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Rumanian President Traian Basescu planted an olive tree in Grove of the Nations in the Jerusalem Forest. "The olive tree is a symbol of peace, and its planting symbolizes our faith in peace and fraternity among nations," he declared.
The President was accompanied by an entourage of public figures including the Rumanian Ambassador in Israel Edward Iosiper, Israel's Ambassador in Rumania David Oren, the Rumanian Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu and Tourism Minister Elena Udrea. Also in attendance were KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Yitzhak Eldan.
"The olive tree signifies renewed hope in the ability of mankind to build a better world. Olive trees require little water and their fruit brings happiness to people. May we succeed in our efforts to bring peace and friendship," continued the Rumanian President.
Regarding potential cooperation with KKL-JNF the Rumanian President added. "We in Rumania are also grappling with the phenomenon of desertification. KKL-JNF's expertise can greatly assist us. I have no doubt that it is much harder to make the desert bloom in Israel than it is in Rumania and yet you have successfully lived up to this task."
In his address Efi Stenzler noted that "throughout human history people developed many ways of demonstrating friendship. Tree planting in Jewish tradition is the most meaningful way of expressing friendship. The Grove of the Nations is a unique site in our country. Established at the foothills of Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial, the woodland gives leaders of countries from all over the world an opportunity to show their solidarity with the State of Israel, with the Jewish People and with nature and the environment. Speaking personally I want to add that as the son of Rumanian-born parents, I feel specially honored to be here. I am confident that the tree which we are planting here together will strengthen the partnership between Rumania and Israel and between our two peoples."
The Foreign Ministry's Chief of Protocol, Yitzhak Eldan, added, "Planting an olive tree in Jerusalem is a symbolic act which creates a deep-rooted bond between visiting statesmen and the State of Israel. A joint concern for nature and the environment forms a basis for partnership between countries."
Eldan recalled in a later conversation during the ceremony that the Grove of the Nations was part of the "Olive Tree Route" that he initiated, being one of four trails in northern Israel, in the south and in the center which connect different sites related to the olive tree: aged olive trees, ancient and newer olive presses, olive groves and artists' workshops. The project is directed by KKL-JNF and is part of a broader program with UNESCO and the European Commission to establish an Olive Tree route throughout the Mediterranean Basin, to promote peace and stimulate tourism.
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