|Jerzy Buzek in the Knesset|
Buzek began by inviting Rivlin to visit the EU Parliament.
“The European Parliament is deeply committed to excellent relations with the Knesset and democratic Israel,” continued Buzek. “This visit is important for me, not only as President of the European Parliament but also as a Pole,” he added, noting that he grew up not far from the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Europeans and Israelis share a painful past,” the President said. “This past gives us a special responsibility to work together to bring a better future.”
Buzek said that the changing history in the Middle East (the Arab Spring) is giving Israel and the Palestinian Authority an opportunity to shape a future “based on dignity, security, and prosperity,” adding that “this can be achieved only through negotiations” and “that the time to start them is now.”
In response, Rivlin said that the majority of Israelis seek peace. “[Israelis] are ready to make a lot of compromises in order to get to peace, because the dream of peace is something that everyone in Israel goes to sleep with,” he said.
He explained that many of those who believe that Israel is the Jewish homeland are ready to make concessions so that real peace can be achieved. “We are not doomed to live together [with the Arabs]; it is our destiny to live together,” said Rivlin. “We have to bring to the understanding of both people that there is no other way but to live together.”
Rivlin brought up kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been imprisoned by Hamas terrorists in Gaza for five years.
“The whole world is sparing words about the necessity of having the Red Cross visit [Shalit],” said the Knesset Speaker. “If he’s a prisoner, let him have the rights of a prisoner.”
He added that Israel has asked the EU parliament to present an exhibition about Shalit, something which he said “could influence the public opinion all around the world, and force those people from Hamas to understand that this is no way to behave.”
Buzek’s meeting with Rivlin came after he met on Tuesday with the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
During his meeting with Fayyad, Buzek said that the planned unilateral move by the Palestinian Authority toward statehood could be “dangerous.”
Buzek told Fayyad that while he “understood” the PA’s position on statehood, it could complicate peace efforts.
When he later met with Netanyahu, the Prime Minister told him that a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority has not been achieved until now because the PA refuses to accept the Jewish state.
Netanyahu noted that six Israeli prime ministers, including himself, have accepted the two-state solution and some even agreed to painful concessions.