Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) and the South Korean foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Seoul understands better than most Israel’s challenges and what it is like having a threatening and menacing neighbor, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday before a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se.
Like Israel, South Korea also knows what it is like to have a neighbor that represents a permanent threat to the tranquility of its citizens, he said.
“Just last Friday a rocket was fired from Gaza into communities in the South,” Liberman said. “That was the response of the terrorist organizations in Gaza to the court decision in Europe to take Hamas off the terror list. As South Korea knows from its challenges, in the struggle against terrorism it is forbidden to send a message of weakness, and it is forbidden to give any concessions to terrorism.”
Liberman said that this is as true of the nuclear armament and threats from North Korea as it is true of the nuclear march and threats of Iran, and of the rockets from Hamas.
Last week the EU’s Court of Justice decided that the evidence it was presented in the early 2000s to put Hamas on the EU’s terrorist list did not meet its standards. The upshot of the ruling is that the EU has another three months to present evidence that will meet the court’s standards. The EU political echelon has made clear it has every intention of doing so, and will not remove Hamas from its terrorist list.
Yun arrived in Israel Sunday from Jordan, as part of a seven-day regional swing that also includes the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia.
According to the South Korean media, the trip is part of Seoul’s efforts to step up its profile in the Middle East diplomatic process. While in Israel, Yun signed a transportation agreement with Liberman that will ease the process of issuing driver’s licenses to the citizens of both countries residing in the other country for more than 90 days.
South Korea’s two-year stint as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council will end in January, when it will be replaced by Malaysia.
Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, does not have ties with Israel, and the loss of South Korea on the Security Council is just one of the outgoing countries that Israel will miss on that 15-member body.
Jerusalem will also miss Rwanda, which is being replaced by Angola; as well as Argentina, which is being replaced by Venezuela which – like Malaysia – does not have ties with Israel. Rwanda has emerged as one of Israel’s closest friends in Africa, and it joined Israel, the US, Canada and Australia in boycotting the meeting last week in Geneva of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention that slammed Israel.