President Peres: “Assad has to understand that he won’t get the Golan Heights on a silver platter as long as he’s in contact with Iran and strengthening Hezbollah; Israel is willing to sit down immediately at the negotiating table but without any prior conditions”

 President Peres meets with German FM Steinmeier


President Peres and FM Steinmeier in Jerusalem (Photo: Emil Salman/Jeni)

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

Israeli President Shimon Peres held an official meeting this morning (Monday, July 6 2009) with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. They discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and the state of the peace process between Israel and its neighbors. On the subject of Syria, the president told the German foreign minister, who is going on to Damascus and Beirut after his visit in Israel, that “Assad has to understand that he won’t get the Golan Heights on a silver platter as long as he’s in contact with Iran and strengthening Hezbollah. He has to make a strategic decision. We will not let the Golan Heights be turned into a launch pad for Hezbollah’s rockets.”

The president of the State told the foreign minister that he is welcome to deliver a clear message to Assad that “Israel aspires to peace with all its neighbors. If Syria really and truly wants peace, Israel is willing to start immediate, direct negotiations without any mediation or preconditions.”
Regarding Iran, the president told Foreign Minister Steinmeier, “The world is now opening its eyes to the true intentions of the Iranian regime – starting with its sponsorship of terror. The change will grow out of the poor people in Iran, who see their leadership’s corruption.” He added, “The day Ahmadinejad was elected in Tehran was the day he completely lost out.”

The Israeli president said we are looking at an historical window of opportunity for peace in the region, and must not miss the chance. “The greatest problems before us also conceal great hope. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a brave step and united the entire State of Israel behind the principle of two states for two peoples – that was not simple or easy for him, even considering the need to preserve the coalition, but I can tell you that Netanyahu wants peace and is willing to begin negotiating with the Palestinians in order to advance peace in the region.”

The president emphasized in his remarks that “today we are now witnessing significant changes in the West Bank – Israel has removed 25 of the 41 roadblocks in the West Bank, which is now being done properly and to the satisfaction of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.” The president also elaborated on the importance of the international community’s, including Europe’s, involvement and support in the process of improving the Palestinians’ governing ability and effectiveness; and he praised the hard work being done by the Europeans in helping prepare the police force in Jenin, and by General Dayton in training the Palestinian security forces.

The foreign minister stressed in his statements that “the way to stability and peace goes through the negotiating table with the Palestinians, with the negotiations conducted according to the principle of two states for two peoples, and based on the necessary precondition of preserving the State of Israel’s security.” He added that “Europe is committed to strengthening the moderate forces in the Middle East.”