March 29th, 2006

Between hope and fear

imes new roman" >“I congratulate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on his clear election victory which clearly demonstrates that he has a majority of Israelis behind him and his party Kadima. Voters believe that they are now at least somewhat closer to the peace for which they have so long yearned”, said Dr Salomon Korn, Vice-President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, reflecting on the outcome of the ballot in Israel. About a quarter of the Israeli electorate opted yesterday for the party founded by Ariel Sharon. Voters see it as able to resolve the country’s pressing problems. “This is the beginning of a new political era, a referendum on the future of Israel.”

“The situation in the Middle East has changed dramatically since Hamas won elections in January. The radical islamicist party is a terrorist organization and it is hardly conceivable that it could prove a reliable partner in the future peace process. A formidable challenge for the new government”, observed Vice-President
imes new roman" >Charlotte Knobloch. Until Hamas embarks on a rethink Israel – to survive – must define its borders unilaterally if need be and take unilateral steps to continue on the course it has adopted of withdrawing from the West Bank, thereby ensuring the security of the state. “People in Israel are tired, insecure, frightened and feel a deep longing for an enduring ceasefire, justice, peace and reconciliation.”

“The international community must offer Israel clearer indications than ever that they stand firmly on the side of the only democracy in the Middle East”, continued Korn. The United Nations, the EU, the United States and Russia must confront Hamas with clear demands: an end to the terror, full recognition of the State of Israel, ceasefire, and compliance with all agreements in order to calm the situation and create a basis for confidence to grow gradually on both sides.”

“The Jewish community living in the diaspora will remain firmly at the side of Israel and its people”, said Knobloch, who is also Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress: “The community of states must recognize that any threat to Israel is always a threat to free Western society.”

imes new roman" >Berlin, 29 March 2006