(Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Agernesh Mengistur, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, Netanyahu

The welcoming ceremony for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Jerusalem included Agernesh Mengistu, mother of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli civilian of Ethiopian origin believed to be held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

By United With Israel Staff 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Sunday in Jerusalem with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed.

The IDF orchestra played the national anthems of the two countries at a welcoming ceremony and the two leaders reviewed an honor guard.

Aside from officials representing the governments of the two countries, the ceremony was also attended by Agernesh Mengistu, mother of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli civilian of Ethiopian origin believed to be held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip; Chief Rabbi for Ethiopian Jewry Reuven Wabashat; Kes Avihu Azarya, is chairman of the Council of Ethiopian Spiritual Elders; and Kes Samay Elias, chairman of the Spiritual Council of Ethiopian Jewish kesim. A kes is someone who serves as a spiritual and social leader within the Ethiopian community.

Netanyahu noted that both countries currently face security threats.

“We’re being challenged by radical Islamic terrorists,” said Netanyahu. “They not only challenge us, they challenge the world. We believe that we can offer some experience, some shared experience that we have garnered because of our unfortunate need to defend ourselves”, adding that “we have tremendous things that we can do separately, but I think that we can do it better together. And in that spirit, I welcome you once again to Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu thanked the Ethiopian premier for his “just great humanitarian efforts” in locating and returning the body of Israeli tourist Aya Naamneh, 22, from the Galilee town of Arraba, who had apparently fallen to her death while hiking in Ethiopia’s Danakil Desert on August 17.

The Israeli premier also expressed “great appreciation” for the Ethiopian efforts to identify one of the two Israelis killed in the Air Ethiopia crash in March, Shimon Re’em, and returning his body to Israel.

“I know you personally made extraordinary efforts in that regard, and we are still working on a second Israeli in that tragic airplane crash,” said Netanyahu, referring to the air disaster which killed all 157 people on board.

“You immediately responded to my requests as a sign of both humanity and friendship,” Netanyahu told the Ethiopian leader.

He also praised Ahmed’s “courage in promoting the standing of Ethiopia both internationally and regionally.”

“Our ancient peoples have historic ties, but it’s a special bond because it is also strengthened by a human bridge of 150,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent who bring the culture of Ethiopia, the pride of Ethiopia to Israel, just as they maintain the culture of the Jewish people and the pride of the Jewish people in Ethiopia,” Netanyahu added.