(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, today (Tuesday, 1 October 2013), began the third day of his visit to the Netherlands with a visit to the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague where he was received by King Willem-Alexander. The two inspected an honor guard, saluted the national anthems and then held a private meeting. At the start of the meeting, King Willem-Alexander welcomed President Peres to the Netherlands and said that it was a great honor to host the President of the State of Israel as his first official guest at the Palace and added that he had visited Israel on a number of occasions and was always impressed by the country and its people and that he looked forward to strengthening the relations between the two countries.
President Peres also held a diplomatic working meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, during which the two discussed the Iranian nuclear threat, the situation in Syria and bilateral relations between the two countries in light of recent steps taken by the Dutch government to isolate products from settlements from Israel's trade agreement with the European Union. At the end of the meeting the two leaders held a joint press conference which Prime Minister Rutte opened by welcoming President Peres to the Netherlands and thanking him for his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. Prime Minister Rutte detailed the close and historic relationship between Israel and the Netherlands and said he welcomed the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He added that the Netherlands hoped to continue to play a positive and central role in the process to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Rutte addressed the issue of boycotting goods from settlements and stressed that the Netherlands is opposed to boycotting goods from Israel and that the issue had not even been considered within in the country. With respect to the recent decision by the European Union the Prime Minister said that the Netherlands was working within the European Union, as an inseparable part of it, to reach a consensus and find a solution which does not harm the peace process.
President Peres thanked the Prime Minister and said, "Europe, like Israel, understands that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be solved through negotiations and dialogue, not through sanctions. A day after the European announcement, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of talks for nine months – if a deal is reached between the sides there will be no need for the European sanctions, they will be irrelevant. I am sure Europe did not plan to make the negotiations more difficult but if the sanctions are implemented that will be the effect."
President Peres continued and called upon the Netherlands, as a central member of the European Union, and to other European countries to oppose the Iranian nuclear threat and not to allow Iran to complete its race to [achieve] long range missiles with nuclear warheads, "Europe's support is important to preventing the Iranian threat. I hope that the new voices will bring a new reality in Iran – but nuclear weapons for mass destruction are a threat to the entire world and we must work to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons."