Shimon Peres: 'Democracy is not only about elections'

Israeli President Shimon Peres shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a joint press conference in his resdency on February 01, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Merkel has travelled to Israel with members of her cabinet in order to conduct joint government cabinet meetings with their Israeli counterparts. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

Feb 01 (KATAKAMI.COM / JPOST) — President Shimon Peres met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Beit Hanassi on Tuesday, where they discussed Egypt, peace talks, and the Iranian nuclear program.

During the meeting, Peres said that the world saw the results of democratic elections in Gaza, where Hamas was elected.

“Democracy can not start and end in elections only,” Peres said. “True democracy begins on the day after the elections, in granting human rights and concern for citizens’ welfare.

“If a religious extremist dictatorship rises the day after democratic elections, what are democratic elections worth?” Peres asked.

He added that Iran is working to “bring a religious extremist hegemony to the Middle East. The Iranian problem and international terror,” Peres explained, “is not an Israeli monopoly, but an international problem.”

Merkel told Peres that, now more than ever, it is important to accelerate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Peace between Israel and the Palestinians need to ensure Israel’s security, define borders of a Palestinian state, and solve core problems,” Merkel said.

She also agreed with Peres’ statement that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world, and noted that she had arrived in Israel at a “historic moment.” She stressed that Israel’s security is a global matter and not a bilateral one, and that Germany would do whatever it can to guard Israel’s security and stability.  (*)

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