The Foreign Secretary comes at a time of great hope and opportunity in the Middle East. Israel welcomes his commitment – and that of Prime Minister Blair – to a peaceful and speedy resolution of the conflict in the Middle East.
Statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom
following meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jerusalem, 24 November 2004
It is a great pleasure to welcome my good friend and colleague, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, here to Jerusalem.
The Foreign Secretary comes at a time of great hope and opportunity in the Middle East. Israel welcomes his commitment – and that of Prime Minister Blair – to a peaceful and speedy resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. Israel, of course, shares that commitment, and we are ready to work closely with the British leadership to promote our common objectives.
As I said to the Foreign Secretary in our meeting – there are sadly no shortcuts to achieving peace, nor are there any magic recipes to ensure positive movement. Progress towards peace requires that terrorism be brought to an end and for direct negotiations between the sides to be resumed. This is the sequence set down in the Roadmap, and this is the sequence which must be followed.
The only chance for the success of peace talks between the sides, is if the terrorist option is removed from the equation. Today, the prospects for such progress are greater than they have been in many years.
The forthcoming Palestinian elections offer the hope that the resort to violence will be replaced by dialogue and cooperation. This is what we seek. To this end, Israel will do everything in its power to facilitate the smooth running of the forthcoming Palestinian elections. We also welcome the commitment of the international community to this process.
These Palestinian elections – like the progress towards elections in Iraq – represent an opportunity for real and positive change across the Middle East towards greater democracy, freedom and security for all. We must all act to consolidate this opportunity. This requires not only action to support the development of responsible and effective Palestinian leadership for peace, and against terror.
The international community must also redouble its efforts to confront the other sources of instability and extremism in our region – namely the ongoing terrorist threat of Hizbullah and the dangerous policies of its sponsors – Syria and Iran. Hizbullah – under the guidance of Iran and Syria – has become a key force behind Palestinian terrorism, and the desire to undermine any possibility of peace in this region.
At the same time, Syria continues to occupy Lebanon – against the express demands of the Security Council – while Iran continues its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities.
Israel looks to Britain and Europe to act as one in addressing these dangers to our shared objective of bringing peace and security to this region. As I said to the Foreign Secretary – Israel, for its part, remains committed to working closely with Britain to advance these goals.
Once again, Jack, let me say how pleased I am to welcome you to Jerusalem.