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President Rivlin welcomes Polish President Duda to Israel

​The ties between Israel, the European Union, and Poland are a cornerstone for our foreign policy. We are not only trade partners, we share values and challenges, and it is important we coordinate positions in relation to the emerging international agenda.

President Reuven Rivlin hosted an official welcoming ceremony for President of Poland H.E. Andrzej Duda, marking his official visit to the State of Israel. President Rivlin received President Duda on the red carpet before the national anthems were played, after which both Presidents reviewed an honor guard and delivered brief statements.

President Rivlin welcomed President Duda of Poland on his arrival and thanked him also for attending the funeral of Israel’s Ninth President, Shimon Peres. He went on to speak of the close ties between the two countries, and said, “Our meeting with officials of the Polish Government are always replete with content and interest, and are a testament to the close ties between our states and our peoples; close historical ties, alongside dealing bravely with a complex, rich, and painful past. Today, there is perhaps no field in which there is not unique cooperation between the two countries. Among them, there is enhanced trade and relations in the fields of science, culture, sport, and security – and I hope we will tighten this cooperation even further.”

He added, “The ties between Israel, the European Union, and Poland are a cornerstone for our foreign policy. We are not only trade partners, we share values, challenges, and geographical proximity, and it is important we coordinate positions in relation to the emerging international agenda.

“Mr. President, you come to Israel, to Jerusalem, at a time when we are facing a wave of terror. We have lived for many years in the shadow of the threat of terror, yet we keep our heads high. Despite this struggle, we succeed in developing here an industry of innovation, of creativity, and initiative, and we want to deepen the cooperation between us.”

President Rivlin concluded by urging Polish citizens to visit Israel, “Come and get to know Israel in person. Come and see firsthand the history there is here, down every path and alleyway, and the advanced future of industry and information technology.”

President Duda thanked President Rivlin for his visit to Poland two years earlier, and for his participation then in the inauguration ceremony of the Jewish Heritage Museum in Warsaw. He said, “This wonderful Museum is testament to our shared history of 2,000 years. This important Museum is in essence for the younger generation in Poland and indeed young Israelis visiting Poland, so they can see the deep ties between the peoples, and the contribution of the Jewish community to building the Polish state and culture.” He gave as an example, the life of the late Shimon Peres who grew up in Poland.

He went on to say, “Many Polish citizens of Jewish origin, gave their lives in defense of Polish sovereignty before the Nazi occupation in 1939. Many paid the ultimate price and we the Polish people remember them always.” He added, “In our history there have also been dramatic and difficult moments. The German invasion of Poland, and what occurred after in the territories occupied by the Nazis, in that factory of death, and the Holocaust, which so deeply damaged the Jewish people. But this was also a spur toward the building of a strong and safe state, in the building of which so many Jews who were born in Poland took part.

“For many years Poland and Israel have been bound by close ties,” President Duda added, “Poland always supported Israel, and I want to assure it will continue to do so.”

He concluded his statement by noting the need for dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. He said, “It is very important to us that these relations will be as much as possible out of mutual respect, the consideration of the mutual needs of the peoples is important in the discussion and dialogue, and the way to ensure this mutuality in the relations is without imposition by other countries.”

Following their statements, the two Presidents went on to hold a working meeting during which President Rivlin spoke in relation to the French hosted summit which had taken place the previous weekend. He said, “Trust is not built through international summits, only with the clear understanding of both sides that we live here together.”

President Duda also spoke during the meeting about the fight against anti-Semitism in Poland. He commented, “I have said in the past that all who hold anti-Semitic ideas in Poland are as one who desecrates a grave, a despicable act. I also said that those within my people who took part in the pogrom in Kielecki after the end of the Second World War excommunicated themselves from the Polish people. This is my deep conviction. History is sometimes difficult, we are interested in it and try to discover the facts, even the complicated facts. Because there were provocations which in the end led to specific events. But respect for human beings is a supreme value which should not be affected by any kind of provocation. As I said, not all people can be heroes, but we must demand from everyone human decency.”

President Rivlin lays wreath in memory of the victims of the Mumbai attacks

​Like Israelis, Indians are sadly no strangers to the threat and the reality of modern global terrorism. Terror will never win. Our values of democracy and freedom are strong and we will defend them with all our might.

President Reuven Rivlin laid a wreath at a memorial ceremony at the Taj Palace Hotel, for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The President was joined at the ceremony by Chennamanei Vidyasager Rao, Governor of Maharashtra state of India, as well as other senior state officials, leaders and members of the Jewish community, and members of the business and academic delegation who accompanied the President on his State Visit to India.

“Nearly 8 years ago this wonderful city was the victim of one of the most terrifying, brutal, and murderous, terror attacks,” said President Rivlin and added, “Like Israelis, Indians are sadly no strangers to the threat and the reality of modern global terrorism. And let us be clear, terror is terror is terror - wherever it strikes. Hatred, fundamentalism, extremism, and incitement, they equal one thing - terror.”

He continued, “As we stand here we say clearly that terror will never win. Terror will never win. Our values of democracy and freedom are strong and we will defend them with all our might. We cannot however just rely on values and words. We must act and work together: to share intelligence and best practices, to keep our peoples safe, to protect our borders, our towns and cities. India and Israel stand shoulder to shoulder in this fight. This is our duty to the memory of the victims, and will be the legacy we leave for future generations.”

Later, President Rivlin met with the state governor, and then with leaders of the Mumbai Jewish community. He noted that the Hebrew name for India was the same as the word for ‘praise’ and said, “We praise, and give thanks to India and its Jewish community for the warm welcome we have received. You, the Jews of India are true Indian patriots who at the same time do not give up on their Jewish or Indian identity - but rather unite them together proudly.”

The President went on to visit the Chabad House which was targeted in the terror attacks in November 2008. The President laid a wreath in memory of the six victims of the attack there; Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, Bentzion Kruman, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, Yoheved Orpaz, and Norma Rabinovich.

President and First Lady went up to the room which belonged to Moshe, son of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who was rescued on the day of the attack by the family’s nanny Sandra Samuel. On the walls of his room remain the paintings and Hebrew alphabet drawn by his mother. First Lady Nechama Rivin emotionally said, “What a maternal feeling this room has, how much warmth and love emanate from its walls.”

They heard the stories of the day, and how Moshe had descended three flights of stairs alone to find his nanny who had managed to protect him.

The President spoke of Moshe’s visit with his grandfather and nanny Sandra, to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, when they arrived in Israel. “When I saw Moshe,” the President said, “I could not help but think ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ (the People of Israel Live). And today here too, in this Chabad House which offers a warm welcome to Jews from around the world every day without rest, I think the same thing again, the People of Israel live. The free world lives, and we will overcome terror.”

President Rivlin welcomes Prime Minister Medvedev of Russia

​President Rivlin: As we mark 25 years since the renewal of relations between us, your visit here is also an important opportunity to discuss the close ties between our peoples, and I am looking forward to our meeting today with you and your delegation.

President Reuven Rivlin held a working meeting at his residence with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Before the meeting both men gave brief public statements.

President Rivlin welcomed the Prime Minister and said, “Mr. Prime Minister, I am happy for the opportunity to welcome you here in Jerusalem, and to repay the warm hospitality I received on my visit to Moscow earlier this year.”

He stressed, “Russia has always had an important role in our region, perhaps today more than ever. We are faced by many challenges, and at the same time opportunities, and we need to be prepared for both.”

President Rivlin concluded, “As we mark 25 years since the renewal of relations between us, your visit here is also an important opportunity to discuss the close ties between our peoples, and I am looking forward to our meeting today with you and your delegation.”

Prime Minister Medvedev thanked the President and said, “As I was preparing for my arrival, I read all the material before the visit and though it seemed as though we met only recently it was already in March – time flies very quickly. My last visit to Jerusalem was in 1990, and I am very pleased to visit Israel. On my own behalf and on behalf of all my delegation, thank you for the opportunity.” He added, “I want to convey the warm greetings of President Putin.”

Prime Minister Medvedev noted, “Mr. President, you are right in what you say that our two nations have a close friendship, and shared challenges which we must solve together. In our meeting we will certainly address many issues in addition to foreign policy and our bilateral relations.”

President Rivlin’s Rosh Hashanah greeting

​In his Rosh Hashanah greeting to the Diaspora, President Rivlin stresses challenges facing Jewish leaders, calls for greater engagement with Israel among the younger generation

In the run up the Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, President Reuven Rivlin issued his traditional greeting to Jewish communities around the world.

In the message he stressed that, “Today the Jewish community and its leaders - in Israel and around the world - face three very difficult challenges.” He named the first as the “well-being of Jewish communities in need” of whom he said, “we must work to help them continue to be proud to be Jewish, with security, free from anti-Semitism, and free to wear a Kipa in the street.” The President reiterated that, “every Jew will always have a home in Israel, but should have the right to live without fear where they wish, and we must stand up for this right”.

The President noted that the “second challenge is to strengthen the bond between Israel and the Diaspora – especially the younger generation.”

He asked to speak directly to young Jews around the world and stressed firmly, “do not take Israel for granted, do not forget that our destinies are tied together.” He continued, “You hear arguments about religion, between right and left, and you see the conflict that has been forced on us with our neighbors and feel you have no voice,” and added, “I say to you, this year, come to Israel and visit, come to Israel and learn, Israel is a strong democracy, come and hear and be heard. Because we are one people, and have a duty to each other”.

The President also noted that a third challenge was “how to build bridges between all the different communities in Israel; religious, secular, Jewish, and Arab. We must build together a shared hope for Israel for our shared future in this land”. He said, “as President of Israel this shared hope is at the top of my agenda, and I see you all as important partners in this mission”.

The President concluded, “Let us this year, let’s face these challenges together. This is our strength. I wish you all a happy and sweet New Year”.

President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials from new ambassadors from India, Chile, Myanmar, Estonia, and Lesotho

​President Rivlin to the Ambassador of Lesotho, H.E Mrs. Lineo Irene Molisa-Mabusela: "The relationship between our two nations is very important to us and despite any crises, we have maintained uninterrupted relations."

President Rivlin received the diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from the India, Chile, Myanmar, Estonia, and Lesotho. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, included an honor guard, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.

First to present his credentials was Ambassador of India, H.E Mr. Pavan Kapoor. President Rivlin welcomed the Ambassador, his wife, and delegation and said, "The relationship between our two peoples and our two states is being spoken about all over, and the cooperation between us is not only about innovation where we are trying our best to tackle problems in agriculture and water, energy, but also cyber and the need for security. I know that we can expand this cooperation and your appointment is an opportunity to look at ways we can do so. I convey my best regards to the President and Prime Minister, and I hope that the Prime Minster will be able to visit Israel and that I will be able to visit India in the coming months."

Ambassador Kapoor thanked the President and said, "We are working to take our relationship further. We have received Israel's help in a number of areas including defense, agriculture and water where we suffer a lot - in our country we either have droughts or floods, and we have a lot we can learn from Israel." The Ambassador added, "We are looking forward to your visit and are working on dates for what I believe will be a landmark visit."

President Rivlin thanked him and concluded, "The Indian and Israeli peoples have a lot in common, we know how to respect tradition and to be ready to learn and bring innovation to our lives for the benefit of our peoples and the whole world."

Next the newly appointed Ambassador of Chile, H.E Mrs. Monica Jimenez De La Jara presented her credentials. The President welcomed her and showed her a picture of him as Speaker of the Knesset together with former President of the Chilean Senate and daughter of former Chilean president Isabel Allende taken at an international conference in Santiago. The President congratulated the Ambassador on her appointment and said, "I know that coming here from having served as Ambassador to the Vatican, you will feel at home in Jerusalem which is the center of the Holy Land. I welcome you also as a former education minister and we know that everything one can bring to our people begins with education. We are doing all we can in Israel; while 90 years ago we had only one university, now we have more than 6 universities and many colleges that are giving the opportunity to every citizen of Israel to study. We believe that the future of all people is together with education." The President spoke of the relationship between the two governments and added, "From time to time we have some differences of opinion but we know that the relationship between our two peoples and governments is strong. We can accept criticism - we do not accept boycott - but we can accept criticism."

The Ambassador of Chile thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, "I am honored to have come from the Holy See to the Holy Land. I greatly appreciate being in a country with so much university activity. We have visited the Weizmann Institute, and the Hebrew University and we have plans to visit many more. We would like to have an academic delegation from Chile to reinforce the academic and research relations."

She added, "I have worked all my life for peace. I know the situation in the Middle East is very difficult but Chile is ready with an open hand to do all it can to advance peace."

Next, Ambassador of Myanmar, H.E Mr. Maung Maung Lynn arrived to present his credentials. The President welcomed him, his wife and delegation and said, "Mr. Ambassador, I remember as a student in High School when the Prime Minister of your country, U Nu, came to visit Israel, and then as a soldier in the IDF I remember Israel's first Prime Minister Ben Gurion visited your country and brought back a great appreciation for your people and your culture. We are very proud of our connection and our relationship with your people. The Foreign Ministry started the idea of MASHAV in your country, the idea of connecting with other peoples through learning together and sharing our knowledge about water for example. We also know that many Jews found shelter in your country until the outbreak of war. I want to congratulate you on the recent democratic elections in your country, which make Myanmar stronger."

Ambassador Lynn thanked the President and noted, "It is a great pleasure to be here. I am here with my family and my daughter who will study here, and we have visited much of the country."

Next, Ambassador of Estonia, H.E Mr. Sulev Kannike presented his credentials. The President congratulated him on his appointment and said, "We appreciate the wonderful relationship between our states and governments, and we appreciate your support for Israel in the international arena on so many issues, as well as the participation of Estonia in peace keeping efforts in the region. We appreciate also the understanding of Estonia on Holocaust education in your schools and among your people. In the field of cyber we are working together, in order to keep safe people in the region, and across Europe and the world." The President added, "Please send my special wishes to your Foreign Minister who served as Ambassador of Estonia in Israel."

Ambassador Kannike thanked the President and said, "I am happy to convey the greetings of my President who visited Israel in 2012. Bilateral relations between Israel and Estonia are almost without problems. We understand each other very well, and this is important for us. In July next year Estonia is taking over the Presidency of the European Union and I hope this will help us improve not only our bilateral relations but also our multilateral relations. I also express my appreciation for Israel's work in cyber security and startups – an area in which Estonia is also working hard."

Ambassador of Lesotho, H.E Mrs. Lineo Irene Molisa-Mabusela then presented her credentials as non-resident Ambassador to Israel. President Rivlin congratulated the Ambassador on her appointment and stressed, "The relationship between our two nations is very important to us and despite any crises, we have maintained uninterrupted relations." The President spoke of the important cooperation between the peoples in the fields of agriculture and water innovation, he said, "We would like to see more of your students come to study through MASHAV especially here in Israel." The President added, "Israel would be pleased to return to its observer status at the African Union."

Ambassador thanked the President and said "Allow me to pass the warmest wishes of His Majesty and the people of Lesotho. We are appreciative of the wonderful relations between our two countries, and we would like to work to open new channels of communication including in the fields of healthcare, agriculture, water and many others."

President Rivlin addresses European Parliament

​President Rivlin: “The French initiative suffers from fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it.”

President Reuven Rivlin delivered a special address before the plenary of the European Parliament. He was received on his arrival by President of European Parliament Martin Schulz, and the two stood for the Israeli and European anthems:

A mere four hours, that is the flight time from Tel-Aviv to Brussels. I could say that four hours, and light years, separate Brussels and Tel-Aviv, but in truth there is not much difference between them, be it in awareness or in essence: two cosmopolitan cities, practically neighbors, not far from each other, both recently struck by a wave of terrorism.

Seated here, are many delegates from numerous European countries. Some share the Mediterranean Sea with us, all share a rich and painful history with the Jewish People. About a month ago, the leaders of Europe marked one hundred years to the Battle of Verdun. The longest battle of World War I, with nine-hundred-thousand casualties, including 300 thousand fatalities. Some half-a-million Jewish soldiers served in the armies of the countries at war, often poised against each other, firing upon each other. But this ‘patriotic bloodletting’ did not bestow any privilege on the Jewish People. Quite the contrary. Jews in every country were accused of spying and treason. Germany started a ‘head-count’ of Jewish soldiers, in Eastern Europe Jews were accused of Bolshevism and of Anti-Bolshevism. It is estimated that more than one hundred and seventy thousand Jewish soldiers were killed in World War I, and around one hundred thousand more were murdered in post-war pogroms. That horrible war, World War I, was the herald of the ‘Exodus’ of the Jewish People from Europe. Many Jews saw in the United States of America their new home. Others, Zionist leaders, shaken and shocked from having had to face their own Jewish brothers as foes on the battle field, took action to fulfill the dream of a national home for the Jewish People, in its ancient and eternal homeland, the Land of Israel.

From where we stand today, The Great War was but a promo to a much more horrendous war which followed suit; World War II. In World War II, the annihilation of the Jewish People was a defined target of the Axis powers headed by Nazi Germany. The second ‘European Exodus’ of the Jewish People occurred upon the defeat of the Third Reich. This was a traumatic emigration; one of refugees and agony, of a culture destroyed, of a people which lost one third of its sons and daughters.

Distinguished audience, even the wildest of imaginations could not have foreseen a course of events in which an ancient people returned from years of exile and rebuilt its historic homeland. A wild imagination could neither have foreseen such a convoluted historic course of events in which an utterly torn and bleeding continent, awash with the blood of war and strife, would have paved the way to a joint European parliament. And yes, no less important are the solid, steadfast ties created between us. Ties embodied today in a wide array of joint ventures and cooperation, in research and innovation, in health and the environment, education and culture and many more. Regardless of the perspective with which we look at this, our past, our present, and the future we are awaiting, intrinsically linked, Israel and Europe, in an unbreakable bond.

Just as humanity could not be what it is without Europe, so Europe could not be what it is without the Jewish People. It would be difficult to imagine what humanity would have been like without Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Galileo Galilei, Martin Luther, or Marie Curie. As it would be difficult to imagine what Europe would be without Maimonides, Spinoza, Freud, or Einstein. Our common interests - and moreover our common values - dictate our present, and shape our future.

Liberty, equality, justice, pluralism and religious tolerance, democracy; these are the basic tenets inscribed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. These are the constitutive values of the European Union.

Distinguished audience, the European Union, and within it this distinguished parliament, is an audacious endeavor of politics and statehood. Tomorrow this endeavor will be put to a complex test in the United Kingdom, while day in day out it stands the test of refugees and migration on an historic scale. The State of Israel too is an audacious endeavor of statehood, of a people returning to its land after two thousand years of exile. And so, just like you, Israel faces difficult and complex challenges. But, unlike Europe which embarked upon a process of removing partitions between nations and states, Israel wishes, and indeed must, remain first and foremost a national homeland, a safe haven for the Jewish People.

The State of Israel is by no means a compensation for the Holocaust, but the Holocaust has posited as a basic tenet the necessity and vitality of the return of the Jewish People to history, as a nation taking its fate in its own hands. I feel that the massive criticism aimed at Israel in Europe stems from, inter alia, a misunderstanding and an impatience toward this existential need of the Jewish Nation and the State of Israel. On the other hand, and much to my regret, Israel has a growing sense of impatience (when it comes to Europe). There are those who feel anger and frustration toward certain European actions, vis-à-vis what they perceive as sometimes unfair criticism, sometimes even contaminated by elements of condescension, and some would even say double standard.

My European friends, we cannot agree on everything. But as friends and as true allies, I call upon you and ask you, let us be patient. Please respect the Israeli considerations, even when different from your own. Respect Israeli sovereignty, and the democratic process of its decision-making. Respect Israel’s staunch commitment, indeed its very duty, to protect its citizens. For us it is the most sacred commandment of all.

Distinguished audience, a few years ago, a French friend turned to me and said, “If we and the Germans have made peace and put an end to it once and for all, and believe me that what happened between us and them overshadows any other conflict I can think of, then there is no reason for you not to succeed.” He continued, “How long have you and the Arabs been fighting, all in all? One hundred years? Fifty years? We have been fighting for a thousand years, and now it is over, forever.” This is what he said to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am standing here today and saying in no uncertain manner: from 1993, in which the Oslo Accords were signed, the elected Israeli leadership has been - and is - in support of the solution of ‘two-states for two peoples’. Furthermore, being well versed in the Israeli Parliament, I do know that any political agreement brought before the Israeli Knesset by an elected government will be approved. Nevertheless, and with all the difficulty and pain involved, we must look at reality straight in the eye and tell the truth. Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize.

First, in order to achieve a comprehensive permanent agreement, an effective leadership is required. However, the Palestinian leadership today is divided in - at least - two. The Palestinian Authority ruling over Judea and Samaria, and on the other hand, Hamas, which rules Gaza and is ideologically committed - in both its political and military leadership - to the annihilation of Israel.

Second, in order to achieve a stable and viable agreement, a reasonable regional and economic infrastructure is required. But we are living in a reality where the plague of murderous Jihadi fundamentalism, religious fanaticism and incitement - embodied in the Islamic State and Hezbollah - are at our very borders and have not missed out Gaza and the West Bank either; we live in a reality of a chaos-stricken Middle East in which uncertainty is the only certainty.

To this worrisome picture, add the dire economic straits, poverty, and lack of infrastructure in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, which in turn will continue the destabilization and nurture violence. In this respect Israel is devoting, and will continue to do so, vast efforts, more than any other actor in the region even at the price of complex security risk-taking – but Israeli intervention alone will not suffice.

And finally, one should bear in mind the most fundamental trait of Israeli-Palestinian relations today which is, to my deep regret, a total lack of trust between the parties on all levels; between the leaderships and the peoples.

Distinguished audience, I am afraid that for years the international community has been acting as a mediator between the parties based on one inflexible paradigm, that of striving to renew negotiations toward a permanent agreement. This paradigm draws to a dichotomy: “Two states or a bi-national state”, “All or nothing”, “Here and now” or “Nevermore”. It is by the way by virtue of that same paradigm that various European states opposed the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, claiming that it does not provide a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Had that concept been accepted then, imagine where we would be today. This paradigm relies on the assumption that the problem which is the crux of the matter in this bloody and painful conflict is simply the lack of good faith on both parts, and that if we only exert pressure on “them”, on “us”, they will adhere to a permanent agreement and to a state of peace.

However, ladies and gentlemen, as years go by and rounds of negotiations fail one by one, bringing in their wake, waves of murderous violence and terror, it seems that this assumption of a “lack of good will” proves not only to be fundamentally erroneous, but to ignore the circumstances, the capabilities, and the present situation on the ground, which by definition would lead to the failure of any attempt to negotiate a permanent agreement.

Ladies and gentlemen, I speak before you today in the name of the citizens of Israel, grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, sick and tired of this bloody vicious cycle which soaks up the blood of our loved ones, the blood of our sons and daughters. I speak before you in the name of these young men and women who wish to live in their country, and not die in their homeland. I speak to you today in the name of a nation which abhors war and desires life and peace. And I must say, one cannot hope to achieve better results while resorting to the same outlooks and tools which have failed time after time previously.

The French initiative, adopted by the EU institutions only a few days ago, suffers from those very fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it. This striving for a permanent agreement 'now', is the chronicle of a predictable failure, which will only push the two peoples deeper into despair. This despair is the hottest bed for extremism, and undermines the endeavors of moderates. And this despair, ladies and gentlemen, today seizes not just members of my generation, but also boys and girls growing up in this part of the world, whose world view and awareness are shaped by the violent present. This despair, ladies and gentlemen, is the gravest danger looming over us, Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Distinguished audience, if the international community really wishes and truly aspires to be a constructive player, it must divert its efforts away from the renewal of negotiations for negotiations’ sake, and toward building trust between the parties, and to creating the necessary terms for the success of negotiations in the future.

In the current circumstances, we must all ask ourselves 'what can be done today', rather than, 'what cannot be done'. And things can be done. This mission of creating the terms for a future agreement, creating an infrastructure for trust, and for a life of dignity for both peoples, demands of us today - the international community and Israel alike - to invest tremendous efforts in four main avenues:

First, harnessing the moderate powers in the region. The cooperation with Jordan and Egypt is a supreme common interest of Israel and the international community as well, in the aim of preventing military bolstering from beyond our borders, and in order to eradicate extremism and preserve the stability of the region. Similarly, the involvement and effective guaranties of friendly states in the region may also reduce the violent friction and serve as a warranty for future action.

Second, developing Palestinian economy and infrastructures for quality of life. One cannot speak about a future agreement when people live with a basic existential feeling of having no future, no opportunities, no hope, and no horizon. With the backdrop of economic difficulties in Judea and Samaria, and the situation in Gaza, a broad economic course of action is called for.

Infrastructures must be developed - gas, electricity, water, sewage and housing - in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. At the same time, a solution must be found to the human tragedy in Gaza, whereby around 1.5 million Palestinians are held hostage by a Jihadist terrorist organization, Hamas. As must a solution be found to the movement of residents, as with the transfer of trade, and the enabling the appropriate security. On this issue, the State of Israel has repeatedly stated its willingness to join hands with the international community in a joint endeavor. Israel considers the rehabilitation of Gaza, as the economic development and equalizing of life standards on both Palestinian and Israeli part, to be both an ethical and security interest. Sources of livelihood and employment must be developed as well, as Israeli and international companies who identify the potential in investing in the human capital between the Jordan and the Sea, have already begun to do. Developing a stable Palestinian economy must be carried out while laying the emphasis on developing a real, independent, and vital private sector as a stabilizing factor free of political interests. Furthermore, developing the economy must take into account the need for developing infrastructures for quality of life, for a life of dignity and wellbeing. Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city ever built in the Palestinian Authority, is a model of the power and significance of basic wellbeing in creating a breathing space and a feeling of movement and progress.

Third, investing in joint ventures aimed at creating joint interests. Whether we wish it or not, we - Israelis and Palestinians - share a small and common area, with common regional resources and assets, and common regional challenges. Together, we live on what is equal to one third of Austria. In such small and crowded space, creating common interests is a crucial factor in strengthening stability, and in creating the terms needed to replace the next war, with programs benefiting both parties.

We should foster and promote joint Israeli-Palestinian development ventures in the fields of renewable energy, infrastructure and the environment, joint industrial and tourism ventures, and cultural and social ventures; between Israeli and Palestinian local authorities, and between private corporations and business people on both sides. For instance, the ecological park being developed through cooperation between the regional council of Gilboa and the Palestinian city of Jenin, with the support of the international community, in which the shared Kishon River is undergoing cleaning and purification processes, with the aim of providing a solution to one of the most complex issues of the conflict – the water problem. You, ladies and gentlemen, know better than I do, how joint ventures create a horizon for another reality.

Fourth and ultimately – education. Increasing stability, developing infrastructures and strategic terms are essential conditions, but are not enough. Creating the conditions for any future agreement requires conditioning hearts on both sides for the possibility of living with mutual respect. Peace is made between leaders but peace is also made between peoples. Changing present trends requires addressing deep-rooted hatred and fear. Otherwise fear will have the upper hand, if only because it is to our regret, much more tangible than hope. Building trust demands an investment in the creation of wide channels of communication, not only in security contexts but in academic, cultural, and governance. And, at the same time, educating future generations to become acquainted with our neighbors, their culture and language.

Distinguished audience, the State of Israel values the efforts invested by the international community in general and by the European Union in particular, in seeking a peaceful future between the parties. The responsibility for building trust between us and our neighbors rests, first and foremost, on the shoulders of the two parties. But if Europe is interested in serving as a constructive factor in striving for a future agreement, it will be incumbent upon you its leaders, to focus efforts at this time in a patient and methodic building of trust. Not through divestments, but through investment; not by boycotts, but by cooperation.

It is no easy task for me to stand here before you today and say that at this time, a permanent agreement for peace between us and the Palestinians cannot be achieved. Because first and foremost I stand before the Israeli people, before my children and grandchildren, before the Israeli and Palestinian children wherever they are. It is to them that I and we, all of us, are to be held accountable. To ask ourselves what have we really done to promise them, someday, another future? I believe in the capability of both these peoples to live with each other, for the simple reason that we have no other choice. If we desire life, we must, today, invest our utmost efforts in what can be achieved, not in that which cannot – for the sake of our future, and that of our children.

I would like to thank my friend, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, for the invitation to come here, in the same week as the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. There can be no substitute for direct and joint conversation. In this act you have taken a step, albeit small, to bolster trust between the parties.

Distinguished audience, one hundred years ago the thought of a joint European parliament was inconceivable. Cooperation in the fields of electricity, gas and coal started this miracle of a Europe living in peace with itself. Small steps created a great reality. Help us step forward, step together with us, for the sake of the possibility that one day, an Israeli president will tell another world leader, “If we and the Palestinians have made peace and put an end to it once and for all, there is really no reason whatsoever that you cannot succeed. We fought many dozens of years and now it is over, forever.”

On behalf of the people in Israel, I wish all Europe’s Muslims and the Muslim believers throughout the entire world Ramadan Karim, Kul Am Wa Antum Bikhair.

Ladies and gentlemen, 'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may all who love her prosper. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee. (Psalms 122, 6-8).

God bless you all.

President Rivlin addresses opening ceremony for Yom HaZikaron

“None of us bring children into the world with the thought that one day we will bury them in the soil"

President Reuven Rivlin addressed the opening ceremony of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where he was joined by representatives of the bereaved families in kindling the memorial flame. Also addressing the ceremony was Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.

“Last year, as I stood in front of you, dear beloved families,” began the President and said, “I prayed that maybe, from that Memorial Day to this one, I will not have to pay any more visits to families whose entire lives have just been shattered around them. I prayed that maybe this year, we will stand here, finally, with no new pain. But this year too, reality knocked at our door. This year, once again, I met talented, funny, kind, boys and girls, filled with loving and promise. Each and every one of them a treasure. And this year too, I got to know them too late - when they were already gone.”

The President stressed, “Today is a day of mourning – both national and personal – each and every one of us has loved ones that are gone.” He continued, “Together, a great nation mourns its fallen; Ami, my neighborhood hero, who was only 16 year-old; Freddie, an ember plucked from the fire on Seder night 1947, he had survived the Holocaust, and yet was killed on the battlefield; Maoz and his son Nir, Eran and his father Dubi, boys who followed the fathers they barely got to know. Hussein Ali, a bride-groom who never made it to his wedding day. Hadar, guardian of the walls of Jerusalem, who died as she protected them, just this year. The list of our fallen goes on and on. None of them had planned for death. None of us bring children into the world with the thought that one day we will bury them in the soil and say the Mourner's Prayer, standing over their open grave. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, I stand in front of you and my heart is broken, my heart is torn. Your children, your loved ones, the fruit of your hopes, the subject of your adoration - there is no limit to the sorrow and suffering, there is no answer for the silent call - only the silence of death.”

The President went on to say, “Last year we did not have much time to be together. We each burrowed into our own path of righteousness, and we had disagreements, by their very nature extremely difficult and tough, and speak to the root of our existence here. However, the IDF is not just the army of all of us - the IDF is all of us. It is the secular and the religious, Jewish and non-Jewish, it is Arab, Bedouin, Druze and Circassian. It is those born in Israel and it is immigrants, it is sons of the city, and of the settlements, members of Moshavim and Kibbutzim – it is the length and breadth of the country, left and right. And the map of grief surrounds us all, on a chilling and equal scale. The same pain of longing and the same fate. The pinpoints in the map all mark the same, in the Negev and in Tel Aviv, Kiryat Arba and in Moa'ar, in Sderot, Jerusalem, Yeruham and Shlomi. We must remember that the IDF does set the course. The IDF does its utmost in the highest and most professional manner, to navigate through safely and reach its goals. Our confidence in the IDF and its commanders, and our confidence in its review and control mechanisms – is our confidence in ourselves. It is our confidence in our strength to stand before those who have sacrificed for us – your sacrifices – and in the justness of our cause.”

He added, “For over sixty-eight years we have been fighting the same war, the war for our independence; an ongoing campaign that changes its face and form. It is a painful battle that all the time adds fresh scars to the body and spirit of this ancient and robust people. Inherent in the stones behind me, the stones of the Western Wall, the 'wall of tears and hope', is testament that we are not men of war. We did not go into battle hungry for war, but with the desire for peace, with a lust for life, and a hated of death. But we realize the bitter and horrible truth – that there is a terrible price – which you have paid – to be a nation determined to protect its citizens and its independence. We will stand strong against anyone who dares to put our resolve to the test in any way.”

The President turned to the bereaved families and said, “You, who did not have the chance to finish bestowing love, it is thanks to you that we can love. You, who did not manage to see your children grow up; it is thanks to you that our streets are filled with life, with boys and girls playing. You, who did not manage to fulfil your dreams; it is because of you that we can dream.”

He concluded, “On this occasion we remember, and are reminded, of our commitment to our kidnapped children and those missing in action. We remember and are reminded of our responsibility to bring to Israel for burial, those of our sons whose graves are unknown. May the memory of our sons and daughters, who are loved and cherished, be engraved on our hearts forever.”

President Rivlin addresses Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem

​We will forever know how to protect ourselves by ourselves. The Holocaust will forever place us, the Jewish people, as eternal prosecutors on the stage of humanity, prosecutor against anti-Semitism, racism and ultra-nationalism.

President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin, participated in the opening ceremony of Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and museum. Also speaking at the event were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and representative of the survivors of the Holocaust, Mrs. Zahava Roth.

The President began by describing the scene in Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp on the first night of Passover, 1944. "In barrack 18, a group of Jewish prisoners gathered, determined not to eat Chametz (leavened bread). Rabbi Aharon Bernard (Yisachar) Davids, the rabbi of Rotterdam and a leader in the religious Zionist movement, who decided not to escape with his family but rather was sent with his community to Bergen Belsen, explained to them that it was their obligation to do what was necessary to stay alive. In order to convince them, he picked up a piece of bread, and before eating it on that Seder night, he read a special prayer which he had penned together with Rabbi Simon Dasbergm, and other Rabbis from Holland, which read; 'Our Father in Heaven! It is known to You that we desire to fulfill Your will and observe the Passover holiday by eating Matzah and safeguarding against Chametz. But our hearts are pained at the captivity which prevents us, and we find ourselves in danger of our lives. We are hereby ready to fulfill Your commandments “And you shall live by them (the commandments)” and not die by them, and to observe the caution of “guard yourself and watch your life greatly.” Therefore our prayer to You is that You keep us alive, and sustain us, and redeem us speedily." The President added that tragically, Rabbi Davids had perished just months before the liberation of the camp.

"I stand here, amid the mountains of the Israeli city of Jerusalem," said the President, "on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day 2016, between the days of Passover 'the festival of freedom', and Israel's Independence Day, and give thanks in the name of Rabbi Davids and his community who did not merit to see this moment, and in the name of all our brothers and sisters, our loved ones who perished in the Holocaust, I give thanks to He who brought us to this moment, to these days of revival. Am Yisrael Chai, the people of Israel lives."

He continued, "In another generation, there will not be anyone left living among us who survived that hell, and who could say, 'I was there, I saw the horror with my own eyes'. The Holocaust survivors living among us become fewer and fewer. It is time to conduct some soul-searching before you. We must admit that we were wrong. Holocaust survivors have never received the respect they deserved. Even to the present day, the State of Israel does not take every measure it can in order to take care of the Holocaust survivors. My brothers and sisters, survivors, the heroes of Israel's revival, I came here today on my behalf, and on behalf of the people of Israel, on behalf of the State of Israel, and I ask each one of you, before it is too late, for forgiveness. We did not understand, we did not want to understand, and we have not done enough. Our brothers and sisters, Holocaust survivors. These are the years in which we should take the opportunity to try to clarify along with you, how you want to shape the memory of the Holocaust and its lessons for future generations. How do you wish to charge the torch of remembrance, which will be passed from generation to generation? The number which was tattooed onto your flesh is etched into the hearts of this nation for generations, and has become the living will of the Jewish people."

The President added, "The Holocaust whether we like it or not has become a factor in shaping the standards of our understanding of ourselves, of understanding our relationship with other nations, and our role in the world. The Holocaust places the Jewish people in front of the basic principles, as a people and as a nation gazing inward at ourselves and outward toward all of humanity. It is these basic principles that should unite us all, regardless of our political outlooks, ideologies, or ethnic origin.

"I believe that the memory of the Holocaust for future generations, should meet three basic principles" said the President, and continued, "Firstly, we should always be able to defend ourselves – we should not privatize our security. The State of Israel is not, under any circumstances, compensation of the Holocaust. However, the Holocaust put into perspective the necessity and crucial need of the Jewish people to return to its historical roots, as a nation that takes its fate in its hands. Anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are not a fad, or one that can be taken lightly. It is a difficult chronic disease that penetrates deep into the heart and history of nations. We find it today in the voices that can be heard in the heart of a different Europe – from the British left and the extreme right in Eastern Europe and in Europe as a whole, and in areas across of the Arab world. The State of Israel will deal with this anti-Semitism by ensuring, first and foremost, a national home and a Jewish army that protects the nation of survival. We will never be ashamed that we are willing to fight. We are a nation that has survived and will continue to survive thanks to our resilience, and strong spirit. The second point is the shared Jewish fate. In Auschwitz and Babi Yar, in the darkness and in great fear, an alliance was forged - the Covenant of the Pieces. Our Jewishness descended upon us all equally and culminated, as Jean Amery said harshly, in the realities and the possibilities inherent in the number engraved on our arms. All of us, the Jewish people, those of faith, and those without, those who believe in Zionism and those who don’t believe in Zionism, from the East and from the West, and anywhere in the world are as one number. We will forever pursue the blood of our brothers and sisters, individuals and communities, which screams at us from within the earth. We will continue to pursue the deniers, those who want to forget and those who want to blur history. In the present and the future, whatever our faith, above and beyond any estrangement or divisions within us – we will always recognize the invisible thread that connects us to the Jewish people as one. The third point, beloved is man created in God's image. This is a Jewish truth, the most fundamental human truth and the deepest antibody to the horrors of the Holocaust, where our people and all of us were turned to dust, to ants, to un-human beings. Beloved is man created in God's image. Whether we want or not, the Holocaust imposes a hard and terrible duty on the Jewish nation and its conduct. The Holocaust will forever place us, the Jewish people, as eternal prosecutors on the stage of humanity, prosecutor against anti-Semitism, racism and ultra-nationalism. Prosecutors against pacts with the devil that trade human dignity and life for interests. Prosecutors against indifference, against the relativism of evil. Beloved is man, every person, created in the image of God. This is a holy duty from which the Jewish people cannot and should not want to escape at any time, under any circumstances."

The President concluded by saying, "A year ago, on the eve of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day), I received a call from my friend, former Mossad Chief and hero and protector of Israel, Meir Dagan, may he rest in peace. Meir told me about the picture of his grandfather, Rabbi Ber Sloshny in the Lukow Ghetto in Poland. In the picture you can see Rabbi Ber, wrapped in a prayer shawl, kneeling, his hands raised and he is humiliated, just a few seconds before he was executed by firing squad. This image followed Dagan throughout his life. All orders given, he said, were given with this picture in mind. The pain of this picture of his grandfather was always with him. He was horrified even more, he told me, when he discovered that the people who killed his grandfather, those soldiers in the picture, were merely reservists. Most of them were not even members of the Nazi Party. "They were normative people," said Meir, "voluntary mass murderers, who treated my grandfather, as if he were nothing. These were ordinary people.

“This picture will forever stay with me, with three things in mind; Rabbi Ber defenseless with his arms raised; Meir Dagan bearing the picture with him while crossing borders and risking his life for his people; and the German murderer, that 'ordinary person' who abandoned his humanity. Against these images I will recite to my sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters - never again. We will forever know how to protect ourselves by ourselves. We will forever be committed to a partnership of Jewish destiny. And we will forever insist – that beloved is man, created in the image of God. May the souls of our sisters and brothers the heroes, the victims of the Holocaust, be bound in the bond of life and engraved in our hearts forever."

President Rivlin meets with US Vice President Biden

President Rivlin: "Terror and hatred drive people apart. The only way forward is to build trust. Peace cannot be imposed, it must be reached."
Vice President Biden: "Israelis cannot go on being afraid to go about their lives for fear of being attacked- it cannot and will not be stopped just by physical force."

President Reuven Rivlin met at his residence in Jerusalem with United States Vice President Joe Biden, who was visiting Israel. President Rivlin greeted the Vice President on the red carpet before both men made statements to the media.

President Rivlin began his remarks by speaking of Israel's resolve in the face of the wave of terror that had struck Israel in the last hours. He said, "Once again we woke up to terror on the streets of Jerusalem. You arrived yesterday and were in Jaffa, just a short distance from the brutal terror attack in which a US citizen was murdered. I stand here with you in grief and in solidarity. Our prayers go to the victim’s family, and to all the injured in the wave of terror which struck last night and this morning. To my sorrow, Israel has faced this kind of terror nearly every day over the past year. Israel will continue to stand firm in the face of this violence and hatred. Terror will not break us, and it will not shape our future."

President Rivlin went on to note the close friendship between the Israeli and American people, and expressed his appreciation for America's support for Israel. He said, "Vice President, I know that Israel is close to your heart, and we welcome you; as a dear friend of Israel and the Jewish people. On Chanukah, in the White House, I thanked President Obama, and today I thank you again for the continued US support for Israel's security. The friendship between the Israeli people, and the American people, is strong and sincere. It is this friendship which leads us to face the challenges of today and look to the future, in cooperation and partnership."

President Rivlin stressed, "Israel is a strong democracy; stronger than ever. However when the region suffers from uncertainty and instability, Israel's burden of security is heavy; perhaps heavier than ever. Vice President Biden, your visit is very important. The whole region needs a clear message from the United States of America. Terror and hatred drive people apart. The only way forward, is to build trust. Peace cannot be imposed, it must be reached."

Vice President Biden thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, "It was a delight to have you in Washington and I am simply delighted to be back. The United States of America resoundingly condemns the terrorist violence we have seen lately including yesterday. To use your expression, our hearts go out to those who have suffered and their families."

He stressed, "We take very seriously, as you do here, the death of every innocent civilian, every warrior, that comes as a consequence of the evil acts of terror. I carry in my pocket every day, my schedule. On the back of my schedule there is a black box. I have my staff every morning, at around 5.30 in the morning, contact the Defense Department, and on that box is the list of the number of troops who have died to date from the beginning in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting terrorism - 6,740, not 6,700 and some. 6,740. The number of wounded - 52,365 not 52,000 plus. The reason I say this is because every single victim, every fallen angel, everyone who falls at the hands of brutality leaves behind an entire community. It is not just that child, that husband, that wife, that son, that daughter that is lost - it is an entire community. Extended families, friends."

Vice President Biden continued, "There is an old Irish expression, 'too long a suffering makes a stone of the heart.' The reason why we have to deal with this plague of terrorism is it will have the tendency to harden hearts - not be willing to reach out, not be willing to reach compromise. Israelis and visitors to Israel cannot go on being afraid to go about their lives for fear of being attacked. The violence has to stop, period. As you indicator, Mr President, one of the reasons I think you are such a wise man, it cannot and will not be done just be physical force.

"As I said I just finished a meeting with the Prime Minister - a long meeting which started at 10 o’clock, a fruitful meeting - and I touched on a broad range of issues where Israel and the United States stand shoulder to shoulder. America’s commitment to Israel is absolutely unshakable, it is unquestionable. Like brothers we will disagree, sometimes disagree really strongly about what path should be taken. But never, never, never, over the 40 years I have been doing this, or since the State of Israel was established, have we disagreed on the principle that there is an absolute, unyielding necessity for all world Jewry for there to be an independent Jewish state called Israel. That is our commitment and that rests on this grand state being able to be secure. Partnerships with Israel are on many fronts but central to that is the security partnership that we have. I hope to discuss with you Mr. President, ideas that will help reduce extremism and achieve greater economic opportunity for both Israelis and Palestinians alike, issues about which I know you are passionate. Because ultimately, a peace that leads to a state where there are two peoples is still the surest path to a prosperous future for all the people here - a two-state solution. A strong and secure Israel is very much in the interests of the United States."

He concluded, "So Mr. President, I am anxious to get to our discussion because when I sit with you I always learn something - I mean that sincerely, you have wisdom. President Obama and I were very honored to welcome you and your wife to the White House in your first visit in December. You said at that time Israel has no greater friend than the United States. I am here to reaffirm that that assertion is absolutely right and we have no greater friend."
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