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Participants of the British KKL-JNF delegation headed by Samuel Hayek, JNF UK Chairman, met with disappointment when they convened for a special meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister. After they had gathered in the Israeli government's meeting room and had listened to a briefing by the Prime Minister's communication advisor, Ron Dramer, Mr. Netanyahu's office announced that he was forced to cancel the meeting with members of the delegation at the last minute due to an urgent security matter.
The delegation, which was joined by Avraham Duvdevani, KKL-JNF Co-Chairman, and KKL-JNF's emissary to Great Britain Dubi Bergman, was given clarifications and briefings about the Prime Minister's important speech delivered the previous evening at Bar Ilan University. Ron Dramer spoke with members of the delegation for half an hour and explained Israel's interests in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, based upon the Prime Minister's statements. Dramer explained the utmost importance of Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state, mainly because it is the only Jewish state in the world and is the national home of the Jewish people.
No less important is Israel's basic demand that the future Palestinian state be demilitarized and that substantial international guarantees be given that the suture state will not gradually become a military force that could constitute a strategic threat to Israel.
Ron Dramer also emphasized Israel's demand that the Palestinian Authority prove its legitimacy as a partner for negotiations and for forging a peace agreement by demonstrating an end to incitement against Israel and by desisting from educating towards hate for Israel. "They must prove their legitimacy in order to be a partner in negotiations," said Dramer. In answer to the question of one of the delegates, Dramer added that Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with Hamas, which is a terrorist organization. "Hamas is not even a terrorist organization: but is a genocidal organization according to its own principles."
Ron Dramer also addressed the Iranian nuclear threat saying that the events since Iran's election results are evidence that the Iranian people are beginning to reject religious extremism and are interested in rejoining the family of nations. "The Prime Minister had warned about the huge danger from Iran since the beginning of his previous term 11 years ago that was then received with surprise. Today no one expresses any doubts with regard these developments. The Iranian threat is liable to drag the entire region into a situation in the future wherein there will be five or six states similar to Pakistan - with all the implications. Israel does not constitute a threat to Iran. Iran is the country threatening to destroy Israel. Iran is the one whose leader openly denies the Holocaust while voicing scandalous ideas that would anger anyone."
The KKL-JNF delegation from the UK is visiting Israel for four days to promote projects established through Friends of British KKL-JNF and to assess additional projects for contributions. Following the meeting in the Prime Minister's office and the briefings from his communications advisor, the delegation continued their tour towards the south, where they visited the military base at Hatzerim and the city of Sderot.
Samuel Hayek spoke to us about the objectives of their visit. "This delegation includes significant donors, several of whom have contributed specifically towards the construction of the park in Sderot. I have found that visiting the site in person is the most effective way to interest contributors in the various projects currently at different stages of development. Those who contributed towards the park in Sderot also deserve special thanks now that the first stage has been completed and we are nearing the second stage of development."
The delegates dedicated the large, new park in Sderot, built through contributions from Friends of JNF UK, in memory of Phyllis and Bobby Nathan, at a festive ceremony honored by the Mayor of Sderot, David Buskila, where hundreds of residents of Sderot participated, enjoying the relative quiet in the area following Operation Cast Lead. The Mayor of Sderot remarked at the ceremony that "one of the most beautiful parks in the country has now been built in Sderot owing to the foresight of Samuel Hayek at his previous visit to Sderot during Operation Cast Lead. The city, which has been under the "Color Red" alert for eight years, has suddenly woken up one morning to the color green."
Samuel Hayek added, "It is amazing to meet a mayor with such a vision! Even when qassam rockets were falling on Sderot he said very simply that the day would come when those rockets would no longer fall and then we want to have a different atmosphere for the residents of Sderot. This is truly one of the most beautiful parks that I've ever seen."
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