‘Friends of Israel’ founders: You’re not alone

Four founding members call on Peres to affirm their support for the Jewish state against delegitimization campaigns.

Friends of Israel 311  (photo credit: Mark Neiman)
Friends of Israel 311
(photo credit: Mark Neiman)
Four of the founding members of The Friends of Israel Initiative, established in mid- 2010 in Paris, called on President Shimon Peres on Thursday morning to affirm their support for Israel in the face of recent attempts to delegitimize it.
The group, led by former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar (who established the Quartet in Madrid that mediates the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in 2002), included John Bolton, former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble from Northern Ireland and former senior managing director of Lazard Freres banking group Roberto Agostinelli.
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Aznar declared that Israel is not alone as the sole Western democracy serving as a model in the Middle East, and must have support.
The FII rejects any unilateral action that will break away from the negotiating table, now that the Palestinians are looking towards unilateral recognition by the United Nations, he said.
“The way to peace is not through unilateral recognition,” Aznar insisted.
Peres, in expressing appreciation to the group, said that ostensibly, the peace process is a failure, and although it would appear that the Quartet did not make any significant breakthrough, the fact is that only two or three points of disagreement remain – which proves that there was agreement on all other issues negotiated.
Part of the disagreement is a matter of language and not of content, he said.
In his own discussions with the Palestinians, he said he told them repeatedly that the UN is not a solution, adding that a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state is nothing more than a declaration, and will not lead to peace or statehood.
At the same time, Peres – despite Israel’s diplomatic campaign to have the UN vote go against the Palestinians – conceded the possibility that this effort will fail.
“There is a built-in anti- Israel majority at the United Nations. We don’t stand a chance,” he said.
In his discussions with UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, Peres asked him whether the UN could stop terror, stop Iran, why it accepted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when what he said contravened the UN Charter, and whether the UN could stop the smuggling of arms.
Notwithstanding the difficulties, Peres urged his guests not to give up.
“All sides worked hard to arrive at where we are today,” he said.
Turning to recent developments in the region, Peres said. “Now we are in a new situation in the Middle East.”

While supporting the aims of the young people who had brought about the change, Peres was not certain that their efforts would be successful, because a mere change of government will not necessarily provide, jobs, food, water and freedom.
It was regrettable he said, that the higher the education of young people throughout the Middle East, the higher the ratio of joblessness, because there are insufficient hi-tech jobs available in the Arab world.
Israel, which has utilized hi-tech to provide food and increased agricultural yields, could help them, Peres said.