German Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westerwelle met with President Shimon Peres on
Sunday to discuss the renewal of peace talks between Israel and the
Palestinians, developments with regard to Iran and whether anything can be done
to stop the carnage in Syria.
The main focus of their discussion was the
scheduled meeting on Wednesday between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and
former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, who has been appointed by US
Secretary of State John Kerry to mediate the discussions between the two
Peres said that he was glad that Westerwelle, who frequently
commutes between Germany and Israel, had come to Israel at such a very important
period in the history of the Middle East.
He also emphasized the role
played by Germany in general and Westerwelle in particular in helping to get the
peace process back on track.
The Middle East is not settled because the
world is not settled, said Peres. “There is no chance of a reverse,” he
declared. “All of us have to move ahead.”
Peres told Westerwelle how much
Israel appreciates Germany’s contribution in paving the road towards peace, and
holding back those who are trying to stop it.
Convinced that the current
initiative to achieve peace will succeed where others have failed, Peres said:
“People who are skeptical are wrong. There is a difference between this and
For the first time, the Arab world is interested in
making peace instead of preparing for war, he said. Moreover, he added, Israel
is united on the issue of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
Peres stressed the significance of boosting the Palestinian
economy, and said that even though political and security borders exist, the
economic borders have come down and there is a lot of informal cooperation
between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly in science-based
While happy that Israel has been accepted as an associate
member of the European Union, Peres alluded to Israel’s displeasure with the EU
with regard to its decision to withhold funding for Israeli projects conducted
beyond the Green Line.
He suggested that it would be better to leave well
alone, or in his words “to let the stream flow,” rather than to put obstacles in
the way of the peace process by disturbing the status quo.
If Israel and
the Palestinians reach an agreement, he said, the EU decision will have no
Acknowledging that the process will be difficult for both
parties, Peres added: “But it is worthwhile.”
In this context, he once
again made special reference to the importance of the support of the United
States, the EU and Germany.
“This is a crucial time for Israel, a crucial
time for the region and a crucial time for the whole world,” said
“Everyone in the international community, especially Europe,
knows the responsibility of supporting these direct talks,” he
“Germany feels a special responsibility to the whole region, but a
particular friendship to Israel,” he continued. “If we can play a constructive
role, we will.”
It was difficult to tell whether Westerwelle was
responding to Peres’s criticism of the EU or whether he was talking about
something else when he said “There is not and will not be a policy change in the
EU,” because in the next breath he spoke about seeking a sustainable
relationship between Israel and Europe with regard to scientific research, which
is mutually beneficial.
“Everyone in Europe knows that with goodwill and
pragmatism we can overcome difficulties,” he said.
Earlier in the day in
the course of a visit to the Zemer local council to mark Id el- Fitr, Peres met
with Muslim religious and lay leaders and told them that it was essential for
Israeli society to have equality, coexistence and peace.
There has been
some progress towards equality, said Peres, who made the point that
notwithstanding the fact that Israeli law neither advocates nor condones
discrimination, it unfortunately exists. Yet great strides have been made, he
There are many more employment opportunities in hi-tech
professions for Arab academics than there were in the past. Some 700 Arab
engineers have been integrated into Israel’s hi-tech work force, he said, and a
hi-tech center which opened recently in Nazareth has approximately 1,000
employees, the majority of them Arabs, but also Druse and Jews.
council head Samir Darwish noted that of a population of 6,200, there were 106
doctors – a ratio that does not exist in any other Arab village or town, he
declared. The population wanted to develop and to grow and to become part of
mainstream Israel, he said, which is why it gives such a high priority to
Soon after his meeting with the German Foreign Minister, Peres
met with Indyk and once again thanked America for its dedicated determination to
renew direct peace negotiations.