15 Mar 2016

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin: Russia is playing important role in Middle East region now and moving forward

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has given an interview to Interfax ahead of his visit to Russia in which he speaks about Russia‘s role in the Middle East region, Israel‘s attitude to Iran and the recent terrorist attack in Jaffa.

Question:Israel has condemned Iran for ballistic missile tests, and even accused it of creating missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Are you expecting a reaction from Moscow to Tehran‘s actions and will you take unilateral measures in the event of new launches, and if so, then which measures?

Anwser: Iran is not just a problem for Israel, it is a problem for the whole world. It continues to spread instability in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, sponsoring terror and spreading fundamentalism in all directions. Its leaders make clear at every opportunity their genocidal desires toward Israel, and we believe them when they say it. And they do all this, without even having a nuclear weapon. Israel is ready to work with our allies in our region and across the world to stand firm in the face of the threat posed by Iran

Q.: Recently, the media, including Israeli ones, wrote that Russian S-300 missile supplies to Iran are being delayed, ostensibly because of Tehran‘s violation of the obligation not to pass missile weapons to Hezbollah, that is considered by Israel to be a terrorist organization. Do the authorities have proof of this information, and could it be that one of the purposes of your visit is to try to persuade Moscow to postpone implementation of the deal?

A.: First of all, Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization not just by Israel, but by many in the Arab world, and others across the globe. Moreover, there are many issues on the agenda. This year we mark 25 years since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Russia, and we have much cooperation in the fields of agriculture, technology, culture and more and I am keen to see this cooperation grow and increase further. We of course have security issues to address too, and I am looking forward to my visit as an important opportunity to strengthen these ties.

Q.: For almost half a year now, Russia has been near your borders, namely Syria, actively conducting an aerospace operation against the terrorism that has caused suffering to everyone, including Israel. Do you see visible successes and results of Russian actions, and how would you rate the work of the bilateral incident prevention mechanism between the Russian military and the Israeli army? Does Israel remain generally neutral with respect to the Syrian conflict?

A.: In Syria, five armies are fighting each other – none of whom are friends of Israel. We provide medical care to the many injured who come to our borders, regardless of whether they are civilians or combatants, and regardless from which side. This is our humanitarian duty.
Meanwhile the spread of the Islamic State’s terror and hatred has penetrated even our borders. Russia has taken up an important role in this region, and in a conflict which will have significant impact on Israel’s security – now and moving forward.

Q.: Recently, a terror attack was committed in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, which injured several Russian tourists. Given that the flow of Russian tourists from Turkey and Egypt may have been rerouted, including to Israel, are the authorities prepared to guarantee safety for the Russians who come on holiday, and are some discounts possible for the upcoming season?

A.: My thoughts are of course with all those injured and indeed the family of the tourist who was murdered in this horrific attack. Terror as we know can strike anywhere in the world, and Israel continues to watch over all its citizens and visitors. I am pleased that there has been especially in the last few years a strong trend in Russian tourists to Israel. This is the best way for people to know each other and understand each other’s’ cultures. Moreover, Russian speakers should feel most at home in Israel, with many Israelis speaking Russian, and Russian culture and foods among the most popular.