Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Tuesday, 7 February 2017), in Jerusalem, met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and said at the start of their meeting:
"Prime Minister Michel, welcome to Jerusalem.
I look forward to our conversations. We have much to discuss both bilaterally and I think on the larger scene, larger scene I don’t mean just the Middle East but the sparks that fly out of the Middle East and affect now every country, including Belgium tragically, and every continent around the world.
Our bilateral relations are healthy. In terms of trade we have about 3 billion dollars of trade between us. We can have more. We have strong industries, strong knowledge industries, and I think that the future belongs to those who innovate.
I know that we're both in pharmaceuticals but new industries are developing and the way we can sustain the living standards for our peoples depends on our ability to incorporate technology in practical applications. I give you an example – Israel today has a car industry. A few years ago we had no car industry. But we had 3 billion dollar investment last year in our driverless car technology. We have 500 startups. A few years ago, a decade ago, we had maybe one, at most two. So this is expanding and creating new opportunities and my point is that small countries can have powerful economies. Israel is such an example and in Belgium you have your own strength. I think that if we cooperate we can increase the prosperity of our peoples for our common benefit.
The second problem of course is the great challenge of terror. It emanates, we should say so unequivocally, from radical Islam that brings tremendous misery to our region and proceeds elsewhere with unrestricted violence. Israel has been at the forefront of the countries that fight militant Islam. We share our intelligence on terrorism. I think in a larger sense, Prime Minister, it's important to recognize that Israel is the strongest force in the Middle East that prevents the collapse of the Western part of the Middle East. If that were to happen, we would have untold misery to many, many more millions of residents of the Middle East and a great increase flow to Europe. Israel prevents that. In many ways it is the most powerful force, among others, that prevents this tragedy from increasing. And I think in this sense, Israel is doing an important service for the peoples of Europe, including Belgium. We'll continue our cooperation on counter-terrorism and many other things that I think are important for the safety and security of both our peoples.
And finally on the quest for peace, I think the problem for which we lack peace with the Palestinians is a simple truth – the persistent Palestinian refusal for the last 70 years, 68 years since Israel was established, to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries. This is the core of our particular conflict. I look forward to the day when we have Palestinians who are willing to recognize, finally, the Jewish state. That will be the beginning of peace and a great step forward to achieving it.
I welcome you and your delegation. I hope we can continue fruitful discussions between us.
Welcome to Jerusalem."