Statement by FM Silvan Shalom after meeting with Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation
It is my pleasure to welcome the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, on his first visit to Israel, although this visit comes at a time of great sadness and sorrow for the Russian people.
Allow me at the outset of my remarks to express here in public – as I did on our meeting – the sorrow and condolences of the Israeli government and people over the terrible terrorist attacks in Russia in recent weeks. Israel condemns in the strongest possible way the attacks on the two airliners, and the horrific terrorist attack in Beslan, which took the lives of so many innocent people, including over 150 children.
The Israeli people know the suffering that such terror causes, but we also know the power we have to unite and overcome.
This common bond between our peoples was highlighted earlier today – in my private meeting with the Foreign Minister – when I introduced him to representatives of the families of the victims of the Dolphinarium massacre, in which 21 young Israelis were murdered. These strong people conveyed to the Foreign Minister a letter of solidarity and sympathy for the school in Beslan and an offer to assist in any way they can.
The terror which has hit Russia in the last two weeks is no different from the terror which has struck in New York or Istanbul or Madrid or Tel Aviv or Beersheva. This fact is recognized by the Russian leadership as well. The terrorists make no distinction between nationalities or ages or gender or political affiliation. Their goal is to create fear and destruction, instead of peace and normal human interaction.
Clearly, Israel and Russia share an interest in intensifying our bilateral cooperation in this field. Today we discussed concrete ways to do so. I also informed the Foreign Minister of the willingness of Israeli institutions and agencies to assist in providing medical and other assistance in the wake of these tragedies.
The international community as a whole must unite in the battle against the global terrorist enemy and the states who support it, using every diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military means at our disposal. We must establish a united front against the murderers of children.
Even as we fight terror, however, Israel still seeks to promote the possibility of peace, and I used today’s meeting to update Foreign Minister Lavrov on the preparations for the Disengagement Plan. Israel believes that Russia 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.
As a permanent member of the Security Council and a co-sponsor of the Roadmap, Russia has a key role to play in determining the international response to the continued failure of the Palestinian Authority to live up to its obligations – to fight terror and to conduct essential political and security reforms. This is true also in the UN arena, where Israel looks to Russia to oppose the ongoing Palestinian campaign against Israel and to reject their anti-Israeli initiatives, designed to hurt Israel and divert attention from their own obligations.
It is clear that the solutions to the Palestinian issue lie in Ramallah and Gaza, not in New York or The Hague. I urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to bring Russia’s full weight to bear to bring about more responsible Palestinian leadership that will end the terrorist violence and diplomatic incitement against Israel, and make it possible to return to the negotiating table.
Regarding Iran, I raised with Foreign Minister Lavrov the urgent need to address the danger to the entire international community posed by Iran’s nuclear program. The international pressure on Iran must be intensified dramatically if we are to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Russia, once again, has a key role to play in this effort.
I also raised the urgent need to bring Syria’s support for terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon to an end. Syria’s continued interference in Lebanon and its open support for terror undermine the international community’s efforts to bring peace and stability to our region. The leaders of the international community must make it clear to Syria that it will pay a heavy price for its continued support of terror.
Minister, your visit here is a concrete expression of the strong friendship between our two countries – friendship which today benefits from the richness of the Russian-born community in this country – and marks another step forward in our mutual efforts to promote our ties for the benefit of both our peoples.
While this is your first visit here, we are confident that it will not be your last. We welcome you here as a friend and as a partner and wish you every success.