Rivlin with the first Ambassador of the UAE to Israel
Rivlin with the first Ambassador of the UAE to IsraelHaim Zach/GPO

In honor of Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday hosted the traditional annual reception for the diplomatic and consular corps in Israel, for the last time in his term of office.

“Over the last years, during my travels abroad and here in Jerusalem, I have had the honor of meeting many world leaders. I have always found a great sense of friendship and appreciation for the State of Israel, for its vibrant democracy, our cultural diversity, and cutting-edge innovation,” said the President, thanking the diplomats for coming to celebrate Israel’s national day.

“Our nations share the values of democracy and freedom as well as a strong stance against racism and anti-Semitism. I know we have many friends, real friends, and you the diplomatic corps are the heart of our strong bilateral relations,” continued the President, noting the commitment of leaders around the world to Holocaust remembrance and the strong message against antisemitism that was sounded last January in the gathering to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, held at Beit HaNasi and at Yad Vashem.

He added that cooperation became even more important with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, adding that only by working responsibly and in will we be able to overcome it and that the State of Israel is willing to share its knowledge and experience to help these efforts.

“I am proud to say that Israel is, and must always be, a Jewish and democratic State,” said the President, adding that being a Jewish state means ensuring it will be a safe home for all Jewish people all around the world and that being a democratic state means ensuring that all Israelis enjoy equal rights and freedom, freedom of religion and worship.

The President welcomed the presence of the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates for the first time at the reception.

“Alongside countries who are interested in peace, there are still nations and terror organizations who threaten our very existence. In light of these threats, the State of Israel must defend itself and its citizens. It is not just our right to defend our citizens, it is our obligation,” he said.

“These days Iran threatens the peace and stability in the Middle East and in the entire world. It is playing a dangerous game that could lead to a fire that could get out of control. We will not accept threats to destroy Israel and will do everything we can to stop those who wish to harm us. Israel is a country which, unfortunately, knows terror. We have fought terror, and we have defeated the terrorists. The attempt to accuse Israel in the International Criminal Court will not succeed. We will fight for justice, and we will win, because we are on the right side in this matter,” he added.

“On this Independence Day we also celebrate the new spirit of peace that is spreading through the Middle East. The rapidly growing people-to-people ties show that the way forward towards peace is by developing people-to-people partnerships and win-win cooperation, rather than by attacking Israel in international institutions. My hope and prayer is that this circle of people-to-people peace will continue to expand, including with our Palestinian neighbors,” said the President, adding his blessings for Ramadan Kareem to Israel’s Muslim citizens and to Muslims all around the world, and concluded his remarks by saying “Chag Atzmaut Sameach! Long live the State of Israel!”