President Rivlin meets with President Mattarella of Italy
(Communicated by the President's Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin today held a working meeting at his residence with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella. Before their meeting both men delivered statements to the media.
President Rivlin began by welcoming the President of Italy on his arrival to Israel and to its capital Jerusalem, and expressed his sympathies for those killed in the recent earthquakes to have hit Italy, "I want to open by again expressing my sympathies for the many killed in the earthquake in Italy two months ago, and for the suffering and the severe pain caused by the quakes that followed."
He continued, "We are experiencing a period of unprecedented friendship and brotherhood between Israel and Italy. There is barely a discipline in which we do not share unique cooperation between our countries. We are developing trade and advancing relations in the fields of science, culture, sport and security. The bonds between Israel and Italy, and to the European Union, are a foundation stone of our foreign policy. We do not however just share trade, we share values, challenges, and geography. Our countries are neighbors in the Mediterranean, and are highly sensitive to the recent turbulence that has swept the region in the form of waves of migrants, refugees, and in the threat of terror."
The President stressed, "Israel stands beside Italy and the whole free world in the unwavering struggle against terror. This is a struggle which must be harsh, strong, and unequivocal. At the same time, Israel like Italy believes that the fight against terror is also a moral battle for the belief in the sanctity of human life. Italy today is a state which is receiving migrants and refugees - this process is complex since those arriving come from a different culture, with different values. The whole free world must learn how to ensure this movement from one society to another will be one of hope and opportunity, and not despair and depression."
President Rivlin noted, "On my visit to the Arch of Titus, I saw the engraving of the Menorah, the candelabra brought from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This is yet another testament to the ancient connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. The decision of UNESCO to raise doubt about the connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and to the Holy Temple is a crime against history, and I want to thank Italy for its commitment to the truth."
President Mattarella thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, "I am pleased to meet you here in Jerusalem, such a special city to which many eyes around the world look in appreciation and love. This is my first visit to the Middle East and my choice to begin specifically in Israel is out of the longstanding friendship between Israel and Italy. We share the values of democracy in many aspects of our lives, as you said President Rivlin, the roots of this relationship are planted deep in ancient history."
The Italian President spoke on the strength of the bilateral relations between the countries. "In the bilateral sphere Italy sees our relationship with Israel as extraordinary. During the last 15 years, we have had exceptional cooperation in the areas of culture, science and technology, cooperation which allows us to reach ongoing and concrete achievements. Now we are facing the future with even greater determination."
He added, "Israel is an example to the whole region in its vibrant and vital democracy. Italy will always stand by Israel whenever Israel's right and duty to exist in peace is left in doubt by any side in the world. There can be no justification for terror. We stand by the side of the innocent victims, and continue to combat in every way violence and incitement, regardless of from where it comes. The struggle against terrorism today is a central point on the international community's agenda."
President Mattarella went on to say, "I thank his honor the President for his comments he raised on the issue of Italy's role in receiving the waves of migrants which demands of Italy a brave commitment, both economicly and in other aspects." He added, "I want to express my concern over the stagnation in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The absence of an outlook to renew the talks poses a danger to the idea of two states for two people. The stagnation risks leading to waves of unexpected radicalization. To my great sadness we see across the region the deepening of ethnic and religious gaps between all parties. It is crucial to continue to work together for the sake of educating tolerance also through educational campaigns and improving public sensitivity."
President Mattarella concluded, "Israel and Italy are two very stable democracies, and have an important role in international cooperation and peace. I am pleased to see you in Jerusalem, the city which represents Israel's independence, and which the world relates to with love and dignity."