The real conflict in the Middle East is between the moderate and the extremist people.

 Remarks by FM Liberman at reception in Lima, Peru


FM Liberman meets with Peru President Garcia in Lima, 26 July 2009 (Photo: Reuters)

During his recent visit to South America, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman addressed a reception given in his honor in Lima, attended by senior Peruvian officials, among them the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Tourism and Trade, Justice and Defense. At the event, he made the following remarks:

”Your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, José Antonio García Belaúnde, Ministers, Ambassadors, members of parliament, distinguished guests,

It is a big honor and a great pleasure to be here with you and to bring congratulations and best regards from the State of Israel, especially two days before you celebrate your biggest holiday, your independence day. For us it is really a new page in our policy, because this visit is the first visit after 23 years to South America. I want to stress now that South America is one of the important factors in the international politics and I am happy to visit Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Colombia as the next destination.

We have had very special friendly relations with the state of Peru from the beginning with the first vote in the UN establishing the State of Israel. We have a very nice Jewish community in Peru and we respect the very good relations between the leadership of Peru and the leaders of the Jewish community. We also respect the fact the 29th of November in Peru is the Day of Friendship between Peru and Israel. The 29th of November is the day of the decision in the UN that recognized the right of existence for our state. 

Also, the fact that Peru recognizes and respect our memories of the tragedy of the Holocaust is something very important to us. I had today a very nice and very interesting meeting with the President of Peru and my colleagues the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

I came to Peru only this morning and now despite being tired I find very nice friends and I feel a very friendly atmosphere and very friendly relations, it is maybe the most important thing. We hope to develop our relations, to intensify our ties, and I am sure our two countries share strategic interests.

Also some words about the Middle East, about the recent events in our region, to clarify the position of this new government.

First of all, we think that the real conflict in the Middle East is not between Israelis and Palestinians nor between Israelis and Arabs. The real conflict in the Middle East is between the moderate and the extremist people. The biggest threat to Mahmoud Abbas and his administration is not Israel, but Hamas and the Jihad. The biggest threat to Harari’s government in Lebanon is Hizbullah and the biggest threat to Mubarak in Egypt is the Muslim brotherhoods. And the biggest problems of Afganistan and Pakistan are of course the Talibans.  We have agreements and we have disputes with the Palestinians, but despite these differences, we support Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, we invest money and we have close cooperation with General Dayton to strengthen their security forces.

In the last four months we made real efforts to change the situation in Judea and Samaria. We diminished the number of roadblocks from 41 to 14 and we started very important projects with Tony Blair in the Palestinian Authority. We think it is the right time to start direct talks between us and the Palestinians. But now it’s the Palestinian decision. We are ready to sit around the table in any moment and we are still waiting for the Palestinians.

Now, we see on TV and hear that the settlements are an obstacle to peace. This is a misunderstanding of the situation between us and the Palestinians. Even before ’67, even before the establishment of the State of Israel, the situation was the same, or very similar: there was a conflict, a friction, a tension, terrorist acts. During these 19 years [1948-1967] the situation was the same as today. For 19 years, the Arabs were in control of all these territories including the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria but nobody established any Palestinian state. And what was before 1948? Before 1948, the situation was exactly the same. We think that people who want to avoid reality, who look for the same excuse while not starting direct talks, use the issue of settlements as an excuse.

We are sure that the biggest problem in the Middle East is, first of all, the Iranians. The President of Iran every week tries to deny the fact of the Holocaust. We saw how they deal with protests in Iran after the last elections. This is a regime that kills even his own citizens, and we can understand its position in the international community. This regime is the biggest sponsor of wide terrorist activity. We have had a very bad experience, here in South America, with two terrorist acts against our embassy and the community center in Buenos Aires. Argentinean courts proved that the people behind these terrorist attacks were Iranians.

And of course what has happened here in South America. There are coalitions and close cooperation with Hugo Chavez, with Bolivia. We can see even here in South America the influence of the axis of the evil.

The Iranians try to interfere in domestic issues in all countries in the Middle East – in Lebanon, in Iraq, in the Gaza Strip. And of course, they attempt to achieve nuclear capabilities. Everybody must understand: even the Arab countries cannot accept the fact that Iran will be a nuclear power in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have said very clearly and openly that if Iran will achieve nuclear capabilities we will see in all our region a crazy nuclear arms race. It is a real threat not only for the Middle East but for the entire world. I think that we must do our best to stop these radicals in the Middle East, in South America, in North Korea, every place in the world. I think that we can stop them, I think that the international community today understand very well what is the situation, and we must try to do this together.

I want to thank our Jewish community for hosting this evening,  I must say this is one the most beautiful community center- not only in South America, in Europe… it is really beautiful. We think that this community is a real main bridge between our two countries and I wish and for our community and for Peru a real successful cooperation and a very happy independence day for you.

Thank you. And of course we hope to see Mr. Garcia Belaúnde in Israel as soon as possible.