President Peres to President Lula: "It is clear to us, without a doubt, that Iran is building nuclear weapons for mass extermination and not for peaceful energy needs."

 President Shimon Peres meets with Brazilian President Da Silva


(Photo: GPO)

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived today on a state visit to Israel. The President was welcomed in an official ceremony at the President’s Residence that included an IDF military review. Three children from Jerusalem welcomed the Brazilian President in Hebrew, Arabic, and Portuguese and presented him with a basket of Israeli fruit.

In his address at the ceremony President Lula said: "This is a double joy and double pleasure since I come to speak not only about peace but also about how to advance the relations between Israel and Brazil. We have not even extracted 20% of the potential between our countries." The Brazilian President added that "I am happy to tell you, President Peres, that the free trade agreement has been signed between Israel and Mercosur. Israel is the first country to sign such an agreement outside South America. It is known that the countries in Mercosur produce $3 trillion in GDP and have a combined population of 270 million people."

President Lula also stated: "There is no justification for war. We must search for the words of peace every day, every minute, every second. We must think of them every time we breathe. Only in this way will can we achieve peace. I am sure that all the efforts toward peace will succeed during your tenure as President."

President Peres warmly welcomed President Lula and said: "We welcome you here with deep respect and a lot of love. In part because you are the President of such an exciting country, but also because you, yourself, are an exciting person, a person that does not give up on big ideas and follows his true values. In this spirit I welcome you here in Jerusalem, the ancient city, the eternal city, a city named after the name of peace. We welcome you."

President Peres gave Lula his impressions from his visit in November: "I visited your great nation and I saw your people, full of good hearts, and I saw your accomplishments in solving the central issues of today. You brought thousands of children to school, reduced poverty, and brought a message of peace and good relations everywhere you went. I know that you also wish to help bring peace to the Middle East. Your contribution is welcome. We have no alternative to the peace process and we do not have much more time to make peace with our Arab and Palestinian neighbors. There may be crises but they cannot break the peace process itself."

The President addressed the recently declared national heritage sites and said: "I want to say to believers of the three monotheistic religions – the Christians, the Muslims, and the Jews – that Israel will respect every holy site, every form of worship, and every means of prayer without government intervention or censorship. Israel ensures the security of every mosque, church, and synagogue and protects the right to worship freely for every faith. Today extremist agents are attempting to incite the region and produce artificial crises and bloodshed. Brazil, for us, is a model in coexistence. I realized this during my visit there and would like to one day see a similar state of affairs in the Middle East."

During the private meeting afterwards President Peres said that he "believes we will be able to advance beyond the present crisis with the United States. The United States is a country of utmost importance and is one of Israel’s key strategic allies. At the end of the day, we must advance on the path to peace."

President Peres asked his Brazilian counterpart to deliver a message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he meets him later this week: "Israel is serious about pursuing peace – it is in Israel’s interest that a thriving and successful Palestinian state will be established and grow. We support two states for two people and do not seek the suffering of our neighbors."

President Peres told President Lula: "Iran is not Israel’s enemy. Our enemy is the extremist, fanatical leadership of Ahmadinejad who speaks openly about the eradication of Israel. I stress that we cannot accept threats to annihilate us. It produces a tough reaction from a people who already suffered the horrors of the holocaust. It is clear to us, beyond any doubt, that Iran is building nuclear weapons for mass extermination and not for peaceful energy needs. Likewise, it continues to support and arm terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah; the former of which undermines peace with the Palestinians and the latter of which divides Lebanon."

President Peres argued that the effective way of combating an extremist leader like Ahmadinejad is through moral sanctions. These will isolate him and the rest of the Iranian leadership by protesting their politics, their acts of immorality, their support of terror, their threats, and their hanging of innocent in the streets. Such moral sanctions must be accompanied by crippling economic sanctions.

President Lula responded to President Peres by saying that he came to this visit with good intentions and out of a desire to advance the peace process: "Brazil has proven itself as a living model of peaceful coexistence. Relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Brazil are excellent and I came to contribute my experience."