Visit to Israel by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba
Minister Gemba shakes hands with
Mr. Avigdor Liberman, Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel
The meeting with Mr. Avigdor Liberman,
Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel
On Tuesday, May 1, Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba visited Israel where he met with Mr. Avigdor Liberman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel. In addition, he was scheduled to meet with Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, as well, but the initial meeting was cancelled due to the passing of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s father on April 30. Instead, Minister Gemba visited Prime Minister Netanyahu at the home of his father in Jerusalem and had an exchange of opinions with him. The overview of the various meetings is as follows.
I. Meeting with Avigdor Liberman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel
1. Bilateral relations
(1) The two ministers verified that they would utilize the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations to strengthen bilateral relations.
(2) Minister Gemba communicated Japan’s gratitude for the support received in relation to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
(3) Deputy Prime Minister Liberman stated that he had high expectations for the enhancement of bilateral relations, especially economic relations.
2. Middle East peace process
(1) Minister Gemba made requests in relation to the freezing of settlement activities, and the enactment of sustained and stable tax transfer for the Palestinian side. He also requested Israel’s cooperation in terms of the enactment of smooth customs clearance (including access to route 90) and the promotion of distribution services, toward the realization of the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative.
(2) Deputy Prime Minister Liberman stated that the relationship with Palestinians was under control even amidst the chaos in Arab countries, and that although public security cooperation was being sustained, given the situation in which Fatah and Hamas had split and been unable to hold an election within the Palestinians territories, he explained that direct negotiations could not be held. In addition, he pointed out that the security of Israel was important in order to respond to missile attacks from Gaza.
3. The Iranian nuclear issue
(1) Minister Gemba stated that he was extremely concerned about the Iranian nuclear issue, and explained that within the approach being made by the international community of dialogue and pressure, from the perspective of advancing cooperation with the international community toward exerting unprecedented pressure on Iran, imports of Iranian petroleum into Japan were being reduced, among other measures, and that as such the pressure being put on Iran was being enhanced. He stated that this approach was beginning to see certain results.
(2) In addition, Minister Gemba noted that a military operation against Iran would result in greater unity within the country concerning the nuclear issue and would give it a pretext to continue its nuclear development further. He strongly requested patience and self-restraint, explaining his belief that this would result in new political chaos and expansions in the Middle Eastern region, including Israel, and would postpone a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
(3) Deputy Prime Minister Liberman stated that Israel wished to highly commend Japan on its response to the issue, including sanctions, and remarked that Iranian policy, including the statement made by the Iranian president on eliminating Israel, had been highly criticized. He took the stance that only Israelis could defend Israel and said that he wanted to leave every option on the table.
(4) In response, Minister Gemba acknowledged that there existed the opinion that actions thus far had only bought time, but he argued that the actions to increase pressure should be continued and that they had started to show a certain level of results. He again asked for patience, commenting that a preemptive military strike would only throw the world economy into great chaos.
II. Visit to pay condolences to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
For about 35 minutes Minister Gemba exchanged opinions with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the topics of (1) concerns regarding the situation on the Sinai Peninsula and Israel’s concept for the railway route to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, complimenting the Suez Canal; (2) hopes for the future with regard to natural gas deposits recently found in Israel; (3) the Iranian nuclear issue; (4) topics related to defense exchanges. On the Iranian nuclear issue, Minister Gemba explained his request for perseverance, and Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that a war was undesirable.
In addition, Minister Gemba invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to Japan, an invitation which Prime Minister Netanyahu received with joy.
(*The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original press release in Japanese.)
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