Hungarian president: Peace process must continue

Solyom, who is the first Hungarian head of state to visit Israel in 16 years, was given a ceremonial welcome at Beit Hanassi.

solyom 88 (photo credit: )
solyom 88
(photo credit: )
Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom, who is on an official visit to Israel, told President Shimon Peres on Monday that he hoped the current crisis between Israel and the Palestinians was a mere "pause" in the peace process. Solyom, who is the first Hungarian head of state to visit Israel in 16 years, was given a ceremonial welcome at Beit Hanassi. It saddened him, he said, to come to Israel at a time when the peace process was at an impasse. "I hope that this just a pause, because the peace process must continue." Solyom, who is known as a human rights activist, said that every country must fight terrorism, because terrorism harms the basic human right to life. He added that this basic right must not be forgotten while fighting terror, either. The Palestinian people, said Solyom, were living in a prison created by Hamas, which made their lives very difficult and complicated. Hungary is aware that the measures available to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were extremely limited, said Solyom, but under the circumstances, Hungary had "no option other than to support him." Solyom stressed that Hungary wanted to become more involved in the peace process. "You come to our country when we're fighting for the secure existence of our citizens in Sderot and Ashkelon and their right to live a normal life - more than that, to simply survive," said Peres. "Our citizens, our women and children, are unjustifiably under constant attack by a religious extremist movement which has no clear cut objective other than to kill and to murder," he continued. "Hamas terrorists bring tragedy on their own people," he declared, telling his guest that Hamas exploited women and children by setting up rocket launchers in their midst. While Israel had no desire to kill or maim innocent civilians, he said, the terrorists' methods made it impossible to avoid harming the innocent, he explained. Emphasizing that Israel is concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, Peres noted that even as IDF soldiers were conducting house-to-house searches after terrorists, supplies of flour, medicines and gasoline were being delivered to Gaza. The two heads of state also discussed Iran and the need for a united front in favor of imposing severe economic sanctions to deter Iran from its uranium enrichment program. Solyom boasted that Hungary had the third-largest Jewish population in Europe, and that Jewish community life in Hungary was flourishing. Hungary had very good economic and cultural relations with Israel, he said, but would like to enhance them. Israel is the third-largest foreign investor in Hungary with investments - mainly in real estate and advanced technology - totaling $3 billion. Solyom said he would like to see more joint ventures in these fields.