Israeli President Shimon Peres commended President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s leadership, calling the achievements during President Rajapaksa’s tenure a “very impressive record.” When the two presidents held discussions at the President’s Office in Jerusalem yesterday (Jan. 09), the Israeli President further praised Sri Lanka’s progress in development and reconciliation after the end of the near three-decade terrorist war.
In discussing the Israeli-Palestinian situation, President Rajapaksa reiterated Sri Lanka’s commitment to the UN-recommended two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace. “We always support peace,” President Rajapaksa said. “We always supported the two-state policies. Our support is there for peace for all people.”
President Rajapaksa, while thanking Israel for its assistance in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing-Day tsunami, elaborated on the developments that have taken place in Sri Lanka since the end of the war. The President pointed out that Sri Lanka focused on providing the basic needs (such as roads, electricity, healthcare, education and employment) and, within a short period of four years, made significant progress in the areas of reconstruction, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation.
Stating that “Sri Lanka is blessed with highly intelligent people with a wealth of history,” President Peres added that it is important to focus on the positive achievements.
Following the meeting with the Israeli President, President Rajapaksa met with a group of members of the Israeli business community who are currently engaged in business activities in Sri Lanka. The discussions centered on further improving business relations by exploring a number of sectors in which business persons from Israel could invest. Some of the areas discussed included agriculture, dairy production, irrigation, the tea industry and distance learning.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa also visited the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem Forest on Jan. 09 and planted an olive tree. The Grove of Nations makes up a part of the Olive Tree Route, a part of the initiative led by UNESCO and the Council of Europe to establish an Olive Tree Route around the entire Mediterranean basin expressing the common desire for peace and co-existence.