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President Reuven Rivlin today (Tuesday) met with leaders of the Jewish community in Georgia at the Great Synagogue in the city of Tbilisi, as he concluded his State Visit to the country.


“At this difficult and painful time, I want to convey my condolences and send a warm embrace to the families of the soldiers murdered in Jerusalem on Sunday,” began the President. “From here, from far away, I send my concern and prayers for the injured – some of whom are fighting for their lives. I want to thank the soldiers and officers of the IDF, the men and women of the ISA, the police, and all the security and emergency rescue services, who work night and day to defend us, the dear people working unwaveringly for the sake of our security. We must not allow terror to weaken us, we must stand firm and united in safeguarding our security.”


The President went on to speak about the history of Jews in Georgia, and the close ties that existed over the years. He said, “The faith and heroism of the Jews of Georgia are not only of the past. The Jews of Georgia fought with dedication for their Jewish beliefs during the days of Stalin. And the Jews of Georgia were the ones who began to break and crack the Iron Curtain. I remember well the public letters sent by eighteen families from Georgia to the UN Human Rights Committee, letters which helped open the gates.”


The President continued, “The connection between the State of Israel and Georgia is good, yet we must do more to strengthen the ties”, and stressed, “here you have an central role. The Jewish heart, the close bond with the Jewish community here, adds extra special essence to the ties between the two countries. Just this last Shabbat, we read in the Torah of Judah who was ready to be held as a guarantee in place of his brother Benjamin. The mutual responsibility is the secret of the strength of the people of Israel, so it was in the past, and so it is today. Jews in Israel and around the world have a responsibility for each other, we are one people. We will do all we can to perpetuate, and to preserve the warm bond with you, and with the Georgian people, and I am certain we will succeed.”


Earlier, President Rivlin met with Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Kobakhidze Irakli, who reiterated the sorrow of the Georgian people over the terror attack in Jerusalem, and stressed the need for ongoing cooperation in the fight against terrorism. He said, “The relations between our nations are firm and longstanding. We share parliamentary ties as well as wide-ranging bilateral ties in different areas. The meetings between us are important for both nations and our ability as a parliament to continue to strengthen our ties.”


President Rivlin thanked the Speaker for the warm welcome and told him and the other members of parliament who took part in the meeting that, “The parliament is temple of democracy, and must help the government to ensure stable governance, while at the same time knowing to hold it to account as necessary.” The President added his thanks for the sympathies expressed by the Speaker to the Israeli people, and told him that he had considered postponing the visit in light of the attack. He said however, “We did not postpone because we understood that to do so would be to award a prize to terror, and that we must stand firm against it, and not allow it to dampen our resolve.”


President Rivlin was due to return to Israel later this evening.


Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)