(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Shimon Peres held a working meeting on Thursday morning (April 7) with Ambassadors from countries currently serving in the UN Security Council as well as other countries from the Middle East. Ambassadors from the following countries attended: Russia, France, Britain, India, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Norway, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and the Palestinian Observer to the UN.
President Shimon Peres received the news about a missile striking a bus carrying children in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council during the meeting with the ambassadors. The President, who was discussing the security threats from Gaza immediately updated the ambassadors and said:
"I was just informed that an Israeli bus carrying schoolchildren home from school was hit with a missile fired from Gaza. There are reports of injured. This is a real life example that Gaza has become a terrorist state. Can the United Nations guarantee that terror attacks will not happen again? None of you would give up on the safety and security of your citizens just as Israel will stand in its own defense." The President pointed out to the ambassadors that "hundreds of thousands of mothers and their children in Southern Israel cannot sleep at night as a result of the rocket attacks from Gaza."
The President also commented on the proliferation of flotillas traveling to Gaza and said: "Behind every flotilla is a provocation and a desire for newspaper headlines. Whoever wants to help Gaza should insist that Gazans stop firing on Israel."
Regarding the Iranian situation, President Peres told the ambassadors: "Israel is not willing to accept that there is a member in the United Nations, Iran, headed by a President who threatens to destroy another member nation of the UN, Israel. Why do you permit him to do this while allowing him to continue to be a member? He appears here and calls for destruction and hate. There is a double standard when it comes to Iran."
President Peres continued and referred to the Goldstone Report: "It is the same thing with the Goldstone Report – Israel conducted an investigation into Cast Lead. We investigated ourselves – not because we were accused of something but rather because the Israeli army is not just based on guns but values as well. The investigative committee checked 400 incidents and in three cases there was suspicion of wrong doing. Those soldiers in those three cases stood trial. Everyone who fights terror – and it makes no difference if he is American, Russian or French knows how complicated it is." He added: "I read that Goldstone expressed regret about the report he wrote. Unfortunately fictions exist longer than denials."
With respect to Israel’s position in the United Nations President Peres said: "We see ourselves as a responsible member of the UN and we want to be a contributing nation but we don’t want to be a victim in the UN because we are a minority. We can never benefit from a majority. The blocs in the UN are based on being anti-Israel and we don’t have an opportunity for justice. In spite of this we will continue to struggle for our defense and fight for peace. Today, the top priority is the desire to achieve a responsible peace with the Palestinians so that that can achieve independence and we can have security. If you want to help the Middle East, put an end to conflict as soon as possible."
On Friday, President Peres will meet with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The President will discuss in detail the Goldstone Report, the apologetic op-ed of Judge Goldstone, and the President’s demand to retract and repudiate the report. The two will also discuss the situation in Gaza, weapons smuggling in the region, and ways to advance the peace process between Israel and its neighbors.