(Communicated by the Media Adviser to President Peres)
President Shimon Peres accepted the credentials today of the incoming Ambassador of the United States to Israel, Daniel Shapiro.
President Peres said to Ambassador Shapiro: "As a representative of the great United States of America, which to us is not just a country but the closest friend a nation can have. I would like to express my admiration to the President of the United States. By overcoming the complicated issue of the budget through compromise, he saved both the United States and humanity from a possible disaster. I consider President Obama as a friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I don't have any doubt about it. He represents the best tradition of the United States when it comes to relations with Israel. Not only with words but with deeds, the President has promised on many occasions that the security of Israel will be at the top of his agenda - and he does it."
The President added: "I think we are in full agreement about the best way to achieve peace. Some countries are committed to supporting the Palestinian's intentions but they are making a mistake. The United Nations can only produce a declaration and what we need is an understanding, not a declaration. Unless the Palestinians and us solve the last remaining issues, no declarations will help. The gaps between both sides are narrow and can be overcome. There is a built-in majority against us at the UN. Also, maybe they can declare peace but they cannot create a peaceful situation. They cannot stop Iran from building bombs, spreading terror, and supporting terrorist groups. Can you have peace without it? We appreciate the position of the President and the Congress on this issue to enter into direct negotiations and not take any empty gestures.
Ambassador Shapiro surprised President Peres and responded in fluent Hebrew saying: "Thank you for the warm reception. Your wisdom is something we can learn from. The relationship between the United States and Israel is the most important and strongest we have anywhere in the world. We have common interests and common values and they unite us, our two democracies. We are coping with the same threats and as a result we built an excellent relationship of cooperation, between our governments and our intelligence gathering agencies. But even more important than our strategic relationship is our moral relationship. I have been sent by President Obama to oversee this important relationship. My presence here represents a commitment of President Obama to strengthen and deepen the warm and important relations between the State of Israel and the United States."
Ambassador Shapiro added: "The current situation in the Middle East is filled with challenges and dangers. There is even a threat against the very existence of the only Jewish and democratic country in the world, the State of Israel. We will face these threats together, as allies, with a central purpose of defending the security of the State of Israel. At the same time we will take advantage of the new realities to promote democracy and the opportunities to establish peace between you and your neighbors, especially the Palestinians."
He also said: "As a representative of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and in the name of the American people, I will be your partner and the partner of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and all the citizens of Israel. I have worked closely for the past two years with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his advisers and I am sure that this important work will continue."
The Ambassador also mentioned his desire to reach out directly to the people of Israel and open a dialogue with them. He is interested in both hearing their opinions and in representing the United States to them. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Israel, Shapiro was Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Staff at the White House.
President Peres accepted the credentials of the incoming Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Andreas Michaelis, in an official ceremony at Beit HaNassi today.
President Peres said: "The relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel are very special, very close and very meaningful. It is not the usual diplomatic relations, it is a long memory, many emotions and many hopes all combined. I have the highest regard for the Government and for the Chancellor. Relations are very good and Germany is very involved in Europe and played a commendable role regarding Greece. Also Germany's latest attempt to keep Europe together and European policy is really needed. We can feel the friendliness and understanding of your Government, of the Chancellor and the President. In many domains that are not traditional diplomacy like science and technology it is a growing partnership. And I think you are responsible partners to bring peace to the Middle East. Like you we would like to see the Middle East becoming democratic and successful. Neither the Arabs nor the Muslims are our enemies, we have to live together. Economic opportunity, water and the shortage of food is the main problem in the region with terror also a serious threat. We are looking forward to continue to work together."
Ambassador Michaelis to President Peres: "Thank you for the warm reception. I convey the greetings of President Wulff and Chancellor Merkel. It is my objective to preserve the special quality of the relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel, and also to work towards peace in the region. We have seen far reaching changes in the Arab world. I would like to assure you that Germany will use all its influence and the means available to influence the policies in the region in a way that we guarantee stability in your neighborhood. I believe is important to the security of the State of Israel. The Chancellor has very clearly stated that right of the State of Israel to exist is a raison d'etre of the Federal Republic of Germany. As head of the mission here I will try to make that a reality on a daily basis."
During the traditional toast to the new Ambassador, President Peres said: "I have the highest regard for President Wulff. His attitude to Israel is warm, friendly, and sincere and we appreciate it very much. We have much admiration for Chancellor Merkel who possesses something very rare in politics, namely the confidence in her honesty, devotion and seriousness, and we are lucky to have her as a friend."
Regarding the peace process, President Peres said: "We all want peace. There are two ways to try and achieve it, either through the United Nations by disagreement and finally producing a paper that will remain a document, or by trying hard to overcome the latest disagreement between us and the Palestinians. Many disagreements were solved and the remaining ones, in my opinion are solvable. I hope that Germany and the EU will really take our very sincere desire to see a successful, democratic, flourishing Palestinian state as our neighbors. We can work together and live together."
President Peres also accepted the credentials of the new Ambassador of Slovakia, Radovan Javorcik, and the Ambassador of Nauru, Marlene Moses.