Ban Ki-Moon and Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: SHACHAR AZRAN NEFESH B’NEFESH)
Iran doesn’t have to love Israel but it cannot threaten to destroy it, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday.
“As a son of the Jewish people, who experienced the Holocaust, I believe someone when he says he wants to destroy us,” Edelstein said.
Edelstein is in New York for the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament at the UN. His Iranian counterpart, Majlis (Iranian Parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani, is also expected to attend the conference.
The Knesset speaker expressed outrage that Larijani recently said that Israel’s destruction is Iran’s goal.
Ban responded that the world powers’ deal with Iran is good, even if it is not perfect.
“There are no perfect agreements,” he stated. “I believe that the long negotiations brought a good agreement.”
Ban suggested that the international community follow former US President Ronald Reagan’s call to “trust but verify” that the terms of the deal are followed.
The UN secretary-general told Edelstein that he is concerned about the lack of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
“You must sit and talk. I am very worried from the crime, the violence and the provocations in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Middle East needs security and both sides have an interest to improve the situation. That will only happen through dialogue,” Ban said.
Edelstein responded that talks must first take place between peoples and parliaments without negotiating peace and borders.
“The two sides have joint interests and we must ensure a good life for future generations,” he said. “We must cooperate on topics like water sources, the environment and agriculture, and only in that way can we build a strong basis for peace.”
Edelstein thanked Ban for announcing that the organization plans to recognize Yom Kippur as an official Israeli holiday and close the UN on that day.
“This is a very holy day for the Jewish people. Beyond the justified and important gesture, I think this sends a message that the organization that you lead is recognizing the Jewish People’s rights,” he told Ban.
In the coming days, Edelstein plans to present the “Green Knesset” project to make the parliament more eco-friendly to his counterparts from around the world at the conference, which was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and takes place once every five years.