“I am convinced and certain that Israel deserves peace, security, prosperity and well being for its entire nation."
Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina pledges his country's support and friendship to Israel at the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Peace in Tel Aviv.
L-R: KKL Guatemala President Susan Michaeli; Rabin Center Director Dalia Rabin; Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina; KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler; KKL-JNF co-Chairman Eli Aflalo; & Guatemala Foreign Minister Luis Fernando Carrera Castro. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
As Storm Alexa gathered force outside, Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molinapledged his country’s support and friendship to Israel at the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Peace in Tel Aviv to guests from the diplomatic and Israeli-Guatemalan community and members of KKL-JNF.
Molina said he wanted to make the strongest oath for the peace and security of Israel.
“I want to say publicly that you can count as your friend a brother nation who respects you and admires you and who recognizes the battle you have had to fight for so many years, and with so many sacrifices on the path seeking peace,” he said. “I am convinced and certain that Israel deserves peace, security, prosperity and well being for its entire nation. These are the wishes of a brother nation Guatemala.”
Efi Stenzler and Eli Aflalo present President Molina (right) with a silver-plated pinecone, with Susan Michaeli. Photos: KKL-JNF Archive
The Guatemalan president embarked on a tour of the Rabin Center and the Triguboff gardens, led by Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter Dalia Rabin. The tour was then followed by a festive reception hosted by KKL-JNF. Dalia Rabin welcomed some 200 guests, and talked about the Rabin Center, which celebrates the life and work of the deceased Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
Noting the similarity between the journeys from military general to political leader that President Molina shares with her father, Rabin said that she was honored to have the Guatemalan leader visit the center and expressed her gratitude to KKL-JNF for their continuing support of the center. She also thanked KKL Guatemala President Susan Michaeli for her hard work, which enabled the evening to take place.
“I want to thank from the bottom of my heart our dear friends from KKL-JNF, Efi Stenzler and Eli Aflalo for their ongoing support,” she said.
The president emphasized the traditional friendship between the Guatemalan and the Israeli people, noting the difficult moments his own country had passed to reach peace and democratic elections in 1996.
“We have had the opportunity to have an extensive visit here to the State of Israel and we have been able to value even more the friendship that exists between the people and the government of Israel and the people and the government of Guatemala,” said Molina. “In these two days, we have been able to see the reality in which the nation of Israel lives. We have seen the complexity of the situation with which the people live here.”
Centerpieces. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
The president, who arrived in Israel on Dec. 8, was accompanied on his visit by Guatemalan ambassador to Israel Alfredo Vasquez Rivera and Israeli ambassador to Guatemala Moshe Bachar. The two ambassadorsalso attended the Rabin Center reception.
During the visit, the president met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. The delegation was also taken on a helicopter tour over Israel in order to see firsthand the impact KKL-JNF projects have on the country.
Molina noted the State of Israel’s turbulent history, beginning with the U.N. decision for Israeli independence which was fiercely opposed by the Arab countries, leading Israel into war even from its very first days. From there started the contradiction of Israel’s search for peace while still having to fight wars, he said.
“Nevertheless today we see that State of Israel has been almost a miracle. We have seen an Israel with a modern society, with a democratic society, with a tolerant society, but also with technological advances in various fields. That is the result of the efforts of an entire nation, not the result of one leader. There have been many leaders, and even those who have lost their life, like Yitzhak Rabin, who, while searching between the battle of continuing war and seeking peace, have had to give their life in order for the State of Israel to survive and continue to seek peace.”
Commenting on the difficulty of making decisions in the United Nations and other places without knowing the reality of the situation, Molina pointed out how important visiting Israel was.
“Seeing the reality will help make the right decision,” he said.
Thanking the president for his country’s continuous support of Israel, KKL-JNF World ChairmanEfi Stenzler and co-Chairman Eli Aflalo presented Molina with a mounted silver-plated pine cone, one of five pine cones which survived and was recovered from the Carmel Forest following the devastating forest fire there three years ago. Stenzler said that this was the first of the pine cones to be presented to an honored visitor.
“We thank you and the entire delegation from Guatemala for your visit to our country, which has moved us greatly and raised hopes for the future. We are certain that the warm relations that have been forged during this visit will strengthen the ties between the people of Israel and the people of Guatemala,” said Stenzler.