Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Prime Minister Sobotka, It's a pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to our inter-governmental meeting here in Jerusalem. I've been to Prague twice. I told you that I was impressed by the natural affinity between the Czech people and the Jewish people, both in character, the championing of freedom, the great value that we place on individualism, on curiosity, on creativity, in literature and science and the arts and every field. There was an easy sympathy that we could feel in the Czech Republic and I think that you feel here in Israel.
Israel and the Czech Republic are two vibrant democracies, free societies whose laws will always guarantee full and equal rights to all our citizens. These common values unite us, as does the thousand year old friendship between the Jewish and Czech peoples.
Our challenge today is to transform this historic friendship into greater cooperation, and we're doing so. We just spent, I thought, a very productive meeting discussing how we can not only continue our relationship, but strengthen it in so many ways, and we have just signed joint declarations in many fields that enhance this cooperation, in international affairs, in defense, in bilateral trade investment, in finance, in economic cooperation, in scientific R&D and technological research. You told me about your plans to enhance R&D in the Czech Republic in areas that I think fully match Israel's capabilities. We look forward to that cooperation.
I talked to you about cyber security and the efforts that we are making in this realm. I think it's important and we're prepared to cooperate on this, because we think this is essential for the functioning of modern states.
We spoke about Holocaust remembrance, and you mentioned how open and committed the Czech Republic is to maintain the Holocaust remembrance. I told you that my job, as the prime minister of Israel is to make sure that there are no further holocausts. That is something that we face with those who seek to annihilate the Jewish state, and openly say that that is their goal.
We talked about cultural education and youth exchanges; social services and senior citizens; energy and environmental protection; health and medicine; agriculture, just endless cooperation in many, many ways.
The Czech Republic and Israel are partners, are friends and allies, and as such, I believe that we face a common threat from militant Islam and specifically, the greatest threat is not merely from ISIS, but also from the militant Shiites led by Iran, who seek to arm Iran with nuclear weapons.
Yesterday the P5+1 made the right decision. The world's power rejected a bad deal on Iran's terms. What Iran wanted was to lift the sanctions while offering only cosmetic changes to its nuclear weapons program. They refuse to come clean before the IAEA about their secret nuclear weapons program. Such a deal would have left Iran with thousands of centrifuges that would have enabled them to enrich uranium for atom bombs in a very short time. I think it would have been exceedingly dangerous. So in the coming months as the talks continue, it's crucial that sanctions on Iran be maintained, and even stepped up.
Sanctions is the only thing that got Iran to the table and sanctions are the only thing that would get Iran to make real compromises that would dismantle its capacity to make nuclear weapons. And I believe that all of us should unite behind this effort. It's not over but I think that it's a challenge before us because the world will change, the world will change if a militant Islamic power has nuclear weapons or is on the threshold of having them.
Mr. Prime Minister, We spoke too about our quest for peace with the Palestinians. This is something we all dearly wish. We don't want war. We've experienced the horrors of war. We've lost friends and loved ones on the battle field. There's nothing that Israel wants more than peace. What we want is a genuine peace. We have left territories only to see them taken up by militant Islam, to have them become bases for Iran's proxies from which thousands of missiles are fired at us.
What we seek from out Palestinian neighbors is that this is not repeated. We want a firm commitment from them that they will recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people, just as they expect us to recognize the Palestinian state, a nation state of the Palestinians. So far, they've been unwilling to do that, to end the conflict with Israel, to end their demands to flood Israel with Palestinians, to accept the idea that the Palestinian state is there to end the conflict with Israel, rather than to continue it.
And secondly, we need, obviously, security arrangements on the ground to prevent the repetition of what happened when we left Lebanon to the last centimeter, when we left Gaza to the last centimeter, and these areas became launching grounds for violent attacks, including rocket attacks on our cities.
These twin needs of mutual recognition and solid security arrangements on the ground, which are so essential for peace, these are not addressed by the European countries that unilaterally give recognition to a Palestinian state. I think it's a big mistake for peace. It encourages the Palestinians to harden their positions, not to compromise on mutual recognition, not to compromise on the things that are needed to achieve genuine security. I think these European positions actually push peace away, and I believe that they make reaching a solution much harder.
We discussed this in length. I appreciated the fact that you said you believe what is needed in a negotiated arrangement and not unilateral actions. This is something we believe is true, and we hope that we can advance this understanding in Europe with you.
We have a lot to discuss, a lot of bilateral issues that, I think, could advance our cooperation, but equally, I think a more balanced and a more fair conception in Europe on how to advance peace and security in the Middle East.
I would to add, Mr. prime Minister, that it's a personal pleasure for me to welcome you in Jerusalem, and I accept your invitation to visit Prague. I hope I can do so in the near future. So welcome to Jerusalem".
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO