President Rivlin: Visit is a Gesture of Friendship

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (09/07/04)

President of the Knesset Speaking with Parliamentarians

Vienna - As President of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin characterized his official visit to Austria as a "gesture of friendship." He sees in Austria an "honest broker" in the relationship between Israel and the European Union as well as in the politics of the Middle East. Rivlin also spoke positively of how Austria dealt with its dark National Socialist past and paid special tribute to its fight against anti-Semitism. Austria has been exemplary and can serve as a model for other countries.

Rivlin’s talks with members of the Committee on Foreign Realtions, following his meeting with President of the National Council Khol, took place in a very open atmosphere.

When speaking to the parliamentarians, Rivlin also defended the building of the Sicherheitswall (security fence/wall), which, as the president emphasized, has proven to be very effective against terrorist attacks. Israel committed itself to the decision of building the wall after considerable hesitation; the wall is, [however], necessary in protecting the Israeli people from terrorism. Protection of its people is "not only the right of the State of Israel but its duty," concluded Rivlin.

Rivlin commented in depth on the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis and the standpoint of the Israeli government regarding their relationship. No one in Israel wants war, he said; on the contrary, everyone yearns for peace. One prerequisite for implementing the "Road Map," on which there are varying standpoints, is ending fanaticism and terrorism.

The president of the Israeli parliament underlined that terrorism cannot be limited to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; rather it is now occurring globally and must be combated, such as the terrible killing of Russian school children.

In conclusion, Rivlin expressed particular appreciation for the work of the Austrian Ambassador in Israel and hoped for further strengthening of the good bilateral relationship.