Isaac Herzog is the President of Israel.
We stand at a perilous time for the family of nations, but also at a great opportunity. Our world order is under attack; worn-out doctrines of peace and prosperity are being put to the test; and new strategic decisions must now be made accordingly.
During my visit to Brussels over the next two days, centered on my address to the European Parliament for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I will meet the leaders of the European Union and NATO to discuss our common action for the security of Europe and the Middle East, as well as ways to deepen our partnership and improve the lives of our fellow citizens.
Our first main point of action is the Iranian regime, which is, at this point, one of the greatest threats to the free world.
The ayatollahs’ policy of “exporting the revolution” has meant exporting the same brutal oppression they apply against their own citizens. By arming violent proxy forces throughout the Middle East, Iran has spread extremism everywhere it touches – from the Gaza Strip to Lebanon, from Yemen to Syria. And the same cruelty with which the regime in Tehran now tries to crush protesters demanding dignity and fundamental freedoms, it also inflicts on its neighbors.
Where Iran casts a shadow, human rights recede.
Indeed, Iran’s destructive behavior has now spilled over from the Middle East, reaching Europe itself: Iran has supplied deadly unmanned aerial vehicles that are used to kill innocent civilians in Ukraine, exporting its chaos right up to the borders of Poland and Romania. . Increasingly, Israel and Europe share not only democratic values but also acute strategic interests. Europe cannot afford to let Iran continue to wreak havoc in the Middle East because this regime knows no borders and has come right to the doorstep of Europe.
A pressing strategic danger is the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and here Europe and Israel share a fundamental strategic interest: Iran must be prevented at all costs from acquiring nuclear capabilities. A regime that executes citizens who merely exercise their basic rights, sows chaos among its neighbors, violates all agreements and pursues a policy of aggression against my country must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.
I remember the negotiations around the initial Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, driven by the mistaken belief that drawing Iran into a network of economic cooperation would moderate its regime. The past few years have shown just how wrong this dangerous belief is. Rather than moderating, the Iranian regime poured the money received from sanctions relief into oppressing its people at home and arming its proxies abroad.
Those who wish to make a deal with Iran in order to profit from its exports must remember that its main export is carnage.
In this context, I welcome the vote in the European Parliament to blacklist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, and I congratulate the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for supporting these calls.
For years, Israel has warned that the IRGC is the main weapon in Iran’s strategy of repression and subjugation. It took a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests to make this point crystal clear to the democratic world. And the IRGC’s outlaw sends an important message to the regime that the world will not tolerate its destructive behavior.
In the face of Iran’s revenge, the Middle East is realigning itself to produce a strong alliance determined to safeguard peace and stability in our region.
The Abraham Accords, which saw the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco establish warm and friendly relations with Israel, transformed our region and triggered a tremendous momentum of exchanges and cooperation. They articulated a bold new vision of mutual respect and dialogue between Jews and Muslims, and discredited decades of foreign policy orthodoxy about how peace should be achieved in the Middle East.
We extend our hand in peace to all our neighbors and call on all nations in our region, including our Palestinian neighbors, to join in and build on this positive momentum. In the meantime, it is imperative that Europe strives to bring more nations into this circle of peace and invests in the new partnerships it is forging.
I call our emerging alliance the “Renewable Middle East” – an enduring ecosystem of regional peace. And this new alignment is cooperating to combat not only Iranian aggression but also the climate crisis. We share the same problems; we must cooperate on the same solutions.
I envision a near future in which the deserts of the Middle East will produce solar power for export via Israel to Europe and beyond, giving the continent the clean and reliable energy supply it sorely needs. need. Foreign investment in the Renewable Middle East will therefore not only help foster regional cooperation in the Middle East, but will also directly contribute to European peace and prosperity. The renewable Middle East must be a European strategic priority.
So, to European leaders, I say: they are your allies. Widening the circle of peace in the Middle East and protecting it from a belligerent regime pursuing nuclear weapons is essential to Europe’s security.
The second key issue I will raise with EU leaders is anti-Semitism – which is on the rise again. The centerpiece of my visit will be my speech to Parliament tomorrow, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
For me, this will be a particularly moving moment. I am the son of a British Army officer who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and my father told me of the horrors he witnessed when he entered the gates of the camp. ‘hell. I am also someone whose family comes from communities destroyed by the Holocaust.
Together we will remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in the worst crime in human history. And, together, we will pledge to eradicate the resurgence of vicious anti-Semitism, which once devoured Europe and poses a clear and current threat to the health of Western democracies.
In both the extreme right and the extreme left, as well as in certain Islamist circles, anti-Semitism is once again in Europe, and it is essential that Western nations redouble their efforts to combat it in all its forms, to fight against the scourge of Holocaust denial and distortion, and equally important, fostering and celebrating Jewish life.
I am convinced that the best days of Euro-Israeli cooperation are still ahead of us. From cybersecurity to climate technology, from culture to trade and much more, the opportunities are truly endless for Israel and EU countries to work to advance their shared values and protect our world from opposing forces. to all that is dear to us.
History will look back on this moment and ask whether Europe took decisive action to safeguard its prosperity in this moment of crisis. Has he actively encouraged the forces of stability and progress in the Middle East, investing in the emerging alliance determined to usher in a new era of cooperation and tolerance? Has he acted without compromise to eradicate anti-Semitism in all its forms, fortifying his democracies against this destructive hatred?
As President of Israel, I pledge that my dynamic, democratic and innovative country stands ready to deepen its partnership with its Western and European allies in the pursuit of our common security and prosperity. The future holds unimaginable promise for nations that unite their creative energies and look forward with pride to what they can achieve together.
We do not have time to lose.