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Source: Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR)
15 July 2014

Tony Blair meets with President Peres

Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014 in Office of the Quartet Representative

Transcript of remarks made by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Quartet Representative, Tony Blair, at their meeting in Jerusalem this morning:

President Peres:

Yesterday, Egypt suggested a ceasefire to open a window of opportunity to bring the fighting to an end. This morning the Israeli Security Cabinet accepted the ceasefire. The fire until now brought nothing but death and damage. Hamas isolated itself, the world calls upon them to end the fire. If they continue despite the proposal they will only bring more suffering to their people.

Israel will continue to defend itself – it is our moral responsibility and our sovereign right. Terrorists aim to kill innocent civilians. Mothers and children. Jews and Arabs. However, the rockets did not achieve their aim. The strength of our army, our technological edge and the courage of our people allows Israel to stand strong.

The Israeli public, mothers and children, stood steadfast and with great restraint in the face of this ongoing provocation. Yesterday I met a group of children from one of the communities that was hit hard. They continue to smile, they sing and they dance. They are the proof that terror will not win.

There are two camps. The camp of terror and the camp of peace. Not only here but across the world. This operation is an answer to the camp of terror. The IDF targeted hundreds of rocket launchers, training camps and tunnels. We all wish to lower the flames, we want an end to the fighting and we hope to see it soon. But there can be no compromise with terror. A ceasefire must be on these terms. No more rockets. No more terror.

Many of our neighbors stand with us in this fight. It is a global threat and we must fight it globally. Terror is destroying the fabric of the Arab world, it harms those who allow it as much as those it targets.

I want to thank Mr. Blair for his involvement and support. And thank the leaders of the world who support our right to defend ourselves.

We must turn again to the camp of peace. We stand loud and clear for peace with our neighbors. The Palestinian people are not our enemies, the people of Gaza are not our enemies. We share the same aim which is an end to terror. Security and calm for civilians everywhere.

A return to peace talks to achieve the only viable, long term solution - two states for two peoples. I want to say something to the people of Gaza. This operation was the third major escalation in the past 6 years. Each time it is innocent civilians that suffer and pay the price.

Rockets and terror bring you no closer to your national aspirations. Terrorism will not deliver for the Palestinian people. We withdrew from Gaza unilaterally, of our own free will. Gaza had an opportunity to become a flourishing place, a great economy. Instead Hamas overpowered the Palestinian Authority and instead of investing in their people, they wasted money on rockets and tunnels. Without reason, without purpose and without results.

The children of Gaza deserve the same opportunities as children everywhere which is to be secure and free. But Hamas continues to hold them hostage. They seek death over life. They seek destruction over growth. They act out of hate and are bringing a tragedy upon their own people.

President Abbas is not only a partner for Israel but is the best hope for the Palestinians for a future of stability, respect, independence and prosperity. He is a man of peace, a responsible leader.

This is a time for peace, not war. You cannot conduct both at the same time. There is no solution based on fire. Our hand will always be raised to defend ourselves against those who seek to harm us. And stretched out in friendship to those who seek peace.

Tony Blair:

Thank you very much Mr. President. First of all let me welcome the initiative from Egypt for the ceasefire and I'd like to pay tribute to the Egyptian leadership for putting forward this initiative. This has now been accepted and endorsed by the Arab League, by President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and now by the Government of Israel and the whole of the international community.

The ceasefire is important because it gives us the opportunity to stop the tragic loss of life, the misery and the fear. The number of people who have died in Gaza is indeed tragic, people in Israel in these last days living in fear of terror and rocket attacks. But the purpose is also to give us the opportunity to put in place a long-term solution. This is not a ceasefire which then simply ends with the fact of the absence of immediate rocket attacks and retaliation. The purpose of this ceasefire is to give us an opportunity to bring genuine hope for the future for the people of Gaza, to have Gaza opened up again to the world, to have Gaza and the West Bank re-united but to do so in a way that gives real and permanent security to the people of Israel, the freedom from rocket attacks, from tunnels, from terrorism.

Over these past days as the President rightly said, people have suffered and people have suffered in a way that has brought anguish and grief to many families and I believe after the events of the last few years, not just the last few days, there is a genuine desire to make sure that we put in place a real and lasting solution to these issues. That we don't come back again in a short period of time to more rocket attacks, to more death and to more destruction. This is a very important moment because it gives us the opportunity not just to cease the violence now but a genuine hope and prospect to the Gazan people and to the people of Israel that there is going to be the possibility of a real and lasting peace. This is why it's important, this is why the international community is fully behind the efforts and will continue to be so.

Before I conclude I would like to say a few words about President Peres because this is probably the last time I will be with him at an official press conference in Israel as president. As you know, I'm a fully paid up member of the Peres fan club but this devotion is based on experience and my experience of this man over many years has been as follows. He is an outstanding leader, he is a magnificent servant of the State of Israel, he is a striver for peace and above all else, though he is Israeli to the core, we regard him as a citizen of the world. He is a truly global leader.

Over the years I have watched him with admiration, I've tried to borrow or steal his best lines, sometimes successfully and sometimes less so. I have no doubt that when he leaves this role he will continue to play his part in peace, in bringing people together and in creating a better world. I've never known anyone who ceaselessly is able to create, to innovate and to renew both himself and those around him. So dear Shimon I'd like to take this opportunity to say on behalf of the world actually, thank you for all that you've done.

Related Links:

Tony Blair statement on Gaza ceasefire
Statement on the Middle East

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