A beautiful moment of nostalgia with PM Netanyahu and Czech President Miles Zeman

A beautiful moment of nostalgia with PM Netanyahu and Czech President Miles Zeman

Minister of Israel Foreign Affairs (MFA) Newsletter
Israel, October 8, 2013

PM Netanyahu meets Czech President Milos Zeman

PM Netanyahu: When I come to Prague, I feel that Israel’s predicaments are understood from the heart, from the brain, and therefore, when we seek a genuine peace it’s something that the Czech people understand immediately.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Mr. President, it’s a personal pleasure for me to welcome you in Jerusalem. There’s a genuine and deep friendship between the Czech people and the Jewish people and the State of Israel and the Czech Republic. We treasure that relationship. It’s manifest in not only such a visit as yours and in the G20 meetings that we have, but in a deeper bond that is based on centuries of common experience of the Jews and the Czech people.

I was in Prague. I had deeply moving moments in the ancient synagogue there, in the history of the great rabbis of Prague with rich Judaism, and of course in the modern period, in the bitter experience that Czechoslovakia experienced as a beleaguered democracy that was accused of being an obstacle to peace in Europe, that was asked to make concessions that ultimately not only endangered its own sovereignty and security but also the security and peace of all of Europe. We’ve learned that lesson. You have learned that lesson. And we are not about to repeat it.

I have to say that when I come to Prague, I feel that I am understood. I feel that Israel’s predicaments are understood from the heart, from the brain, and therefore, when we seek a genuine peace it’s something that the Czech people understand immediately. And when we say that the test of international negotiations is not the process but the results: results that actually bring genuine disarmament of radical regimes, this is what we need to see — Genuine disarmament.

I’m talking now, the negotiations that are underway with Iran. We have no objections to them, but they must bring real results. And the questions we must all ask is why is Iran insisting on centrifuges for uranium enrichment? Why is it insisting on heavy water plutonium plants? Why? If they say all they want is peaceful energy, well, I don’t believe them. But anyone who is faced with this should ask a simple question: why do you insist on those elements that are not necessary for civilian energy, whose sole purpose is to produce nuclear weapons?

Centrifuges, and plutonium plants are not needed to produce nuclear energy. In fact 17 countries are producing nuclear energy around the world without them. The sole reason that Iran is insisting on plutonium reactors and on centrifuges for enrichment is to produce weapons. Therefore, in a real agreement, an agreement that produces real results, that produce real disarmament from nuclear weapons of Iran requires that they give up completely centrifuges and the plutonium route. If they do that, I think we could all be satisfied and we could all support this, such an achievement. If they don’t, well, we’ve been down that road before and we don’t want to repeat it.

So I think when I say these things in front of you, Mr. President, you understand deeply, and I say this with an understanding too that there are no better friends in Europe than the Czech Republic, the Czech people. You come here and you are welcomed as friends in the deepest sense of the word.

Welcome to Jerusalem, friend.

President Zeman: Thank you.

This is my second visit to Israel. I was here 12 years ago and I still remember my visit including the meeting with Ariel Sharon. I admired his courage, but in your country, every Prime Minister is to be courageous, and you are, Mr. Prime Minister. So, I fully understand the necessity of Jewish independent democratic state, and I repeated this not only during my visit here but practically during all my political life.

A few minutes ago I planted a tree and certain the tree is to have mainly deep roots in order to prevail the storm if any, and even if you see the fruits of the tree, the roots are more important. And the tradition of our friendship has such a deep roots, and more than that, I was informed about Jewish National Fund, Mr. Prime Minister, who is the big owner of the homeland and more than that it fights against the deserts.

And there is a striking similarity between the history of the Czech Republic and Israel. In the 30s we were the island of democracy under the leadership of Tomáš Masaryk, who visited Israel in, I guess, 1921-22. So, and if you have the deep roots and long term tradition which is based on common experience, I fully understand that your fight against deserts cannot be limited to physical deserts only. There are deserts in the human mind, there are deserts represented by some neighbors, and you mentioned one neighbor in your statement.

So I am here as a politician who always supported Israel, whether it was popular or not. Because if you do only popular things, you are not politician. And this why I firmly believe that my visit will continue the tradition of friendship, and deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome against the common enemy, the international terrorism. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Thank you. Thank you very much. And welcome to Herzl’s land, the representative and the continuer of Tomáš Masaryk who was a great Zionist, great Zionist, one of the great friends that Zionism had. We admire him. We admire you, Welcome Mr. President.



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