The decision to broaden the base of relations between Germany and Israel, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, is a very important development.

 Statement by PM Ehud Olmert at press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

 

PM Olmert meets with German Chancellor Merkel (Photo: GPO)

Thank you very much Chancellor Merkel for your invitation and the very warm hospitality which you have accorded to me and my delegation. It’s not the first time, you have done it before and I have always enjoyed coming here and listening to your very interesting and deep perceptions of the realities that we face in our part of the world.

I am particularly happy that we decided, following talks that we had in the past, to expand and broaden the base of relations between Germany and the State of Israel. As you have so correctly said, and we dealt with it in extensively our private talks, there is a very unique history to the relations between the German people and the Jewish people in the State of Israel. You are fully aware, and deeply aware, of the enormous historical responsibility of Germany for our past and therefore also for building up a different future.

The decision to broaden the base of relations between Germany and Israel, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, is a very important development which would allow both of us not just to strengthen the relations but also to deepen the understanding – on both sides – of the significance of those relations, given the history, and at the same time given the future challenges which the State of Israel and the Jewish people face at this time in our lives.

We have discussed the issues which are on top of the agenda, first and foremost of course the peace process between us and the Palestinians. We have touched on the prospects for further understanding which hopefully will lead to a basis of an agreement between us and the Palestinian Authority. At the same time we have discussed at some length the complexities, the sensitivities, the constraints within which we have to operate, particularly the continued terrorist actions against Israeli citizens coming from the south, but not only from the south, but also in other parts of the territories. This is a very unique situation – how to keep a certain balance, one hand to carry on the battle against terror and at the same time not to stop the momentum of negotiations between us and the Palestinians.

The only way which I think it can be done is to indeed carry on the negotiations with the Palestinians in order to help build a basis of hope that things will look better in the future, but at the same time not to stop our campaign against terrorists in Gaza and in other places. I think our position has been made very clear: We will continue to fight the terrorists. We will not stop, we will not make any discount to anyone, we’ll reach out for everyone and we will do it with strength, determination, and without any delay.

I don’t think we have to go into more details precisely how we are going to do it, and I know there are lots of speculations, lots of discussions, lots of suggestions, everywhere on what we should do exactly. That, I’m afraid, I will not share with you, but I can say one thing: the Israeli Government under my leadership is absolutely determined to respond to the challenge of terror from Gaza in every possible manner which will be effective. We will not hesitate, we will not stop, we’ll do what’s necessary to be done so that terrorists will understand that that leads nowhere.

At the same time we will continue our negotiations with the Palestinian Authority lead by Abu Mazen, Salam Fayad, and Abu Ala, people who have manifested over a long period of time that they are committed to the commitments made by the Palestinian Authority, that they want to fulfill the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that they are opposed to terror, and that they are prepared to share with us the burden that is necessary in order to carry on towards a peaceful, and fair and just understanding that will lead to peace between us and the Palestinians.

These negotiations are going on, they are not easy. We try to move on forward with the "easier" issues, relative to what is more difficult in this very delicate complex. While we try to move on forward through those issues that can be resolved perhaps faster than others, there are some other issues on the agenda that will be discussed later, including the issue of Jerusalem. But we will make every possible effort to continue our discussions. I am scheduled to meet next week with Abu Mazen as part of this effort in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians on levels will continue.

Finally, Chancellor mentioned the issue of Iran. Israel is on the opinion that the Iranians are moving forward with their plans to create a capacity for non-conventional weapons. Nothing that we know has changed our attitude on this issue. We are certain that Iranians are engaged in a serious, part of it clandestine, operation to build up a non- conventional capacity. There is no other reason why, while they receive nuclear fuel for civilian use from Russia they continue their enormous efforts to enrich uranium which can be of use for one purpose only: for the building up of nuclear power.

There are other evidence that we posses, and we share this evidence naturally with our friends, that the plans of the Iranians are not as naive and innocent as they pretend them to be. Therefore every possible effort to stop it – through diplomatic channels, through the international institutions, through the United Nations Security Council, through the European Union – is of great significance. We welcome the leadership that has been manifested by Chancellor Merkel in this direction together with President Sarkozy, with Prime Minster Gordon Brown, and with other leaders of course in America and other parts of the world. This is mainly the challenge of the big powers, Israel inevitably is very sensitive and very interested in these efforts, and we will join forces and cooperate with our senior friends in order to help bring a possible solution that will deter the Iranians from continuing their programs.

And again Chancellor Merkel, it’s always very pleasant to be your guest and to enjoy your hospitality and your friendship. I mentioned to you yesterday night while we had dinner, that you were so gracious to offer Israeli wine to your guests, which was wonderful. You were the first foreign leader who came to visit with me, immediately after I was catapulted into the position of Prime Minister of Israel in January of 2006, and your friendship and your deep emotional attitude to the State of Israel and the Jewish people has greatly affected me and my people and I wish to thank you for this.