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Mr. Prime Minister [of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu], it is a pleasure to welcome you here. I am very pleased with this quite historic opportunity: it has been 22 years since a Prime Minister of Israel visited the European Union. It is far too long for friends and partners as we are. We meet often as friends and partners. I believe President [of Israel, Reuven] Rivlin visited the European Union. But you knew you had an open invitation and I am very glad you accepted it, to join us today.
We will have a conversation with the 28 Foreign Ministers before we start the Foreign Affairs Council. We decided to have three main points on our agenda: first of all the Middle East Peace Process, but also our bilateral relations that are strong and deep, and the regional situation that worries us, together, in a particular manner.
Obviously the visit comes in a particular time. As partners and friends, we want to discuss each other's interest. And we believe it is in Israel's interest, especially in the security interest of Israel, to find a sustainable and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is why the European Union will increase its work together with our international friends and partners but also with friends and partners in the region, starting from Egypt and Jordan, and obviously with the parties – Israel and Palestine – to start to relaunch the peace process, even if it seems difficult. We will have a similar conversation with [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas in January .
You know where the European Union stands. We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two States with Jerusalem as the capital of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine along the 1967 line. This is our consolidated position and we will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem until the final status of the Holy City is resolved through direct negotiations between the parties. And we hope that the parties can engage in meaningful direct negotiations with the support of the international community.
Let me also say that the worst thing that can happen now is an escalation of tensions, of violence. First of all around the Holy Places, but also in the region and beyond. Let me condemn in the strongest possible way all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world, including in Europe and on Israel and on Israeli citizens. Increased tension and violence would only inflame the region and would be a gift to the extremes and to those that are not interested and actually against peace and security and living together.
We express in the strongest possible manner our full support to the work that Jordan and in particular his majesty, the King of Jordan [Abdullah II of Jordan], is playing as the custodian of the Holy Places. I met the Foreign Minister of Jordan [Ayman Al Safadi] here last Friday and I know that we share a common interest in the Holy Places keeping their strongest possible value and being a point of reference for the three monotheistic religions. This is not only important for Jerusalem but also for the entire world.
Let me finish on a very positive note: Happy Hanukkah! And welcome, let's make sure it does not take 22 years until a next visit.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I148464