PM Netanyahu at Joint Press Conference with Rwandan President Paul Kagame: "We cannot, neither one of us, outsource our safety and our security"
Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO     

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara this morning landed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his wife welcomed them at the airport along with an honor guard of over 100 soldiers. The Israeli and Rwandan national anthems were played.
 
The Prime Minister and his wife, accompanied by the Rwandan President, visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. They visited the memorial museum including the wing dedicated to the Rwandan genocide, the wing dedicated to genocide in other countries and the Children’s Room. The Prime Minister signed the guestbook and laid a wreath.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Rwandan President Kagame held a lengthy private meeting at the latter’s residence. The two delegations then held an extended meeting that focused on increasing bilateral cooperation in various fields including military and security, energy, infrastructures, cyber, agriculture and water.
 
The countries’ ambassadors signed the following bilateral agreements: Visa exemptions for diplomatic passport holders and memoranda of understanding on cooperation in innovation, research and development, and encouraging tourism.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu issued the following statement at a joint press conference with Rwandan President Kagame:
 
"It’s an honor to be in your beautiful country. You’ve visited Israel several times, and now it’s my great privilege to visit Rwanda. I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. We had excellent discussions, very direct, about cooperation in agriculture, in water, in transportation, tourism obviously, and educational exchanges – everything that one can conceive, and also questions I think that are important to the security of our countries.
 
I am deeply impressed with Rwanda. It’s a vibrant country. It’s a resolute country. And you’ve accomplished amazing things. And these achievements are even more impressive given the horrors that you had to overcome.
 
We went through this morning through an exceptional memorial, exceptionally moving, jolting even, I would say, to see the pictures of children, sometimes babies, their briefest life stories put before us. Families that were cut down by neighbors, murdered by people, they lived next to them all their lives. And there are haunting evocations of your tragedy with our tragedy.
 
My people know the pain of genocide as well, and this is a unique bond that neither one of our peoples would prefer to have. Yet we both persevered. Despite the pain and despite the horror, we survived. We never lost hope; and you never lost hope.
 
Today Israel and Rwanda are successful states and models for progress.
 
We have learned, both our peoples, I think a valuable lesson from our tragic pasts: Genocide is preceded by incitement to mass murder. Words matter. They have the power to kill. And broadcast words, whether on the radio or now through other means, they have the power to kill even further. In Rwanda, radio broadcasts dehumanized people long before they were slaughtered. You asked for those broadcasts to be stopped as part of your battle against genocide, and you were unsuccessful.
 
The Nazis too began dehumanizing Jews long before they started murdering millions of our people. So today, when we see leaders in Gaza calling for the murder of every Jew around the world, we all have a duty to speak out. When we hear the Supreme Leader of Iran calling for the annihilation of Israel, we have a duty to speak out. We have a duty to alert the world to the danger of these hateful words.
 
Mr. President, this the first lesson we learned, but we learned another one and that in difficult times, we must be able to defend ourselves by ourselves. In Rwanda, UN peacekeepers failed to keep the peace. They not only failed to keep the peace, they failed to respond to urgent calls for salvation against an impending genocide. They ran away. We cannot, neither one of us, outsource our safety and our security.
 
Mr. President, I’m in Africa because it is a continent on the rise, and because it hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves, at least not from Israel. But it does now, and I value deeply your willingness to assist us, along with other leaders in this historic summit that we had in Uganda. I’m excited about the future of your country, the future of your continent. I was impressed with the construction that has taken place. Driving to the airport here, and you showed me the place of the worst destruction and the worst, the greatest tragedies that occurred to you right here in Kigali, and you see how speedily you brought life back in and it reminds me very much of our own experience.
 
We are also united in our fight against terrorism that threatens us all. We’re determined to work together in so many fields to secure a future of security, prosperity and peace for all our peoples.
 
I look forward to deepening our friendship and I thank you again for your warm hospitality and for your personal friendship. Thank you."
 
At the press conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked regarding the US statement on construction in Jerusalem. He responded:
 
"We are familiar with the American position. It is not new. It is also not acceptable to us.
 
With all due respect, it is neither the construction in Jerusalem nor that in Maaleh Adumim that make peace more remote. What prevents peace, first of all, is the constant incitement against the existence of the State of Israel within any borders, and the time has come for all the nations of the world to recognize this simple truth. There is also a second truth: The way to resolve conflicts is by direct negotiations.
 
We are ready at all times to hold direct negotiations without preconditions with our neighbors; however, they are not prepared to hold them with us. These are the two things that are preventing peace not a few apartments near the city of Maaleh Adumim, or several neighborhoods in Jerusalem."