Statement by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom after meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
It is a great pleasure to welcome my old and dear friend Joschka to Israel, and to Jerusalem, once again. Joschka has proven time and again his deep friendship for Israel and his understanding and support of our security needs. I am pleased to say that our conversation today once again confirmed this unwavering support.
Israel and Germany will be marking next year the fortieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. These relations are of unique importance to both countries and we will be working together to ensure that this milestone is marked appropriately. Especially at a time when those who lived through the Nazi years are becoming fewer and fewer, it is critically important that both sides redouble their efforts to foster the friendship and historic commitment between us, particularly amongst the younger generation.
In this context, I welcome Germany’s strong leadership in the global fight against anti-Semitism, and urge them to continue this crucial struggle, both at home and in the international arena.
Regarding the Middle East, I updated Foreign Minister Fischer on the preparations for the Disengagement Plan, which we hope will establish a platform for renewed momentum in our peace efforts.
I also raised with him the urgent need for Europe to bring its full diplomatic weight to bear to ensure the necessary political reforms in the Palestinian Authority and an end to terrorism. The desire and need for change in the Palestinian Authority is real and urgent. We are seeing it in recent weeks on the streets of Gaza and Ramallah. Europe can, we believe, play a key role in support of this process, thereby helping establish the conditions that will make it possible to return to the negotiating table.
In this context I raised Israel’s concerns regarding Europe’s position on the Palestinian campaign against Israel at the United Nations. I told my colleague – as I have said often before – that the solutions to the Palestinian issue lie in Ramallah and Gaza, not New York or The Hague. Any assistance given by Europe to the Palestinian effort to condemn and punish Israel at the UN – because of the fence or any other issue – will have significant bearing on Israel’s future attitudes.
For the Israeli people, to vote against the fence is to vote against our right to self-defense. This is something that I believe Europe must take to heart if it wishes to work with us to promote peace in our region.
Israel believes that Europe can make a real contribution to the present opportunities to rebuild the Palestinian Authority and to our efforts to promote peace in the Middle East. It is our hope that the EU will adopt positions that will facilitate this shared objective.
Regarding Iran, Foreign Minister Fischer and I agreed on the urgent need to address the threat to the entire international community posed by Iran’s nuclear program. Israel welcomes the efforts of Germany, together with France and Britain, to deal with this matter, and we discussed the need to intensify the diplomatic pressure on Iran to ensure their success.
We also agreed on the urgent need to bring Syria’s support for terrorism and its own quest for weapons of mass destruction to an end. It is also unacceptable that Syria, a foreign power, should be interfering in Lebanon’s internal elections. The time has come for Syria’s occupation of Lebanon to end.
On a lighter note, I wish to add that I also asked Joschka to intervene in order to ensure that Maccabi Tel Aviv’s forthcoming football match with Bayern Munich will take place on a date suitable to both teams and both countries.
Once again, let me say how happy I am to welcome Joschka here to Jerusalem, and to thank him for his personal friendship and his commitment to the special ties between Israel and Germany and to peace in the Middle East.