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28.03.2017 - 13: 50

"We can only answer for myself, for our people, for our country"

"The existence of all these channels of coordination between our military establishments is already known. Delve into the details there is no sense to the general public. It can only hurt. We are quite happy with the existence of such a channel and operational level work in it ", - he said in an interview with LOOK Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Israel to Russia Harry Koren.


The Middle East, while remaining for many decades one of the planet's key geopolitical units, is currently undergoing a massive transformation. A restructuring of substantially all of the system of relations, which seemed unshakable since the Cold War.

A special place for obvious reasons, this system takes Israel. For Russia, this country is an increased interest now, because in the bilateral relationship is undergoing major processes, with a significant part of them is hidden from the eyes of the public, thus fueling further attention among States.

What Israel sees its place in the Middle East and throughout the world political system, as a Jewish state seeks to build relations with neighbors and the great powers, as in the case with the Russian anti-Semitism, according to Israel.

On the questions of the newspaper LOOK said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Israel to Russia Harry Koren.

VIEW: Mr. Ambassador, we know that the previous US administration was determined to not very friendly towards Israel. At the same time these same years were a period of significant improvement in Russian-Israeli relations. Now the White House came to Donald Trump, who is known for his radical pro-Israeli stance. Can this, in your opinion, some way to increase the distance in Russian-Israeli relations, aggravate them?

Harry Koren: Everything is relative. As you know, Israel and the US are strong and long relationship, defined by the agreement on strategic partnership and the continued growth of bilateral cooperation. In general, the main and it remains valid and useful time, even if we are in different topics do not agree with our friends. For example, in times not easy for us during the presidency of Jimmy Carter was signed a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. And last year, when Barack Obama was concluded the biggest deal in the field of defense between the United States and the State of Israel.

Of course, there is reason to believe that at the time of the new president Donald Trump US administration and Israel will become even more friends. It took place, in our estimation, a great visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, the first meeting with the new president of Trump. Just happened appointment of a new US ambassador to Israel. We hope that at least his residence is in Jerusalem, and perhaps even the US embassy move. This is a very positive signal.

Russia's position is known to us in this matter, and we only cherish the hope ... As is the case with other friendly countries who understand that Jerusalem - the shrine and all monotheistic religions and the main city in the tradition of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present day and the capital of the modern State of Israel. After all, on the fact of the official delegations of all countries come to us to Jerusalem to meet with the Prime Minister, the President, deputies of the Knesset, the Israeli Government to international conferences and other events.

It is important to emphasize that the current Israeli-Russian relations have reached a high level, and from year to year becoming more and more strong and tight, evolving in line with the partnership, mutual understanding and respect. Scale celebratory events that mark 25-anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between our countries, shows how good they are in the last year. Of course, Israel and Russia cooperation has a positive effect on the complex processes that occur in the Middle East.

I do not need to look for them (in Israel's relations with the United States and Russia - approx. LOOK) some kind of direct connection. Israel - a country that is trying to have good relations with everyone, to be friends with everyone. Not everyone wants to be friends with us, but it happens among people. We want to live in peace with all our neighbors in the Middle East. Our cooperation with the US and Russia, how it develops - is not mutually exclusive, the two components of our strategic relationship. No less important for Israel's relations with the EU countries and many others in different parts of the world. You've probably noticed that recently passed the state visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in China and our President Reuven Rivlin visited in Vietnam. Israel is interested in the development of economic and trade cooperation with China and Vietnam.

VIEW: In fact, we have inherited from the Cold War geopolitical configuration in which the United States took pro-Israel, and the Soviet Union (and later Russia) - pro-Palestinian. This system is now shaken. Russia is actively developing relations with Israel, while preserving to the maximum its ties to the Arab world. In the previous US administration was not very friendly steps Israel. That is, it is undermining the system, which is already several decades. Israel sees this process is positive or negative?

GK: From the point of view of philosophical and historical all positive. The Soviet Union, as it is known, supported the establishment of the State of Israel, and this was his very positive historical contribution.

Russian colleagues we have said many times that the Soviet Union was made a strategic mistake when they were broken off relations with Israel. There were their ideas, their interests: the Cold War, the way looked at the Jewish state, Jews in those days.
Today the situation in the Middle East is not an easy. All countries are interested in the economic potential of the region, and all concerned about its instability. The current chaotic processes - conflict, civil war, the use of chemical weapons, a large wave of refugees - poses to the international community serious challenges.

For us, there are two important points (whether Russian, whether other players are showing increased interest in the Middle East) on the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Most importantly, Russia, in contrast to earlier times, much better than we understand and therefore can play a much more positive role.

We see it in certain positions on the Russian side that say about a particular preference for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions, by the way, unlike in the past, and in contrast to the initiatives of others. Remember, the Soviet Union proposed an international conference to resolve the conflict in the Middle East. Thank God, we moved away from the idea of ​​so-called international dictate. I touched on this subject, because the Palestinians are trying to achieve a breakthrough by an international conference or a UN Security Council resolution that would create some kind of a framework agreement between us. In general, the idea is the same international dictate. This can not and will not be. By the way, Russia is also realized. We appreciate it. We strive to understand the interests of all international players, especially on the scale of our Russian partners.

I want to add about the "magic" formulas that are developed in the old days, not only here but also in the West. The fact that supposedly once the Palestinians and Israelis sit down at the negotiating table and sign an agreement, then immediately will be peace in the Middle East, and people will live in biblical times. This, of course, from the field of mythology: that Israel will sign an agreement with the Palestinians, and soon will be peace in Syria, Yemen, Libya and so on..

We are increasingly convinced that our friends, including Russia, well aware of this.

VIEW: The next question is about Syria. In your opinion, how effective interaction between the General Staff of Russia and Israel, because the situation there is really complicated. One can not but affect the very latest topic related to the Israeli attack on Syrian territory.

GK(. Smiling) I do not know what you're talking about.

VIEW: There is a feeling that there are some neafishiruemye agreement between Israel and Russia in the military sphere.

GKWell and good, that is.

VIEW: Israeli Prime Minister during his visit to China, he made a statement, which also hints at some agreement between him and the president of Russia. At the same time you are invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry about the Israeli attacks on Syrian territory. How, in your opinion, can what is happening in Syria to damage Russian-Israeli relations, or there still is a kind of game where everyone plays a role?

GK: The existence of all these channels of coordination between our military establishments is already known. Delve into the details there is no sense to the general public. It can only hurt. We are quite happy with the existence of such a channel and operational level work in it.

There are differences. In principle, the order - not a tactical thing, but fundamentally - the fact that the Syrian regime are fighting on the side of Iran and "Hezbollah" is contrary to our interests. Because the position of "Hezbollah" and Iran's negative critical towards Israel. This country and the terrorist organization calling for the destruction of Israel. At the parade in Tehran on military equipment even written in Hebrew, where these missiles will be targeted.

This is the first about the differences. Second, we have our position has never concealed, and it seems to me, Benjamin Netanyahu only reiterated what our red lines and that in the future we will not restrict the freedom of their actions, feeling that there is any threat from our national security "Hezbollah" and Iran.

Sometimes in the press describes some operations that allegedly carried out by Israel, but there is nothing more to add.

Again, I emphasize, very good, that there is a mechanism for coordination between the two military establishments. It is useful for both sides.

VIEW: Mr. Koren, you work as ambassador to Russia for two and a half months. What are your impressions of working with colleagues in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

GK: High-end professionals. The people with whom we've known for many years. It's really a great expert on the Middle East. Many have served in Israel and in the Arab world. So it's certainly a big plus of Russian foreign policy. We appreciate and respect them. Very nice to see people who are quite subtle understanding of the issues.

VIEW: We see the Middle East engulfing the bloody tsunami. In your opinion, in the Middle East there is at least some hope for a relatively favorable outcome in the foreseeable future?

GKWe can only answer for myself, for our people, for our country. We have not lost hope in the most terrible, the most difficult times for us - and in the Diaspora, and even more at home in Israel.

There were pessimists in our state, who said that we destroy five Arab armies, seven Arab armies. Arabs speak for a little bit difficult, painful for them - a great nation. Israel has nothing against Islam but deep respect.

We recently there is increasing understanding with our neighbors, which, again, we know much better than other countries. They understand the root of the problems of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, though they, of course, as fellow Palestinians would like to see those who had their own state. But we better find a common language with them.

There are situations in stable predictability of what is happening in the Middle East. This is sometimes the most important.

We would like to see our neighbors to live in peace. We would like to see our neighbors when choosing a political regime for himself chose the same way that we do. We would like to see their citizens prosper, as we have, because we started from the same point at the end of 1940-ies.

Can say is easy to say you have a small country, etc. But again, we can only express the hope and willingness to help...

Our leaders have repeatedly offered negotiations, not only in terms of "let's sit down and achieve peace with the Palestinians," but in terms of the benefits that can bring Israel to the Arab world. Because Israel is not only a bastion of democracy, but also a center of science, technology and innovation.
Due to the current situation, which was imposed on us and we did not choose, we are all its trade-economic and scientific-technical ties are conducting outside the Middle East. And just think, what good can be the same as the Syrians, Jordanians, not to mention the Egyptians. Israel can positively transform the Middle East, if our neighbors agree.

Your question is probably, you have to ask the ambassadors of those countries: why have you not going? What is the problem? Can not you at all to blame Israel and the conflict?

Israel generously shares desalination technologies, which we have advanced. It provides medical care to citizens of neighboring countries, not to mention the Palestinian Authority.
We had a great man, one of the presidents - Shimon Peres, who wrote the book and held a conference on this topic. We are ready for much more than a momentary peace with the Palestinians - to how to transform the Middle East, so it fit better into the world economy, to become a hotbed of stability rather than terror and poverty.

There are informal links. Many Arab countries say, "No, we do not recognize Israel" - but you can visit them and see the many Israeli technologies and products, because they realize that in fact better and more profitable.

VIEW: And the last question. In an interview, you mentioned that the anti-Semitism in Russia is lower than in some countries of Western Europe. What is your assessment based? And if there is, in your opinion, the preconditions for the further improvement of the situation in Russia in this regard?

GKAlmost all European countries, including Russia, are sociological, scientific research (on this topic - Take a look.). I also can refer to Jewish organizations, they believe that the trend is positive, and it's very good.

Moreover, in Soviet times, it was encouraged by the state anti-Semitism. All this is gone, thank God.

Of course, there are sometimes negative exceptions.

The second positive factor - a leadership position. She is very good, correct. You hear that from the mouth, and the rabbis and leaders of Jewish secular organizations, the Russian leadership is very positive attitude to dialogue with them. We see it.

We are witnessing the blossoming of Jewish life, open institutions, synagogues, kindergartens, you can buy kosher food. For those who want to lead a religious life, as well as other Russian (Orthodox and so on. D.), Such a possibility exists.

Russia can be proud of. Unlike some countries in Western Europe and even, unfortunately, the United States, where anti-Semitism manifests itself - and a radical right-wing parties and some Muslim communities behave negatively towards Jews. While in other countries, we see the brotherhood and cooperation between the communities of Jews and Muslims.

If, again, to sum up with regard to Russia, I would say that the situation is not completely perfect, but positive, more and more.

VIEW: Thank you very much.

A source: LOOK

Author: Irina Alksnis

Tags: Israel Ambassador, Middle East, Interview, Politics, Russia, USA, International relations, Palestine