Bennett asks visiting Swiss president to act against Iran’s nuclear program

In meetings with both Bennett and Abbas, Guy Parmelin offers his country as a base for Israeli-Palestinian talks

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) shakes hands with Swiss President Guy Parmelin in Jerusalem on October 28, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) shakes hands with Swiss President Guy Parmelin in Jerusalem on October 28, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett asked visiting Swiss President Guy Parmelin on Thursday for his country to take significant steps against Iran’s continued progress on its nuclear program.

Switzerland is one of the 35 states on the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors for 2021-2.

The two leaders also spoke about expanding bilateral cooperation in science, security, and health, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Mr. President,” Bennett said following their meeting, “we’re eager to cooperate with Switzerland in many areas, including the global battle against COVID-19, in which both Israel and Switzerland have acquired considerable expertise and we gladly can learn from you and I’m sure vice versa. I think in the future we are going to see more pandemics and it’s something that the world has to learn to live with.”

Ahead of his trip to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next week, Bennett also spoke of potential cooperation on climate issues.

“We’re also eager to cooperate in business, technology and innovation,” Bennett said. “Both countries have a lot to offer, specifically in climate change. We understand that this is a big mission for children, for grandchildren, for our future and we can do this together.”

Swiss President Guy Parmelin signs the guestbook at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on October 28, 2021, alongside President Isaac Herzog (right) and their respective wives, Caroline (left) and Michal (right). (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Parmelin is the first Swiss president to visit Israel in more than two decades. He urged a return to peace talks to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Any positive economic measures cannot stop the repeating cycle of violence if they are not part of political process,” Parmelin said. “I have therefore called in the name of Switzerland to initiate and to continue the process to look for peace for approaching the different people.”

Parmelin offered Switzerland as a meeting place for such talks. He also offered the same message when he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday afternoon.

Abbas told Parmelin that Switzerland can play “an important role in the peace process.”

“Creating a political horizon is at the heart of Switzerland’s concerns, and Switzerland is committed to supporting dialogue between the Palestinians and Israelis, because economic steps cannot prevent violence if they are not part of a political effort,” Parmelin said.

Parmelin also urged Abbas to hold national Palestinian elections. Palestinians have not voted for their national leadership in over 15 years; Abbas indefinitely delayed a push to hold elections earlier this year.

Swiss President Guy Parmelin (left) meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on October 28, 2021. (WAFA)

Ramallah insists that the elections were delayed because Israel had not allowed Jerusalem Palestinians to vote. But observers largely agree that Abbas feared his internally divided, unpopular Fatah faction could face a humiliating defeat at the hands of their rivals.

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to end the division and intensify efforts to hold Palestinian national elections,” Parmelin said.

In his own remarks, Abbas criticized the United States over its unfulfilled pledge to reopen an American consulate in East Jerusalem. The office previously served Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza.

“Good talk needs actual implementation, especially with regard to the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem,” said Abbas.

Earlier Thursday, President Isaac Herzog hosted Parmelin and his wife Caroline at the President’s Residence. Herzog raised the issues of Israeli civilians and MIAs being held by Hamas in Gaza during their conversation.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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