President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin today, (Monday), welcomed President of the United States Donald J. Trump, and First Lady Melania Trump on arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and then at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
On his arrival at the President’s Residence, President Trump signed the official guest book and wrote, “It is such a great honor to be in Israel and be with all of my great friends”.
The Presidents then held a working meeting, during which they spoke of the strong ties between the two countries, and about ways to advance a return to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. President Rivlin thanked President Trump for the US’s assistance to Israel in carrying the security burden the country faced, and for the US’s unwavering support for Israel’s security. The President went on to speak about the importance of the US to the stability of the free world, and reiterated his appreciation for President Trump’s recent decision to take action in Syria.
On the issue of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, President Rivlin spoke about the need to rebuild confidence, and told President Trump of his childhood in Jerusalem when Jews and Arabs lived side by side in the clear knowledge that Jews and Arabs were not doomed to live together, but destined to live together. He said, “There is no doubt that the citizens of Israel want peace, and are prepared to do a lot in order to achieve it,” and made clear that, “We must make sure we don’t go to sleep dreaming of peace – as we did with Oslo - and wake up in a nightmare.”
At the same time as their meeting, the First Ladies met in the President’s private office, accompanied by their daughters Ivanka Trump, and Anat Rivlin. First Lady Rivlin presented First Lady Trump with a gift for her son Baron, who had not made the visit to Israel: A copy of David Grossman’s book “The Hug”, in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.
Following their meetings, both Presidents delivered media statements:
“Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to learn about your thoughts and vision. I believe that the unshakable bond between us, along with your determination, will open up new possibilities for the State of Israel and the entire region. Mr. President, we are happy to see that America is back in the area. America is back again. You marked the defeating of ISIS as one of your top missions. This is a most important objective. Israel will do everything in its power in order to assist you in this mission. Israel appreciates America’s leadership, under your Administration, in the action you took in Syria. There are red lines that must never be crossed. There is a price that must be paid by those who violate the most basic values that make us human. Further action must be considered in face of the horror that is still taking place, on the other side of our border.
“Mr. President, the Jewish People returned to its historic homeland after 2000 years of exile. We created a miracle. A technological miracle, an economic miracle, a human miracle. And even during our most difficult times, we never gave up on our dream of living here in peace with our neighbors. We reached a peace agreement with our neighbors in Jordan, and with our neighbors in Egypt. But we have not yet achieved our mission of living in peace with our neighbors, the Palestinians, and with the rest of the Arab world. Our destiny – Palestinians and Jews – is to live together in this land. We must build trust and cooperation between us. But in order to achieve this we need new ideas, new energy, that will help us move forward, together. We can have here an oasis. An international center of tourism; a Start-Up Land, ‘Silicon Valley from the Jordan to the Sea’. But we must be sure that we don’t go to sleep with a dream, and wake up with a nightmare: with Iran, ISIS and Hamas, in our borders. In order to dream, we need to be sure that Iran is out; out of our borders, out of Syria, out of Lebanon.
“I welcome your willingness to help us move forward. We want to move forward, and we must do it, together. Once again, welcome to Jerusalem. God bless you Mr. President and the First Lady.”
“Thank you and Shalom. I am honored to be in the great State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish People, I am awed by the beauty and majesty of this sacred and very holy land.
“President Rivlin, Mrs. Rivlin, thank you so much. Thank you for opening your wonderful home and welcoming Melania and myself to your amazing country and that’s what it is, it’s an amazing country. What you have done perhaps has virtually never been done before. On my first trip overseas I have come to this ancient land to reaffirm the enduring friendship between the United States and the State of Israel. And it will always be enduring and that’s number one to me. We are not only longtime friends, we are great allies and partners. We stand together always. This moment in history calls for us to strengthen our cooperation, as both Israel and America face common threats from ISIS and other terrorist groups, to countries like Iran that sponsor terrorism, and fund, ferment terrible violence, not only here, but all over the world. Together we can work to end the scourge of violence that has taken so many lives here in Israel, and around the world. Most importantly, the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must be never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, never ever. It must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias. And must cease immediately. On those issues there is a strong consensus among the nations of the world, including many in the Muslim world. I was deeply encouraged by my conversations with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia, including King Salmon, who I spoke to at great length. King Salmon feels very strongly, and I can tell you would love to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Many expressed their resolve to help end terrorism and the spread of radicalization. Many Muslim nations have already taken steps to begin following through on this commitment. There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran. And it is indeed a threat, there is no doubt about that. I thank both you and Prime Minister Netanyahu for your commitment to achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I also look forward to discussing the peace process with Palestinian President Abbas. Young Israeli and Palestinian children deserve to grow up in safety and to follow their dreams, free from the violence that has destroyed so many lives. The United States and Israel can also bring safety and greater prosperity to our peoples through stronger ties of trade and commerce. Already our two countries do a great deal of business together. We have a strong foundation on which to build an even closer trading relationship that benefits both of our countries.
“Today we have so many incredible opportunities before us, and my hope for this visit is that we cease every single one of them. I am thrilled to be here on behalf of the American people. I know Israel and America share the same goals, and I have great confidence that we can achieve tremendous success together, we can achieve all of our goals together. President Rivlin, I look forward to working with you, and to seeing more this sacred land, and getting to spend time with the remarkable people of Israel. Thank you very much.”
Following the statements, President Rivlin led the delegation to the Presidential Garden to see an almond tree planted in honor of President Trump’s visit to Israel. Aside the tree was a plaque marking the occasion, and inscribed with the quotation, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper that love thee. Peace be in thy walls, and prosperity in thy palaces,” (Psalms 122).
Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)