Key points from an interview with FM Shalom broadcast on Israel Radio (Channel 2)
Anti-Semitism in France
FM Shalom: There is no doubt that in France there is discomfort in the wake of recent events. They sense that, at this stage, they are unable to identify the perpetrators of these attacks. It is true that they are calling them hooligans, and that the attackers are described in pejorative terms, but they are also aware that they have a problem on their hands. I believe that the French are determined to eradicate the problem. I heard the Interior Minister Dominique De Villepin, who stated that France would do everything it possibly can to put an end to this phenomenon. I also said that the declarations by President Chirac and the French leaders are impressive and important. In this area, France is leading the way in Europe with regard to their strong condemnations of these anti-Semites. At the same time, though, I believe that declarations, important as they are, cannot take the place of actions.
I believe that there are a series of steps that must be taken. It is necessary to increase the security measures, the cells and organizations that are behind these attacks must be exposed, the perpetrators must be brought to justice and punished severely. Up until now, the sentences delivered have not exactly matched the severity of the crimes committed. I said that significant measures must also be introduced in the schools. I was pleased to hear the declaration of the mayor of Paris – he stated that on September 1, on the day that the school year begins, he would submit a program for action, which must be studied by all teachers in the educational institutions of Paris. Moreover, he has launched a public campaign throughout Paris, and has spoken out against anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination. There is a great willingness to achieve calm, and there is awareness of the considerable increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the last six months. There have already been 170 such cases.
The Meeting with Nabil Shaath
FM Shalom: The meeting is within the framework of an interfaith conference organized by the Italian foreign minister, which is due to take place on Thursday…. It will be a trilateral meeting with the participation of Foreign Minister Frattini, Nabil Shaath, and myself. In accordance with the request of the Italian foreign minister, we will discuss ways to narrow the differences among the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths and, therefore, Nabil Shaath will also be present.
Europe and the Verdict of the International Court of Justice
FM Shalom: I feel that it is necessary to speak to the Europeans, in particular, after the UN vote and ahead of the September vote. Therefore, I had a lengthy discussion with the foreign minister of France and I will meet on Thursday with the foreign minister of Italy. The foreign minister of Germany will be visiting Israel next Monday, ahead of the meeting of the EU foreign ministers next weekend. This meeting will pave the way for their decision on the issue of the UN vote regarding the anti-terrorism fence. We view this as a matter of great importance. In the last vote, we were told that there would be a European abstention. At the last minute, though, they supported the Palestinian proposal. Since the next stage is particularly significant, in regard to the decision whether or not to submit the matter to the UN Security Council, it is crucial that we hold a dialogue with all the European countries and, in particular, with significant countries such as France, Italy, and Germany, as well as other countries. I intend to hold comprehensive discussions, with a view to achieving a different European attitude.
Yesterday, I was told that there is understanding for the need of Israel to defend itself. Of course, the disagreement always focused on the route of the [anti-terrorism] fence. Nevertheless, the recent moves, and the decision of Israel’s Supreme Court, have also contributed to our information efforts on this issue.