Below were the statements by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan during their official meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem October 28, 2013.
(October 27, 2013 - Source: Pool/Getty Images Europe)
Isreal's Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"It's my pleasure to welcome here, in Israel, in the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, the President of Nigeria, Mr.Goodluck Jonathan.
I think that this is a meeting long overdue and much welcomed. We’ve had excellent relations between our countries. They’re improving even as we speak, over the past few years.
But this is the visit of a president of Nigeria in Israel and I’m sure it won't be the last. It's something that'll give us an opportunity to strengthen our ties even more. I look forwards to doing that in every field: in trade, in investment, in tourism, there are thousands of pilgrims from Nigeria that visit Israel, we'd welcome many more and we’d like Israelis to go to Nigeria. Many are going, as business people who are increasingly interested in the investment possibilities of Nigeria.
we're a partnership of peoples and a partnership of interests. The key interest is fighting terrorism. I know, Mr. President, that you've been plagued by this scourge. I want you to know that Israel has been on the frontlines of fighting terrorism for many years. We’ve done so successfully and we stand ready to help all responsible nations to fight terrorism. you're a responsible leader of a friendly nation, a responsible nation. We stand with you in your great effort to stamp out terrorism. I can say that the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world is Iran. This same Iran is now on a quest to preserve its program to achieve nuclear weapons. I just heard Iranian officials that the talks, the most recent round of talks were useful and constructive. Well, I’m sure for Iran it’s useful and constructive, because they just win time in order to continue their enrichment program to create fissile material for nuclear weapons.
I think the talks will be useful and constructive when the pressure on Iran will get them to cease and desist their nuclear program, to stop enrichment, to stop their heavy water plutonium reactor, both of these are used only for nuclear weapons. They’re not needed for civilian nuclear energy. This is our goal, to see a peaceful settlement of Iran without nuclear weapons. Iran must be without nuclear weapons. This is something that we're committed to and we stand by this goal. This is important for us Mr. President. I believe it’s important for Nigeria, I believe it’s important for Africa. The countries of the Middle East. For the world. Iran with nuclear weapons will threaten all of us. Will threaten the peace of the world. So we're committed to preventing that. Equally we're committed to strengthen our relations in every field possible. I'm very happy to welcome you and your delegation here in Jerusalem. I look forwards to our conversations and I value our friendship. So welcome to Jerusalem, Mr. President."
Nigeria's President Jonathan:
(October 27, 2013 - Source: Pool/Getty Images Europe)
Thank you, your Excellency. The Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, let me commend you and your government for what you’ve been doing for the world generally. Specifically, I came to your beautiful city for religious reasons. Since we came in myself and my delegation, have very warm welcome from our brothers and sisters from this great country of Israel. And we're quite pleased with that. Thank you very sincerely. And just like you said, Nigeria and the State of Israel have very warm relationship, even though at the top level there’s a limited number of visits, which I believe, by coming here this time will open that door for us also to soon receive you in Nigeria.
I was in 2007, December 2007, when I was a few months old as the Vice President of my country. But since I assumed office, I've not been able to come. I said that I must try and come to the State of Israel before the next round of elections coming up in 2015. So we're here primarily for that. We feel that let us use this unique opportunity to have this little bilateral talk to further strengthen the ties between Nigeria and the State of Israel.
you've been helpful to us in quite a number of ways, we appreciate your level of technology in terms of agriculture and construction, ICT, intelligence and other areas that you’ve been quite useful to us and we believe that we need to even strengthen more.
But let me commend you and I appreciate you in one achievement. We got it this late afternoon, signing of the bilateral air service agreement. that's been on the drawing board and a number of Nigerians come to Israel. In fact last year about 30,000 came on pilgrimage. Outside that, the number of regular visitors which are also significant, because Nigeria is one country that people are very very mobile. But all along, before we come to the State of Israel, we've to pass through thirdparty countries. I passed through Egypt, I passed through London. I passed through Turkey, other places. But at least with what's happened today, our next set of bilateral talks we’ll be able to fly directly to the State of Israel. And it'll also help because we've over 50 Israeli companies and with various responsibilities in Nigeria doing very well in civil engineering, in power sector. Of course, ICT, defense and so on. And I believe these people also want to move directly from Tel Aviv to Abuja. Vice versa. So I've to commend you and we're all pleased. Nigerians are happy with you.
You mentioned the issues of security globally. It’s quite worrisome. Today it’s like the world is divided into some people who want society to live in crisis. Also those who want society to live peacefully. Nigeria belongs to these countries. I believe that the world must be a peaceful world. I'll continue to work with you, another wellmeaning nations and individuals. I’m sure that we'll live in a peaceful world.
We also believe that nuclear power now should be used for economic purposes of medicine and agriculture. Not for the purpose of destroying human life. And that's been our belief whenever we go for the programs and discussions on the nuclear that's been the position of Nigeria. So we're continuing to work with the rest of the world to see that we all live in peace.
For us and Israel, we've so many areas that we think we can work together, areas of power, areas of agriculture, water resources management, that you're experts. You’ve been able to conquer your environment and we appreciate that technology and we believe that you help us tremendously in also conquering our own environment, though slightly a different environment. But we've a number of Israelis working in Nigeria that quite conversant with our environment, quite aware what our investment opportunities. Before this time, mostly areas of our economy were controlled by the Federal Government. Issues of power were almost exclusively controlled by the Federal Government. Even the sub-national government states had no power to generate power for commercial purposes except for relative occasional project.
Not to our ports either airports or sea ports. Our road infrastructure, our railways, all this was monopolized by the Federal Government. But we're opening up all these areas for private-sector. We believe that government only creates the environment while the private-sector drives the economy. So the country has opened up for investment and we've very vibrant business men and women from the State of Israel. So I believe my coming today will further open opportunities for our business men and women to interact for the purpose of our own economic growth.
So once again, on behalf of my delegation, I thank you for this warm reception. I believe that this is the beginning of even stronger relations between Nigeria and the State of Israel. "
Source: Israel Foreign Affairs, Israel News
"Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is leading a pilgrimage to Israel as distinct from a state visit or a working visit, was hosted by President Shimon Peres at a luncheon at the Presidential residence on Monday. Jonathan is the first sitting president of Nigeria to lead a pilgrimage to Israel, or to come to Israel at all for that matter, though he did visit previously as vice president.
His entourage includes eight governors, seven ministers, three members of the National Assembly and several church leaders. Among the ministers are the foreign minister, Prof. Viola Onwuliri; federal capital territory minister of state, Olajumoke Akinjide; minister of information, Labran Maku; and minister of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.
Also travelling with the group is Nigerian Chief Rabbi Israel Uzan, who together with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, accompanied Jonathan when he prayed at the Western Wall. Jonathan and his entourage visited the most important Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and Nazareth to pray for the deliverance of Nigeria from the many challenges confronting it such as terrorist attacks, insurgency, corruption, and ethnic strife. Mossad agents have been working with Nigerian counterparts to devise strategies to reduce the threat of terrorism, especially from the Boko Haram terrorist organization."- Jerusalem Post
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN PRAYING AT THE WAILING WALL, JERUSALEM OLD CITY
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (R) RECEIVING A SOUVENIR FROM THE CHIEF RABBAI OF NIGERIA, RABBI ISRAEL UZAN (L) AFTER PRAYING AT THE WAILING WALL JERUSALEM OLD CITY.
FROM LEFT: PROF VINCENT ANIBUOGU; PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN; EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, NIGERIAN CHRISTIAN PILGRIMS COMMISSION, MR JOHN KENNEDY OPARA; GOV PETER OBI OF ANAMBRA AND MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MR LABARAN MAKU PRAYING AT THE PLACE WHERE THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST WAS CLEANED AND PERFUMED BEFORE BURIAL
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN LEADING THE STATION OF THE CROSS DURING A WALK OF THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM TO GOLGOTHA
President Obama arrives in Israel on a official visit
"It took four years and a second term, but President Obama traveled to Israel on Wednesday for a richly symbolic state visit, bearing a message of solidarity to a wary Israeli public, and a promise to defend Israel from threats near and far." - New York Times
President Obama with President Shimon Peres of Israel Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times
At Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv President Obama was greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photos Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times
It's official: Visitors to the Facebook page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have chosen a logo for President Obama's visit to Israel next month.
The winner, above, got 2,600 "likes" beating out two others (below), which garnered 786 and 521, respectively.
Netayahu's office is promising a big social media push around the visit. So far, there has been much more publicity about the trip in Israel than there has been in the United States. The Israeli government last month even released a tentative schedule for the president, something the White House has declined to talk about at all.
The media in Israel, it seems, are taking the hubbub in stride, even jabbing a little fun at it.
"One government official deflected criticism that the logo idea was kitschy, saying there was a great deal of public enthusiasm in the visit, and this was one way of tapping into it," the Jerusalem Post reports. "He chuckled dismissively when asked if there would also be a soft drink sponsor."
Here are the second- and third-place logo designs:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stoked a volatile debate about refugees and migrant workers from Africa, warning that “illegal infiltrators flooding the country” were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.
“If we don’t stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60 000 could grow to 600 000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state,” Netanyahu said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. “This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity.” Israel’s population is 7.8-million.
His comments follow media reports of rising crime, including two gang rapes, in southern Tel Aviv, where many African migrants are concentrated.
Micky Rosenfeld, spokesperson for the Israeli police, said the overall crime rate in Israel had fallen.
There had been one alleged rape of a teenage girl connected to the migrant community, for which three suspects were in custody, he added.
Yohanan Danino, the Israeli police chief, said migrants should be permitted to work to discourage petty crime. Nearly all are unable to work legally and live in overcrowded and impoverished conditions. “The community needs to be supported in order to prevent economic and social problems,” said Rosenfeld.
But Interior Minister Eli Yishai rejected such a move, saying: “Why should we provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians. Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here.”
Yishai repeated an earlier call for all migrants to be jailed pending deportation. “I want everyone to be able to walk the streets without fear or trepidation ... The migrants are giving birth to hundreds of thousands and the Zionist dream is dying,” he told Army Radio. Last week he said most migrants were involved in criminal activity.
Israeli youths wave Israeli flags during a march celebrating Jerusalem Day in front Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. (AP)
According to police data quoted by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010, compared with 4.99% among Israelis.
More than 13 500 people entered Israel illegally in 2010, of whom almost two-thirds were Eritrean and one-third were Sudanese. Three were granted refugee status by Israel, rising to six last year. Human rights organisations say more than 50 000 asylum seekers and migrants have entered Israel illegally since 2005.
Most are smuggled across the Israel-Egypt border by Bedouin tribesmen. Israel is constructing a vast steel fence through 150 miles of the Sinai desert as a deterrent to people-trafficking and the smuggling of drugs and weapons. The barrier would be completed, bar one small section, by October, Netanyahu said.
Spate of attacks
Israel is also constructing the world’s largest detention centre for asylum-seekers and illegal migrants, capable of holding 11 000 people. The £58-million building, close to the border, will receive its first detainees by the end of the year.
Netanyahu said the state would embark on “the physical withdrawal” of migrants, despite fears among human rights organisations about the dangers they could face in their home countries. Yishai said: “I’m not responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan, the UN is.”
As tensions rise in cities with relatively high African populations, the past month has seen a spate of attacks on buildings in south Tel Aviv that house asylum seekers and migrant workers. In one incident, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the courtyard of a kindergarten. NGOs working with migrants have also received abusive and threatening calls.
Amid the anti-immigration clamour, some Israelis have argued that, in the light of Jewish history, their state should be sympathetic and welcoming to those fleeing persecution. – © Guardian News and Media 2012.
HARRIET SHERWOOD writes for Mail & Guardian, South Africa.