Israel – Partners for Peace
By Silvan Shalom, Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Jerusalem–After almost three years of unrelenting
Palestinian violence and terrorism, hope appears to be returning
to the Middle East and to the lives of the common citizen –
Jew and Arab alike. The new climate of accommodation – a direct
outgrowth of the strategic and geopolitical realities created by
the resolute response to 9/11 and the removal of Saddam Hussein
– has terrorism on the defensive, while the forces of moderation
and stability enjoy renewed momentum over those of tyranny and fear.
Israel looks to Europe as a natural partner in the
effort to seize this opportunity to bring genuine and lasting peace
to our region. Israel and Europe share a common cultural and social
heritage, common values, and a host of shared interests in all spheres.
Our close geographic proximity, intimate trade relations and shared
commitment to democratic values and institutions, as well as our
shared desire to see Israel secure and the Middle East transformed
from a region of war and violence into one of prosperity and stability,
all combine to create a fundamental unity of purpose between us,
more profound and lasting than any specific policy differences.
I will be meeting this Monday with all my European
counterparts as part of Israel’s effort to promote this shared agenda.
Israel is convinced that Europe can and must be a genuine partner
in the US-led drive for peace currently underway, and has much to
contribute and to gain from its success. How can this potential
Firstly, there is a need to acknowledge that there
are no shortcuts on the road to peace.
The experience of the past ten years has taught
us that no peace agreement can survive if hostile elements are allowed
to continue to pursue their agenda of hate and destruction. This
is why the demand for the dismantlement of the Palestinian terrorist
organizations is included as the key Palestinian obligation in the
first phase of the roadmap.
As co-sponsors of the performance-based Roadmap
within the framework of the Quartet, the policy implications for
Europe are clear: Europe must hold the Palestinian Authority to
its commitment to confiscate weapons and dismantle the terrorist
organizations; Europe must act within its own jurisdiction to outlaw
Hamas and Islamic Jihad along with the other Palestinian terrorist
organizations, and to cut off all avenues for funding; and Europe
must reinforce these steps by working with the new Palestinian leadership
to build viable social infrastructures that will actually serve
the Palestinian people rather than the campaign of hate against
The recent decline in terrorist attacks against
Israelis as a result of the self-declared Palestinian truce has
led some to believe that there is no need to follow through on this
cardinal aspect of the roadmap. This is a mistake. Leaving Hamas
and the other terrorist organizations intact will hold the lives
of our citizens and the entire peace effort hostage to the whims
Secondly, those states and other elements who fund
and sponsor terrorism must also be challenged. It is untenable that
states such as Iran and Syria, alongside well-known elements from
within the Palestinian Authority, should continue to enjoy the fruits
of international legitimacy while they actively pursue policies
designed to undermine and derail the road map.
In the new regional environment in the Middle East
there is no room for the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, for the safe
haven granted by Syria to the Palestinian terrorist organizations,
or for the sponsorship of Hizbullah. Nor can their be any tolerance
for Iran’s continued and active sponsorship of terrorist actions
against Israel or its quest for Weapons of Mass Destruction which
would threaten not only Israel but the entire Middle East and Europe
as well. We are encouraged by recent signs that the traditional
European position on these matters is coming under review, but there
is still much that must be done.
Thirdly, Israel looks today to Europe to lead the
way in fostering a new language of acceptance, both in the Palestinian
arena and the broader regional and international context. For too
long, the Middle East has been dominated by a discourse of violence
and intolerance. If our peace efforts are to have any chance of
success, this culture of hate must be replaced by a culture of peace.
The new Palestinian leadership has publicly committed itself to
end the officially-sponsored incitement against Israel. We are encouraged
by the decline in incitement in recent days, but much more still
needs to be done. We look to Europe to assist the Palestinian Authority
in these efforts.
The time has also come for Europe to take the lead
in ridding the UN of anti-Israeli committees and one-sided resolutions
that serve only to perpetuate the conflict. Working to restore Arab
diplomatic ties with Israel and to bring to an end the rampant incitement
against Israel in the Arab world is yet another area where Europe’s
commitment to building a viable and lasting peace can and should
be deployed. Establishing an international climate in which citizens
are taught by the example of their leaders not to hate but to acknowledge
and accept their neighbors is an essential element in transforming
the destructive patterns of the past into constructive patterns
for the future.
Finally, Europe can make a unique contribution to
peace through bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the civil
sphere. European-led projects to build civil society, to promote
job creation, to encourage foreign investment and to build strategic
economic and social capacities in critical areas such as water management,
health and education – all these are critical linchpins of
the better future we seek.
Israel is ready to do its share in promoting this
agenda for peace. We wish to work together with our partners in
Europe to ensure that the present opportunity for peace is not squandered.
The peoples of both the Middle East and Europe will all benefit
if we succeed.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom following the EU Council of Ministers
(Broadcast on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet – July 21,
Q: Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is now participating
in the Council of Ministers forum of the 15 member states of the
European Union. The EU will soon be enlarged to include 25 states.
The foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, Nabil Shaath,
will also be participating in the forum. Aside from the economic
issues on the forum agenda, the ministers will also be discussing
a number of security and international matters, foremost among them
the issues of Iraq and the threat from Iran.
FM Shalom: About an hour ago, I concluded my address
to the expanded forum of the European Union Council of Ministers.
We are referring to 25 ministers representing close to 450 million
people. This is a phenomenon that is not sufficiently understood
in Israel. We are talking about a population that is one and a half
times the size of the US population.
Many issues were raised at the forum, including
the Iranian issue. I explained to them that, from our perspective,
Iran poses a very grave threat to the stability of the entire world,
and not just to the State of Israel. Therefore, we cannot allow
this extreme regime to continue developing weapons of mass destruction.
I explained to the ministers that we must do everything to ensure
that the Iranians sign the Additional Protocol – in other words,
Iran must allow a more comprehensive inspection of their activities.
An additional issue is the need to prevent the enrichment of uranium,
which is now taking place in Iran. We must act on this matter as
soon as possible.
Q: In view of the Iranian announcement regarding
the new Shihab-3 missile, which is capable of reaching Europe, is
this no longer Israel’s problem alone?
FM Shalom: You are correct. Therefore, Europe’s
perception of this matter has now changed. The Europeans understand
today that this threat is liable to be directed at Europe and Russia.
Consequently, they are showing far more understanding, and they
have taken a stronger stand, and this even applies to Iran’s aspirations.
An Iranian refusal to sign the Additional Protocol could result
in the matter being referred to the Security Council in September,
with the possibility of emergency measures being imposed on Teheran.
Q: Is there any significance to the sanctions that
the EU could impose on Iran? Could the EU impose trade sanctions,
for instance, on Iran?
FM Shalom: You have just touched on the right point.
Only a few days ago, the British foreign minister, Jack Straw, visited
Iran, where he told them that the trade agreements between the two
countries would be suspended, in the event that the Iranians do
not sign the Additional Protocol.
Of course, I praised the British foreign minister,
who was present, and I emphasized that this had to be done in order
to make it clear to the Iranians that they have to allow these inspections
– without inspections, they could possess nuclear weapons within
a very short time.
It is important to recognize that the Iranians are
refusing to do this, in view of the fact that they are developing
nuclear weapons. Today, everyone knows this. The International Atomic
Energy Agency will convene in Vienna in September, in order to discuss
the report of Director-General El-Baradei (who was dispatched to
Iran by the IAEA). In the event that they make the correct decisions
at the forum, the matter will be referred to the UN Security Council
for its decision, at the forthcoming session in September.
Q: What about the Syrian moves? How is Syria perceived
among EU leaders?
FM Shalom: Indeed, I was asked about developments
in Syria, even though most of the discussion focused on the Palestinian
issue. I told them that, from our perspective, the negotiations
can be renewed not tomorrow but today – in the event that the Syrians
are ready to do so without preconditions, and once they have taken
action to close the terrorist headquarters and the training camps,
as well as halt the transfer of arms to Hizbullah from Iran, via
the Syrian airports and sea routes. I also asked the EU Council
of Ministers to include Hamas and the Hizbullah on their list of
In addition, I told the EU forum that it is possible
that this act [the Syrian move] has been carried out as a result
of American pressure. In any event, I can tell you that I have asked
the Foreign Ministry staff to carry out a reassessment (and this
is also being carried out in the Ministry of Defense). Has there
really been a change of heart on the part of Assad? Do his approach
and his recent statements indicate a new path and a desire for peace?
Or is it possible that nothing has changed? We would be happy if
we knew that there is a new [Syrian] approach, which seeks negotiations
and the pursuit of peace.
Q: Are there any discussions between Israel and
the EU on the expansion of the Association Agreement?
FM Shalom: Yes. There is no doubt that a great deal
of the discussion focused on the wish of the Europeans to become
more involved in the peace process. I told them that, from our perspective,
Europe could take a more active role in the peace process, although
we would like a more balanced approach on their part.
We sense a positive change. We are seeing the first
signs of change, as well as the willingness of a number of European
countries to include us as full members in the EU. We are now discussing
the possibility of Israel being granted special status within an
enlarged Europe, and this appears to be a more appropriate option.
This European approach is encouraging. In the forum,
I noted the fact that the Europeans have never been involved in
any peace process between Israel and the Arab countries. They did
not play a role in the peace process between Israel and Egypt, and
nor were they involved in the peace processes with Jordan and the
Palestinians – there was no European participation in the Oslo process,
the Hebron Agreement, or the Wye River Memorandum. This is the first
time that they can be part of the process, and be involved in all
the economic components of the joint projects, in all the matters
relating to the campaign against incitement, the implementation
of reforms in the Palestinian Authority, and other issues.
I also stated that we have a request of them: a
more balanced approach must be expressed both in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and the peace process, as well as in UN voting forums and
other international organizations. This more balanced approach should
find its expression in forums where there is an automatic tendency
to support anti-Israeli resolutions – these anti-Israeli votes are
generally conducted without a real examination of the issues.
We are now working on this matter with the Americans,
and they are raising the issue with their European counterparts,
in order to create a new system where knee-jerk voting no longer
occurs, in which a more positive and balanced approach toward Israel
is adopted. I am now working on this with the Europeans, and will
do so with the United States on my forthcoming trip. These issues
are very important. They will indicate that Israel’s standing has
improved not only in the European Union Council of Ministers, but
also in UN institutions and agencies. This issue was also raised
in the context of football.
Q: Will Israeli football teams be able to host matches
FM Shalom: We very much hope so. Last week, I was
in Geneva to hold discussions with UEFA, in order to obtain their
approval for the return of international football to Israel. The
decision will be taken next week, but I want to say that I was greatly
encouraged. One foreign minister after another spoke about the need
for the return of international football to Israel, including German
Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, and the foreign minister of Spain,
Ana Palacio. Indeed, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw went further,
and stated that it is safer to play football in Israel now than
it used to be in England a few years ago. It is a fact that matches
were played in England, and there was no problem with this. Therefore,
he said that influence should be exerted upon UEFA, so that the
right decision is made, and everyone agreed with him. I very much
hope that this will be carried out.
I thanked them for their support, and I was grateful
for the letters that they wrote in favor of the return of international
football matches to Israel. I passed on those letters from the foreign
ministers to UEFA, and I hope that we will receive a positive response
next week. Of course, this also depends on the situation remaining
calm. If a decision is not made next week, we will have to wait
another month. I hope, however, that with the considerable support
that we received today at the European Council of Ministers on this
issue, we may be cautiously optimistic ahead of the vote next week.
Minister Silvan Shalom meets with US Homeland Security Secretary
Washington, DC – July 22, 2003, Deputy Prime Minister
and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met in Washington, DC, with Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Their discussion focussed upon the
issue of bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Secretary Ridge reiterated the US demands from Iran
and Syria regarding ending their support for terrorism, as expressed
by President George W. Bush.
Foreign Minister Shalom stressed the strategic threat
posed by states that support terrorism, such as Iran and Syria,
which threaten the stability of the entire Middle East.
Shalom raised the issue of the long wait endured
by Israelis applying for visas to the US. He emphasized that Israel,
despite being an ally of the United States, finds its citizens twice
penalized by the existing situation: first as victims of terrorism
and second by the long and complex visa process.