Jerusalem – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon (Sunday, 1 September 2019), at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, welcomed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The IDF orchestra played the two countries’ national anthems; the two leaders reviewed an honor guard.
A joint bilateral statement was also signed by Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia Rafael Morav and Ethiopian Ambassador to Israel Reta Alemu Nega.
Also attending the ceremony were leading members of the Ethiopian community, the two sides’ entourages, Agernesh Mengistu – the mother of Avera Mengistu, Chief Rabbi for Ethiopian Jewry Reuven Wabashat, Kes Avihu Azarya – Chairman of the Council of Ethiopian Spiritual Elders and Kes Samay Elias – Chairman of the Spiritual Council of Ethiopian Jewish Kesim.
Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks:
“First, I would like to take this opportunity first to wish you a happy birthday and to wish your country a happy new year— melikami ādīsi ‘ameti [Amharic for ‘Happy New Year’]
I thank you and your government for your just great humanitarian efforts to locate the missing Israeli tourist Aya Naamneh and returning her body home, and equally for the efforts to identify one of the two Israelis killed in the Air Ethiopia crash, Shimon Re’em, and returning his body to Israel. I know you personally made extraordinary efforts in that regard, and we are still working on a second Israeli in that tragic airplane crash. But you immediately responded to my requests as a sign of both humanity and friendship.
During the year-and-a-half that you took office, you’ve become one of the most important and influential leaders in Africa. Your courage in promoting the standing of Ethiopia both internationally and regionally is exemplary, and I commend you on your achievements. You are making every effort to change the economy inside Ethiopia. I commend you for that, because frankly, Mr. Prime Minister, I do the same here, and it has results. People are looking at Ethiopia in a new way.
Our ancient peoples have historic ties, but it’s a special bond because it is also strengthened by a human bridge of 150,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent who bring the culture of Ethiopia, the pride of Ethiopia to Israel, just as they maintain the culture of the Jewish people and the pride of the Jewish people in Ethiopia.
We know that the first prerequisite of any government, of any society, is security. We are both being challenged. We’re being challenged by radical Islamic terrorists. They not only challenge us, they challenge the world. We believe that we can offer some experience, some shared experience that we have garnered because of our unfortunate need to defend ourselves.
We have tremendous things that we can do separately, but I think that we can do it better together. And in that spirit, I welcome you once again to Jerusalem.”