They met for a discussion that focused on Iran’s bid to become a nuclear power and its threat to "wipe Israel off the map."

 FM Shalom meets with Italian FM Fini


FM Shalom greets FM Fini (Reuters)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met today (Tuesday, 1 November) in Jerusalem with Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini for a discussion that focused on Iran’s bid to become a nuclear power and its threat to "wipe Israel off the map."

Minister Shalom told a joint press conference following their meeting that he and his Italian counterpart agreed that the Iranian issue should go before the United Nations Security Council in order to avert "the nightmare of a nuclear Iran."

Shalom noted that the two ministers had also discussed Syrian support for terrorist groups such as Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad. He pointed out that Security Council Resolution 1559 called for disarming terrorist groups and reiterated Israel’s opposition to such groups participating in the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections. "We have no tolerance for terrorism," Shalom said.

He welcomed a growing role for the European Union in the Middle East peace process, noting today’s decision by Israel’s security cabinet approving the stationing of European monitors at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Such a move will help Israel enhance its growing ties with Muslim and Arab countries, Shalom said.

Foreign Minister Fini endorsed Shalom’s remarks on Iran, asserting that a nuclear Iran would endanger not just Israel, but the entire world, and agreeing that the Iranian issue should go before the Security Council. He noted that earlier in the day he had expressed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the shock of the Italian people over the Iranian president’s recent remarks against Israel. “We are all against terrorism and we cannot forgive the Iranian president’s verbal terrorism,” he said.

In answer to a question, Minister Shalom noted that the details remain to be worked out as to the exact role of the European monitors; whether they would have "an executive or a monitoring role." He said that it would be important for Israel that the Europeans be able to enforce order at the border crossing.

Minister Fini declared that Europe must play an active role as a partner with Israel and the Palestinians in the pursuit of peace and called Israel’s decision on the monitors "an historic decision."

Asked what plans Israel has to meet the Iranian threat, Minister Shalom said that Iranian  President Ahmadinejad’s statements were "extreme but not surprising" and that Iran represents a threat not only to Israel, but to the whole world. Iran is trying to buy time while it achieves a nuclear capability, he said, and for this reason the Security Council should deal with Iran immediately.