Rawandan President Paul Kagame began a two-day visit to Israel on Monday for talks focused on boosting cooperation for the future, but also touching on the two nations’ common experience in the past overcoming the horrors of genocide.
“We are two nations who understand the horror of genocide, and we must show what humanity can achieve with cooperation and understanding,” President Reuven Rivlin told Kagame at the presidential residence in Jerusalem.
“We know that Rwanda is now going to be member of the UN Human Rights Council. This is a body which is always against Israel, so we welcome all those who are prepared to speak for us,” Rivlin said
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also present, praised Rawanda for its stance on Israel.
“We see how you stand up for Israel in international forums, and you already expressed a simple principle that we did which is that bilateral relationships should be reflected in multilateral forums. There is a dissonance between us and a few other nations still,” Netanyahu said.
Rivlin and Netanyahu were referring to a slew of anti-Israel resolutions in recent months, the newest of which, on Friday, saw UNESCO declaring Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs a part of endangered Palestinian heritage.
Kagame, who visited Israel in 2008, noted a blossoming relationship between Israel and Rwanda in the areas of technology, agriculture, energy and security.
“Rwanda is open for business and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future,” he said.
Rivlin congratulated Kagame on the speech he made in March as the first African leader to address the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
There, he hailed the Jewish state as an inspiration for his own country’s rebirth after genocide.
Kagame, of the Tutsi tribe, was commander of the rebel force that put an end to the 1994 slaughter of Rwandan Tutsis by Hutu extremists and has led the country since 2000, as it recovers from the conflict and becomes a regional economic success story.