FM Shalom: The international community must demand that the Palestinian community fulfill their obligations – to shut down the terrorist infrastructure, and to bring those responsible for terror to justice.
It is my great pleasure to welcome my colleague, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, to Jerusalem.
This is the minister’s first visit to Israel in his position, and I welcome his determination to come here, despite his busy European schedule, in order to see first hand the realities of our life here. There is no substitute for such direct experience and acquaintance.
In our discussions today, the foreign minister and I discussed how we can work together to enhance the understanding and cooperation between Israel and Belgium. Both countries have much to gain from closer ties, particularly in the field of trade and commerce.
I also raised with the foreign minister Israel’s concerns regarding rising anti-Semitism in Europe. All countries must stand up and address this danger.
Regarding the current situation in the Middle East, I reiterated to my colleague Israel’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of our conflict with the Palestinians, and I shared with him the details of Israel’s recent actions in this regard, including our determination to stick to our commitments from the Sharm e-Sheikh summit.
The foreign minister is visiting here at a time of great opportunity, but also a time of great danger to the peace process.
Minister de Gucht visited yesterday the site of Friday night’s terrorist attack, which killed five innocent Israelis and injured many more. Friday’s attack – carried out by the Islamic Jihad with Syria’s backing – has shown once again just how fragile and mistaken, the idea of a cease-fire is. A cease-fire with terrorist organizations is a ticking bomb that has always blown up in our faces in the past, and will always do so in the future.
This is why Israel calls on the international community – now gathering in London for important meetings on reforming the Palestinian Authority – to emphasize that the only way forward to political negotiations is through dismantling the terrorist organizations. The international community must demand that the Palestinian community fulfill their obligations – to shut down the terrorist infrastructure, and to bring those responsible for terror to justice. We need a partner who is ready, not only to make declarations, but also to deliver on its promises.
Separately – as Abu Mazen himself has mentioned – there are third parties like Syria, and Iran, and Hizbullah, who are trying to destroy any chance for peace. Regardless of the efforts that the Palestinians themselves must invest against terror, the international community must also invest every effort to stop these extremists from undermining the current opportunity for peace.
Today, I called on my Belgian colleague and his EU partners to include Hizbullah on the European terrorist list and to put greater pressure on the Syrians and Iranians to end their support for terror.
Despite the present challenges, this remains a time of great opportunity and hope for our region. We must all act to seize this opportunity. Israel looks to Belgium to use its good standing in the Arab world to encourage the moderate Arab countries to support our peace efforts – in word and deed. We must all do everything in our power now, not only to isolate the extremists, but also to strengthen the moderates.
Once again, it is my pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister de Gucht to Jerusalem and to wish him a pleasant and fruitful stay.