The Iranian people are not the enemy, but the Iranian government policy casts a
heavy shadow on world peace, President Shimon Peres told German President
Joachim Gauck at an official reception in his honor at the President’s Residence
Gauck, who was greeted with full pomp and ceremony, came to
Israel with a large media contingent and an extensive itinerary.
leader of Iran says that religion forbids the building a nuclear arsenal, said
Peres, but those people who work in his name are producing nuclear weapons. The
leader of Iran denies the Holocaust while threatening a new Holocaust, he
This is an issue that cannot be avoided or evaded, because
indifference will pave the way for the greatest of all atrocities, Peres
In addition to the Iranian peril, said Peres, there is also the
outrageous situation in Syria.
“How can anyone sit dry-eyed in the face
of a row of dead bodies, including those of many children who were shot to death
for no reason on the orders of their president?” he declared.
president is supposed to be the father of the nation. Instead, he shoots at his
children. Children are the most beautiful and innocent creatures in the world,
regardless of race or nationality.”
What Syrian President Bashar Assad
has done, Peres charged, has been “a crime against humanity.”
concurred on the danger posed by Iran, and said he was very concerned, but was
simultaneously hopeful that the problem could still be resolved by
negotiation. As things stand now, the Iranian nuclear program is not just
a threat to Israel but to the whole region and to Europe, he said. He was no
less aghast than Peres about the wholesale slaughter in Syria, and with regard
to the Israel- Palestinian conflict said that both states have the right to live
in peace and security with mutual respect for each other’s rights.
German president was also hopeful that Egypt, in the wake of its elections,
would move toward democracy.
Gauck spoke of German responsibility
to Israel, and said that the impossible had been achieved in terms of friendship
because Israel had demonstrated confidence in Germany’s ability to learn from
the past in order to build a better future.
It is part of German foreign
policy that Israel should live in peace and within secure borders, said Gauck,
who advocated direct talks between the parties, a move that he was certain would
lead to a resolution of the conflict.
Acknowledging that he had arrived
during a stormy period in the region, he said that he could understand Israel’s
uncertainty about what the future would bring, but he was optimistic that
eventually the whole region would move in the direction of
Peres warmly greeted the German leader before getting down to
the crux of the matter, saying, “We welcome you in great friendship and with
deep respect both as a president and as a person who fought for freedom all his
life while safeguarding his humanity of conscience.”
Gauck was very
touched, he said, that Peres in his opening remarks had placed an emphasis on
Peres went on to say that Gauck’s recent election as
president of Germany was a form of declaration by his people of its unwavering
and uncompromising commitment to democracy, reflecting a preference for a
European Germany rather than a German Europe.
Gauck’s visit to Jerusalem
was of great significance, said Peres, coming as it does during a period of
economic crisis in Europe and social crisis in the Middle East. What
happens in Europe, Peres continued, will impact on the whole world, and
certainly the Middle East.
The world needs moral and political balance no
less than political and military strength, said Peres, who credited Europe with
achieving this balance.
He expressed appreciation to the people and the
government of Germany, and above all Chancellor Angela Merkel for the
development of good relations between Germany and Israel, which are expressed
both in deeds and in shared values.
This friendship did not come at the
expense of forgetting the Holocaust, said Peres, but out of a desire by both
countries to look forward to a new Germany whose vision is to repair the
Peres underscored Germany’s role in guaranteeing Israel’s security
and in promoting peace between Israel and her neighbors, first and foremost with
Peres reiterated that Israel and the Palestinians had
agreed on a two-state solution to their conflict, and the fact that Europe,
especially Germany, was in favor of this solution. Support of this kind, said
Peres, was helpful in working toward the realization of an end to the conflict
and was greatly appreciated.
The two presidents and their aides then sat
down to a working meeting before leaving for Yad Vashem.