"Israel plans to invest significant amounts in infrastructure that will
increase the accessibility of holy sites to all worshipers. By doing so it
aims to honor and allow freedom of worship to all, irrespective of their
faith, and protect the holy sites. There is no violation of Muslim or
Christian religious rights in any holy place."
Office of the President
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
President Peres remarked on the holy sites recently declared national
heritage sites with the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East
Process, Mr. Robert Serry:
"We don't need to produce artificial conflicts. Israel will continue to
grant freedom of worship to every religion in every holy place."
President Peres met today with Mr. Robert H. Serry, the U.N. Special
Coordinator for the Middle East Process. The two discussed the peace
process between Israel and the Palestinians, the situation in Gaza, the
state of affairs with Syria, and the holy sites.
President Peres asked to open the meeting with a remark on the holy sites
recently declared national heritage sites. The President said that extremist
forces including Hamas were trying to incite the situation and produce
artificial conflicts: "Israel plans to invest significant amounts in
infrastructure that will increase the accessibility of holy sites to all
worshipers. By doing so it aims to honor and allow freedom of worship to
all, irrespective of their faith, and protect the holy sites. There is no
violation of Muslim or Christian religious rights in any holy place." The
President requested that this clear message be delivered to the U.N.
Secretary-General so as to stop those parties which wish to incite
U.N. Special Coordinator Serry thanked the President for clarifying the
issue. He added that following a series of meetings with leaders of the
Palestinian Authority he believes the most serious obstacle to peace remains
the lack of trust between both sides-that neither side believes the other
will remain flexible and make significant advances in negotiations.
Nevertheless, he also stated that with the proper steps there exists an
opportunity to resume proximity talks.
The President firmly stated that there exists no alternative to discussion
between Israel and the Palestinians. He added that every delay by the
Palestinian leadership will only weaken the negotiations and the formation
of an independent, Palestinian state alongside Israel: "there exists a
consensus in Israel in favor of two states for two people. There exists no
doubt in my mind that the opening positions of both sides will differ from
their fallback position. You cannot decide final positions at the start of
negotiations. You cannot start a movie with a happy ending. Therefore, the
sooner we sit down and talk the better."
U.N. Special Coordinator Serry informed the President that U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon plans to visit Israel and the Palestinian
Authority soon to discuss several issues including how Israel can facilitate
the movement of goods into Gaza. He added that there is no humanitarian
problem in Gaza yet there exists a need for certain goods such as building
materials for the rehabilitation of several buildings.
The President remarked that Israel left Gaza and has no intention of
returning to it or controlling it. He added that situation in Gaza is
totally in the hands of Hamas: "Hamas is a murdering body, a terrorist
organization, and an Iranian agent that spends all its efforts in expanding
its weapons arsenal through tunnel smuggling. Hamas uses building materials
to construct these tunnels and strengthen its terrorist network. Israel will
not compromise the security of its citizens by allowing such tunnels. The
minute Hamas will abandon the use of terror, the entire situation in Gaza
will immediately change for the better."
At the end of the meeting the U.N. Special Coordinator Serry thanked Israel
for its enormous contribution to the rescue efforts in Haiti: "Israel's
actions in Haiti have strengthened the positive relationship between the
United Nations and Israel. We thank you for your efforts"
Video Available Through AP or Reuters
Photographs Available By Request
For More Information:
Ayelet Frish - Spokesperson of the President 050-620-5111
Meital Jaslovitz - Assistant to Spokesperson of the President 050-420-5230
3 HaNassi St., Jerusalem Israel 92188 Tel. +972-2-6707256 Fax.