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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, today (Wednesday, 16 May 2018), at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, attended a reception for the Guatemalan delegation on the occasion of the opening of the Guatemalan Embassy in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"Toda raba, muchas gracias. Muchas gracias, President Jimmy Morales.

Today you made history, and you feel the friendship, Amistad that goes back 70 years and will continue now into the future. This is what this day is about. It’s honoring the past and seizing the future. We honor the pas.

We are now in the King David Hotel. It’s called the King David hotel because 3,000 years ago, King David, outside this window, built our capital, our ancient capital. And it’s been the capital of the Jewish people ever since.

The kings of Israel, the prophets of Israel, the heroes of Israel fought for this city and preached here the great truths of humanity.

We lost our independence; the city was destroyed; the Temple was destroyed. This happened almost 2,000 years ago. And after it happened, a group of rabbis were looking at the ruins of the Temple. A fox came out. The rabbis wept. A fox, from the ruins. They all wept. But it is said that one rabbi, Rabbi Akiva, he smiled, he laughed. They asked him, Rabbi, why are you smiling, why are you laughing? He said, because salvation will come. Our people will come back. Jerusalem will be rebuilt. This is what we did.

And 70 years ago Jerusalem again became the capital of the independent Jewish state, and what a glorious capital it’s become, what a glorious state Israel has become.

The exiles have ingathered in the Land of Israel. We rebuilt our national independence and built one of the most thriving, powerful states, not only in this region, but a global force in the world.

We are seizing the future and we are seizing it together with you, Guatemala.

We talked about what we can do now for the future. We have many plans. We’ve begun carrying out those plans. I intend to follow your visit here, by coming to Guatemala tomorrow. I invite you all to come with me.

Our plans require many things, they require the mind and they require the heart, but the most important thing they require is first of all to honor the past. And I think we’re doing that today. But in order to seize the future, a future of prosperity, a future of progress, a future of peace, we must also confront the enemies of peace, and this is something that Israel is doing from the heart of the whirlwind. We have been forced to defend ourselves again in the last few days.

[Translation from Hebrew]

 

I am happy to say that today, at least, we had a day of relative calm along the Gazan border. That’s good. It happened because we were properly organized, and because of the determination of the IDF soldiers who are defending our borders.

They are not defending us from some civilian demonstrations. This is a warlike move by the Hamas. The Hamas spokesperson said today that about 50 of the 60 who were killed are Hamas operatives. We have similar figures. That is why Israel will continue to defend itself for as long as necessary and will not allow those who call for its destruction to storm its borders and threaten our communities.

We will defend the State of Israel.

[End of translation]

Mr. President, this is an opportunity to tell you how deeply we feel about Guatemala, about our friendship. Also about Latin America. You know that last year, I took the visit, the first visit of an Israeli prime minister, can you imagine, south of Texas? Well, what I discovered is enormous reservoirs of goodwill, enormous reservoirs of hope, enormous reservoirs of positive attitudes towards Israel.

So we intend to come to Guatemala, we talked about it in a meeting of the Latin American countries, to see that friendship blossom, first in Guatemala, and then everywhere else in Latin America. You are the bridgehead.

Thank you for coming here. Thank you for your friendship.

This year in Guatemala."

Photos credit: Haim Zach /  Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)