Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 29/03/2000 info: custodia@netvision.net.il
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The President of Israel to the Pope
Jerusalem, March 23, 2000

I am honored and happy to welcome Your Holiness to the Israeli President's Residence in Jerusalem.

In the two days that Your Holiness has been with us, you have no doubt been impressed by the beauty of the city.

In front of you are seated Israeli ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, members of the Knesset, ambassadors of all countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel, heads of religious groups, Israeli dignitaries, and public representatives. With us also are President Katzir, Mrs. Ora Herzog, the wife of the sixth president, and Mrs. Leah Rabin, the wife of Yitzhak Rabin, may his soul rest in peace.

There is a question whether history makes a leader, or a leader creates history. You, Your Holiness, without doubt, clearly leave your mark and influence on history. During the past years, we have been witnessing a process of globalization. People from different countries, from different cultures and with different religions, are drawn to one another. This is due to the modern technology. But you, Your Holiness, through your character, your conduct, and your personal influence, unite the hearts of humanity.

We are in Jerusalem, the holy city, the eternal capital of Israel, a very important religious center for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - and the city of peace. Your visit to Jerusalem can contribute to peace, to friendship between Jews, Muslims, Christians, and between Israel and the Arab world.

For thirty years, I personally fought in Israeli wars, and over the past twenty years, I am doing everything in my ability for the battle of peace. Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan. Our borders with them are quiet. We have also reached agreement with the Palestinians and I hope that we will soon attain permanent settlement with them. The large wound is Lebanon, and it is clear that the key to Lebanon is Damascus. I hope that the forthcoming summit meeting between President Clinton and President Assad will be successful, and we will be able to achieve peace both with Syria and with Lebanon. A comprehensive peace between Israel and her neighbors is the dream of every Israeli, and all the people of the Middle East.

Your Holiness, you will visit Yad Vashem today, and there you will unite with the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Your Holiness has acted strongly against racism, against anti-Semitism, and I believe that your visit to Yad Vashem will contribute to the continuation of this important struggle. My wife and I wish Your Holiness good health and continued success in this most special visit to Israel.



Created / Updated Wednesday, March 29, 2000 at 11:32:52