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President Reuven Rivlin
Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch
President Rivlin heads to Spain amid Catalonian crisis
Rivlin will be the guest of the King of Spain, Felipe VI during three-day visit; he is expected to meet with the king and Spanish PM Rajoy, speak in front of both houses of the Spanish parliament; and sign bilateral agreements between the two countries; Catalans call to cancel visit.

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama will leave early Sunday for a state visit in Spain as the guests of the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

 

 

The Israeli president is heading to Madrid to mark 30 years to the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, as well as 100 years to the return of Spanish Jews to the country after the expulsion in 1492.

 

Rivlin's visit comes in the midst of a political crisis in Spain after the region of Catalonia announced its independence.


President Reuven Rivlin (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
President Reuven Rivlin (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

 

Catalans protested the Israeli president's visit, calling to cancel it, following the imprisonment of eight Catalan ministers and the arrest order issued against Catalonia's president, who is currently in Belgium.

 

Rivlin's trip would be the first state visit by a foreign leader, and it's important to Madrid to send out a message of "business as usual."

 

"This is a historic and significant visit to a country that is a true friend, and it also shows the deep friendship between the two peoples," Rivlin said ahead of the visit.

 

"Israel and Spain are tied together by the bonds of a shared past. Thirty years ago, our prime ministers—the late Shimon Peres and Felipe González, may he live long—laid the foundations for the future and established the diplomatic relations between the two nations," he continued.

 

"We must realize the unique potential in our ties, which are based on shared values and vision, alongside ability and strength," the president concluded.

  

 (Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)

 

Rivlin will be accompanied by a 37-person business delegation of leading Israeli companies and trade figures, and an academic delegation including leading figures and Nobel Prize laureates. During the visit, Spain and Israel are expected to sign agreements in many different fields.

 

On Monday, Rivlin and his wife will be received at an official state reception by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano at the Royal Palace (Palacio De Oriente). The ceremony will include the playing of national anthems and an honor guard.

 

Later in the day, Rivlin and his wife will be hosted at the royal residence, the Palace of Zarzuela, for lunch with the king and queen, followed by a private meeting between Rivlin and King Felipe.

 

The king and queen will also host Rivlin and his wife at a state dinner, where both Rivlin and King Felipe are expected to speak.

 

The next day, Rivlin will open an economic conference at the offices of the Spanish manufacturers association. Later, he will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the two will oversee the signing of bilateral agreements between the two countries.

 

Rivlin will also address a special plenary of both the Senate and Congress of the Spanish parliament, where he is expected to also speak about Catalonian independence. He will express Israel's support for the Spanish people and talk about the importance of maintaining unity in Spain and reaching understandings and agreements in peaceful ways. The Israeli president will be then awarded medals of both houses and sign the official guest book.

 

Rivlin and his delegation will return to Israel on Wednesday morning.

 

Joining the visit are Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud); Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef; the head of the Association of Imams in Israel, Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan; the spritual leader of Druze in Israel, Mowafaq Tarif; Archbishop George Bacouni, the leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy; Israeli Nobel Prize laureate Ada Yonath; and Amos Yadlin, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies.

 

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