(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this afternoon (Tuesday), 15 March 2005, with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who arrived in Israel for the dedication of the new Yad Vashem museum.
At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Sharon made the following remarks: “We are happy to host, here in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the united capital of Israel forever, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld. Today, Poland is one of the friendliest countries towards Israel. While it is true that we have very bitter memories of Poland, from the actions of the Nazis and those who collaborated with them, in recent years, bilateral relations have progressively strengthened, and I hope that the current visit will contribute to their further enhancement.”
Polish President Kwasniewski replied: “It is a great honor for me to be here in Israel, especially on the occasion of the ceremony that will take place at Yad Vashem. I see it as a continuation of the ceremonies that were held a few weeks ago, including those at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and I think that it is our obligation to coming generations and to the peoples of the world to teach what we know about the Holocaust and tell the whole world: Never again. Regarding our bilateral ties, I think that very good relations have been established, from both political and economic points-of-view. Poland, as a member of the European Union (EU), supports the State of Israel in its efforts to find the best solutions in the peace process.”
Prime Minister Sharon thanked Polish President Kwasniewski for hosting the ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, which very many heads of state attended. The Prime Minister added that he is looking forward to participating in the March of the Living on 5 May 2005 and said that he would be happy if Polish President Kwasniewski would accompany him throughout the visit; the latter said that he would join the Prime Minister on the March of the Living.
Prime Minister Sharon expressed his appreciation for the Polish governments efforts in the context of the task force on learning and remembering the Holocaust. He also expressed his esteem for Polish President Kwasniewski’s actions to preserve the heritage of Jewish institutions and culture on Polish soil. “Establishing museums and educational centers at Treblinka and Belzec is very important, including the establishment in Warsaw of the museum on the history of Jews in Poland.”
Prime Minister Sharon said that he hopes that the issue of private Jewish property in Poland would be resolved to the sides’ satisfaction, in order that this humanitarian issue might be resolved.
Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel was greatly interested in improving bilateral relations and in enhancing relations with the EU as well. It is important that new EU members, such as Poland, act towards this objective.
Prime Minister said that while the EU decision to include Hizbullah on its list of terrorist organizations was important, it was also important that EU member states act to implement their policy vis-a-vis the decision to freeze the transfer of funds and deal with the infrastructures for raising funds in Europe.
Prime Minister Sharon said that it was important for the EU to take urgent action to include Hizbullah on its list of terrorist organizations. The Prime Minister said that it was important not to distinguish between the military and diplomatic branches of Hizbullah, which presents the main danger to Abu Mazen’s regime. Hizbullah encourages terrorist activities and threatens the ceasefire Abu Mazen is attempting to arrange with the Palestinian rejectionist organizations, as was seen in the recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Sharon said that he believes that a new opportunity has been created with the rise of Abu Mazen: “There has been a start to Palestinian activity, mainly in deploying forces, however there has still not been any effective action to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist infrastructures.” The Prime Minister said that without genuine counter-terrorist action by the Palestinians, it would not be possible to advance anything in the diplomatic process.
Prime Minister Sharon said that he is determined to implement the Disengagement Plan and would prefer to do so in coordination with the Palestinians. While the Disengagement Plan is not part of the Roadmap, it can pave the way to dealing with the Roadmap. The Roadmap will be implemented in accordance with its detailed stages, with no shortcuts. There will be no dealing with permanent settlement issues without the full and complete implementation of the first stage of the Roadmap.
Polish President Kwasniewski said that his visit was very important to him because since his election he has invested considerable effort in improving Poland’s relations with Israel and with the entire Jewish people. He told Prime Minister Sharon about the opening of the special center at Belzec and asked him to visit it during his upcoming visit to Poland in May since it was very important to put the site on the global agenda. He said that in his ten years as president, he had fought against all manifestations of anti-Semitism and noted the issues of education and the media as tools in the struggle against this phenomenon. He added that it was due to such efforts and to the awareness of Polish history that anti-Semitism was not as widespread as it was in other European countries.
Polish President Kwasniewski said that his country supported Prime Minister Sharon’s efforts and added that there was hope for change in the region. He added that his country would continue to maintain forces in Iraq and would not withdraw them until the situation there had stabilized.
Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel was aware of Poland’s positive efforts vis-a-vis anti-Semitism and added that this was having an effect on bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Sharon said that it was important to continue pressuring Syria and not to let up by responding to Assad’s peace declarations. The manner in which President Assad deals with the terrorist organizations will be a true indicator of his intentions: “The directives for the last terrorist attack came from Damascus.” The Prime Minister said that Syria was playing a negative role in the region and is continuing to be a transit point for various terrorist organizations, including Hizbullah. The Prime Minister said Syria must stop providing sanctuary for the terrorist organizations (including Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards), close the terrorist organizations’ command centers, dismantle the missile infrastructure in Lebanon and end its occupation of Lebanon by fulfilling UN Security Resolution #1559.