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MaltaPost celebrates the relationship between Malta and Israel with a joint stamp issue

Relations between Malta and Israel date back many years. While formal diplomatic relations established upon Malta gaining independence in 1964, relations between the two countries continue to flourish in the areas of trade, technology, science, energy, culture and tourism.

Both countries share a particular common connection as the Sovereign Military Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta (SMOM) was present both at Acre until the late 13th century as well as in Malta two centuries later. This connection was marked by the release of a joint stamp issue between Malta and Israel entitled "The Knights Hospitaller Halls" which featured buildings by the Order in the respective countries.

On Wednesday 5th February 2014, MaltaPost marked this joint stamp issue with an event held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta - the building depicted on the stamps. An event to celebrate this issue was also held the previous week at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.

The joint stamp issue features the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, Malta and the Knight's Hall in Acre, Israel.

The Mediterranean Conference Centre was formerly known as the Sacra Infermeria. It was built as a hospital in the late 16th century by the Order. The halls of the Sacra Infermeria were lined with hundreds of beds for the sick and the injured who were treated with the utmost care and attention by the Knights. The Knights' Halls in Acre built by the Hospitallers were discovered in archaeological excavations and have become a popular tourist site. A most impressive building in the complex is the refectory of Order of the Knights Hospitallers. In 1291 the Muslims conquered Acre, and the halls were destroyed.

Charles Dalli a University of Malta academic delivered a lecture on ‘The Medieval Jewish Heritage of the Maltese Islands', which highlighted the connections between the two countries dating back to the Middle Ages and the living heritage of these ties today. When addressing those attending the event MaltaPost chairman, Joseph Said, thanked Israel Post for teaming up with MaltaPost and explained how "the significance of this collaboration goes beyond a philatelic product but it confirms the positive relations that exist between the postal operators of both countries as well as the intention of further strengthening ties between the two".

In his short speech H.E. David Oren, Ambassador of Israel to Malta stated the importance of the event, which usually happens once, and the fact that it coincides with the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Israel and Malta. In this context the ambassador mentioned the deepening relations between the two countries at both government to government and people to people level as well as the broad common denominator in which the relations are based.

Both stamps are available from all MaltaPost offices. Orders may be placed online at maltaphilately.com or by mail from the Philatelic Bureau, MaltaPost p.l.c. 305, Qormi Road, Marsa, MTP 1001; telephone: 2596 1740, e-mail: info@maltaphilately.com.

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