I have just completed an important and productive meeting with my friend and colleague, Foreign Minister of Belgium, Louis Michel.
It is a double pleasure to welcome the Foreign Minister here to Israel at this time after a period of regrettable tension in the relations between our two countries. I am pleased to say that we have put that matter behind us.
I heard from the Foreign Minister very strong words of commitment to promoting Israeli-Belgian ties and I am happy to say that I too am committed to this effort. I believe that both Israel and Belgium, as well as all the countries of Europe, have much to gain from closer ties between us.
We discussed practical ways in which we can promote this agenda in the coming weeks and months, including the launching of a formal political dialogue between our two foreign ministries, and other joint projects to promote trade, cultural exchange, aid cooperation and so on.
Particular stress was put on the question of anti-Semitism, which is a source of deep and profound concern to everyone here in Israel. I reiterated to my colleague that anti-Semitism is not only a problem for Israel and the Jews, it is Europe’s problem as well. I called on Foreign Minister Michel and all European leaders to take active steps in the field of education and law-enforcement to combat this growing danger.
Our discussion also covered latest developments with regard to the Palestinians and in the Middle East in general. I stressed the cardinal importance of resolute Palestinian action against terror, without which it will not be possible to return to political dialogue. Europe’s leaders have a particularly important role in conveying this fundamental truth to the Palestinians.
I also conveyed Israel’s satisfaction with Belgium’s opposition to the involvement of the International Court of Justice on the issue of the anti-terror fence – involvement which will only do damage both to the court and to the prospect of peace itself.
Once again let me say how pleased we are to have Foreign Minsiter Michel here in Jerusalem. I look forward to working together with him to promote closer understanding and partnership with Belgium and Europe.