President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Welcoming New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patricia Reddy and her husband, Sir David Gascoigne, to the President’s Residence on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin spoke warmly of relations that go back 100 years, long before the State of Israel was established, to when New Zealanders during World War I helped free the land from the Ottoman Empire.
Thirty-one Anzacs lost their lives in the Battle [of Beersheba], and the loss is remembered even now, said Rivlin. “Their legacy is the great friendship between our two peoples, and today we are building on that legacy.”
New Zealand’s business community is seeking closer ties with Israel, he said, adding that there had been a number of high-profile delegations visiting from New Zealand, and that cooperation agreements had been signed. He understood that further agreements would be signed in the course of the governor-general’s visit.
Speaking from personal experience, Rivlin said that the governor-general had come a long way to be in Israel. Rivlin and his wife had been all over New Zealand in 2011 when he was speaker of the Knesset.
Reddy and Gascoigne came to the President’s Residence for a luncheon meeting with Rivlin, his wife, Nechama, and his senior staff.
The governor-general is in Israel to participate in festivities marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, which was won by the Anzacs who were part of the British forces.
It was not the governor- general’s first visit to the country. She had previously come as a backpacker in 1980, she said.
She was glad to be back to commemorate the Battle of Beersheba, even though it had some somber historical significance, she said.