Netanyahu Borisov 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left Sofia on Thursday without a public
commitment that the friendly Bulgarian government would vote against the
Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in September, but with a strong indication
it would not support the move.
“I found understanding here that peace is
made through negotiations, and not dictate,” Netanyahu said in Sofia before
flying home. He said that Israel was progressing “step-by-step” in getting
countries not to support the move.
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Although at a joint press conference,
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov did not commit on how Bulgaria would vote in
September, he said that the sides needed to return to
Borisov said that there was still time before a potential
vote on the matter at the UN in September, and that Bulgaria was in talks with
the other EU countries about the issue. “Come September, you will see... there
is time,” he said of how his country would vote.
Diplomatic officials in
Jerusalem have said that if the issue does go to the General Assembly for a vote
in September, there would likely be a split among the EU countries, with some
voting to support the move, others voting with Israel against, and most of the
countries abstaining. Jerusalem wants to get as many countries as possible to
come out clearly against the move in advance of September, as have the US,
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Netanyahu arrived for a visit of less
than 12 hours in Bulgaria from Romania, where senior government officials said
it became clear to Netanyahu after talks with that country’s leaders that
Romania would not vote for the Palestinian move. In Bucharest, however, it was
also not clear whether Romania would vote against the matter, along with Israel,
Netanyahu was met in Sofia by seven of his cabinet ministers,
and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, for a joint government-to-government
meeting with the Bulgarian cabinet.
During the visit, Netanyahu mentioned
the Bulgarian refusal during the Holocaust to transport the country’s 50,000
Jews to the concentration camps, even though Bulgaria at the time was allied
with Nazi Germany.
“Bulgaria is under-appreciated,” he told Reuters,
likening its actions to Danish resistance against round-ups by the German
occupiers. “It’s one of the more remarkable stories – perhaps the most
remarkable story in terms of the number of people who participated, who stood
His Bulgarian host was gratified by the overture.
like to thank the Israeli prime minister for sending a message from Sofia... to
the world about what the Bulgarian people did during the times of Nazism to save
the Bulgarian Jews,” Borisov told the news conference.
cooperation agreements were signed on Thursday, providing for cooperation in
agriculture, natural gas supplies for Bulgaria from large-scale Israeli
deposits, and for the mutual protection of investments, according to the
Bulgarian news agency Novinite.
“We wish to increase the Israeli
investments in Bulgaria. I am not sure if the Israeli business community has
discovered Bulgaria yet, and this is my personal mission – to introduce to them
the opportunities that Bulgaria offers,” Novinite quoted Netanyahu as saying.