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      Video: Ambassadors Plant First Trees in Burnt Carmel Forest

      The ambassadors of countries that aided Israel with Carmel blaze planted first seedlings of renewal and spoke of solidarity.
      By Gil Ronen and Yoni Kempinski
      First Publish: 12/13/2010, 9:26 PM / Last Update: 12/13/2010, 10:31 PM

      Two weeks after the Carmel fire tragedy that killed 43 people and consumed an estimated four million trees, the Israel ambassadors of more than 20 countries visited the scene of the blaze. The representatives, who hail from countries that assisted Israel in the firefighting effort, were honored with planting the symbolic first seedlings of the Carmel renewal effort.

      The delegation was accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Jewish National Fund Head Efi Shtentzler.

      The diplomats included ambassadors from the US, Russia, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and the Ukraine, as well as a representative of the Palestinian Authority.

      The seedling-planting ceremony was held near the Ye'arot HaCarmel hotel, a location that the JNF's firefighting force played an important role in saving from the fire.

      Lieberman told the ambassadors: "This is a good time to think about establishing a special international force that will deal with similar events in the future. One state cannot deal with an environmental event like this on its own."

      The Director of the Greek Foreign Ministry, Konstantin Papadopoulos, spoke on behalf of the ambassadors. "We will always stand beside you," he said. "One never knows when we might need help. This is an act of human solidarity, and in Greece we remember how Israel did not hesitate to aid us three years ago in putting out the huge fire that raged in our country."