Rivlin: ‘Settlement’ Labeling Will Undermine Peace

President Reuven Rivlin held a working meeting on Tuesday afternoon at his official residence with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

During the meeting the two discussed the suggestion that the European Union would label products originating from Judea and Samaria as well as the current refugee crisis in Europe.

"No one imagined after the first half of the 20th century there would be open borders, open trade, and a single currency in Europe," Rivlin said after welcoming Tusk. 

"This is Israel’s dream for the Middle East," he continued. "Jews, Christians, and Muslims, are not doomed to live together in this corner of the world, we are destined to live together. To work toward this, we need to build confidence between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Trade and industry provide a model for peace between the peoples of this region. We see it before our very eyes in areas where Israelis and Palestinians work together and learn to know one another.  Peace cannot be imposed; it must come from the people. 

"The labeling of Israeli products, will only be a further obstacle to peace," Rivlin stressed. Europe "must remember that the dream of different peoples living side by side was not achieved by creating barriers to trade and cooperation, but, by breaking down divides and finding a common dialogue."

Referring to the refugee crisis affecting Europe, Rivlin expressed serious concern for the situation and emphasized that "whether in Europe, or the Middle East, we cannot allow fundamentalists to dictate how we live."

"As a Jewish state, and as a democratic state, I am proud of the humanitarian aid we have given to thousands of refugees throughout the years. Israel is ready to continue this important work, and I believe could provide relief to a proportionate number of those fleeing." 

Tusk thanked the President for his warm welcome and said he was delighted to visit Jerusalem in the context of his new position.

'We must of course speak about the peace process, which is of concern to both of us," Tusk said. "I am aware the situation is much more complex than many people realize, and the issues are far from black and white. We must continue to work together in order to restart the negotiations."

With regard to the refugee crisis, President Tusk said "our focus is to save lives. The situation in Europe is about security and economy, not only of the actual borders of Europe, but about social issues.  The current influx of refugees is not an isolated incident, it indicates the beginning of an exodus."

Tusk also referred to the nuclear deal with Iran and said: "I understand that while for Europeans this is seen as a breakthrough, I am aware that we have to respect your sensitivities and concerns."

Earlier this afternoon President Rivlin also held a working meeting with Prime Minister of Lithuania Algridas Butkevicius.

The two discussed the good relations between the two counties and the mutual decision to increase cooperation, as well as the importance Lithuania placed on Holocaust remembrance and the education of tolerance, alongside a firm stance against anti-Semitism. 

The President welcomed the Prime Minister warmly, and explained to him of his family’s roots in Lithuania, and that he was a descendant of the great Lithuanian Jewish scholar, the Vilna Gaon.

“The relationships between our two peoples, and between our two governments, are very strong. As Speaker of the Knesset I visited Lithuania, and had the opportunity to speak in your parliament, and it was clear to me as it is today that we share strong understandings." 

"Our cooperation on education is especially of note," Rivlin added. "We do not forget history, but together we can work for a better present and more prosperous future."

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/200467

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