The Panamanian President holding the KKL-JNF Certificate of Appreciation (center), together with his entourage and KKL-JNF representatives at the Grove of Nations..
(photo credit: KKL-JNF/AVI HAYON)
On an official visit to Israel, the President of Panama noted that the ties between the two countries are strong in various fields and said he looked forward to furthering those ties on his current visit.
“This is a very special occasion to be here, especially since we are celebrating Shavuot, a celebration of the harvest and the land that cares for the wellbeing of the people,” he said. “This is a good coincidence since Panama and Israel are working together in agriculture and we are learning from this country how to be better in this field.” A devout Catholic, he added that the day before had been the celebration of the feast day of Saint Isidore, the patron saint of farmers.
“This visit, between the celebration of St. Isidore and Shavuot, leaves no doubt that we all live on one planet, we are brothers and we are the children of one God with Whom we communicate in our faith and in our beliefs,” he said.
He added that Panama was about to sign an agricultural agreement with Israel.
The president was welcomed to the Grove of Nations by KKL-JNF Vice President Hernan Felman and KKL-JNF Latin American Department Director Ariel Goldgewicht. The President was accompanied by Panamanian Commerce and Industry minister Augusto Arosemena, Panamanian Agricultural Minister Eduardo Enrique Carles. Also part of the delegation were Panamanian ambassador to Israel Adis Urieta and Israeli ambassador to Panama Gil Artzyeli. Accompanying them were KKL-JNF Chief Forester David Brand, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chief of Protocol Meron Reuben and the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for Latin America Modi Ephraim.
President Varela Rodriguez brought warm greetings from the people of Panama and expressed his own admiration and respect for the men and women who made the State of Israel possible.
“I would like to share with you today a very special emotion, being in a place where there are the remains of so much history, so much sacrifice, and so many struggles to build the State of Israel,” he said.
“I feel a very special energy in this place where the dreams, hopes, sacrifices, cries, victories and losses of so many men and women who sacrificed their lives in the defense of the Jewish people and especially the State of Israel,” he added. “For me it is an honor to be here today in the name of the Panamanian people, paying tribute to those men and women who have fought for the state of Israel, and for the Jewish people around the world and above all defended the principles of Israel and the Jewish people to live in peace and their right to be able to be part of an international community to which they have contributed so much sacrifice, work and effort.”
Watch video, read more on the tree planting ceremony with the President of Panama.