FM Silvan Shalom’s statement after meeting with Swiss FM Micheline Calmy-Rey
Bern, August 11, 2003

Thank you Madam Minister. It is a pleasure to be here and I wish to thank you for your excellent hospitality.

We have just completed a friendly and productive meeting, covering the full range of issues on our common agenda.

Israel and Switzerland share deep-rooted democratic values and an array of common interests. We have much to gain from our close ties and I welcome today’s opportunity to establish concrete ways in which we may advance our common goals.

Regarding the situation in the Middle East, I updated my colleague on the latest developments in the north of Israel.

Yesterday, residents of our northern towns were forced to spend time in bomb shelters and a teenager was killed and four people injured, as a result of intentionally targeted bomb attacks by the Hizbullah terrorist organization on our civilian towns.

These actions are actively supported and assisted by the governments of Syria and Iran.

This situation cannot continue. Israel has reacted with great restraint to this latest terrorist attack, but there is a limit to our patience.

Hizbullah has been recognized by some European countries as a terrorist organization, yet others continue to argue that its actions somehow enjoy legitimacy.

Especially at this time of renewed hope for peace in the Middle East, it is imperative that the international community show zero tolerance towards Hizbullah and its sponsors.

I call upon all the countries of Europe to do everything in their power to ensure that these terrorists – and those who support them – do not destroy our joint efforts to restore calm and bring new hope to our region.

Regarding the peace process, I emphasized to my colleague Israels commitment to peace and our willingness to work together with the new Palestinian leadership to help bring it about.

Israel has already begun fulfilling its commitments under the performance-based road map – withdrawing from key areas in the West Bank and Gaza, dismantling unauthorized outposts, relaxing travel restrictions and granting additional work permits. Israel has also gone beyond the Roadmaps provisions with a series of prisoner releases, and we are willing to do whatever we can to help ease the humanitarian conditions.

We look now to the Palestinian leadership to take the necessary strategic decision for peace and to dismantle the terrorist organizations whose continued existence endangers our effort to build a new reality for our people and their children.

While we welcome the positive change of tone and attitude from the new Palestinian leadership, we know that this is not enough.

We have learned from the past that no peace plan can survive while terrorist organizations maintain their capacity to kill and maim.

Dismantling the terrorist organizations is the key to the success of the entire process.They are the enemies of us all.

In our discussions today, I also raised Israel’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the continued efforts of Syria and Iran to undermine the present drive for peace through sponsoring terror. These policies directly threaten us all.

Minister Calmy-Rey and I agreed that Israel and Switzerland will continue to work closely together to promote our shared goal of bringing genuine peace, security and prosperity to all the people of the Middle East.