President Reuven Rivlin together with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Tuesday condemned the spate of terror attacks against Israelis during the month of Ramadan.
At the start of their meeting at the President’s Residence, Rivlin said that Ramadan (which began on the evening of June 17) has been a month of terrorism throughout Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the whole world. “Terror is terror is terror,” he said, and pledged that Israel will continue to fight terrorism with all its might.
Rivlin was angry that the Palestinian leadership has caved in to Hamas instead of condemning each act of terrorism and acting against it.
“The silence is louder than ever,” he declared.
Still, Rivlin told his guest: “We have no war with Islam, and Islam should have no war with us.” The terrorism must be stopped, he said.
The president made it clear that regardless of stepped up terrorism and continued threats, Israel will not budge from its territory and will continue to live in this land. “For both of us [Israelis and Palestinians] there is no choice but to live together,” he said, and yet again underscored the need for direct negotiations.
Rivlin expressed full confidence in the defense establishment’s ability to safeguard the country and its inhabitants, and urged Gentiloni, as he has urged other visiting European dignitaries, to use their influence with the Palestinians to promote confidence building measures to pave the way for the resumption of negotiations to resolve the conflict, or as Rivlin prefers to call it – the tragedy.
Gentiloni said Italy also strongly condemns these acts of terrorism and stands in solidarity with the families of the victims, and the people and government of Israel. The condemnation was even stronger during Ramadan he said, because Ramadan should be a time of peace.
He added that he shared Rivlin’s opinion that direct peace talks with the Palestinians should begin as quickly as possible, and was optimistic that this will happen in coming weeks or months as a countermeasure to the tension, warfare and terrorism in the region.
Gentiloni was confident that European countries and some Arab countries would support direct negotiations. The renewal of the peace process would be good news for the whole of Mediterranean, he said.
On a personal level, he was looking forward to Rivlin’s state visit to Italy in September and said that he would accompany him to the 2015 Milan Expo where the Israeli pavilion stands alongside the Italian pavilion.
Rivlin said that he and Gentiloni had a lot in common.
He had served on the Jerusalem City Council and Gentiloni had served on the Rome City Council. He had served in the Israeli parliament and Gentiloni had served in the Italian parliament. He had been a minister for communications and Gentiloni had been a minister for communications.
But then their paths had diverted. Rivlin had become the Speaker of the Knesset, but Gentiloni had not become the speaker of the Italian parliament because he had preferred to be foreign minister. Rivlin had gone on to become president of Israel, and said to Gentiloni: “I don’t know if you want to be president of Italy. That’s a matter for your discretion.”