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President Rivlin:

“Our sovereignty over Jerusalem will never compromise the freedom of worship and religion of all peoples of faith in Jerusalem and in all of Israel”

On the ‘Land of Monasteries’ project:

“Just recently I met with Pope Francis about this project and I hope that very soon we can go there together with you. We hope that when this project is complete, every Christian will be able to safely follow the route from Jerusalem to Nazareth via Jericho, and bathe in the waters of the River Jordan.:

On the legislation dealing with Church properties:

"The State of Israel has no intention of harming the property rights of the churches or their ability to realize their assets. We will never do that. I hope that discussion and dialogue will produce a solution."


President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Thursday 27 December / 19 Tevet hosted leaders of the Christian communities at the traditional New Year’s reception at Beit HaNasi. Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the representative of the Armenian Patriarch,  Custos of the Holy Land, head of the Franciscan Order in Israel and the head of the Greek Catholic Church in Haifa and the Galil also participated in the event. The Ala’a brothers entertained the audience with Christmas songs.

The president began by saying, “We meet in this period of holidays, in a gathering that has become a tradition. We meet in Jerusalem at this time when so many people from all around the world are focused on this holy city. I was born in Jerusalem; I have lived here all of my life. For me, Jerusalem is a holy city, but also, it is much more than that. I cannot imagine any other home, outside of Jerusalem. I know that you all share my love of Jerusalem, and I know, that you – like me – understand how delicate, the balance in this city is. You – like me – know that for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, living together in this city is not always simple. You – like me – believe that living together in this city, is the most moral thing to do. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this understanding. Like you, I see the role of the State of Israel, as guardians of this city. As guardians, our sovereignty over Jerusalem will never compromise the freedom of worship and religion of all peoples of faith in Jerusalem and in all of Israel.”



The president added, “Israel’s respect for freedom of religion and worship is also what stands at the very heart of our initiative to develop Qasr-el-Yahud, ‘The Land of Monasteries’. Today it is a place of pilgrimage for growing numbers of Christians from all over the world. As you know, the State of Israel is working to clear the landmines that are still in the area, and to return the monasteries nearby to their owners. Just recently, I met with Pope Francis about this project, And I hope that very soon we can go there together with you. We hope that when this project is complete, every Christian will be able to safely follow the route from Jerusalem to Nazareth via Jericho, and bathe in the waters of the River Jordan. Making this dream into a reality will allow us all, Christians, Muslims and Jews, to express our faith in humanity, and in our ability to work together. Even more, this project allows us -Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, to express our faith that we are not doomed to live together we are destined to live together.

At the end of his remarks, President Rivlin referred to the legal question concerning church properties, saying “The State of Israel has no intention of harming the property rights of the churches or their ability to realize their assets to support their activities. We will never do that. The churches’ legal representatives were invited to take part in the legal process and to make sure that the agreement under discussion will not harm the churches later on. I hope that discussion and dialogue will produce a solution.”

Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri: “I am committed to freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. It is no exaggeration to say that there has never been a time when Jerusalem enjoyed more religious freedom than it does under the State of Israel. We hope for peace in this small country, holier than any other. Peace is not an extravagance, it is a requirement. We need to work hard for it. We pave the way to peace in daily life with small steps."

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III wished the president a happy new year, and also related to the question of the legislation regarding church properties: “We are concerned that attempts to bring this discriminatory bill, that threatens the churches humanitarian mission, will continue. We are grateful for your wise intervention, and I reiterate our willingness for dialogue, but remind you that we stand united in our opposition.”

Photo credits: Mark Neiman (GPO)





President Rivlin: “We must not show any tolerance for expressions of anti-Semitism. We reject anti-Semitism, even if it takes on different guises, hiding behind the fig-leaf of supporting and loving the State of Israel.”

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, (Thursday 20 December) welcomed Israeli ambassadors from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific regions to Beit HaNasi and addressed them.
The president began by thanking the ambassadors: “this meeting is an opportunity to thank you all for your efforts and your dedication. The relations you create, your diplomatic efforts, the partnerships, the links with science, arts and culture, the economic bridges you build, make Israel more open and make Israel safer. To a great extent, thanks to you, the State of Israel is known in the world and enjoys recognition and legitimacy.”
The president spoke about the growing problem of anti-Semitism in Europe and the calls to fight it: “European national discourse is often accompanied by anti-Semitism and xenophobia and that poses problems for Jewish communities and the State of Israel. I have said before and I will say it again: we must not show any tolerance for expressions of anti-Semitism. We reject anti-Semitism, even if it takes on different guises, hiding behind the fig-leaf of supporting and loving the State of Israel.”
The president added, “The State of Israel is an extremely impressive success story of a developing country that turned into a great power. Much of Israel’s industry grew out of our experience as a developing country. We became experts in finding solutions because we depended on those solutions. What the world expects of Israel, and what we expect of ourselves deep down, is to help other developing countries and societies to make the same leap that we did. We have gone from absolute dependence to full sustainability, particularly in the fields of agriculture, water, food, energy, education and health.”
Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)


On Tuesday evening, December 4, the Embassy of Kazakhstan to Israel celebrated its 27th Independence day at the Ambassador’s Residence in Herzliya, together with ambassadors, politicians and diplomats from around the world.

The event began with the anthems of Kazakhstan and Israel. As this year’s celebration coincided with the holiday of Hanukkah, a Menorah was lit as well. It was noted that in Astana,this year governmental permission had been given for a public Hanukkah lighting in Astana for the first time in years, so the miracles of Hanukkah and the message of its lights would be shared in Kazakhstan with all the passersby.

Following the lighting ceremony and words from the rabbi, Ambassador Doulat Kuanyshev gave his speech. The ambassador welcomed guests to the 27 year Independence celebration of Kazakhstan. He also wished his guests a Happy Hanukkah.

Ambassador Kuanyshev noted that Hanukkah lights were on display outside the Pyramid of Peace and Reconciliation, one of the top tourist attractions in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. He also noted that there would be lightings in seven synagogues around the country.

The Ambassador welcomed two former ambassadors of Israel to Kazakhstan, Israel Mey-Ami and Eliyahu Tasman, and thanked them for their contributions to the development of relations between the countries. In a sign of how these relations have grown, he cited the 2016 visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kazakhstan, where he met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev.


Israel is the 5th biggest trading partner of Kazakhstan among Asian partners, reaching  $368 million in trade through the first nine months of 2018. Israelis can travel to Kazakhstan without a visa for up to 30 days. Yet there is still much room to grow in these relations, and the ambassadors noted efforts to resume direct flights between the countries, and easier visa-free travel.

Kazakhstan’s status is the largest economy in Central Asia, and a GDP estimate for this year of 160 billion dollars, with competitive advantages including its unique climate for crop, husbandry and agricultural production. This offers significant potential for future investment and trade opportunities, in particular for an exchange of technological know-how.

On the subject of international diplomacy, the ambassador stated that Kazakhstan’s main goal had been to promote the unique global model of inter-ethnic, inter-cultural, and inter-religious dialogue, understanding and non-discrimination based on the unique Kazakh model. He mentioned that Astana has hosted many high level meetings like OSCE and OIC Summits, Astana peace talks, EXPO 2017, and is one of the most important platforms for dialogue dialogue between conflicting parties in Syria. For years Israeli representatives, including chief rabbis and Christian clergy leaders, have attended the annual Congress of World and Traditional Religions in Astana.

Finally, the ambassadors stressed Kazakhstan's priority to work as an objective and neutral mediator and bridge builder in the context of its position s a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Yoel Razvazov spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Razvazov offered his congratulations, and also spoke about the strong Israel-Kazakhstan relations, and about how thankful Israel is for Kazakhstan's help to the Jews during the holocaust. Minister Elkin also mentioned the bright future of the the Israel-Kazakhstan relations. Following the speeches guests enjoyed dinner, including a kosher table from a local restaurant specializing in Central Asian cuisine.



Among the many distinguished guests in attendance were Ambassador Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ehud Olmert the 12th former Prime Minister of Israel; former Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Silvan Shalom; Israeli Minister of Environmental protection Ze'ev Elkin; Tony (Antoanet) Levy, External Relations Officer (ERO) for the President's Office at the Holon Institute of Technology and Zina Polyanski   Chairman of the Israel -Kazakhstan friendship Association.


Diplomacy.co.il wishes congratulations to Kazakhstan for 27 years of Independence


Photos by Silvia G. Golan

Steven Aiello



President Rivlin receiving credentials from Ambassador  Vhangha Patrice Koffi, the ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire


President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new Ambassadors of Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Uganda and Iceland to the State of Israel

New ambassadors from Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Uganda and Iceland presented their credentials to President Rivlin today, Monday 17 November / 9 Tevet, in an official ceremony at Beit HaNasi, as they began their terms as ambassadors of their countries to the State of Israel. Each ceremony began with the raising of their national flag, inspecting a IDF guard of honor and the playing of the national anthem of their country by the Israel Police Band. The new ambassadors presented their credentials to the president and were then received in the Jerusalem Room for a meeting with the president. At the end of the ceremony they signed the guest book and ‘Hatikva’, the national anthem of the State of Israel, was played.

The first to present his credentials was Vhangha Patrice Koffi, the ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire. The president welcomed the ambassador, saying “the relations between Israel and Cote d’Ivoire go back many years, to your independence. Recently relations have become stronger, particularly in the field of counter-terrorism and cyber warfare.” The president said, “I know you toured the northern border recently and saw for yourself the attack tunnels built by Hizbollah and funded by Iran. We hope that you will speak out in international organizations against their terrorist policies. We also hope that our friends in Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire, will support the return of Israel as an observer to the African Union.”

Ambassador Koffi thanked the president for his warm welcome and said, “the cooperation between our two countries began when we gained independence and today we are benefiting from Israel’s technological advances. You are flourishing in many fields and we hope to learn from you and your knowledge. Our cooperation is based on agreements from the 1960s, and I believe we need to modernize and update them so that we can work more effectively together.”



President Rivlin receiving credentials from Ambassador Carlos Wahnon Veiga, the ambassador of Cape Verde


The next to present his credentials to the president was Carlos Wahnon Veiga, the ambassador of Cape Verde. The president welcomed him and remarked that he was the first ambassador of his country to Israel for 12 years. “Our peoples are old friends,” said the president, “and there were Jews on Cape Verde for hundreds of years.” President Rivlin thanked the ambassador for his country’s vote in favor of condemning Hamas terrorism at the UN, for the restoration of the Jewish cemetery on Sao Antao and for protecting Jewish heritage in the country. He also expressed his hopes of strengthened relations between the countries, greater cooperation and cultural exchanges.

The ambassador of Cape Verde presented his credentials to the president and said, “thank you , Mr President, for your warm welcome. It is a great honor to be my country’s ambassador to the State of Israel. I will fight for my country to have a resident ambassador here, because it is what the relations between our two peoples deserve. I will do my utmost to strengthen and deepen the relations between us. We have much to learn from you, and much in common. It is our duty to ensure we have good relations with Israel.”


President Rivlin receiving credentials from Ambassador of Uganda, Sam Sebuliba Male


The president received the credentials of ambassador of Uganda, Sam Sebuliba Male, and said, “the links between our two countries are wide and deep and go back many years.” The president noted that each year some 220 Ugandan agricultural students come to Israel and emphasized “Africa is the youngest continent and the future of humanity. The key to our relations is people-to-people contact, not just government-to-government. I believe that the return of Israel to the African Union as an observer can bring great benefit to all parties.” The president noted the ambassador’s contacts across the Middle East and asked him to promote regional discussions to limit the influence of Iran.

The Ugandan ambassador thanked the president for his remarks and said, “I bring warm regards, Mr President, from the President of Uganda. The relations between our two countries are flourishing, despite ups and downs in the past. Yesterday, I visited Yad Vashem and I want to express our sadness and sympathy. We will never let it happen again. Thank you for the warm reception.”


President Rivlin receiving credentials from Ambassador Oskarsson of Iceland


Finally, Thordur Aegir Oskarsson, presented his credentials to President Rivlin. “I want to thank your government and the people of Iceland for their decision to vote for the resolution condemning Hamas terrorism at the United Nations,” said the president. “We value your support greatly. I would also like to congratulate Iceland on becoming deputy chair of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next year. We hope that with Iceland’s leadership the flood of anti-Israel resolutions and double standards will stop. Deepening our relations means developing contacts between peoples, not just governments,” he added. “I hope that we can work together on innovation, bringing young leaders together in the fields of technology, health and education.”

Ambassador Oskarsson thanked the president for his warm welcome and said, “thank you, Mr President, for your kind welcome. It is true that we do not always agree on everything, but we are proud that Iceland supported Israel’s independence in 1947. The current government seeks balanced and sensible relations with Israel. The new “open skies” agreement and the opening of direct flights between our countries will help a great deal and is key to closer relations between the countries and the people. I hope we are able to develop our economic relations, which are very limited at present. I bring greetings from the president of Iceland and from the whole government.”

Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)






A triple anniversary – and a wonderful celebration:  Firstly – Romania’s national day Secondly – 100 years of the reunification of Romania And finally – 70 years of full diplomatic relations between Romania and Israel. Yes, Romania was one of the first countries of the world to recognize the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

It was a gala event, including a concert in the Recanati Hall at Tel Aviv’s Museum of Art, and a lavish cocktail reception after the concert in Museum’s Riklis Foyer. Guests gathered in the auditorium and included Diana Toma, General Manager for Tarom in Israel; Ambassador Dr. Rodika Radian-Gordon; Superintendent Moti Meiry of  the Israel Police; Yoni Zilberman, former representative of the Israel Police; Shasha Grimberg; Natan Rotenberg, Director International Relations Public Security M.O.P.S.; a large representation of diplomats serving in Israel; and many VIPs and members of Israel’s Romanian Community. The evening opened with renditions of the Romanian national anthem and then the anthem of Israel, both performed by the Jerusalem Academy of Music graduate, Monica Schwartz.

The opening address by Mircea Chitic, Charge d’affaires, speaking in place of Mr. Ovidiu Ierulescu who was unable to attend, stressed the fine diplomatic relations between the two states. Mr. Chitic noted that the link “ … between Romania and the State of Israel is based on common values and shared goals, … a bond that is continuously extending and developing to the benefit of our countries and peoples”. He spoke of the multiple official contacts at all levels, the special ties and the bilateral economic cooperation before mentioning “Romania's Presidency to the EU Council will be an occasion to highlight our country's attachment to European projects, especially among younger generations, by taking on the role of an honest broker in advancing the negotiations within the EU processes.” He was particularly proud of the sound contribution of the community of Israelis originating from Romania in bringing the two countries together. “They continue to be attached to the Romanian cultural values and serve as a human bridge between our countries to get young Israeli generations closer to the Romanian heritage of traditions. Their contribution to the strengthening of the State of Israel is a reason of pride for Romania. One might just remember the citizens of Moineşti – Bacău who founded the first settlements in Zichron Yaakov and Rosh Pina.”

Mr. Chitic did not fail to mention that: “Romania’s Chairmanship to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance reflected our strong commitment to the commemoration of the Holocaust victims and the fight against anti-Semitism and xenophobia. At a national level, the political commitment in the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination is supported by the legal framework. Our genuine efforts for raising awareness about these aspects are completed by Romania’s strong interest in deepening the cooperation in the field of education, including the history of the Holocaust. Our Government took the initiative to open a National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania, for which the Bucharest City Hall has allocated a beautiful historic building in the downtown area, in the most touristic part of the city. We will continue to rely on the support of the State of Israel and the Yad Vashem Institute in completing this objective.”

He ended by thanking the guests and by extending his good wishes for a joyful Hanukkah celebration.


M.K. Gilad Erdan responded on behalf of the State of Israel. His opening remarks included Israel’s appreciation of: “When the Iron Curtain and Arab oil cut off Israel from the Eastern Bloc, Romania bravely stood up to the pressure and maintained an open channel with Israel.” He told of his own family’s Romanian roots and that Jews of Romanian descent have played key roles in every aspect of Israeli life, from culture to business to diplomacy to the military. The economic, security and hi-tech links are as important as Israel’s agriculture and water technologies.

Mr. Erdan mentioned tourism too: “Tourism between Romania and Israel continues to grow at an unprecedented rate – 300,000 Israeli tourists travel to Romania each year, and a new record of 80,000 Romanian tourists came here. The 60 direct flights per week are a testimony of the close relations between our peoples.” He also spoke warmly of Romanian Holocaust activities: “We recognize the important steps that Romania is taking to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and the mass murder of Romanian Jews, including my grandfather's first wife and seven children.  It's crucial that this process continues and that Romanians learn about the Holocaust. Only by studying the horrors of the past

can we work to ensure that they never repeat themselves in the future.”

“Today we count Romania as one of our closest friends in the European Union. We look forward to the upcoming Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. No Doubt that these are challenging times for the EU, but I'm confident that Romania will help steer the EU to a period of greater stability and growth.  We count on Romania in helping to ensure that Israel is treated fairly by the EU and that all attempts to single out Israel for discrimination are countered.”

Minister Erdan praised Romania’s steps toward moving its Embassy to Jerusalem. “I've no doubt that if Romania was to take the brave and moral stance of moving its embassy to Jerusalem, numerous other countries would follow Romania's lead.”

He ended by extending best wishes to the people of Romania on the occasion of the country’s National Day.



The concert, under the auspices of the Romanian Cultural Institute, featured masters of Romanian music: pianist Ilinca Dumitrescu and bassoonist Vasile Macovei.

After a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony by Rabbi Elhanan Guttmann, guests were invited to enjoy the buffet reception in the museum foyer. Israeli and Romanian delicacies, accompanied by beverages that included wines and liqueurs from the host country, were a fitting end to a wonderful evening.

The directors and staff of www.diplomacy.co.il join in congratulating the people of Romania on these auspicious anniversaries.


Jonathan Danilowitz  Journalist, translator, editor.

Photos by Silvia G. Golan