(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
This afternoon, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with the Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, Dr. Javier Solana. Other participants in the meeting were the Military Secretary to the Prime Minister, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant, Foreign Policy Adviser Shalom Tourgeman, Israel’s Ambassador to the European Union, Oded Eran, Deputy Director General of the European Desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ran Curiel, and the Media Adviser to the Prime Minister, Asaf Shariv.
Dr. Solana is expected to become the European Union’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in the coming years, in the framework of the EU’s new constitution, and the Prime Minister congratulated him on his appointment.
During the meeting the Prime Minister noted:
“We were disappointed by the sweeping support of all the EU countries at the UN General Assembly. It was a one-sided resolution, which is based on an unbalanced opinion by the International Court at The Hague, which completely ignores the raging terror against Israel. The reference to terror in the opinion of the court was minimal. It is an opinion from which one could conclude that Jewish blood is cheap. The essence of this opinion and the UN Assembly resolution is one: a green light to Palestinian terror.
Israel is interested in involving the international community, and especially Europe, in the process with the Palestinians. However, in the face of such biased and determined stances against Israel, which completely disregard Israel’s security problems, it will be difficult to cooperate and build trust.
We are interested in cooperating with Europe on a range of topics, however, without a significant change in its stances, especially regarding Israel’s security and right to self-defense, it will be difficult to achieve such cooperation.
It is important that the European Union acts to stop the biased anti-Israel activity in the UN regarding the fence, and prevent a situation in which the issue will be brought to the Security Council, and then the United States will be forced to veto the resolution.
Israel will continue to build the fence, which has proven to be an effective measure for the prevention of terror. It is a security obstacle, which is temporary and reversible. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the fence is a security measure and Israel has a right to build it to protect its citizens. The Court also determined that the right balance must be found between our security needs and the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians.
Israel will act in accordance with the ruling of its Court only. A team was established to determine the route which will provide the necessary security, with maximum reference to the Court’s recommendations.
We attach great importance to cooperation with the international community for the success of the Disengagement Plan in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. We intend to maintain our contacts with the international community through the Forum of Donor Countries, in which the European Union is represented. The first meeting with representatives of the Forum took place yesterday. It was decided to establish four working groups, and it will be important to promote the various issues in this framework.
We wish to strengthen our bilateral relations with Europe. The scope of trade between us is encouraging and we must remove the obstacles in order to continue developing these relations.
Global terror has become the primary threat not only to Israel, but also to the entire free world. The terror attack in Spain showed that Europe is not immune to terror. The international community must unite and join forces in order to stop this dangerous phenomenon.
We appreciate the inclusion of the Hamas on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. However, Europe has yet to include Hizbullah on its list of terrorist organizations. Hizbullah assists Palestinian terror, finances it and trains its activists. It is hard to understand how Hizbullah is not on the list.
We attach great importance to freezing funds of Islamic organizations, which raise money on European soil, and channels it to Palestinian terrorist organizations.
I would also like to express my appreciation of the EU, for its decision to outlaw the Al Aqsa Fund, and it is important to continue to do so with other funds. We maintain dialogue with European countries on this matter, and we are prepared to deepen our ties with the new European Commissioner assigned to the fight against terror.
We are concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. It is a new form of anti-Semitism, which originates from Islamic fundamentalist activity on European soil, and translates into anti-Israel sentiments and anti-Semitic activity. I would like to express my appreciation of the actions Europe has taken to eradicate this phenomenon, such as events and educational activities dealing with this field. We view this as a great danger. There is an anti-Semitism which is different from the traditional one and bears anti-Israeli elements”.
The Prime Minister also explained to Dr. Solana that “the Disengagement Plan is not a part of the Roadmap, but can pave the way back to the Roadmap, on condition that the Palestinians fulfill their commitments. I would have preferred to have a partner with whom we could implement the Roadmap, but as long as Arafat is there, it will not happen”. The Prime Minister emphasized that Israel will not make any compromise on its security – neither now nor in the future.
The Prime Minister elaborately explained to Dr. Solana the details of the Disengagement Plan, including the role of Egypt in preventing the smuggling of weapons.
Dr. Solana thanked the Prime Minister for the invitation to visit Israel. He noted that despite the UN vote, the bilateral relations between the European states and Israel have improved considerably and developed in several fields. Dr. Solana also updated the Prime Minister on European activity for the prevention of terror and on his visit to Egypt this week. Dr. Solana emphasized again that Israel has a right to defend itself against terror.