Rivlin welcomed Ethiopian PM Desalegn to Jerusalem, continuing a millenia-old friendship dating back to the Queen of Sheba.
Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official visit to Addis Ababa last July, Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn reciprocated Monday, arriving in Israel where he met with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
“Your connection with Jerusalem is something that goes to the roots of the Bible, and the connection between our people is not a matter of years, it is a matter of centuries, back to the visit of the Queen of Sheba,” Rivlin said to Prime Minister Desalegn.
“We know you attended the funeral of the late Shimon Peres and we remember that and appreciate it very much,” he added.
Rivlin spoke about the contribution to Israel of the 130,000 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants.
“We have a great community of people who came from Ethiopia living here in Israel; among them are generals, doctors, pilots, ambassadors, part of the Israeli environment and experience.”
Among the highlights of Desalegn’s four-day visit, the Ethiopian leader will tour Jerusalem’s Old City, including its Ethiopian church; enjoy a state dinner hosted by Communications Minister Ayoub Kara at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial; meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and be the guest of honor at a dinner hosted at his residence, and hold discussions with Israeli business leaders.
Desalegn will also meet with Ethiopian-Israeli youth at the Netafim Agro-Technological Research and Training Park and visit the Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Ethiopia and Israel share historic ties going back 3,000 years. According to the bible, Queen Makeda of Sheba came to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon “with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (I Kings 10:2). “Never again came such an abundance of spices” (10:10; II Chron. 9:1–9) as those she gave to Solomon. She came “to prove him with hard questions,” which Solomon answered to her satisfaction. They exchanged gifts, after which she returned to her land.
According to some sources, they had a son, Menelik I, who became the first Solomonic Emperor of Ethiopia and ruled around 950 BCE.
Menelik’s dynasty lasted until 1975 when the last emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a coup d’etat.
By Gil Zohar, United With Israel
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