President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
“Africa is the Future” President Reuven Rivlin told Faustin-Archange Touadera, the president of the Republic of Central Africa, when they met on Wednesday at the President’s Residence.
Touadera, who came with a delegation that included his foreign minister and his chief of protocol, is the first president of his country to visit Israel.
The visit is essentially a learning experience as CAR is eager to acquire Israeli technological know-how in various fields.
Touadera said that he was very excited to be in Israel, and most appreciative of the warm reception that he and his delegation had received wherever they went.
“Israel is a school for us because of all of its sophisticated sources for development and is an excellent example for us to follow,” he said.
Rivlin explained that Israel’s expertise in many areas was a case of necessity being the mother of invention, and instanced water management as an example. Israel had an acute water shortage, he said. There was plenty of water in the Galilee, but there was drought in the Negev. To overcome this problem, Israel constructed the National Water Carrier (a 130-km. system of giant pipes, open canals, tunnels, reservoirs and large scale pumping stations completed in 1964) that transported water from one part of the country to others. But drinking water was still scarce.
However, Israel sits on the shores of the Mediterranean, where there is more than enough water, but it was salty, so Israel developed desalination methods with the result that there is sufficient drinkable water for the whole of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt, the president said.
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Without specifying the technological advances that he and his delegation had seen, Touadera simply stated that everything they had seen had opened their minds to new possibilities, and for this reason they were eager to enhance CAR’s relations with Israel and to cooperate on a number of ventures.
Rivlin said that Israel was always ready to assist in the development of African states, but what it asked in return was that African states should be supportive of Israel in international forums such as the United Nations which, he said, has become a political platform for Israel-bashing. He was not suggesting that Israel is above criticism, he said. “It is perfectly legitimate to criticize Israel, but before you vote, carefully examine the issue on which you’re voting.”
Aware of the deep Christian religiosity in CAR, where many citizens know the Bible by heart, Rivlin asked for their help in disproving the UNESCO contention that denies the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, which is also known as the City of David because King David, whose story is recorded in the Bible, some 3,000 years ago, established Jerusalem as the capital city of the tribes of Israel.
“You can tell people that you were in the City of David,” Rivlin told his guest.
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