Rivlin: EU helping Iran evade sanctions is unacceptable

President Rivlin meets German Chancellor Merkel, calls on Germany to stop EU from protecting Iran from US sanctions.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Pres. Rivlin & German Chancellor Merkel
Pres. Rivlin & German Chancellor Merkel
Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin today welcomed Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, who is visiting Israel. After their one-on-one meeting, the president hosted the chancellor and members of her delegation to a festive working luncheon, attended by Israeli artists and writers, Nobel laureates and other dignitaries.

At the beginning of the luncheon, the president stressed that visits such as this generally take place on a government-to-government level, but in Israeli-German relations the people-to-people contact is no less important. The aim of inviting people from the fields of Israeli sports, arts and science is was to show appreciation and thanks for the chancellor and her government for their unwavering strengthening of relations between the countries.

The president welcomed Chancellor Merkel to the President’s Residence and escorted her to sign the visitors’ book in the reception room. They held a one-on-one meeting in the President’s study and then joined the festive luncheon. Amongst the guests were Nobel laureate Professor Dan Shectman, Nobel laureate Professor Israel Aumann, Nobel laureate Professor Ada Yonat, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson, president of Haifa University Professor Ron Robin, chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev, the artists Michal Rovner and Dani Karavan, the authors AB Yehoshua, Meir Shalev and David Grossman, CEO of Pitango Chemi Peres and CEO of the Israel Export Institute Adiv Baruch.

In his opening remarks, the president said “I want the Israeli public to know the depth of our appreciation for you, for your government and for my friend President Steinmeier for the enhancement of Israeli-German relations. Our past continues and will continue to shape the special nature of our relationship, now and in the future. It binds us to a shared commitment to remember the past and to continue to fight against anti-Semitism, hatred and denial.”

He continued “A new breed of anti-Semitism is rising in Europe. This time, it takes the form of right-wing nationalist politics with roots in Nazism and it is gaining momentum across the continent. Some of these people appear to support Israel but hate Jews. There should be no misunderstanding. There is no such thing as loving Israel and hating Jews. History teaches us one thing: we must not tolerate any level of anti-Semitism or racism. Zero tolerance. Where there is fertile ground for that, terrible and awful things can happen, as we all know well.”

Addressing Dr Merkel, he said “Madame Chancellor, it is no secret that liberal democracy is under threat today. I believe that liberal democracy is strong enough to look today’s complex reality head-on and to get through this crisis while keeping national values and sovereignty safe. I appreciate your steadfast support of democratic principles, especially when it carries a personal price. That is leadership.”

He added “In our Declaration of Independence, the foundational document of the State of Israel, the core identity of the State of Israel was defined as a democratic Jewish state. The Declaration says that the State of Israel will be based on the values of liberty, justice and peace according to the Prophets, and will ensure total equality of social and political rights for all its citizens. Let us not forget, this document was not written when we had safely returned to our homeland. On the contrary, we made a commitment to these values as the War of Independence erupted, when the surrounding Arab states sought to destroy us, at a time when we did not know whether the State of Israel would survive. But, even then, in the shadow of catastrophe, we were proud and confident and we saw in those values as a compass – moral, Jewish and human – to guide us. Then, as today, we will never compromise, neither on our values nor on the security of our citizens.”

Rivlin called on the German Chancellor to reverse her government's decision to seek to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. “We cannot avoid speaking out against the decision taken by the European Union aimed at circumventing the sanctions on Iran. As we see it, now is the time to join the effective sanctions on Iran, not to work around them. We must starve the Iranian monster, not feed it. This is the only way we can maintain the stability of this region. We ask Germany to stand with us in our demands for inspection of the Iranian nuclear program, and not allow them to evade their commitments.”

Speaking about the situation in Gaza, the president said, “I thank Germany for its important role in the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee. Israel is interested in aiding reconstruction in Gaza, but we will not do so long as resources are diverted for terrorism against Israel, nor whilst Hamas holds our citizens and the bodies of our soldiers in Gaza. The international community must act together to put pressure on Hamas, on the Palestinian Authority and on Egypt to change the current dangerous trajectory that threatens to blow up in our faces at any moment.”

The president noted the possible opportunities with the Palestinian Authority and said, “In the West Bank, we must be focused on what we can achieve there, and not what we cannot. Even if the time is not right for an agreement at present, we – Israel and the international community - must invest heavily in creating the conditions for a future arrangement between us and the Palestinians. The economic development of the Palestinian side is clearly in Israel’s interest. The growing cooperation between Israel, international and Palestinian businesses in the field of hi-tech is an example of shared interests in the region, and of the power that prosperity and a hopeful future can have on the region. Europe, together with Israel, should be investing in joint ventures in the field of energy, infrastructure, environment and tourism – all of which are about creating shared interests. For example, development of tourism at Qasr al-Yahud, the baptismal site of Jesus, is expected to bring benefits to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The chancellor thanked the president for his welcome and in her introductory remarks said, “I would like to congratulate the State of Israel on its 70th anniversary. This is the seventh time we have come here for government-to-government consultations and we continue to work together.”

Chancellor Merkel spoke about her visit to Yad Vashem and said, “We started our visit to Israel at Yad Vashem, and once again we saw the enormity of the horror. We are committed to remembering and to our promise that nothing like this will happen again. We must continue to fight against anti-Semitism, against xenophobia and any kind of discrimination. This visit helped us understand the enormity of German responsibility and the depth of our responsibility for the future. It took great courage for our two countries to develop relations after the Second World War. This bond of courage between us now allows us to discuss our disagreements.”

On this point, the chancellor commented on the European issue and said, “On our approach to Iran, we both have the same aim. We both want to prevent Iran from using nuclear weapons. We may disagree on how – whether to continue stopping Iran using the JCPOA or by imposing sanctions – but there is no question that we are working towards the same goal, and that is preventing Iranian armament.”

At the end of her remarks, Chancellor Merkel said, “Germany has an uncompromising commitment of Israel, both because of our pasts but also because Israel is the only and strongest democracy in the region. We know that Israel is a vibrant democracy and are aware of the internal disagreements here. We know that in the current digital age, in particular, there is a place for such disagreements. We want to continue and develop the cooperation between us.”