'Peace is made between peoples, not between leaders'

President Rivlin and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi light Hanukkah candles with heads of Israeli missions abroad who participated via Zoom.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Rivlin and Ashkenazi and candle lighting
Rivlin and Ashkenazi and candle lighting
Mark Neyman/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin was on Sunday evening the guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi for a Hanukkah candle lighting. Heads of Israeli missions abroad participated in the event via Zoom.

The president began his remarks by praising the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the coronavirus crisis.

“When the crisis began, the people of the Foreign Ministry needed resilience, resource and patience. This was the first time that we had seen the almost total closure of the skies. Every nation closed itself off, which meant that we needed all the outstanding diplomatic skills of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which have been somewhat neglected by the government in recent years, for some reason,” he said.

“But this year was also one full of positive developments and significant change here in the Middle East. I would, of course, like to congratulate the positive development in the agreement between Israel and Morocco, deepening peace and stability with the Arab world and Mediterranean states. There is no substitute for being on the ground, for professionalism, for your knowledge of the region, your access, your presence. At the end of the day, peace is not made between leaders; peace is made between peoples,” added Rivlin.

“You must not be afraid or lower your head, even if you raise a different, critical, alternative point of view. From the perspective of information, intelligence, understanding of the territory, the gap between leadership, elites and the general public is widening. Dangers and opportunities, you must bring them all. Do not hesitate to express a point of view and take a position. We need our professional envoys from the Foreign Ministry.”

“On Hanukkah, we are instructed to light the chanukiah and place it on the windowsill, ‘to make the miracle public’. Today, I would like to thank you for making public the miracle that is the State of Israel, the Jewish and democratic state, our home, around the world, and for working tirelessly to protect its stability and strength in the international arena. On behalf of the people in Israel – thank you! Chag Urim Sameach to you, your families and to all Israelis!” said the president at the end of his remarks.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi said, “This year, we celebrate Hanukkah with the wonderful changes across the Middle East. This is an era the likes of which the region has never seen. Many states that did not recognize Israel are signing peace and normalization agreements with us, one by one, and creating a reality of warm peace, personal relations, a new Middle East – better late than never. Before you, Mr. President, here in the hall and on screens from around the world – in open, and not in secret – including those in Dubai and Manama, dozens of men and women of the diplomatic service, soldiers without uniforms as I call them, filled with motivation, Zionism and a sense of mission, working around the clock to strengthen Israel’s diplomatic standing and its international image to ensure its national security. Your own connection to the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is no secret, and the affection you have for the work and the people of the ministry, who are on the front line of the State of Israel’s political and diplomatic work, is deeply felt and appreciated.”