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June 8 set for Peres, Abbas prayer for peace with Pope at Vatican

WJC, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will join Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 8 to pray together for peace, the Vatican announced today.
The Pope invited the two leaders to hold the prayer meeting during his trip to Israel last week; the goal, the Pontiff told reporters on his plane back, is not to engage in an Israeli-Palestinian mediation but to create an atmosphere that would foster the resumption of peace talks, according to Reuters.
American-led peace talks foundered in April after Abbas announced a unity pact with Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that rules in Gaza.

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New ambassadors from Hungary, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Micronesia present Letters of Credence to President Peres

The new ambassadors expressed their wish to assist in the strengthening of friendship through economic, technological and diplomatic cooperation.

New ambassadors to Israel from Hungary, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Micronesia presented their letters of credence to President Shimon Peres in a formal ceremony at the President's Residence.

President Peres wished the ambassadors success in their new roles and said, "Welcome to Israel, welcome to the family. I am sure that you will find here who will assist you in building on the bilateral relations and cooperation between our countries. Please see the President's Residence as an open and welcoming house for anything you need."

The new ambassadors thanked President Peres and expressed their wish to assist in the strengthening of friendship through economic, technological and diplomatic cooperation. They all thanked President Peres for the warm welcome they have received since their arrival in Israel.

The new ambassador from Micronesia said, "Micronesia stands by Israel and we will continue to do, I represent a small country but a big friend to Israel." The ambassador of Hungary said that relations between the Jewish people in Israel and the Hungarian people is full of history. He expressed his opposition to the minority in Hungary who express anti-Semitic views and added that Hungary will continue to fight against any expression of racism.
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Georgian PM Garibashvili on official visit to Israel

PM Garibashvili: "We know that the bond between the Georgian and Jewish people goes back 2600 years, when the Jewish people first came to Georgia after the destruction of the First Temple. We attach special importance to the discussions toward a free trade agreement between the State of Israel and Georgia."

During the official visit to Israel by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibanshvili, the first meeting of the Israel-Georgia Joint Economic Commission was held, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Georgian Foreign Minister Dr. Maia Panjikidze. In the course of the meeting they discussed areas of trade and economy with the aim of strengthening ties between the two countries. Following the meeting, the foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the framework of the commission.


Following are the statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at the start of their meeting in Jerusalem:
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Prime Minister, welcome to Israel. I understand this is your first visit outside the immediate vicinity of Georgia. I take that as a sign of genuine friendship between us. And it’s an enduring and long friendship.

The Jewish community in Georgia I think dates back thousands of years. It’s made important contributions to Georgia and it’s made important contributions to Israel, the Jews who’ve come from Georgia. So this is a natural bridge. And in addition we have a natural sympathy with Georgia that seeks to establish a prosperous and secure future for its people. We think we can do that together.

Today our Foreign Minister has signed an agreement on a joint economic commission. We have every area to cooperate in - technology and water, agriculture, education, everything. And we are open to further this cooperation in all fields. We’ve been doing that, we’ll continue to do that. I’m sure your visit enhances that. That is part of our quest to achieve security, prosperity and peace.

When I say peace, Prime Minister, I mean real peace. The peace we expect with our Palestinian neighbours is one in which they finally recognize the right of Israel to exist as the Jewish state, the state of the Jewish people. After all, we’ve only been here, about 4,000 years. So we expect that reciprocity.

Yet I’m concerned that in the Palestinian press we’ve had continual references to Nazi Germany, comparing Israel and Israel’s leaders to Nazis, saying that we carry Nazi genes. This is a way of poisoning the atmosphere for peace. It must stop. This whole incitement against Israel must cease if we’re to have the genuine peace that we deserve and our Palestinian neighbours deserve as well.

I know that this is your interest too, and we should discuss that. But most importantly what we should do is focus on how we can increase our friendship and cooperation for the benefit of the people of Georgia and for the benefit of the people of Israel. So welcome to Jerusalem. I hope to see you again many, many times."
Georgian PrimeMinister Garibashvili: "Prime Minister, I would like to thank you for such a warm reception and hospitality. We will have a very important meeting today and we’re going to discuss current issues of bilateral cooperation as well as issues of regional and international security.

Today we will have a first sitting of the Joint Economic Commission and the sides will sign two document: the MOU and the outcomes of the Commission meeting. The Commission will serve the purpose of advancing our trade and economic cooperation.

We strive to build a favorable ground for full expansion of bilateral trade relations worldwide and therefore we attach special importance to the discussions toward a free trade agreement between the State of Israel and Georgia. By signing the association agreement, including deep and comprehensive free trade area until August 2014, our country will enter a very important and comprehensive phase of its relations within the European Union paving the way towards deeper economic integration and boosting investment into it. And this will make Georgia a very attractive trade and economic partner for Israel as well.

These intensified bilateral ties and enhanced people-to-people contacts are based on a logical continuation of our 26 centuries of exemplary friendship between the Jewish and Georgian people. I remember our history. The Jewish people first came to Georgia after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC. Since then Georgia has become your second home, where they were accepted, loved, respected and made part of the Georgian [unclear]. And this will continue and we’ll make sure that we strengthen this relationship.
I also would like to take this opportunity and specifically mention that yesterday the world commemorated the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And this commemoration strengthens the efforts to raise the awareness about the Holocaust around the world. The horrible Holocaust has also touched our people. And it remains part of our collective memory. One of the known examples is the tragic fate of a prominent Georgian priest who lived in Poland during the war and was imprisoned and killed in the concentration camp of Auschwitz for helping Jewish families during the persecutions. We are always proud to say that in Georgia, anti-Semitism has been an unknown phenomenon through our history and this will be forever.
Once again, Prime Minister, thank you for this hospitality and I’m sure we will have a very productive meeting and I’m sure that in the coming years and the coming future our relations will be on a substantially higher level. Once again thank you."


President Shimon Peres held a diplomatic working meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili
President Peres welcomed Prime Minister Garibashvili and said, "I'm delighted to see you here, the Prime Minister of Georgia, which is a very dear country to us. We are now celebrating 2600 years of friendship. It was great to see Georgia coming back to herself, at her best full of hope and contribution."

Addressing the current situation in the Middle East, President Peres said, "You are coming to us at a time of decision, it is not simple and there are objective difficulties. On the other hand it's an open window and we are taking it very seriously, we must not postpone. Peace is both our heritage and our strategy. We know it's not simple but we will continue to make major efforts to reach the right conclusion and bring peace to this part of the region. We must not let history gallop past and lose this opportunity. There are many in the Arab worlds who already know that we are not the problem, the real problems are terror and division and that has nothing to do with us. Terror is today the greatest problem for many countries in the Middle East."

Prime Minister Garibashvili thanked President Peres and said, "I'm delighted and honored to be here. Israel is a friend and Georgia attaches great importance to the relationship between the two countries. We know that the bond between the Georgian and Jewish people goes back 2600 years, when the Jewish people first came to Georgia after the destruction of the First Temple. Since then Jewish people became like family, they were accepted, loved and respected and became part of Georgian society throughout history."

The Prime Minister added that, "Israel is a very important country for Georgia. I came here to confirm once again that Israel is a friend and partner. We'd like to strengthen our bilateral cooperation. Georgia is a small country and is a contributor to global peace and a small contributor but wherever we go, we are contributing and we are dedicated."

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Israeli ambassadors and heads of mission convene at MFA

President Peres: "The State of Israel cannot stand on security alone. Israel needs diplomacy as well and it is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to push forward a peace agreement."
FM Liberman: "Even with all the doubts I have over the true intention of the other side, dialogue between us is important."


President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman officially opened the conference for Israeli ambassadors and heads of mission at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Before speaking to Israel's representatives across the world President Peres surveyed the MFA Situation Room which was opened during his tenure as Foreign Minister and laid a wreath at the memorial wall for MFA employees who fell in the service of their country.

Foreign Minister Liberman, in the name of the Foreign Ministry, awarded President Peres with a special gift in acknowledgement of his diplomatic service on behalf of the State of Israel, and said: "We are at opposite poles, but both want the same thing. Even with all the doubts I have over the true intention of the other side, dialogue between us is important,” Liberman said.

Foreign Minister Liberman, addressing the conference attendees, emphasized seven major issues on Israel's diplomatic agenda today:
• relations with the U.S.;
• new areas of focus for Israel's foreign relations, with an emphasis on Africa;
• the Iranian threat;
• the Palestinian issue;
• relations with our neighbors - from Turkey and Iraq, to Libya and Sudan;
• relations with the BRICS emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; and
• relations with the European Union, particularly France and Germany.
President Peres addressed the negotiations with the Palestinians and said, "Since the creation of the State of Israel we have always faced more threats than opportunities, today for the first time the tables have turned and the opportunities are more tangible and promising than the dangers.

This is the first time Israel is getting offers to upgrade the relationship with the European Union and the Arab League, who for the first time is willing to recognize Israel and understands that Israel is not the enemy. Don't be confused, an economic boycott can be as damaging to Israel as the security threats.

I was here when the state was founded, Ben Gurion faced fateful decisions which had great dangers and only small chances for success. Today Israel has great opportunities. The State of Israel cannot stand on security alone, Israel needs diplomacy as well and it is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to push forward a peace agreement."

President Peres also addressed the Iranian nuclear threat and said, "I am concerned by Iran's development of long range missiles. We must monitor the development of missiles in Iran and include that in an agreement – it requires cooperation between the US and Russia. It is hard to monitor uranium but much easier to monitor the means of delivery. Iran continues to supply arms to terrorist organizations and serves as a world center of terror."

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President of Guatemala on first visit to Israel

Netanyahu: The greatest threat to the peace of the world is Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. I believe that this is a common need of any country in any region that wants to see a peaceful world, because Iran is seeking influence even in Latin America.
President Shimon Peres welcomed the President of Guatemala Otto Fernando Perez Molina in a state ceremony on his first visit to Israel: "Welcome to the State of Israel and to Jerusalem. We welcome you as the President of Guatemala, Israel's partner in peace."

President Molina arrived to Israel with a 21-member delegation that included Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, Minister of Defense Manuel Lopez Ambrocio, Minister of Agriculture Elmer Lopez Rodriguez, and George Tanenbaum, President of the Guatemala Jewish Community.

At the ceremony, both Peres and Molina spoke of Jorge Garcia Granados who, in May 1947, as Guatemala’s ambassador to the United Nations, was appointed as a member of the UN Special Committee of Palestine. Of the eleven members of the UNSCOP team, the representative of Guatemala was the most persuasive, and on November 29, 1947 the Partition Plan was approved by the UN General Assembly by a majority vote, paving the way for the creation of the State of Israel.


Statements by PM Netanyahu and the President Otto Fernando Perez Molina of Guatemala

Prime Minister Netanyahu: President Molina, it's a great pleasure to welcome you and you delegation here in Israel, in Jerusalem. Guatemala is one of Israel's oldest friends and we always remember that you stood with us on the formative days of Israel's independence and the votes on the international recognition in the UN for the establishment of the Jewish state, and we will never forget that.

Now, this is the first time of a visit of the President of Guatemala to Israel and it's an opportunity to further strengthen our relationship and I believe this is possible in many many areas – agriculture, water, infrastructure, health services, defense, all of this and many others – and I welcome the opportunity of this visit and our discussions to do exactly that, strengthen the cooperation between Guatemala and Israel, and I believe your visit expresses exactly that same desire.

We also share a desire to see a peaceful and stable Middle East, and the greatest threat to that and to the peace of the world is Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. It's therefore critical that the final deal with Iran prevent that from happening. Here's what this means: no enrichment, no centrifuges, no heavy water reactor, no weapons program, no ballistic missiles and a change in Iran's policies – no genocide against Israel, no terrorist support, no undermining of regimes in the Middle East. This is what the next negotiation must establish. None of the components of Iran's nuclear program and missile program that I described are necessary for civilian nuclear energy. They are only necessary for the creation of atomic weapons and the means to deliver them, and that is exactly why Iran must be denied these capabilities.

I believe, Mr. President, that this is a common need of any country in any region that wants to see a peaceful world, because Iran is seeking influence even in Latin America, and we all have a vested interest that they don’t have the power to expand their aggression and their radicalism anywhere.

I hope that you'll have a chance to visit the holy places and many other places to see our old-new country when you're here. This is the seat of our common heritage and the prophets that are in the Bible walked here, they were walking in Jerusalem. Well, now you are walking here and you can see both people anchored in old heritage but also seizing the future with technology, with science, with innovation, which we would gladly share with you.

So welcome to Jerusalem.

President Molina (via interpreter): Thank you very much, Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is a great pleasure for me to be here in this official visit, which as you said, is the first official visit of Guatemala in Israel. There are excellent relations between both our countries and between the people of Israel and the people of Guatemala and as you said as well, Guatemala did participate in the foundation of Israel, so that has led the foundations for a tradition and the unity between our two peoples.

There's also a tradition for cooperation. There are more than 5,000 Guatemalans who have come to Israel to learn new techniques and acquire new skills, and that has helped us very much. And regarding also what you said about cooperation, the areas that you mentioned, that is health, education, agriculture and defense, I'm sure that there are even more areas that we can explore and exploit, so that Guatemala can continue to enjoy the cooperation with Israel.

We are friends of Israel. Both our people and our government wish for you to have peace, for Israel and for the whole region, as well as stability, and we are also concerned by the threats that may undermine the security of the area. We are also convinced that the steps that you have taken as Prime Minister for peace are going in the right direction and we hope that it will continue to do so. It is a tradition for Guatemala, we have always been in favor of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, both in Latin America as well as in the rest of the world, and we hope that this concern that we can see today, which is a great threat to the State of Israel, will find a resolution as soon as possible.

And finally, I would like to say that we wish to express our thanks for the invitation to come to Israel. These two days in Israel I am sure that will strengthen the union and friendship between our two peoples.

Thank you very much.

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Israeli leaders on the death of Nelson Mandela: We mourn alongside the nations of the world and the people of South Africa, who lost an exceptional leader

President Shimon Peres, statement following the death of Nelson Mandela:

"The world lost a great leader who changed the course of history. On behalf of the citizens of Israel we mourn alongside the nations of the world and the people of South Africa, who lost an exceptional leader. Nelson Mandela was a fighter for human rights who left an indelible mark on the struggle against racism and discrimination. He was a passionate advocate for democracy, a respected mediator, a Nobel peace prize laureate and above all a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue who paid a heavy personal price for his struggle in the years he spent in prison and fighting for his people. Nelson Mandela's legacy for his people and for the world will forever remain engraved in the pages of history and the hearts of all those who were touched by him. He will be remembered forever."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela:
"Nelson Mandela was among the greatest figures of our time. He was the father of his country, a man of vision and a freedom fighter who disavowed violence. He set a personal example for his country during the long years in which he was imprisoned. He was never haughty. He worked to heal rifts within South African society and succeeded in preventing outbreaks of racial hatred. He will be remembered as the father of the new South Africa and a moral leader of the highest order."

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President Peres meets with the president and judges of the ICJ: " The Iranian nuclear threat is not just an Israeli problem but for the whole world which doesn't want to be threatened by one country."

President Peres: “The only way to test Iran's intentions is by deeds and not just words. "

President Shimon Peres visited the International Court of Justice in The Hague and held a rare meeting with the judges of the court including President Peter Tomka. President Peres began the meeting by stressing the importance which Israel attaches to international law, Israel's constant struggle against terrorism and the countries which finance it and the importance the ICJ has in solving disputes between states. President Peres said, in the clearest way possible regarding Israel's fight against terror, that "IDF soldiers hold morality and justice as their highest values – the IDF is committed to defense and peace while securing human rights and maintaining international law."
President Peres updated the judges about the status of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and said: "The negotiations with the Palestinians opened not long ago and we hope that they will bear fruit for the two sides who want to live side by side in peace and security. Completing the negotiations is of the utmost importance – it is perhaps the last and most significant conflict between us and the Arab world."
President Peres discussed with the judges the difficulties faced by Israel's citizens who live under the threat of terror and his personal experience of dealing with terrorism as Prime Minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin: "Peace exacts a heavy price but it remains the desire of the people of Israel. I stood with the citizens of Israel in the streets after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin – as an Israeli I was under a tremendous wave of brutal terror attacks during which buses exploded in the streets and children were murdered in shopping centers. In the years which followed, after the painful and difficult disengagement from the Gaza Strip during which Israel removed families from their homes, rockets were fired at innocent civilians. Mothers and children slept for long periods of time in bomb shelters." The President added that "Israel underwent seven wars but we never stopped our search for peace with our neighbors. Never did a day of war postpone a day of democracy. Never did wars justify injustice."
ICJ President Tomka told President Peres: "We are honored by your presence. Peace can be based on justice and solid legal foundations, whenever we solve disputes between sovereign states we always emphasize that the most efficient way is through negotiations. We wish your people peace and justice in a safe and secure environment with peace with your neighbors"
In the press conference which followed the meeting, President Peres addressed the speech by the President of Iran at the United Nations and said: "Rouhani's speech was nice but it was based on a false reality as Iranian centrifuges, at this very moment, continue to work and produce enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, the program to develop long range missiles which can carry nuclear warheads is being expanded and the Revolutionary Guards continue to support terror organizations. We listen to the speeches at the United Nations, but the only way to test Iran's intentions is by deeds and not just words. The Iranian nuclear threat is not just an Israeli problem but for the whole world which doesn't want to be threatened by one country."

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President Peres addresses the situation in Syria

“The situation in Syria is not a local incident but a crime against humanity and a breach of international law. The whole world was witness to the horrific pictures of Syrian children who lay dead on the floor.”




President Shimon Peres addressed the tensions with Syria at the beginning of his visit to the Jerusalem headquarters of the Israel Police and said, “The situation in Syria is not a local incident but a crime against humanity and a breach of international law. As such the responsible world is coming together to respond. Syria has crossed a moral boundary. The whole world was witness to the horrific pictures of Syrian children who lay dead on the floor. President Obama spoke on behalf of the whole of humanity when he said this breach of international law; this mass murder could not go without an appropriate response.
We must understand that the response is global, not local. We are seeing a serious coalition coming together, both militarily and diplomatically. Israel was not, and is not, involved in the Syrian fighting but if anyone tries to harm us we will respond with all our might.
Israel has a strong army, modern and powerful and a more advanced defense system than ever before which protects our land, our skies and our citizens. The reports aimed at Israel are an attempt to create panic but Israel is too experienced to fall for false propaganda. We must remain united, respect the decisions of the government and act upon the instructions of the Home Front Command. We should all have faith in the IDF.”


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President Peres begins state visit to Lithuania


President Peres asked Lithuanian President Grybauskaite to make a lasting impact during her term as leader of the ‪‎EU‬. “If the EU wants to help the peace process, and it does, it should let the sides work to reach an agreement without pressure.”
President Peres began his state visit to ‪‎Lithuania‬ with a diplomatic working meeting with the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, who also currently serves as President of the ‪‎EuropeanUnion‬.

President Peres referred to the European Union’s recent decisions, thanking the President of Lithuania and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for their support for the decision to include the military wing of ‪‎Hezbollah‬ on the EU list of terrorist organizations.

President Peres asked President Grybauskaitė to make a lasting impact during her term as leader of the ‪‎EU‬.

He expressed criticism of the EU decision to limit its funding of Israeli projects and enterprises to those within the green line and asked his Lithuanian counterpart to use all her influence to delay the implementation of the resolution, saying that if it goes into effect as planned, it will be detrimental to the peace process. A future peace treaty, when signed between the sides, will address all issues, including the borders, thus making the issue of settlements and Israel’s presence in the West Bank redundant. “If the EU wants to help the peace process, and it does, it should let the sides work to reach an agreement without pressure,” Peres said.

Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė emphasized the importance of Lithuania's ongoing strong relationship with Israel, and added that maintaining a good relationship with Israel was also important to the EU. She lauded Israel as a model of innovation, which is one of the reasons that Lithuania is interested in enhancing its bilateral relations.
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President Peres launches initiative to integrate Israeli Arabs into hi-tech workforce

 

President Peres launches initiative to integrate Israeli Arabs into hi-tech workforce

President Shimon Peres and 20 CEOs of leading hi-tech companies in Israel have launched a project to recruit and integrate Israeli Arabs into the hi-tech industry. The CEOs, who recognized the importance of integrating and promoting Israeli Arabs into this sector and joined the President's initiative represent companies including: Intel, SanDisk, Cisco, Microsoft, TowerJazz, HP, SAP, IBM, Live Person, TaKaDu, NICE, CA, ECI and RSA. 

 

A thorough study indicated that very few Israeli Arabs have successfully integrated into the Israeli hi-tech industry, even though many are academically qualified. Some of the barriers to entry are technical in nature, fear of not being considered on the basis of merit, unfamiliarity with the application process and a lack of knowledge of Israeli hi-tech culture. This initiative hopes to bridge those gaps and streamline the application, interview, acceptance and integration process for Israeli Arabs to enter the Israeli hi-tech workforce.
Within the framework of the project a unique web-based portal was launched. Israeli Arab technology and engineering students can send their resumes to participating companies in the project through the web-based portal. When necessary, assistance in helping applicants improve their resumes will be offered. The selection and placement process will be managed by Manpower, the human resource company.
The idea for this initiative is the result of a meeting between President Peres and John Chambers, the Chairman and CEO of CISCO at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos last year.

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