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Dinsdag 12 maart 2013 - Straatsburg Herziene uitgave

9. Plechtige vergadering - Israël
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  Der Präsident. − Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen, meine Damen und Herren! Ich freue mich sehr, heute den Präsidenten von Israel, Schimon Peres, in unserem Parlament in Straßburg begrüßen zu dürfen. Es ist uns eine große Ehre, Herr Präsident, dass Sie heute zu uns gekommen sind, um Ihre Erfahrungen und Ihre Hoffnungen für die Zukunft mit uns zu teilen.

Zwischen europäischen und israelischen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern besteht heute ein ungemein starkes Band, das wir – auch mit Ihrem Besuch – für die Zukunft weiter festigen wollen. Enge wirtschaftliche und kulturelle Beziehungen sind entstanden, persönliche Verbindungen gewachsen und unsere gemeinsame reiche, aber auch äußerst schmerzhafte Geschichte wird uns für alle Zeiten auf das Engste miteinander verbinden.

Die Europäische Union und Israel – beide – entstanden nach den Schrecken des Zweiten Weltkriegs und nach der Erfahrung des Tiefstpunkts der Menschheitsgeschichte – dem Holocaust. In Europa – bei uns – schworen sich Frauen und Männer vor mehr als 60 Jahren auf den Trümmern dieses Krieges: „Nie wieder“. Es ist dieses „Nie wieder“, das mir als deutschem Abgeordneten in diesem Haus, der die große Ehre hat, einem multinationalen Parlament als Präsident anzugehören, – und ich glaube, allen hier – heute und für alle Zeit die oberste Pflicht ist.

Der Kampf gegen Antisemitismus, gegen Ausgrenzung, gegen Intoleranz ist das Fundament der Europäischen Union, deren Parlament wir sind.

(Beifall)

Meine Damen und Herren, Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Das unbestrittene Existenzrecht Israels und das Recht seines Volkes auf ein Leben in Sicherheit sind nicht verhandelbar. Dieser festen Überzeugung sind wir als Europäer und – ich sage das noch einmal – ich als Deutscher im Besonderen. Ich wünsche mir allerdings auch, Herr Präsident, ich könnte heute sagen, dass seit unserem letzten Treffen Fortschritte im Nahost-Konflikt zu verzeichnen wären. Leider kann ich diese Feststellung nicht treffen. Nach langwierigen Gesprächen und Verhandlungen steht eine wirklich ernstzunehmende Friedensinitiative nach wie vor aus. Das palästinensische Volk hat genauso wie das israelische Volk ein Recht auf Unabhängigkeit und auf ein Leben in Würde und Frieden.

(Beifall)

Doch weder das israelische noch das palästinensische Volk haben jemals dauerhaft in Frieden gelebt. Ich glaube, wir alle möchten erleben, wie beide Völker nebeneinander in zwei demokratischen Staaten mit sicheren Grenzen in Frieden und Wohlstand leben können.

1993 haben Sie, Herr Präsident, in Ihrem Buch „A New Middle East“ Ihre Vision für die Zukunft Ihrer Region aufgeschrieben. Ein Naher Osten, der durch wirtschaftliche Kooperation Verbindungen zwischen den Menschen und durch Versöhnung Frieden schafft. Manche nannten Sie damals naiv. Hier in diesem Haus nennen wir Sie mutig, denn Sie besitzen denselben visionären Mut, wie ihn die Gründerväter der Europäischen Union besaßen. Wir teilen Ihren Traum, dass der Nahe Osten eines Tages eine aufstrebende und friedliche Region sein wird. Und deshalb werden wir Sie, Herr Präsident Peres, weiterhin unterstützen.

Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident, willkommen im Europäischen Parlament! Wir freuen uns auf Ihre Rede.

(Beifall)

 
  
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  Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel. − Mr President, my dear friend Martin Schulz, distinguished Members of the European Parliament – of this great House of freedom and peace, that has changed the history of Europe and affects the future of the entire world – I want to thank you for the privilege of addressing you. It is, for me, an important opportunity and it is a meaningful occasion for the people of Israel.

I stand here before you with burning memories in my heart and great hope in my soul. I carry profound pain concerning the past, and I look with great confidence to the future.

I immigrated to Israel in 1934, at the age of 11. In 1942, most of the inhabitants of my town were burned alive. Had my family delayed their emigration by eight years, we would have been exterminated.

A year before the creation of Israel, in 1947, I was recruited to the Haganah headquarters. Since then, Israel has been attacked seven times in 65 years of existence. We were outnumbered and outgunned. We had just one choice before us: to win or to die.

I also participated in the confrontation of another enemy – the desert. We won. We made the desert bloom.

I have many memories, but I carry many dreams as well, and I did not come to reminisce. I have come to continue my dreams. People age. Dreams are ageless.

We changed. Europe changed. I come to express our admiration for the changed Europe.

Europe picked itself up in the wake of the worst war in history. It divorced the past, it created a new Europe. You converted the divided Europe of the last thousand years into the united, modern Europe of today.

You replaced military camps with scientific campuses. Europe which knew racism now considers it a crime. I know that you are facing an economic crisis, but your skies are without the clouds of war.

A European country introduced the Nobel Prize. Now, a united Europe has rightly won it. Europe corrected its mistakes and is building a better world. For us, the Europe of Shoah is now becoming the Europe of support for our renaissance.

Friends, the idea of the rebirth of Israel was born on European soil. In the past thousand years, more Jews lived in Europe than in any other continent in the world. Alas, more Jews were murdered in Europe in the last hundred years than in the preceding 2000 years. We experienced here the worst tragedy of our history. Here, at the same time, we dreamed an impossible rebirth. Six million – a third of our people – were murdered here by starvation, gas, rifles and fire. What remains from them is ashes.

We shall not forget that the righteous among the nations – your people – carried candles of light in the darkness. They were small in number, but great in heroism. Israel was born from those ashes at the end of the Second World War. If somebody had stood up then and said that within three years a Jewish state would be created, he would have been considered a delirious visionary. But this dream became a reality, and I have to add that if somebody had stood up on the same day, and said that in six short years a new united Europe would be born, with borders erased and barriers lowered, he would have been considered an author of fiction.

Six countries signed the Treaty of Paris and became a community of 27 nations across Europe. Our relations here and now are a dialogue between two miracles: your miracle and our miracle.

Israel enjoys an association agreement with Europe and close ties with the European Union in nearly all fields. I have come to thank you for your friendship, based on common values, geographic proximity and a long history. Politically, Israel is a Western democracy with a Mediterranean experience. Religiously, Israel is the cradle of the three monotheistic religions. Scientifically, Israel is advanced, even by European standards.

Israel is small: just one thousandth of the area of the Middle East. Its soil, typically for the Middle East, is barren rather than fertile. Water is scarce. We have just two lakes, one dead, the other dying. We have a single river – the Jordan – rich in history, poor in water. The land is rich in archaeology and poor in natural resources. The only natural resource we have discovered is human potential.

Israel is an example of a country where the people have enriched the land more than the land enriched the people; where the devotion of the people and the merits of hi-tech forced deserts to surrender and to bloom. We went through seven wars, and we won them. But when peace became possible, we returned all the land and all the assets which we had won during the war to the countries that we made peace with: Egypt and Jordan.

We started a peace process with the Palestinian people, which enabled both of us to build a Palestinian Authority. Then – and people forget this – we evacuated the Gaza Strip. We dismantled 22 settlements and we brought back all the settlers from there. It was an opportunity for the Palestinians to build a strip of independence and of peace. Unfortunately, they turned it into a terrorist base. We do not know why, but we know it became a setback to the peace process.

Israel is an island in a stormy ocean. We have to defend our island, and we have an interest in the tranquilisation of the sea. Some people claim it will take generations, but Europe has proved that great events can be achieved in six years. We live in a new era in which events are moving at the speed of a plane, and no longer at the speed of a carriage. For that reason, I believe peace can be achieved in a relatively short while.

The peace process with the Palestinians has already produced agreement on the beginning and on the solution. The solution is based on two nations and states: an Arab state, Palestine, and a Jewish state, Israel, living in peace and economic cooperation. The remaining disputed issues can and should be negotiated and concluded.

Peace for Israel is not just a strategic choice. It is a moral call which stems from the depth of our heritage. Since the Exodus, our heritage has condemned slavery and rejected mastery, and all persons are considered to be born equal. Our legacy calls upon us to pursue peace. Together with my partner, Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated, I laid down the foundations for peace with the Palestinians. Now it is time to continue and to renew the peace process.

We must continue to work with the Palestinian Authority. We have to support the Palestinian economy. Together we have to make and complete peace. A Palestinian security force has been formed. You and the Americans trained it, and now we are working together with it to prevent terror and crime.

Ladies and gentlemen, our hand remains stretched out to peace with all the countries in the Middle East. In a short while, a new Israeli government will be formed. It is an opportunity to resume the peace negotiations and to realise the two-state solution. There is no other solution, either for the Palestinians or for us. This is not only our preference, it is what the present reality calls for.

Jordan, Israel and Palestine find themselves in a similar situation. Terror endangers each of them separately and all three of them collectively. Collective dangers call for collective security. I have the highest regard for the King of Jordan. Like his father, he has proved to be a king courageously committed to peace. I have known the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, for many years. He condemns terror and he is a real partner for peace. Europe has been and continues to be a major partner for peace and a major enemy of terror.

Next week, we will be hosting President Obama in Israel as a welcome and esteemed guest. His support for our security is extraordinary and his devotion to peace is unshakeable. We are glad that the United States and Europe are now working together to support peace and to stop terror.

The greatest danger to peace in the world today is the current Iranian regime. It became a dictatorship cloaked in a religious mantle, and it developed an impossible imperial appetite. Nobody threatens Iran: Iran threatens others. It endangers the independence of the Arab countries. It menaces the existence of the Israeli state. It smuggles arms to many countries in order to undermine their stability. The Iranian regime denies the Holocaust and calls for another Holocaust. They are aiming to build a nuclear weapon and they deny they are doing it.

A nuclear bomb in the hands of an irresponsible regime is an imminent danger to the entire world. The European Union and the United States together drew the conclusions necessary to create a policy to stop that from happening. To this end, you rightly decided to impose economic sanctions. You made it clear that if the Iranians will not respond, other options are on the table.

In addition to the nuclear bomb, Iran is constructing long-range missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. It can reach the far corners of the world, including Europe. I believe that, in addition to controlling the production of highly enriched uranium, there is a need to control the means of delivery: to control the production of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Khamenei has declared that religion prohibits the production and the use of nuclear arms. Why then does he build missile capabilities capable of carrying nuclear warheads?

During the Helsinki conference which took place in 1975, the United States placed the issue of human rights in the Soviet Union at the top of the world’s strategic agenda. It was a surprising move and it was effective. It shows that the moral voice is no less important than a diplomatic approach. Today, such a call should be addressed to Iran. A clear voice must be raised against the violation of human rights by the Iranian regime. A clear voice must be raised against a regime that hangs people without bringing them to court; that throws journalists into prison without trial; and that fires live bullets at civilian demonstrators, with no respect for their lives. A clear voice must be raised against a regime that discriminates against women. Instead of sharing the oil-generated profits with their own people, they spend them on terror and arms, and endanger people all over the world.

Enriched uranium impoverishes hungry children. A moral voice will encourage the Iranian people in their fight for freedom and their struggle against misery.

Very soon, elections will take place in Iran. The ayatollahs should not be allowed to falsify the results and to frustrate the right of the people to make their own free choice. Your voice, ladies and gentlemen, will show the Iranian people that the world has not turned its back on them.

The present leaders of Iran are violating the charter of the United Nations, which condemns the violation of human rights and aggression against other nations. Yet they are being given the opportunity in the United Nations to abuse its platforms. Iran supports terrorism throughout the world. Its main proxy, Hezbollah, carries out terror attacks and threatens the stability of the entire region.

The historic Sykes–Picot agreement between France and England gave birth to modern Lebanon – to become a multicultural country where Muslims, Christians and Druze together lived in peace. Today, Hezbollah, supported by Iran, is destroying Lebanon. Hezbollah is a terror organisation, not a political movement. Its members collect missiles. They are trigger-happy. They hide missiles in peaceful towns and villages, and by doing so, they turn them into a war target.

Hezbollah divides Lebanon politically, religiously and ethnically. It has turned the land of the cedar tree into a land of scorched cedars. Hezbollah is a state within a state. It is a private army, apart from the national army. It sends soldiers to support the massacre of the bloody dictator in Syria, without the authorisation of the government of which it is a member. Recently there have been no fewer than 20 terror attempts by Hezbollah throughout the world – in India, Thailand, Georgia, South Africa, the United States, Egypt and Greece, among others. Last month, the Government of Bulgaria, a Member State of the European Union, identified Hezbollah as the author of the terror attack in Burgas in which five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian citizen lost their lives. Cyprus recently arrested a Hezbollah terrorist planning a terror attack.

Distinguished Members of Parliament, we appeal to you: call terror, terror. Save Lebanon from terrorist madness. Save the Syrian people from Iran’s proxies. Save your citizens and ours from Hezbollah. The international community has to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, because it is a terrorist organisation.

Today, terror reaches far beyond its previous limits. Recently, terrorists attempted to take over Mali. Had they succeeded, it would have halted the impressive endeavour of the African continent to recover from its past. One of the highest hopes of all of us is to see the success of the brave attempt by the African people to build a new science-based economy like that in Europe.

The free world cannot stand by as terror imposes its grip on any part of the world, far or near. It cannot stand by when a massacre is carried out by the Syrian President against his own people, his own children. Assad recently built a nuclear installation and an arsenal of chemical warheads. The nuclear installation was destroyed in time; the chemical arsenal remains in his hands to this day. It is a terrible danger for the Syrian people, for the entire region and indeed for Europe.

A way must be found to prevent the chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands. The best option for putting an end to the Syrian tragedy might be to empower the Arab League, of which Syria is a member, to intervene. An intervention by Western forces would be perceived as a foreign intervention. The Arab League can and should form a provisional government in Syria to stop the massacre and prevent Syria from falling to pieces. The United Nations should support the Arab League to build an Arab force in blue helmets.

Dear friends, 18 years ago I came to Brussels to sign the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel. I am happy that reality has surpassed our expectations. Indeed, an association agreement became a partnership and, before long, the partnership became a friendship.

It is on this steady ground that I propose that the European Union and Israel should cooperate for the benefit of stability and prosperity in the Middle East and in other places in the world.

Israel is described as a ‘start-up nation’. I believe that the whole Middle East can become a start-up region. Hi-tech incubators can be created all over the region to help people escape poverty. Israel is small, so we try to take advantage of our smallness. We have discovered that small countries can become great pilot projects. Today, we are trying to build a social model that will bridge the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. The social gap is a major problem for all, rich and poor. We are looking for a new way to overcome the gap through the democratisation of health, the democratisation of education and the democratisation of communication, and by reducing the cost of food and housing. For the younger generation, this is a burning need. It is nice to be young, but today it is extremely expensive!

We intend to improve the human condition, to enable each person to possess the capacity freely to choose their way of life, by entering the secrets of our brains. The brain is the most illustrious instrument in the world. It has enabled us to build artificial brains, yet we are still far from understanding the way the brain functions – our brain. As a matter of fact, we are strangers to ourselves.

Discovering the mechanism of our brain will enable us to become friends with ourselves and with our fellow men. I am glad that this effort has been accorded new priority and has become a major focus of cooperation between our governments and non-governmental organisations, and between us as individuals.

Our global world has no global government. It has become almost ungovernable, and we have to look for an alternative. I believe that the future way of governing will rely on three pillars: national governments will continue to be in charge of the husbandry of the national state; global companies will invest in research and development; and individuals will enjoy the capacity to govern themselves by knowing how their brain functions.

Science today is more telling than politics. It is universal: it is borderless. Armies cannot conquer wisdom. Police cannot arrest science. I believe that scientific aid to developing countries can enable them to escape poverty. Science-based global companies can help change the world.

Globalisation will end racism, for you cannot be global and racist. It empowers the individual. Global companies do not impose their will upon people; on the contrary, they respect the will of their clients. They can provide scientific know-how for growth. They can assist young people to acquire high education and they can create jobs befitting their skills. This may be the best help we can offer to our young people and to the younger generation in the Arab world and, this is our hope to answer the challenge of the new age.

I have proposed a plan for a joint venture between the European Union, national governments and global corporations, to cope in a new way with these challenges, and I know that it requires your support as the European Parliament. Allow me to count on your understanding and help.

By combining Europe’s wisdom and Israel’s experience, we can overcome tomorrow’s challenges. Facing the lack of a global government, we can foster close cooperation between governments and global companies. Facing the dangers which threaten the values for which we stand, we shall fight terror – wherever it is – relentlessly.

President Schulz, Jean Monnet, the father of the European Union, once said: ‘Everybody is ambitious. The question is whether he is ambitious to be, or ambitious to do.’ The time has come to do. Let us remember that we are as great as the purpose we serve. Yes, the challenges ahead of us are daunting, but who better to defy the seemingly impossible than the two miracles I have mentioned?

Let us join forces, the European Union and Israel, to fulfil the teachings of our heritage. In the words of my forefathers, let us ‘fix the world’ or, as we say in Hebrew ‘Tikkun Olam’. In the words of Jean Monnet, I say ‘Let us do it!’ Let us work together for a better Middle East, by a daring Europe. Let us fulfil the values of our people: peace, democracy, human rights. Yielding to no obstacle, and daring the new, we shall be servants of the future rather than rulers of the past.

My friends, as I look upon the future of the friendship which ties Israel to the European Union, I am filled with hope and determination. Hand in hand, we shall build a brighter tomorrow for tomorrow’s generation. Thank you, and shalom.

(The House accorded the speaker a standing ovation)

 
  
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  Der Präsident. − Vielen Dank, meine Damen und Herren, für die Ehre, die Sie Herrn Präsident Peres erwiesen haben. Vielen Dank Ihnen, Herr Staatspräsident, für Ihre Worte. Ich glaube, der Appell, den Sie an uns gerichtet haben, wird hier sicher nicht ungehört verhallen. Ich wünsche mir vor allem in der Zusammenarbeit zwischen dem Staat Israel, dem israelischen Volk und den Völkern Europas, dass das, was Sie hier ausgedrückt haben und was unser gemeinsamer Wert ist, dass der Respekt vor dem Individuum und die unverhandelbare Garantie der individuellen Menschenrechte für alle gilt – in Europa, in Israel und auch in Palästina. Und dies gilt in allen Orten der Welt.

(Beifall)

 
  
  

PRESIDENZA DELL'ON. ROBERTA ANGELILLI
Vicepresidente

 
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