President Isaac Herzog this morning (20th November), met at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem with the President of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, who was visiting Israel and the region.
President Herzog thanked President Rinkēvičs for his support and friendship with Israel, and stressed the importance of efforts to release the hostages held by Hamas. Earlier in his visit, the President of Latvia had met with families of some of the hostages.
President Herzog said “Welcome Mr. President. We are very grateful to you and to the nation of Latvia for being so supportive of us in these very dire moments in our history.
“We’ve gone through an enormous challenge of agony, pain, a tragedies that have befallen our people time and again, as we are fighting to uproot one of the worst, atrocious, murderous organisations in the world – part of an empire of evil that shows no mercy to anybody who’s different from them.
“Part of this empire of evil operating all over the region, we saw yesterday, a new record, for the first time we saw official announcement of pirates taking over a ship on the high seas, which I think is a major threat to international law and order.
“The ship is a Japanese ship, which was hijacked enroute from Turkey to India. I think it calls for a major concern for the international community and shows that we are dealing with an empire of hate, which emanates from Tehran, and the world must understand it and challenge it with no mercy.
“But most importantly, we are pleading and working tirelessly to bring the hostages back home.
“I’m grateful to you that you met families yesterday. It means the world to them and to us. This is a grave humanitarian tragedy, and we want them back now, as soon as possible. Thank you very much for your support.”
President Rinkēvičs responded “Thank you very much, Mr. President. First of all, thank you very much for receiving me and my delegation here in Israel. This is a visit of solidarity and support.
Yesterday we had a very moving, very emotional meeting with families of hostages being held by Hamas terrorists. It was heartbreaking to hear those stories about boys, a young guy, also a couple being held hostage, and then not knowing.
We feel this attack also very personally, because one of our citizens, a Latvian citizen who was also a citizen of Israel, was killed during the attack of 7th October.
So let me just say that we do support the right of Israel to fight, we also support – and we will try to do our best as much as we can to secure the release of all hostages, working with international community, applying pressure.
And, of course, we also believe that the situation Israel is facing is really dangerous, not only for your country, for the region, but actually also for the globe.
I do hope that all hostages will be released very soon. I do hope that we will be seeing also more support and solidarity by the international community.”