President Reuven Rivlin .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The need for global solidarity in fighting terrorism was the focus of the meeting Monday at the President’s Residence between visiting Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Dr. Abdallah Toikeusse Mabri and President Reuven Rivlin.
The two are not strangers to each other, having met in their respective previous capacities as health minister and Speaker of the Knesset. In reminding his guest of that meeting, Rivlin quipped that there was a possibility that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman might one day be appointed foreign minister.
Bringing greetings from President Alassane Quattara, who had instructed him to convey a message of fraternity and continued bilateral cooperation, Toikeusse Mabri said he was in Israel to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic ties between the two states which were severed in the immediate aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. The Ivory Coast was the last of the African states to break diplomatic ties with Israel following the 1973 war.
In December 1985, Shimon Peres who was then prime minister, met in Geneva with Ivory Coast President Felix Houphouet Boign.
Following the meeting, the two leaders announced the restoration of diplomatic relations pending formal approval by their respective governments.
Both men were sure that this was a mere formality, and their confidence was not misplaced.
The Ivory Coast was subsequently instrumental in helping Israel restore ties with other African countries.
Israel later enjoyed observer status in the Organization of African Unity until it was disbanded and replaced by the African Union in 2002.
The Palestinian Authority has observer status in the African Union, but Israel does not.
The matter has been raised several times by the Israeli leadership with leaders of African states, but so far to no avail.
Rivlin brought it into the conversation with Toikeusse Mabri.
In welcoming the foreign minister, Rivlin emphasized the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel from biblical times to the present day.
The two also discussed religious fundamentalism. It is unfortunate, Rivlin said, that there are those who believe that God had created the world exclusively for them and their kind, and not that He created the world for everyone.
Relating to the threat posed by ISIS, Rivlin cited the chaos wrought by the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria.
He added that there is a similar phenomenon in Libya, and remarked on how all this impacts on the rest of the world.
What happens in one country can almost instantly spark disquiet in another, said Rivlin, adding that this is one of the reasons that “we must all remain vigilant and alert to the possible global effects of any development in any one country.”
Africa has great demographic and democratic potential said Toikeusse Mabri, but without peace, the African states cannot develop as they should. The Ivory Coast wants peace domestically and throughout the African continent. “We believe that if we achieve this, we can influence the rest of the world,” he said.
Declaring that the Ivory Coast supports all efforts to attain peace, Toikeusse Mabri stated that although methods may differ, terrorism is basically the same everywhere. “What happens in any one country affects all of its neighbors,” he said.
“Terrorism is now global in a way we never knew before. We cannot fight it unless we join forces in solidarity and work together for peace in the world.”
Rivlin concurred, saying that everything ISIS does in the region not only affects Israel but the whole of Europe.