(September 2, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday in a formal ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, during which a bilateral declaration was signed by the countries’ respective ambassadors.
The official welcome included the playing of the Israeli and Ethiopian national anthems by the Israel Defense Forces’ orchestra, as well as an honor guard review.
The ceremony was attended by Agernesh Mengistu, the mother of Israeli captive of Hamas in Gaza 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.
In the joint declaration signed by Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia Rafael Morav and Ethiopian Ambassador to Israel Reta Alemu Nega, the two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of agriculture, water, irrigation, health, science and technology, and the economy, and expressed interest in examining additional cooperation in cyber security, telecommunication, space science and technology.
Netanyahu told Ahmed at the ceremony, “First, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday and to wish your country a happy new year—melikami ādīsi ‘ameti [Amharic for ‘Happy New Year’].”
Netanyahu thanked Ahmed for his assistance in trying to locate missing Israeli tourist Aya Naamneh and for Ethiopian authorities’ success in repatriating the remains of Israeli Shimon Re’em, who was killed in an Air Ethiopia crash in March.
“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,” said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu then spoke of the two countries’ shared threat of Islamic terrorism.
“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,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister concluded by saying that the two countries could only gain from working together.
“We have tremendous things that we can do separately, but I think that we can do it better together,” he said. “And in that spirit, I welcome you once again to Jerusalem.”
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