President Reuven Rivlin began this morning (Monday) with a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassadors to Israel, from Italy, Denmark, the European Union, and Nigeria. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'. Later the President held a working meeting with Foreign Minister of Romania, Teodor Meleșcanu.



First to present his credentials was Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Mr. Gianluigi Benedetti. The President wished him much success in his role and said, “It is an honor for us to host you and your family in Jerusalem. You are not just an ambassador, you are a scholar, who has helped raise new and deeper understanding between our peoples. I know you were an important part of the efforts to translate the Talmud into Italian. My father was a scholar and translator, and he taught me that the key to understanding other cultures, was through gaining an understanding of their history and language. You have made a great contribution to the understanding between our peoples.”

The President added, “I was greatly impressed by your work to help make clear to the Italian people and Government, the ancient connection of the Jews to Jerusalem in light of UNESCO's attempt to eradicate it."  He continued, "I am also aware of your actions in the struggle against BDS. I appreciate your work for the Jewish people and the State of Israel and your friends.”

Ambassador Benedetti thanked the President and said, “Thank you very much for the hospitality in Jerusalem, a city that people around the world look to in love and admiration. Our two peoples share in an unprecendented brotherhood and friendship and it is an honor to serve as ambassador. The roots of our friendship are rooted deep in history, which is important to stress, and in the last 15 years we have done much, but I promise that every day we will work to do more, with determination and passion it is possible to increase the friendship between our two peoples.” He added, “The Mediterranean is an area that brings us big challenges, and it is important that we stand together. Italy will always stand besides Israel whenever Israel's identity, or right to exist in peace in the region is threatened.”



Ambassador of Denmark, H.E. Mrs. Charlotte Slente, presented her credentials, accompanied by her family. The President welcomed them and said, “We have a close and warm relationship despite sometimes we have different opinions.” The President stressed the significance of the Danish people's rescue of Jews during the Holocaust and said, “Jews throughout the world and in Israel, remember with emotion and appreciation the efforts of the Danish people to save Jews during the Holocaust.”

Ambassador Slente thanked the President and responded, “"My family and I have been very impressed by the dynamic, entrepreneurial society in Israel, and thanks to this you have been able to create what Israel is today in such a short period of time.” Speaking of the rescue of Jews by Denmark during the Holocaust, she said, “It is a part of our history we are proud of. Next year is 75 and we look forward to marking this together. We are very proud that we managed to bring a little light in the dark.” She added, “I congratulate you on your personal efforts to promote coexistence and I am sure we can work together well.”



Ambassador of the EU, H.E. Mr. Emanuele Giaufret then arrived to present his credentials, accompanied also by his wife and their three young children. The President raised Israel’s concerns about Iran’s infiltration into the region its attempts to establish itself on the Mediterranean coast on its way to Europe. The President added, “The Iranians reject the very existence of Israel and openly support terrorism, Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the terror organizations in Yemen.” The President added, “Europe wants to reach an understanding with the Iranian people, and we are also interested in such an understanding. But the Iranian people are now led by a Shi’ite leadership that promotes religion over the needs of its people. The Iranian problem is not related to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and it is impossible to tie things together.”

Ambassador Giaufret thanked the President for his welcome and said, “For me personally, I am very happy to return to the country in which I enjoyed my service in the past. Europe and Israel have intense and good trade relations, we are working to find new understandings for the future, in the fields of energy, and Israel is contributing greatly to this, and also Israeli tourism to Europe is growing. I agree that from time to time we have differences of opinion, as is the case among friends, but we share fundamental values. The struggle against anti-Semitism is a necessary struggle. We cannot accept anti-Semitism and will fight it every day and wherever it raises its head.”



Finally, Ambassador of Nigeria H.E. Mr. Enoch Pear Duchi presented his credentials to the President. The President welcomed him and his family and said, “I’m looking forward, knowing that everyone one of us would like to have even better relationships between our peoples and our governments. Africa is the future.” He added, “We have so much together, so many challenges that we can face together. We have experience when it coined to health, agriculture, water, and security.” The President expressed his hope that Nigeria would support Israel to regain its observer status at the African Union.

Noting the history of Israel-Nigerian relations, Ambassador Duchi said, “Our relations have remained cordial and have greatly increased our level of interactions. Nigeria has benefited from Israeli expertise in security, the fight against terrorism, education, agriculture, and more besides.”

He added, “I will work toward strengthening the bilateral relations for the benefit of both our peoples.”



Following his meetings with the Ambassadors, President Rivlin then held a working meeting with Foreign Minister of Romania, Teodor Meleșcanu, who was visiting Israel. The President welcomed the Foreign Minister and praised the relationship between the two peoples and the two governments. He said, "When we sometimes have difficulties explaining things to others in Europe, you stand behind us and we thank you for this very much.” On the issue of the conflict with the Palestinians the President reiterated, “We have to find a way to change the atmosphere and build confidence. We are trying to find a way to let them understand that we can live together and there is no other way than to live together.” The President stressed Israel’s concern that Iran continued to support global terror, “We are bothered by Iran's ability to hold nuclear weapons but on the other hand we are concerned by the idea that they are supporting terror, not just with Hamas and Hezbollah, but also in Yemen.”

The Foreign Minister thanked the President for his welcome and spoke of the importance he attached to the need to combat anti-Semitism, “We have come here from Yad Vashem, and I am saying that anyone who has a problem with the history should visit once to Yad Vashem.” He continued, “We have had some difficult times and periods but finally we have managed to understand what Elie Weisel said that negating the Holocaust is not only dangerous, it is offensive.” He noted Romania’s important role in the formulation and adoption of the Working Definition of anti-Semitism during the country’s presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and noted, “This had a great impact on our society”.

The two went on to hold a wide discussion on regional developments, and ways to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.


Photo Credit  Mark Neymann / GPO