PM Netanyahu addresses Diplomatic Corps on Independence Day 2016


PM Netanyahu: I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. It's about time.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the occasion of Israel’s Independence Day, made the following remarks at the President's Residence in Jerusalem to the Diplomatic Corps:


"I have a special affection for the diplomatic service because I entered public life 34 years ago as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington D.C. At the time, the number of states that had formal diplomatic relations with Israel was very small. Today we have full diplomatic relations with 159 states. There are not many left. And those that are left I can count maybe on the fingers of one hand, at a stretch you can go to the other hand.


Those with which we don't have some kind of active liaison, there's been a great change in our fortunes in our foreign relations. Scarcely a day passes that we don’t have diplomatic delegations or trade delegations or technological delegations or security delegations not only from our great traditional ally the United States, and of course the European countries, but also from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America, from every part of the world.


Countries are coming to Israel for two main reasons: One, they identify that Israel has significant contributions to make in our common battle, the battle of civilized countries against the dark forces of Islamic radicalism, those headed by Iran and Isis as the President correctly said.

They seek our help in intelligence, in logistics, our experience in combatting terrorism, in strengthening security, our common security


The second reason that people are coming here is, in a word, technology. The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is the innovation nation. It is eager to share its contributions, its abilities, and some significant sparks of genius with the rest of mankind and womankind. If you hold a cellphone, a good chunk of it was made in Israel or thought up in Israel. If you eat a salad, and you eat a cherry tomato – Israel. If you have Alzheimer's, I hope you don't, but you have cures that are made in Israel. And if you want to work out a riddle – how to have a water surplus when you have no water? Come to Israel. Or make more milk per cow? Come to Israel.



And many countries are coming for these two reasons – security and technology. Which means fighting the forces of the past and seizing together the opportunities of the future.

This coincides with the consistent attempt to delegitimize Israel, but I think that ultimately this trend will overcome and dominate because the future belongs to those who seize the future.


So today, I want to tell you why I am hopeful about the future. 68 years ago, the State of Israel was born. It was weak, disorganized. It was isolated and besieged. Today, Israel is strong. It's stable. It's prosperous; it's vibrant.

And many of your nations, those represented here, are cooperating in so many ways (sometimes more than we can publish), many important ways.


For over a decade, I've been honored to lead the people of Israel as their prime minister.

I am hopeful because I have seen with my own eyes the common sense and uncommon courage of the Israeli mothers and fathers who send their precious children to defend our country.


In my 66 years, I have traversed the land more times than I can count. I mean traversed it literally with my feet when I was a soldier like the young soldiers who are honored here today at the President's house. But I've traversed it in many other ways – going into communities, going into cities and into farms and to see the life force within our people…

I'm hopeful because the young Israelis I meet are willing, if I can borrow a phrase, are willing to bear any burden and pay any price for bettering our nation.

Most of all, I'm hopeful because I know that we will never give up on peace.


In my lifetime, I have seen Israel make peace…you can applaud, it's fine…in my lifetime I've seen Israel make peace with two Arab states – states that once fought brutal wars against us. And, in recent years, I've seen formerly hostile states in the region and beyond, but especially in the region, form new and deep partnerships with us. I think this is a matter of great importance because I think this creates new hope.


We can advance peace with the Palestinians directly and through the support of other nations, including in the region. It was once thought that the only way that we could advance peace with the Arab states was to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That would certainly help enormously. But it's also true that we might solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem by enjoying the support of Arab states who now see Israel more and more not as an enemy, but as an ally against the forces that threaten their own countries as well.


I have a deep and abiding faith that Israel will have peace with many more of our neighbors and that our century-long conflict will end.

How will it end?


I know there is skepticism about my position. You can just repeat it ad nauseam and it becomes…it assumes the cachet of self-evident truth, but the facts are important. I have taken steps that no other prime minister in Israel's history has taken to advance peace. So far, they've not been answered. But I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. It's about time.


That remains the core of this conflict: The persistent refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundary. And this is why this conflict preceded the Six-Day war by nearly 50 years. But I don’t believe that any issue is so complex that it cannot be solved. All we ask for is the right to live in peace in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.

And my call for peace today is not hypothetical.


I just gave a Twitter conference. It's the sign of the times. I think President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau preceded me. Talk to everyone in the world. And they said, "Are you willing to sit down and talk peace?" and I said, yes. Yes, I am. In fact, I'm willing to do so right now, today. To meet President Abbas today in Jerusalem. If he'd like, in Ramallah. If any of you ladies and gentlemen want to offer a different place that’s fine with me too. I have my preferences; we'll talk about it later. Right now. Today. And not next week. This week.


Because you cannot make peace with somebody who even refuses to sit down with you. And because every minute that President Abbas refuses to accept my call for peace robs Palestinians and Israelis of the opportunity to live without fear. It robs our children and our grandchildren of the opportunity they so richly deserve.


Peace is my vision.

Mutual recognition is my hope.

Security is my duty.


And I will work every day of every week of every month to advance peace and security for our people. I ask all of you to join me in providing hope for a better future. You can encourage President Abbas to accept my offer of direct talks today. Because direct talks are not merely the most likely and best path for peace. Ultimately, it's the only way that you will achieve a peace that will endure. And Israelis and Palestinians deserve no less.


Thank you all for your service. Thank you for coming here to honor Israel's Independence Day






PM Netanyahu addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO/Haim Zach.



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Celebrating KingsDay 2016 :The Netherlands National Day


On April 20th  2016 the new Dutch Ambassador H.E. Mr. Gilles Arnout Beschoor Plug and his wife Louise held a reception at his residence in Hertzliya Pituach. Their lovely home was decorated with diverse paintings, flowers, and other items predominantly in the orange color scheme symbolizing the Netherlands.


The honorary guests, were Mr. Yoav Gallant, Minister of Construction and Housing and Chazan Daniël Colthof. Among the guests were Vered Pear Swid, Director General of the Prime Minister's office and head of the Authority for the advancement of the Status for women, Gad Proper, Chairman of the Israel-EU chamber of Commerce, and Ambassador Meron Reuben ,Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs, Pinhas Kimelman Deputy CEO – Finance Osem Group and Marc de Klyn, famous Artist painter from Holland.

A variety of traditional dutch cheeses were offered continuously to the guests among other delicious appetizers such has herring, dumplings savored with jam, onions and mushrooms, and of course Holland's local drink – 'Bitter' served in small champagne glasses, also orange in color, brought in especially to Israel from the Netherlands.



In addition there was a stand of The Dutch Farm in the garden with traditional products . The Dutch Farm is located in the Northern Negev at Moshav Sde Tzvi, run by Uzi and Tamar Manor.


The official ceremony commenced when the Ambassador addressed with some words in hebrew and then continued in english. He welcomed the guests and explained that :

“King’s Day year is celebrated at another date. Let me reassure you that the King hasn’t changed, his birthday is still on the 27th of April, that he and his family are all well – but we forwarded this reception with a week to the 20th of April because of Pesach next week.
Last year was again a confirmation of the excellent ties between the Netherlands and Israel. We had a steady stream of accomplishments, such as a number of major investments in the Netherlands, a continuous stream of start-ups heading towards Holland, quite some high-ranking visits here and in the Netherlands: government, business, knowledge, parliament. But today is not so much about the results. Today is more about how we got there. This would not have been possible without many of you present here and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you. Without you – Dutch and Israelis interested in eachother - an Embassy can do little. A nice example of our trade ties is the yearly sponsors of King’s Day and I would like to pay tribute to Heineken, Unilever/Straus, Frico, and Ocean. We deeply appreciate your help.
On a more personal note, my wife Louise and I would like to thank everyone who has been so kind to help us in settling down and introducing us to Israeli society. I can assure you that we look forward to live and work in this country, and to enjoy its people, culture, history, climate, kitchen, and we are happy that today we can share with you a typical Dutch event. We hope you enjoy the reception with some Dutch foods.
And so, Mr Minister, dear guests, allow me read to you the telegram that I will send to His Majesty the King next week, at the occasion of his birthday and on behalf of the Dutch community in Israel. Unfortunately it is in Dutch, but I can assure you it is quite polite.
Finally, I hope we will be able to meet again next year under even better circumstances, with intensified contacts between the whole spectre of our societies, improved futures for Dutch and Israelis and a better perspective for ending the conflicts in the region and closer at home, over de Green Line."

He emphasized that they advanced the celebration of National Day from the 27th of April, the exact birthday date of the King, to the 20th of April, due to the oncoming Passover Holidays. He spoke of the wonderful, friendly and cooperative relations between Israel and Holland and that he was absolutely delighted with the idea of spending many years in Israel with the necessary adjustments that go along with it, such as the Israeli Cuisine, the Israeli People and the different climate.


Minister Gallant responded on behalf of the Government and the State of Israel and its people : "I am pleased to represent the government of Israel at the celebration of Koningsdag – King’s Day.

The Netherlands and Israel have a long tradition of friendly relations, including an excellent relationship between our prime ministers, who recently met in Davos.

We enjoy close economic relations - the Netherlands is Israel’s fifth largest trade partner and the leading European investor in Israeli companies. Investments currently stand at 5 billion dollars, and we hope they will continue to expand.

The Israel-Netherlands Forum was held in Israel for the first time in December 2013, with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and a number of ministers attending. Prime Minister Netanyahu will pay a return visit to the Netherlands in September 2016, which we hope will further boost ties. Further to this, an Israeli-Dutch Innovation Day was held in The Hague in February 2016, on the topic of “smart cities”.

Our two countries also have close security cooperation, including on cyber-security, the military, counter-terrorism, and the police.

I am also pleased to mention the ceremony on the 14th April to announce a third honorary Israeli consul, Arjen Lont, from the northern provinces of the Netherlands, which further deepens our strong ties.

We wish the Netherlands success in your presidency of the European Union which began this year, and hope that under Dutch leadership, we will see a more balanced approach towards Israel in all EU forums.

Europe today faces great challenges in light of the immigration crisis. We watch with concern the growth of the radical right and the rise of antisemitism in Europe. We note the stand of the Netherlands against antisemitism, and we wish that this will continue.

We understand the Dutch people place importance on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and would welcome your engagement by encouraging the Palestinians to return to negotiations. By engaging in direct dialogue with no pre-conditions, the vision of two states living side by side, in peace and security, can be advanced.

We thank the Netherlands for the donation of a goods scanner at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, and the intention to donate another for the Allenby crossing. Projects like this enable increased import and export for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. This can improve their conditions, while maintaining the security of Israeli forces.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over 5,000 Dutch people have been recognised by Yad Vashem as 'Righteous Among the Nations', for saving Jews in the Holocaust, despite great personal risk. This is among the most per capita in the world, and testament to the values of the Dutch people.

Let us raise a toast to the bonds of friendship between The Netherlands and Israel; May our relationship continue to flourish in the years ahead."



To conclude the ceremony, The Ambassador invited the Cantor, Mr. Golthof, whose parents immigrated to Israel from Holland and it was the Ambassador himself who accompanied Mr. Golthof on piano, singing both the Dutch and Israeli Anthems. A truly unforgettable moment.  staff congratulates the King and Queen in the Netherlands together with The Ambassador and his family, the whole of the ambassadorial Staff and the people of Netherlands in this special moment





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Europe Day at the EU Ambassador.


The weather was gorgeous, the Ambassador’s home is beautiful and welcoming, and the occasion was exciting. It was on May 9 1950 that the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman first proposed the political cooperation that subsequently led to the European Economic Union (EEC) and ultimately to the European Union (EU) of today. The idea was to “make war between European nations unthinkable”.


Guests included many members of the diplomatic corps, several Israeli politicians, the crème of Israeli society and high-ranking military and commercial and business leaders; but the guest of honor was none other than the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin. His presence was surely the most powerful indication of the strong links between Europe and Israel.


His Excellency Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, head of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel opened his address to the President & the assembled guests with a few words in Hebrew, thanking everyone for attending. His friendly speech emphasized the importance of Israel-European relations: “As the Jewish philosopher Spinoza wrote back in the 17th century: ‘Peace is not the mere absence of war – it is a virtue, it is a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence and justice’. … The mutual commitment to pursue these values also constitutes the very core of the EU-Israel relationship, together with the strong cultural and historical ties that bind the Jewish people and Europe together. Let me at this point make very clear, as we just marked Yom HaShoah last week: anti-Semitism has no place in Europe. We will not accept that Jewish communities in Europe are attacked and do not feel safe. Attacks against Jews are attacks against all Europeans and against our European values. We are determined to fight anti-Semitism on every front – whether on the extreme right or the extreme left or when it is instigated by extreme Islamists.




“EU-Israel relations have flourished over the years, now spanning trade, open skies, science and technology and political cooperation. Our relationship with Israel is now probably the most developed that the European Union enjoys with any third country. And we are keen to further deepen and strengthen our mutually beneficial relations.” The Ambassador pointedly embellished the point and quoted the President as having said: "We are not doomed to live together, but rather it is our destiny to live together."


He spoke meaningfully of the current problems in the EU with refugees flooding in and Europe struggling to ensure that the asylum seekers’ rights are respected. He added: “During the past year, terror has struck in Europe on several occasions perpetrated by fanatical individuals who hate our values and way of life. In Israel, you are living daily under the threat of terror, be it from rockets aimed at your cities or knife-wielding youths attacking, without warning, innocent people walking the streets. This is unacceptable. We strongly condemn terror no matter what form it takes.


“And so we are both confronted with the challenge of how to shelter our open societies against the threat of terror, fanaticism and intolerance without sacrificing the very values that we want to protect. … How do we strike the right balance between freedom of speech and legitimate criticism on the one hand and effective action against incitement, prejudice and fanaticism on the other? How do we avoid that groups of people or whole segments of the population are being ostracized and discriminated against because the majority feels that they don't fit in?”


The Ambassador ended by thanking the guests again, and expressing the hope that the EU could welcome President Rivlin in Brussels very soon.


The State President charmed the assembled guests with his response. He thanked Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen for his hospitality and added: "Your celebration is also our celebration. Israel and the European Union are bound together by many bonds; we share strong economic ties which benefit both sides and I am happy to say that the list of agreements between us is too long for me to mention here. Let me simply say to you, our largest and most important trading partner: Israel's relationship with the European Union is indispensable.


"It is true that Israel and the European Union do not always see eye-to-eye on issues of policy, but our cooperation and our mutual progress must not be held hostage by the lack of progress between Israel and the Palestinians. This would be a victory for those who are not ready to accept that the only way to solve the conflict is by building trust between people."


The President reiterated that in addition to the strong economic trade between Israel and the EU, both are committed to fighting racism “and to promoting tolerance and a shared society … let us be sure to continue to work hand-in-hand." President Rivlin added that it is time to give thanks to those heroes who fought (and fight) for peace, and that Israel is very proud to develop culturally and in other ways side by side with the EU. “Israel is a miracle and the Europeans have contributed to this miracle. We reaffirm our deep commitment to friendship with Europe.”


The President concluded by expressing solidarity with the people of Europe in the face of the many challenges: "This has not been an easy year for Europe. Europe is facing internal economic challenges, a refugee crisis, and unfortunately many horrible acts of terror. In these difficult times, I wish to express Israel's solidarity with Europe. I wish to reaffirm our deep friendship with you, and commitment to the values we share."


The formal part of the celebrations ended with a rendering of the national anthem of the state of Israel and then of the European Union (Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”).


As guests mingled and enjoyed the lavish reception, they were entertained by the music of the Polyphony Youth Ensemble. (The Polyphony Foundation’s purpose is to help bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel by creating a common ground where young people come together around classical music.)


 Photo Silvia Golan






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President Rivlin hosts welcome ceremony for Greek President Pavlopoulos


President Rivlin: "Countries in this region must recognize the common danger posed by militant Islam and IS, unite against this enemy, and to form one alliance; a regional security and economic alliance to bring an end to global terror."


President Reuven Rivlin today (Wednesday, 30 March 2016) hosted at his residence, an official welcome ceremony for President of Greece, H.E. Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was making a state visit to Israel. The President welcomed his guest on the red carpet, before the two stood for the national anthems, reviewed a guard of honor, and delivered brief public statements. They then went on to hold a working meeting during which they discussed the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries.


President Rivlin welcomed President Pavlopoulos and said, "It is a great honor for us to host you, a true friend of Israel." President Rivlin stressed the historic connection between the two peoples and noted, "Throughout history there has been close and fruitful contact between the people of Greece and the people of Israel, in both the world of ideas, and in the world of deeds. Today we are two western democracies seeking peace, stability, and security, and who share the same space here in the Eastern Mediterranean, which we have in recent years discovered is quite a small space indeed."


"We are not just friends, but neighbors. The wars and lack of peace and quiet in the Middle East have created a turbulence which has directly impacted upon both of us. The chaos in Syria and the need to face terrorism without a doubt continue to constitute challenges which we must deal with, alongside our economic efforts."


The President stressed the shared danger posed by extremist Islam and IS in the region. He said, "Close and neighboring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean must recognize the common danger posed by militant Islam and IS, unite against this enemy, and to form one alliance; a regional security and economic alliance to bring an end to global terror. It is my hope that our meeting, which is taking place amidst an ongoing strengthening of ties between our countries and peoples, will reinforce the strategic alliance which is growing and taking shape between our peoples."


President Pavlopoulos thanked President Rivlin for his warm words and welcome and stressed that he was delighted to be visiting Israel, and remarked on the warm relationship between the two countries, "The shared position of our two peoples in this region and our abilities, enable us through cooperation to overcome the challenges we face."


He added, "The roots of the relationship between our two peoples stretch further back than our diplomatic relations. We must understand our tasks. We can cooperate on a range of issues, yet the most important issue is that of regional peace, protecting democracy, human life, and mutual assistance."


"There are many challenges in our region and in Europe in general. Now is the time to act according to our shared values. You have experienced what it means to be refugees. In Greece we are receiving refugees just as our ancestors did, as human beings who deserve rights. Yet when it comes to terrorism, the example of the jihadists and IS, we cannot accept this, and we must be absolute in the face of this. Their terror is aimed at all humanity. We must make clear to Europe that we stand against terror together, and that when it comes to the issue of the refugees we will not allow expressions of hatred between people, which is source of racism and anti-Semitism. I view with great concern the rise in the wave of hatred. We must eliminate it, with the memory of the Holocaust; we must fight against terrorism, but for human life. We must not allow the European continent to return to darkness, Europe must continue to be a continent of enlightenment and humanity."


He concluded by saying to President Rivlin, "Your patience and tolerance are evidenced in the many issues we have to discuss. I extend to the Israeli people my wishes for peace and security, in which they may live in health and prosperity, and face the great challenges before us. I see in you a great and dear friend of my country."



President Rivlin with President Pavlopoulos of Greece in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO/Mark Neiman.






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