I would like to welcome to Jerusalem my friend and colleague, the Foreign Minister of Holland, Bernard Bot, on his first visit to Israel as Foreign Minister.
Israel and Holland share close ties of friendship built on our shared commitment to the values of democracy, human rights and the sanctity of life. Our countries enjoy extensive cooperation in all fields, including science and technology, culture and trade. In 2003 Israel exported more goods to Holland than to any other country in the European Union – a total of over 1 billion dollars – and today we discussed ways to advance this trade even further.
Holland will also hold the Presidency of the European Union from the 1st of July, and today we discussed how to enhance Europe’s contribution to peace efforts.
Europe can and must play a stronger role in building a responsible Palestinian leadership – a leadership that will fight terror and make it possible to reach a negotiated settlement in accordance with the Roadmap. When such a leadership emerges we will work together with them to build a safer and better future for our peoples.
Regarding the war on terror, Minister Bot and I agreed on the need for firm and determined international action to combat this global enemy. Those who target innocent civilians anywhere are the enemy of all civilized societies.
On broader regional issues I raised with the Foreign Minister the danger to regional stability posed by the Syrian and Iranian regimes and their policies in support of terror. We also discussed the importance of continued international pressure on Iran to end its nuclear weapons program.
We look to Holland and to Europe to act to ensure that these dangerous policies are challenged and brought to an end.
I wish to thank Minister Bot once again for being here with us today. I look forward to working with him to promote our shared goal of a safe and secure Israel living in peace with all our neighbors.