World Jewish Congress meets in Berlin on Iran

BERLIN (AFP) - The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has called on the international community to force
Iran to forego any nuclear ambitions and the radical Palestinian Hamas movement to renounce violence.

"Iran is a danger for the whole world," WJC chairman
Israel Singer told reporters after a one-day meeting of the US-based organisation.
Secretary general Stephen Herbits said the WJC supported efforts by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany to negotiate with Tehran, but believed there was no solution in sight yet.
"It is a very difficult process. Things are fluid. People have a sense of direction, but there is no clear path," he told a press conference.
"They must stay together and act in concert in their approach to Iran."
Herbits said the international community must deal not only with Tehran's perceived nuclear drive, but with its hardline policies on a whole.
"Firstly there is the nuclear issue. But secondly we have to make Iran grow as part of the world community in that it restrains its activities and engages with world organisations," he said.
The WJC leaders said they would have meetings with Jewish communities around the world and with international policymakers to help to shape efforts on the Middle East.
But the organisation, which met to inaugurate a new policy council on Wednesday, ruled out any direct talks with Tehran.
Charlotte Knobloch, a vice president of the WJC and leader of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the Islamic republic must be isolated and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad forced to retract repeated calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.
"Only when Iran has been isolated and that has proven successful will we see real progress," she told a press conference.
"What he has said about Israel is considered a punishable offense here and there can be no discussion until that has been retracted."
The WJC leaders deplored the escalation of tension in the Middle East and said the only solution would be to bring Hamas to reject violence so that a safe Palestinian state could arise alongside Israel.
"We need a two-state solution but unfortunately this has become more difficult to achieve now than six months ago," Herbits said, adding that the main Palestinian political movement must therefore "renounce violence and terror".
"If you have no viable state next to Israel, then Israel's ability to be a stable durable state is in danger," he said.
Hamas, which controls the government in the Palestinian territories, on Wednesday took a key step towards recognising Israel after reaching a deal with rivals
Fatah on a crisis-solving plan.
Wednesday's meeting was attended by prominent non-WJC members and non-Jewish figures, including former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky and and retired French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil.
Patrick Desbois, the secretary general of France's Catholic Bishops Committee for Relations with Jews, said the meeting marked the first time that the Jewish community had called on public figures from all beliefs to help it formulate policies.
"It is without precedent," he told AFP.
Singer said it had agreed to have a range of meetings with people it considered allies to search for ways to shape international policy on issues like Iran.
"The most important issues for Jews are perhaps also at the moment the most important issues for the world. We have allies and friends because we have people who have the same problems," he said.