FM Peres meets with Israeli Ambassadors

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
August 23, 2001

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres appeared today (August 23) before all of Israel’s Ambassadors serving in the countries of Eastern Europe and the CIS. Peres said that there has been a considerable change in Israel’s relations with the East European countries, and that their enthusiasm for the Arabs is a thing of the past.

The former Soviet Union had invested $150 billion in the Middle East, supplying arms to the Arab states. Peres said that this sum could have been used to salvage the economy of the whole of Eastern Europe.

With regard to the Palestinian issue, Peres stated that Israel had to make a decision. Even the absence of a decision constitutes a decision: in a situation of this kind, democracy will triumph over territory, and Israel will either cease to be a Jewish state, or it will cease to be a democracy. Peres added that he was not certain whether there was a clear majority in favour of the historic decision required.

According to Peres, the Palestinians today are acting out of despair, rather than out of hope. Israel must not allow itself to be portrayed as an ugly state, from a moral standpoint, and in the television age, this danger exists. The Foreign Minister added that Israel is focusing on the creation of a situation that will pave the way towards the launching of the Mitchell Plan.