“The greatest danger to peace in the world is the present Iranian regime,”
President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday in an address to the European Parliament
in Strasbourg, France.
Peres described the regime as “a dictatorship
cloaked in a religious mantle,” adding that Iran has “developed an imperial
Nobody threatens Iran, he said, but Iran threatens others,
endangering both Israel and the independence of Arab countries.
also charged Iran with smuggling arms into many countries in order to undermine
The president, who began his address by noting that in
1942 most of the inhabitants of the town in which he was born were burned alive,
was indignant that the Iranians continue to deny the Holocaust while calling for
“Had my family delayed their emigration by 8 years, we would
have been exterminated,” said Peres, whose immediate family left Europe in
Emphasizing that six million Jews had been murdered during the
Holocaust while reflecting on a thousand-year-old Jewish presence in Europe,
Peres said that more Jews had lived in Europe than in any other continent, but
“alas, more Jews were murdered in Europe in the last hundred years than in the
preceding two thousand years.”
Nevertheless, he did not forget to mention
the righteous among the nations who “carried candles of light in the darkness”
by saving Jews.
Dismissing Iran’s denial that it is building a nuclear
weapon, Peres said that “a nuclear bomb in the hands of an irresponsible regime
is an imminent danger to the world.” He commended the European Union and the
United States for imposing economic sanctions on Tehran, and for making it clear
that if the Iranians did not respond to such sanctions, there are other options
on the table.
The president also warned that in addition to the nuclear
bomb, Iran is constructing long-range missiles equipped with nuclear warheads
that can reach the far corners of the world, including Europe. He queried as to
why Iran is doing so, since Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had declared that Islam
prohibits the production and use of nuclear arms.
Reminding his audience
of the success the US had in placing the issue of human rights in the Soviet
Union at the top of the world’s agenda during the Helsinki conference in 1975,
Peres called for a clear moral voice encouraging the Iranian people in their
fight for freedom against the regime in Tehran, adding that the ayatollahs
should not be allowed to falsify the results of Iran’s upcoming
Peres also underscored the manner in which Iran is destroying
Lebanon by supporting Hezbollah, which carries out terrorist attacks throughout
the country, and accused Iran of supporting terrorism in other parts of the
world. He said Hezbollah has divided Lebanon religiously, politically and
ethnically and appealed to the Europeans to recognize the terrorist organization
for what it is, emphasizing that Hezbollah does not confine its activities
solely to Lebanon.
“Recently, 20 terror attempts by Hezbollah were
counted all over the world – in India, Thailand, Georgia, South Africa, the US,
Egypt and Greece, among others. Last month, the government of Bulgaria, a member
of this European Union, reported that it had identified that the terror attack
in Burgas was carried out by Hezbollah. Five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian
citizen lost their lives.
Cyprus recently arrested a Hezbollah terrorist
planning a terror attack,” he said.
T urning to the Syrian civil war,
Peres declared that President Bashar Assad’s actions affect the whole world as
well as Syria, noting the nuclear installation and the arsenal of chemical
weapons that Assad had built. While the nuclear installation was destroyed
before becoming operational, the chemical weapons remain in Assad’s hands,
allowing him to threaten not only the Syrian people, but the entire region and
even Europe, he said.
The president suggested that the the best solution
to put an end to the tragedies in Syria might be to empower the Arab League, of
which Syria is a member, to intervene.
Intervention by Western forces, he
observed, would be perceived as foreign interference, but in Peres’s view, the
Arab League can and should form a provisional government in Syria to stop the
bloodshed and the United Nations should support an Arab League force in the
With regard to the Palestinians, Peres was optimistic that peace
remains attainable. The peace process already has an agreed beginning and an
agreed solution of two states for two nations living in peace, security and
economic cooperation, he said, and “the remaining disputed issues can and should
He also paid tribute to Yitzhak Rabin, with whom he had
laid the foundations for peace with the Palestinians.
“Now it is time to
continue to renew the peace process,” he said. “We must continue to work with
the Palestinian Authority, support its economy and achieve peace. A Palestinian
security force was formed. You and the Americans trained it. And now we work
together to prevent terror and crime.”
“There is no other solution,” he
asserted in reference to the two-state solution. “It is not only our preference
but the call of the present reality. Jordan, Israel and Palestine find
themselves in a similar situation.
Terror endangers each of them
separately and the three of them collectively. Collective dangers call for
Voicing the highest regard for King Abdullah, Peres
said that the Jordanian monarch, like his father, has proven to be committed to
peace, and confirmed his belief that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas
is likewise dedicated to peace.
Declaring that Europe has been and
continues to be a major partner in the region, Peres also expressed appreciation
to the United States for what it has done and is doing to promote peace and
fight terror, adding that US President Barack Obama will be a welcome and
esteemed guest when he arrives in Israel next week.