalem and Hong Kong are reaching new heights, with two Israeli government ministers arriving here as guests of honour for national day celebrations. Israel's ministers for finance and the environment will be leading delegations seeking to strengthen ties with Hong Kong. They will be meeting Hong Kong's ministers and attending a reception at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. 'This reflects the importance the state of Israel attaches to Hong Kong,' says Amikam Levy, the country's consul general. 'Out of the 96 Israeli embassies and consuls around the world, Israel has made it clear it connects a high importance to the visit of these two ministers. You don't get much more evidence in order to confirm the importance attached to Hong Kong.' Levy says Israel is eager to share its technical expertise. And if the reaction of Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah is anything to go by, then future co-operation is on the right path. The minister visited Israel and was amazed by the nation's advances in electric vehicle manufacturing, alternative energy and water technology. Health Secretary Dr York Chow Yat-ngok is due to make an official visit in June. Memorandums of understanding are due to be signed in Hong Kong to promote Israeli wine and cultural exchanges. Modern Israeli culture will also be showcased when percussion duo PercaDu perform at the May 4 reception and at Sheung Wan Civic Centre on April 30. 'This is an enormous combination of culture, finance and environment. I feel this is fulfilling a dream,' says Levy of the national day reception, the date of which has been put back a fortnight due to venue availability. Levy says Israel is ready to contribute to Hong Kong's quest to become a regional wine hub. Wines from Golan Heights vineyards could hardly be found in the city a year ago, but now local importers can readily deliver quality Israeli wine rivaling that of the New World's. He says brand recognition is a challenge, but hopes Israeli wines will become a familiar sight in local stores before long. Bilateral trade between Israel and Hong Kong last year was valued at about US$3.8 billion, of which US$2.8 billion were Israeli exports to Hong Kong and about US$1 billion Israel's imports from Hong Kong, says the consulate. There are 85 Israeli companies with their Asian headquarters in Hong Kong. The consul general also wants to extend Israeli medical expertise to Macau. Levy says he is gravely concerned about what he sees as inadequate emergency health care and hospital infrastructure there. Progress on this is in its infancy, but he has already had meetings with top-level Macau officials including the chief executive and exchange visits are being discussed. The diversity and unity of Hong Kong's Jewish community continues to impress the envoy. The city has six synagogues serving a community of almost 5,000 compared with Rome, where Levy was formerly posted, which has a Jewish population of 15,000 and only two places of worship. Levy says all this is important when Jews of differing persuasions gather in Hong Kong to remember the nation's fallen soldiers, the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel, whether it's officially celebrated today or on May 4 in Hong Kong. He says the key to understanding the success of Israel and what drives its people can be found in the story of Napoleon Bonaparte's reaction to the weeping he heard from a synagogue in Europe during Tisha B'Av, the Jewish day of mourning for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Napoleon was said to have commented that people who remember a tragedy to have befallen them as far back as Roman times deserve to succeed. Levy says this feeling at the core of Israelis compels them to 'think outside the box'. That also lies behind hopes for peace in the Middle East and the perceptions he wants to change. 'We have to change from the mindset which automatically connects Israel to the conflict to the position that when I say 'I am from Israel', the other person imagines hi-tech, innovation, medical technology and advanced agriculture.'