Peres to Austrian chancellor: Terror groups overtook Gaza flotillas
During meeting with Faymann, Israeli president calls on Europe to pressure Hamas' leaders into 'abandoning path of terror and war against Israel,' to bring about 'Gaza of peace'; Peres says Israel will not allow entry to ships carrying missiles
President Shimon Peres on Thursday told visiting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann that the aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip have been taken over by terrorist groups "seeking provocation and conflict."
"Israel will not allow entry to ships carrying missiles and armaments arriving directly from Iran, Syria, and Lebanon," said Peres to the chancellor.
The president also called upon Faymann and the rest of the European leaders to apply pressure on Hamas, just as they had pressured deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the past, in order to bring about "a different Gaza, a Gaza of peace."
Peres urged Europe to "pressure Hamas into abandoning its path of terror and war against Israel."
Referencing past Austrian and German chancellors, the president said "I suggest Europe return to the doctrines of Bruno Kreisky and Willy Brandt, who pressured Arafat to join the Socialist International. At the time, I said we would be very pleased if Europe succeeds in turning Arafat into a socialist and a democrat. Indeed, the pressure exerted by Europe on Arafat changed his positions – he accepted (UN Resolution) 242, and denounced terror and the war on Israel."
"We are witnessing the same situation in Gaza now," Peres continued. "Europe can pressure Hamas' leaders into supporting the path of peace, recognizing Israel and stopping the weapons smuggling on the road to resuming the peace negotiations – then a different Gaza will exist. A more open and moderate Gaza. A Gaza of peace."
Asked by Chancellor Werner Faymann about the chances of jumpstarting the peace talks with Syria, Peres said, "You cannot make an alliance of terror with Iran and talk peace at the same time. Assad supports Hezbollah, supplies it with money and missiles while constantly denying its actions.
"(Assad) denies he is building a nuclear reactor, denies he is transferring long-range missiles to Hezbollah and is trying to deceive the West," said the president.
Chancellor Faymann told the Israeli president that Austria is convinced Israel's negotiations with the Palestinians must become direct at some point, adding that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted in order for this to happen.
However, the Austrian leader stressed that Israeli security concerns, particularly regarding the smuggling of arms into Gaza, must be addressed.