Romania opposes the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorist families, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu told The Jerusalem Post during his first visit to Israel.
“It is against our values,” said Grindeanu, who took office in January.
The 43-year-old leader arrived in Israel on May 3 for a two-day stay. He held talks with Israeli politicians and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem.
Grindeanu did not visit the Palestinian territories.
He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, the morning after US President Donald Trump had brought up the issue with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
“Romania remains strong...to fight against terrorism; we condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress there can be no justification for such acts.”
He told the Post
he believed that dialogue was the only resolution to the conflict.
Grindeanu also weighed in on the UNESCO Executive Board’s vote to disavow Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem
Romania, like all EU countries, does not recognize Israeli sovereignty in east Jerusalem.
But Grindeanu had no problem explaining that he believed he was in Israel as he sat in the lobby of the King David Hotel in the western part of the city.
He had no answer to the question of whether Romania would consider moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to western Jerusalem, although he stressed the fact that Israel was Romania’s strongest ally in the Middle East.
He noted that Romania was among the first countries to establish full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, doing so on June 11, 1948, just after the establishment of the state.
The countries have held two intergovernmental sessions and are planning a third.
The Romanian Jewish community dates back to the 2nd century and by the time of the Holocaust numbered over 700,000. Today, there are less than 4,000 Jews in Romania.
Famous author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was one of the more famous survivors of the Romanian Jewish community.
At a speech he gave at Yad Vashem, Grindeanu recalled how in “communist Romania, it was impossible to speak of the Holocaust.
“My generation had the chance to contribute to the political decision of bringing those pages of history back into the public by recognizing past mistakes and tragedies, and by improving education. It is my pledge that Romania will always be on the front line of combating antisemitism, xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination.”
Grindeanu recalled that last year the Romanian parliament had passed legislation to help Holocaust survivors reclaim their property.
Netanyahu told Grindeanu: “There are 400,000 Israelis of Romanian origin. We feel a special and intimate kinship with Romania, we have been there many times... You have taken a very strong stance against antisemitism, against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.”
The Israeli Prime Minister also spoke of the business ties between the two countries, which signed a joint declaration on roaming rates to bring down cellular costs.
Grindeanu told Netanyahu he wanted to increase economic ties in the fields of cyber and digital industries, as well as in agriculture and tourism.
“Romania has a fast growing economy which offers in return... potential for Israeli businesses.
“Romania could be seen as one of the most attractive country destinations for European and Israeli companies,” he said.
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