presidents residence st.
(photo credit: AP)
Yitzhak Navon and Shimon Peres, Israel’s fifth and ninth presidents, respectively, have been memorialized at the President’s Residence with the inauguration of the “Navon and Peres Gate.”
President Reuven Rivlin dedicated the new, enlarged entrance to the residence on Sunday in the presence of the families of the two former presidents and members of Peres’s staff who worked most closely with him.
After affixing mezuzot at the entrance, which took more than a year to complete partly due to the sophisticated security system that was installed at a cost of NIS 1 million, Rivlin unveiled two plaques with quotes by Peres and Navon.
“I was a president who loved his people, and from now on I am a citizen who is in love with his people,” reads the Peres quote.
Navon’s is in a similar vein: “Whoever says ‘go down to the people’ does not know what he is talking about. There is nothing more uplifting than meeting with the people.”
A third plaque was inscribed with the words: “Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night” (Isaiah 60:11).
Navon and Peres, who died within a year of each other during Rivlin’s tenure, had been close friends and disciples of David Ben-Gurion, and each had been a guest at events hosted by Rivlin.
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Rivlin often calls the President’s Residence the house of the people, and invoked this mantra again at the inauguration ceremony.
“The gates to the President’s Residence are not intended to keep Israeli society out, but to grant the Israeli people a dignified entry into their own home. These renovated gates of the President’s Residence were built with the same commitment of the President’s Residence to Israeli society, out of the same desire to continue to allow the people of Israel to visit – host and be hosted – at the President’s Residence in a pleasant, respectful and dignified manner.”
Nevertheless, anyone who tries to enter the residence without an invitation or without the security guards being notified by someone from the president’s inner circle staff will quickly discover that the gates will remain closed.
The new enlarged entrance enables faster entry of invitees participating in large gatherings as four people can now be processed at a time as opposed to one previously.
Erez Navon, the first live-in toddler at the President’s Residence, recalled at the ceremony that he had been a somewhat wild little boy with no knowledge of or respect for rank, saying he was constantly jumping around people and into their laps and was always being told not to go near the gate.
In addition to being commemorated at the entrance to the compound, Navon and Peres are also remembered on the grounds where their busts are featured together with those of all Israel’s past presidents and in photographs in the lobby of the building, again together with those of the previous leaders.
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