(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, this morning (Sunday, 17 February 2013), in his residence, held a working meeting with a bipartisan delegation of US Senators and Congressmen led by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who serves as co-chair of the Helsinki Commission. President Peres addressed the upcoming visit by President Obama to Israel and said, "We're very excited to see the President of the United States coming to visit the State of Israel. On the major issue of Israel's security President Obama has shown both deep understanding and forthcoming support. We're excited to see him here and to continue the unique relationship between the United States and Israel." President Peres addressed the changes in the region and said that Israel and the United States share the same purpose, "to maintain freedom, liberty and human rights. Around us today there is a great deal of confusion, I wouldn't even say that we know who our enemies are because we don't know who runs the countries. All of us are terribly disturbed by the tragedy in Syria; we cannot stand to see children killed by their president."
President Peres focused on the issue of human rights and Iran with respect to the Helsinki Commission of which many of the delegation are members and said, "A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world, I trust President Obama when he says that all options are on the table to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. With that, I think Helsinki was a watershed in history, President Carter insisted on human rights. It was the first time the Soviet Union was forced to deal with human rights, it my eyes it was a great moral and political victory for the United States of America. In my opinion this is relevant still today about Iran. We talk so much about the Iranian bomb but we must not forget that Iran is the greatest danger to human rights in Iran and outside of it. They exports weapons, terrorists and money to whoever is ready to kill. They hang people for being homosexual, they hang people without trial, they imprison them and they shoot at demonstrators. The point of Helsinki, of human rights, should not be secondary to the other issues we are facing with the Iranians."
Senator Cardin, who is leading the delegation, thanked President Peres for his warm welcome and said that the United States will continue to be a guarantor of Israel's security and that in light of the elections in Israel and President Obama's visit there is window of opportunity between Israel and the Palestinians that could lead to a significant breakthrough. He added, "We believe that security is based not just on physical security but also on economic security and the human rights issues. Our visit underscores just how important the relationship is, not just to Israel but also to the US. We came here to underscore that relationship."
President Peres addressed the elections in Israel and said, "It is time to return to the peace process. The Prime Minister repeated his commitment to the two state solution. There is no other solution if you want peace but to enable the Palestinians to have a demilitarized state of their own.
The only alternative to the two state solution is a bi-national country, which means an ongoing quarrel, ongoing hatred and an ongoing conflict, which is bad for them and for us, for their children and for our children. We are building a government not only to govern but also to have the right vision."