By COLlive reporter
Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili paid a 2-day state visit to Israel this week, where he met political and business leaders.
Notably accompanying Ivanishvili on his first foreign trip, other than the neighboring Russia, was Chief Rabbi of Georgia Avishai Batashvili.
Batashvili, a Chabad Shliach, and Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz led Ivanishvili on a tour of the old city of Jerusalem, the Kotel and the Western Wall Tunnels, explaining their importance to Jewish faith.
At the Kotel, Ivanishvili proceeded with a moment of prayer to praise the friendship, and the continuous collaboration of Georgia and its Jewish community.
“I have special feelings toward Israel, and toward the Jewish people,” he told the Jerusalem Post. “I don’t hide this, and always state it with pleasure. It is an exceptionally talented nation.”
Jews have lived in Georgia since the destruction of the First Temple, and there are an estimated 120,000 Georgian Jews now living in Israel.
Ivanishvili, ranked number 153 in Forbes’s list of the world’s billionaires, opened a Georgian-Israeli business forum attended by close to 100 business people from both countries.
Present was Russian-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Mikhael Mirilashvili whom the Prime Minister highlighted in his remarks for his charity and care for Georgian Jews and other causes.
Batashvili was invited to join the meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset speaker Yuli Eidelstein and other notables.
Unlike other heads of state and dignitaries, neither Ivanishvili or his delegation have visited the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on this trip. “It is a visit only to Israel,” he stated.