President Shimon Peres on Friday afternoon (17 May 2013) held a diplomatic working meeting at his Jerusalem residence with German Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westerwelle. Two discussed the major issues of the day, first and foremost the Iranian nuclear threat and efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
President Peres addressed the need to end the conflict with the Palestinians and said, "We have to bring the conflict between us and the Palestinians to an end. We have a beginning and a conclusion, two states for two peoples. We now need to bridge the remaining gaps to reach the end of the conflict. We must all support the efforts of the American Secretary of State, John Kerry. Cynicism is unhealthy for the process, we must show our support in clear terms."
President Peres also expressed his support for the Arab League voices in favor of peace and said, "The Arab peace initiative shows a strategic shift in the Arab world, a shift from a support for war to a support for peace. A renewal of the Arab peace initiative could assist John Kerry's efforts to restart the peace process."
President Peres also addressed the situation in Iran and said, "Iran and Syria are interdependent. Iran is near elections and the sanctions may be having an impact. The sanctions and pressure should be continued in the buildup to the Iranian elections. We should also show support for the Iranian people, we are not against them, they suffer because of their leadership."
President Peres continued and said, "Our clear message should be to support Secretary of State Kerry in his initiative, to make clear that there will be no compromise while Iran continues to build a nuclear bomb and remains a center of terror and also to express our sympathy for the Arab world and its existential problems."
Foreign Minister Westerwelle addressed John Kerry's peace initiative and said, "I can assure you that Germany is 100% committed to supporting John Kerry's efforts to revitalize talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not only the interest of the two countries, the two peoples but of the whole world. We shall do everything to support the initiative; confidence building measures, messages and clear steps are needed. We need not only words but actions."
The German Foreign Minister also addressed the situation in Iran and Syria and said, "Syria shocks us all. We have to handle the situation where a country like Iran works on the option of nuclear arms, which is not acceptable to Germany. Nuclear arms in Iranian hands are not an option for us. I assure you that we stand by our friends, our Israeli friends, and we look forward to continuing this deep and trustful relationship."
President Peres concluded his remarks by addressing Israeli-German relations and said that Israel appreciates the friendship with Germany and of Foreign Minister Westerwelle. President Peres added that he had read Foreign Minister Westerwelle's speech in Hungary at the World Jewish Congress meeting and thanked him for it.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westrwelle.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting: "It is always a pleasure to host you here in Jerusalem. You are a friend of Israel, Chancellor Merkel is a friend of Israel, Germany is a friend of Israel.
Today the Middle East is undergoing a period of tremendous and unprecedented instability. We have not seen such an upheaval in this region for many decades. I follow closely, day and night, the rapidly changing situation around us. I follow closely the very real challenges that this rapidly changing situation poses for the security of Israel. I will travel to where ever needed; I will meet with whoever is needed and I am doing whatever is needed to protect the security of the citizens of Israel, and I will continue to do so."
German Foreign Minister Westerwelle said: "It is really a great pleasure to be here once again, but we all know that these are very challenging times, for the whole region but especially of course for our friends in Israel.
I want to underline that in these challenging times Germany stands by its Israel partners. We want to work together and we want to support you. This is what our friendship is about and I'm using the word friendship, which is from our understanding, more than a partnership. This is not only a strategic alliance; this is a friendship between societies, between peoples and between governments.
Germany fully supports the latest initiative by our US partners for direct talks. We believe that the Middle East peace process and the work on a two-state solution should be revived now and we will do what we can to support the security and a peaceful and sustainable development for Israel and the whole region."