Peres meets with Spanish FM ahead of visit to Spain

Trinidad Jimenez says she wants to raise relations between the countries in the areas of culture, politics and economics.

Peres Jimenez 311 (photo credit: GPO)
Peres Jimenez 311
(photo credit: GPO)
Trinidad Jimenez, Spain’s newly appointed foreign minister, arrived in Israel on Monday for a three-day visit to mark the beginning of 25th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Jimenez met with President Shimon Peres on Monday evening. She told Peres that Spain – especially former prime minister Filipe Gonzalez , with whom the president maintained close ties in the Socialist International – was looking forward to his arrival. Peres is scheduled to begin a five-day visit on February 21.
The two countries forged diplomatic ties on January 17, 1986, despite the unhealed, centuries-old scars of the Spanish Inquisition, which drove Jews out.
In March 1992, then-president Chaim Herzog travelled to Spain to mark the nullification of the edict of expulsion signed on March 31, 1492, by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. On the 500th anniversary of the edict, Herzog and King Juan Carlos attended prayers at a Madrid synagogue.
Jimenez, who previously was minister for health and social policies, has been in her current position since last October. She replaced Miguel Moratinos, a very well known figure in Israel. Prior to his six-and-a-half year stint as foreign minister, Moratinos served for several years as the European Union’s special representative to the Middle East; prior to that he was Spain’s ambassador to Israel.
Jimenez is one of eight women ministers in the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez. Aside from the prime minister, there are also eight men.
“We have 50/50,” Jimenez, a lawyer by training and the third of nine siblings, said proudly.
Spain’s defense minister is also a woman. Carme Chacon’s appointment in 2008 made international headlines, not only because she was the first woman to hold this position in her country, but because she was seven months pregnant when she took office.
“We once had a lady prime minister and somebody told her she was the only man in the cabinet,” remarked Peres, referring to Golda Meir.
“That means she was strong enough,” responded Jimenez.
“Strong enough?” chuckled Peres, who was known to have had some very unpleasant run-ins with Meir. “She was too strong!” Jimenez said that although relations between Spain and Israel were now “extraordinary,” she wanted to raise them to an even higher level, especially in the areas of culture, politics and economics.
“We still have many things to do together,” she said.
Jimenez, who was in Washington two weeks ago discussing developments in the Middle East with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was particularly keen to hear Peres’s views on what he anticipated would happen in the region.
She did not want to limit the discussion to peace endeavors between Israel and the Palestinians, but was much more interested in the wider picture.
She will discuss the same issues with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, whose last ministerial post was that of foreign minister.
On Tuesday afternoon she will visit Yad Vashem and lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.