Times of Israel/Pacnews: Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has told Pacific Island leaders in Fiji that he hopes they will stand with Israel against what he claims is a strong anti-Israel bias on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Rivlin met leaders from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga and Palau at the first summit of its kind this week.
“Today Iran and its proxies are threatening Israel while spreading terror throughout the region, and around the world,” Rivlin said in a media conference after the meeting. “Israel will do all that is necessary to defend its citizens from the Iranian threat, and we will continue to work with international peacekeeping forces to ensure that our borders remain quiet.
“We were also happy to support Fiji’s election to the UN Human Rights Council, and your presidency of the UN’s Climate Change conference,” Rivlin said. “We hope that Fiji will stand with Israel against the gross anti-Israel discrimination at the UN, especially at the Human Rights Council.“
Last week the council published a blacklist of 112 companies it says are active in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Israel had reacted angrily to the publication of the blacklist, with politicians from across the political spectrum denouncing the UN Human Rights Council for compiling it and vowing to protect Israeli financial interests.
President Rivlin announced the establishment of 100 new scholarships for Pacific Island students of agriculture to train at the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training in Israel, and the opening of a centre for excellence and innovation at the University of the South Pacific.
Thanking Rivlin for what he termed a “historic” visit, Bainimarama said “This summit is very important to us as another stepping stone in strengthening the relations between us. Fiji will continue to pray for the peace of the Middle East region.”
Pacific leaders will meet Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, in Fiji on 20 February, 2020.
Israel's Ambassador to the Pacific, Tibor Schlosser has told Pacnews that the visit builds on the deep relations Israel has with the Pacific for many decades based on the mutual democratic values and the Holy Bible.
“The state of Israel, under the kind hospitality of Fiji’s Prime Minister, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama will be able to meet with the leaders of the Pacific, which will give a boost of friendship and solidarity to the strong and continuous collaboration for our friends in the Pacific Island nations in their sustainable development challenges, based on the unique experience of innovation skills of Israel,” he said.
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, The deputy Prime Ministers of Tonga, the deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu and the Foreign Minister of Solomon Islands have already confirmed their participation in the summit meeting. High-level representatives from other Pacific Island States, including from Vanuatu, are expected to participate as well.