The two leaders discussed developments in the region, advancing the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Iranian nuclear issue and abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

 

 President  Peres meets with Chancellor Merkel

 

President Peres and Chancellor Merkel in Jerusalem

(Communicated by the President’s Media Adviser)

President Shimon Peres today (Tuesday, February 1, 2011), held a working meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  The two leaders discussed developments in the region, advancing the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Iranian nuclear issue and abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

At the beginning of their meeting, President Peres told Chancellor Merkel: "I welcome you to Israel. You are a leader who combines a clear moral voice and pragmatism." The President emphasized that the world must closely study the results of the ‘democratic’ election in Gaza, which led to the rise of Hamas, an extremist religious regime that supports terrorism. "Democracy must not begin and end with elections alone. True democracy starts on the day after elections, in ensuring human rights and seeing to the welfare of the people," the President said. He added that, "If, the day after democratic elections, an extremist and dangerous religious dictatorship takes power, what is the purpose of the democratic elections? Democracy is more than election day; it also includes the day after."

President Peres said, "There is a clear attempt to establish an extremist and dangerous religious hegemony in the Middle East.  Iran is working behind the scenes to entrench its influence in the region. The problem of Iran and global terrorism is not an Israeli monopoly but concerns the entire world. Only recently did we witness terrorism in the heart of Moscow and today no capital in the world is immune against terrorist attacks. Europe has a central role to play in building a defense against missiles, that will be spread over the Middle East, and in blocking Iran’s nuclear program."

Regarding the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians, Chancellor Merkel said that given recent events in the region, it was urgent to accelerate the peace negotiations.  "Peace between Israel and the Palestinians must ensure security for Israel, define the borders of the Palestinian state and resolve the other core issues on the agenda," she added.

Chancellor Merkel said that she supports President Peres’ remark that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a problem for the entire world and added, "I have come to Israel at a decisive moment in history. Israel’s security is a global issue, not a bilateral one, and Germany will do its utmost to maintain Israel’s security and stability."