Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Rwandan President Paul Kagame
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Rwandan President Paul KagameAmos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday morning welcomed Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

Thanking Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for his speech, Netanyahu said, "Thank you President Rivlin, for expressing what all Israelis feel when it comes to Rwanda. When it comes to you, President Kagame, your foreign minister, your delegation, you are welcome from the heart."

"From our heart, to the heart of our people Jerusalem, you are coming back here. This is not the first time. But I can say that in one of our earlier meetings, I voiced the hope that Israel could come back to Africa in a big way, and that Africa could come back to Israel in a big way. And we discussed this for some time. And you said, well, I think I can help. And in fact, you did help.

"I would say you were the indispensable bridge on which we marched to make our return to Africa, step by step, with very sound advice, very, very wise counsel. Together we chartered this course, coming first to West Africa, where we visited among other things your beautiful country which is making impressive progress under your leadership and then other countries as well; and then West Africa. We'll be making a third trip very soon, our third in one year.

"But I have to say that it began with my conversations with President Paul Kagame. So I want to thank you Paul for helping Israel, helping Israel and Africa, helping Israel in general. Thank you, Mr. President."

Speaking about Rwanda and Israel's shared legacy, Netanyahu said, "President Rivlin has already mentioned the fact that we have, we possess, both of our peoples a tragic legacy. Ours in the Holocaust, you in the great genocide that befell your people."

"I'm not sure how many of my Israeli compatriots know that President Kagame personally led the military effort that put a stop to this carnage after more than a million people were butchered, a million children, women, defenseless men.

"With your courage, you put an end to this and began rebuilding this torn nation. We could see the impressive gains that you are making. In fact it is our, one of our deepest pleasures to be able to cooperate with you in rebuilding your state, rebuilding it in agriculture and water and so many other areas, and security as well.

"We have pledged, I think both our peoples, one simple pledge: 'Never again.' Never again – We, who witnessed the greatest holocaust in history, you who witnessed perhaps one of the most recent ones, never again.

"That's another great bond between us. You have been a consistent friend to us. First in our bilateral relations. We don't forget that your foreign minister visited us during our travails in Gaza. You sent her as a show of friendship and solidarity.

"But we also see how you stand up for Israel in international forums. You already expressed a simple principle that we believe in, that is that bilateral relations should be reflected in multilateral forums. There is a dissonance, obviously between us and quite a few nations still.

"We saw that in the absurd vote in UNESCO that said that King David, there, depicted there with a harp, King David was not in Jerusalem, he was in Tibet. His son, Solomon, didn't build the temple, he built it in South America, I don't know. I mean, it's absurd, the whole denial of history, the denial of the Bible.

"These absurdities still take place in international forums and they do damage to those forums. They cannot change the truth. But it happens to be my hope that over time, over a decade this will change in international forums.

"There is one country that I could say categorically, it doesn’t require change, it already speaks its mind and speaks the truth in our bilateral relations and in the international relations and that's Rwanda under the leadership of President Paul Kagame.

"This is why, another reason why, we welcome you here in Israel with an open heart and open arms. Welcome Mr. President."