Full Text Israel Political Brief September 14, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech addressing the 4th International Cybersecurity Conference — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu addresses the 4th International Cybersecurity Conference

Source: MFA,9-14-14

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The party behind the cyber attacks against Israel is first and foremost Iran. Iran and its proxies take advantage of the security anonymity of cyberspace to attack many other countries around the world. This will be the century where cyber security will either be achieved or we will lose the tremendous opportunities that face humanity.

PM Netanyahu addresses the 4th International Cybersecurity Conference
PM Netanyahu addresses the 4th International Cybersecurity Conference

Copyright: GPO/Avi Oyahon

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks (Sunday, 14 September 2014), at Tel Aviv University, at the 4th International Cybersecurity Conference:

Last month the State of Israel faced the threat of Hamas rockets and tunnels and overcame it. Our enemies in these various terrorist organizations, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, as they fail in the military and the terror campaigns that they launch against us, continue to try to attack us through other ways, including in the field of cyber attacks. And that is an arena that is changing, both here and elsewhere and it’s accelerating in dizzying pace.

The attack by our enemies on Israel’s civilian – and I stress civilian – internet infrastructure during the recent operation. These attacks were clearly meant to disrupt the daily lives of Israelis, to harm us, but those same attacks failed exactly in the same way as the terror campaign, as the terror attacks, the rockets and the tunnel attacks failed.

There is a world of difference however in dealing with these attacks and dealing with rockets and tunnels. With rockets and tunnels you know where they originate; you know who the enemy is. You know that virtually instantaneously. But in the cyber domain there are no sirens, and there are no instantly discernable enemies. That’s often the case. This is a space in which there isn’t a ‘here’ and a ‘there.’ There isn’t the side of Israel, the side of Gaza, and the attacks try to cross that line. In fact, it’s a very broad domain which is very hard to define where your space ends and somebody else’s space, including the attackers’, begins. So, the attacks, in a sense, always come from within.

Now, we identify those attacks, and we stop them. But the fact that the cyber attacks did not affect Israel’s daily routine and economy and they certainly did not affect the IDF efforts – those facts derive from the fact that we have the finest minds, literally, the finest minds in Israel’s security community and our cyber industry working to give us those defenses. There’s an iron dome of cyber security that parallels the Iron Dome against the rockets and this allowed us the operating space to continue fighting and of course to continue with the daily life of Israel.

A year ago at this conference, I described the threat developing in the cyber sphere against Israel and the actions that our enemies – headed by Iran – are taking against us in that field. We have witnessed now, in the recent operation, Hamas’s efforts against us. We saw that throughout the operation. But I want to make clear that the party behind the cyber attacks against Israel is first and foremost Iran, including in the Hamas attacks. Iran supports all our enemies; Iran is the source of most of the attacks that are launched against Israel and we are not their only targets in the cyber field. Iran and its proxies take advantage of the security anonymity of cyberspace to attack many other countries around the world.

We are unrelenting in confronting this threat. We’re increasing our efforts to deal with a range of cyber threats out of an understanding of the importance of cyber security to Israel’s continued economic growth and its security.

I mention both, because both are important: We want to protect the security of our country, the security and privacy of our citizens, but at the same time, we also identify great economic opportunity.

We’re currently advancing a number of dramatic actions that I think will transform the cyber field in Israel. This is a work in process for us and for our allies around the world, for every country. Cyber is moving very rapidly. It’s changing very rapidly and you have to decide with a certain amount of uncertainty how it is that you’re going to tackle a field as complex and as ever-changing as cyber security.

It is a daunting task, I always find the most difficult part of any change, structural change – in the economy or in education or in any field, in defense and in cyber defense – I find the greatest challenge to be not the organizational challenge, not the forces that often clash – competing interests and so on. I find the greatest challenge to be the intellectual challenge, the conceptual challenge: what is right, what is the best thing that we should do. Then you start to make all the adjustments for what is possible, what you can pay for, what is politically required and so on. You make the adjustments. You trim off the edges of the main conception. But the most important thing in any reform is the conception of what is right, what is necessary.

And in cyber this is particularly difficult for the simple reason that nobody knows. Nobody truly knows. It’s such a moving target, such an expanding and ever-changing world that you have to make certain assumptions and go with them and probably you’ll have to adjust them as you go along. Whatever it is we do, we have to allow for changes as we go along, especially in this field.

So we are going to make some strategic decisions and we are making great investments in the goal of making a quantum leap forward in the governmental and the national response in the cyber sphere. We are going to combine two important efforts: One, to transform the government into an exemplar for robust cyber defense in order to protect our digital assets and also to strengthen the trust of millions of our citizens who enjoy government services; and second, we’re going to standardize the cyber defense market in order to ensure that the entire Israeli economy will have professional people and services in the highest level.

You do that in various fields where you need specialists. Government sets standards and some checks so that the various services that are given – it doesn’t provide necessarily the services in all cases – but it makes sure that the standards are met to ensure that people are given what they deserve and we intend to do this as well. The attacks that I’ve just mentioned and many others that I haven’t mentioned I think provide additional evidence that the cyber sphere is becoming increasingly a battlefield. Israel fields it from several directions. It originates in Iran, but not only from Iran. So let me reiterate: We are bolstering our defenses and we are committed to maintaining Israel’s position as a global cyber power and as such we have to implement a policy which protects cyberspace as an open space and as the basis for global growth.

I want to assure you that Israel will always know how to use its unique strengths and knowledge to protect our country and as far as we can to protect the world’s commitment to cyber growth. Because I think that there is a tremendous responsibility that comes with power always, but also a tremendous responsibility to assure the economic opportunities that are afforded by the growth of the internet economy, the internet world. The internet of things, the internet of people, all of that creates tremendous opportunities for growth, and that growth, the increase of productivity for billions of people: instant communications, transfer of funds, the movement of ideas, the movement of capital, the movement of initiative, or enterprise – all of that is under risk by cyber attackers who have the capacity to inflict increasing damage, and the attacker always has the advantage as you well know. And so we have to work at the same time as we integrate into this modern world, as we provide entrepreneurs for this modern world, we have to work at providing security for this great change.

I believe that this is a tremendous engine of economic growth because I don’t think there’s a person on Earth who’s not going to need cyber security. I don’t think there is a nation on Earth that is not going to need cyber security. Some of them violate that security left and right, but every country and every citizen of this planet will need cyber security and this will be the century where cyber security will either be achieved or we will lose the tremendous opportunities that face humanity.

Long before the term cyber became known and commonplace, Israeli companies developed the first cyber technology: the first firewall, several of the first antivirus technologies. All these were developed here, and over the past several years we’ve seen a veritable explosion of start-up companies that are breaking new ground in dealing with a range of threats using innovative technologies and defense solutions.

I think you can see proof of this that over the last nine months alone, twenty Israeli start-up companies have raised more than 170 million dollars. The investors aren’t doing this for charity. They know why they’re here and I think you know why you’re here and we welcome you in that spirit because we think that there are tremendous opportunities for real needs for the civilized countries, real needs for their citizens and real economic opportunities that come out of these needs. Because people’s dependence on cyber keeps increasing and so is the necessity to offer cyber defense.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that cyber defense solutions will serve as the essential basis for human development and economic growth in this century. I think it’s happening before our eyes and everything that you see, these curves that seem to reach into the stratosphere, they are going to continue. They’re not going to stop, providing we solve this problem or at least control this problem or mitigate it.

And in light of these developments, three years ago we determined this area to be a top priority in our nation’s future and we’re building an Israeli cyber environment with an eye to the long-term. Israel R&D will continue to be at the forefront of many years to come thanks to the strategic investment in the industry by the government and the private sector, both in human resources and in academia. And this event I think marks a perfect example of this partnership. I think it demonstrates the importance of working together because when you’re dealing with cyber, you have to deal with the private sector, with academia and with the government. And what we believe is that we can fashion this growth by a unique system that integrates the three in a very, very determined and purposeful way.

The research center which is being launched here today as a joint initiative of the National Cyber Bureau and Tel Aviv University, under the leadership of Professor Isaac Ben Israel and with an investment of tens of millions of shekels, I think it embodies the understanding of the unique interdisciplinary nature of the cyber field and the significance of the connection between people and computers, between this software, that hardware – it has to keep evolving and changing.

We also have a flagship project, the establishment of the national cyber campus. Now here is a bit of copywriting, which is brilliant. It’s called Cyber Spark. It’s a cyber-park and it’s situated in Beersheba where we’re moving – General Alexander, we’re moving our NSA right into that campus so we have academia, government, well, security, and private investors all  within a range of 200 meters one from each other. Just in the same place. There is still a value, even in the cyber world, for people to actually be able to meet one another and exchange ideas, even face-to-face. That is still important. And that is, I think, is fast becoming a hub of global innovation and I think Beersheba will become a very, very important cyber city in the years to come. It’s already becoming that.

We are now establishing a center for applied cyber research at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, and we’re working to establish the national Cyber Event Readiness Team, CERT, which will become – well, it’s important, very important for the protection of Israel, but it’s also I think a magnet on campus and it will have its own reverberations into the economic enterprises that are attached to it.

In order to strengthen the industry, just a few weeks ago, the government decided, adopted a resolution regarding special tax benefits for companies that would establish cyber activities in the framework of Cyber Spark so you now have tax benefits. I think there are other benefits, but I want you to have all the benefits because one of the things we want to see is your partnership. We know that it’s virtually impossible to prevent, to create delineation of space where our common enemies are operating from and our own space. But at the same time, there’s every reason to incorporate our partnerships in that same spirit. If the cyberspace unites all of us, then let’s unite to protect the cyberspace. And that is why I’m so proud to be here and that is why I welcome you to Israel. I hope you look around, see if what I’m saying makes sense and if it is, invest in Israeli cyber.

Thank you very much.

Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: President Shimon Peres meets with President Barack Obama at the White House Oval Office

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President Peres meets with President Obama

Source: MFA, 6-25-14

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“I thank you for your friendship to the State of Israel and the Jewish people – under your leadership our strategic relations have reached new heights.”
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President Peres meets with President Obama

  President Peres meets with President Obama

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 9, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Iranian Weapons Ship to Gaza

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 3-9-14
יום ראשון ז’ אדר ב תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“The Iranian weapons ship reached Israel last night. The operation to seize the ship  had two goals: Preventing the delivery of deadly weapons to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, which would have directly endangered Israel’s citizens, and exposing the true face of Iran, which was behind this weapons shipment . Iran completely denies its involvement; it is lying in the most brazen manner. We will present evidence of this tomorrow and later.

I call this to the attention of Catherine Ashton, who is now visiting Tehran. I would like to ask her if she asked her Iranian hosts about this shipment of weapons for terrorist organizations, and if not, why not. Nobody has the right to ignore the true and murderous actions of the regime in Tehran. I think that it would be proper for the international community to give its opinion regarding Iran’s true policy, not its propaganda.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 5, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the IDF Seizure of an Iranian Arms Ship in the Red Sea to Gaza

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Statement by PM Benjamin Netanyahu on the IDF Seizure of an Iranian Arms Ship in the Red Sea

Source: PMO, 3-5-14

יום רביעי ג’ אדר ב תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a series of security consultations prior to approving the IDF action that began this morning.

After the seizure of the ship, the Prime Minister spoke with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and praised them for the quality intelligence that led to the action and for the precision with the operation was carried out. Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I would like to commend the IDF, the intelligence services of the State of Israel and – of course – the navy commanders and personnel who carried out a perfect operation to intercept a secret Iranian weapons ship. At a time when it is talking to the major powers, Iran smiles and says all sorts of nice things, the same Iran is sending deadly weapons to terrorist organizations and is doing so via a ramified network of secret operations in order to send rockets, missiles and other deadly weapons that will be used to harm innocent citizens. This is the true Iran and this state cannot possess nuclear weapons. We will continue to whatever is necessary in order to defend Israel’s citizens.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 4, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference about Peace Talks, Iran’s Nuclear Weapons and BDS Movement — Transcript

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Full Transcript: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference, 2014

Source: Algemeiner, 3-4-14

Benjamin Netanyahu finishes his address to the Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington on March 4, 2014.  (photo credit: AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

Benjamin Netanyahu finishes his address to the Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington on March 4, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

Below is the full transcript of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the March 4th, 2014, AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

I — I bring you greetings from Jerusalem — (cheers, applause) — the eternal, undivided capital of Israel and the Jewish people. (Cheers, applause.)

I want to thank all of you for working so tirelessly to strengthen the alliance between Israel and America. American — American support for Israel and for that alliance is at an all-time high. And I can tell you that there is no country on earth that is more pro-American than Israel. (Applause.)

So I want to thank the leaders of AIPAC, the officers of AIPAC, the 14,000 delegates of AIPAC — (cheers, applause) — the members of Congress, the members of the Israeli government — Tzipi Livni, Limor Livnat, Yuval Steinitz, Deputy Minister Elkin, members of the Knesset — and our two able ambassadors, the ambassador of Israel to the United States, Ron Dermer — (applause) — and the ambassador of the United States to Israel, Dan Shapiro, and our U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor. Everyone, I want to thank you all for safeguarding and nurturing the most precious alliance in the world, the alliance between Israel and the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

My friends, I’ve — I’ve come here to draw a clear line.

You know that I like to draw lines — (laughter) — especially red ones. But the line I want to draw today is the line between life and death, between right and wrong, between the blessings of a brilliant future and the curses of a dark past.

I stood very close to that dividing line two weeks ago. I visited an Israeli army field hospital in the Golan Heights. Now, that field hospital wasn’t set up for Israelis. It was set up for Syrians. (Applause.) Israelis treated nearly a thousand wounded Syrians — men, women and a lot of children. They come to our border fence bleeding and desperate. Often they’re near death.

And on my visit I met two such Syrians, a shellshocked father and his badly wounded 5-year-old boy. A few days earlier the man’s wife and baby daughter were blown to bits by Iranian bombs dropped by Assad’s air force. Now the grieving father was holding his little boy in his arms, and Israeli doctors were struggling to save the boy’s life.

I heard from them and from the other patients there what all the Syrians who’ve come to be treated in Israel are saying. They all tell the same story. They say, all these years, Assad lied to us. He told us that Iran was our friend and Israel was our enemy. But Iran is killing us, and Israel, Israel is saving us. (Applause.)

Those Syrians discovered what you’ve always known to be true: In the Middle East, bludgeoned by butchery and barbarism, Israel is humane; Israel is compassionate; Israel is a force for good. (Applause.)

That border, that runs a hundred yards east of that field hospital, is the dividing line between decency and depravity, between compassion and cruelty. On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish, values that move us to treat sick Palestinians, thousands of them, from Gaza. They come to our hospitals. We treat them despite the fact that terrorists from Gaza hurl thousands of rockets at our cities.

It’s those same values that inspires Israeli medics and rescuers to rush to the victims of natural disasters across the world, to Haiti, to Turkey, to Japan, the Philippines, to many other stricken lands.

Now, on the other side of that moral divide, steeped in blood and savagery, stand the forces of terror — Iran, Assad, Hezbollah, al- Qaida and many others. Did you ever hear about Syria sending a field hospital anywhere? Did you ever hear about Iran sending a humanitarian delegation overseas? No? You missed that memo? (Laughter.) You know why? You know why you haven’t heard anything about that? Because the only thing that Iran sends abroad are rockets, terrorists and missiles to murder, maim and menace the innocent. (Applause.)

And what the — what the Iranian people — or rather, what the Iranian regime does abroad is just as — is similar to what they do to their own people. They execute hundreds of political prisoners, they throw thousands more into their jails, and they repress millions in a brutal theocracy.

If you want to understand the moral divide that separates Israel from its enemies, just listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy in Lebanon. He said this. He said: Iran and Hezbollah love death and Israel loves life.

And that’s why, he said, Iran and Hezbollah will win and Israel will lose.

Well, he’s right about the first point. They do glorify death, and we do sanctify life. But he’s dead wrong on the second point. (Applause.) It’s precisely because we love life that Israel shall win. (Cheers, applause.)

In the past year Iran’s radical regime has tried to blur this moral divide. It wields out its smiling president and its smooth- talking foreign minister. But if you listen to their words, their soothing words, they don’t square with Iran’s aggressive actions.

Iran says it only wants a peaceful nuclear program. So why is it building a heavy water reactor, which has no purpose in a peaceful nuclear program? Iran says it has noting to hide. So why does it ban inspectors from its secret military sites? Why doesn’t it divulge its military nuclear secret — the secrets of its military nuclear activities? They absolutely refuse to say a word about that. Iran says it’s not building nuclear weapons. So why does it continue to build ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads?

See, unlike Scud missiles, that are limited to a range of a few hundred miles, ICBMs can cross vast oceans. And they can strike, right now or very soon, the Eastern seaboard of the United States — Washington — and very soon after that, everywhere else in the United States, up to L.A.

And the important point to make is this: Iran’s missiles can already reach Israel, so those ICBMs that they’re building, they’re not intended for us. You remember that beer commercial, “this Bud’s for you”? (Laughter.) Well, when you see Iran building ICBMs, just remember, America, that Scud’s for you. (Scattered applause.)

Now, it’s not only that — only the Americans got that joke. (Laughter.) It’s not only that Iran doesn’t walk the walk. In the last few weeks, they don’t even bother to talk the talk. Iran’s leaders say they won’t dismantle a single centrifuge, they won’t discuss their ballistic missile program. And guess what tune they’re singing in Tehran? It’s not “God Bless America,” it’s “death to America.” And they chant this as brazenly as ever. Some charm offensive.

And here’s my point. Iran continues to stand unabashedly on the wrong side of the moral divide. And that’s why we must continue to stand unequivocally on the right side of that divide. We must oppose Iran and stand up for what is right. (Applause.)

My friends, yesterday I met with President Obama, with Vice President Biden, with Secretary Kerry and with the leaders of the U.S. Congress. We had very good meetings. I thanked them for their strong support for Israel — (applause) — for our security, including in the vital area of missile defense.

I said that the greatest threat to our common security is that of a nuclear-armed Iran. We must prevent Iran from having the capability to produce nuclear weapons. And I want to reiterate that point. Not just to prevent them from having the weapon, but to prevent them from having the capacity to make the weapon. (Applause.) That means — that means we must dismantle Iran’s heavy water reactor and its underground enrichment facilities. We must get rid of Iran’s centrifuges and its stockpiles of enriched uranium and we must insist that Iran fully divulge the military dimensions of its nuclear program.

Now 17 countries around the world have peaceful nuclear energy programs. They’re doing this without spending centrifuges, without enriching uranium, without operating heavy water facilities and without conducting military nuclear research.

You know why Iran insists on doing all these things that the other peaceful countries don’t do? It’s because Iran doesn’t want a peaceful nuclear program, Iran wants a military nuclear program.

I said it here once, I’ll say it here again: If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then what is it?

Well, it’s ain’t a chicken — (laughter) — and it’s certainly not a dove. It’s still a nuclear duck. (Applause.) Unfortunately, the leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium.

I hope they don’t do that because that would be a grave error. It would leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power. It would enable Iran to rapidly develop nuclear weapons at a time when the world’s attention is focused elsewhere. And we see, as we speak, that that could happen. In one part of the world today, tomorrow in another part — maybe North Korea.

So just remember what — (inaudible) — wrote a few years ago. He wrote this in a rare moment of candor. He said: If a country can enrich uranium, even to a low level, it can effectively produce nuclear weapons. Precisely. And leaving Iran as a threshold nuclear power, would deliver a death-blow to nonproliferation. Iran is an outlaw state. It’s violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting enrichment.

If we allow this outlaw terrorist state to enrich uranium, how could we seriously demand that any other country not enrich uranium?

My friends, I believe that letting Iran enrich uranium would open up the floodgates. It really would open up a Pandora’s box of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the world. That must not happen. (Applause.) And we will make sure it does not happen.

Because letting the worst terrorist regime on the planet get atomic bombs would endanger everyone, and it certainly would endanger Israel since Iran openly calls for our destruction.

70 years ago, our people, the Jewish people, were left for dead. We came back to life. We will never be brought to the brink of extinction again. (Applause.)

As prime minister as Israel, I will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state of Israel. (Applause.)

You know, I’m often — I’m often asked whether Israel truly wants diplomacy to succeed, and my answer is, of course we want diplomacy to succeed, because no country has a greater interest in the peaceful elimination of the Iranian nuclear threat. But this threat — this threat will not be eliminated by just any agreement, only by an agreement which requires Iran to fully dismantle its military nuclear capability. (Applause.)

Now you know how you get that agreement with Iran? Not by relieving pressure but by adding pressure. (Applause.) Pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, and only more pressure will get to abandon their nuclear weapons program. Greater pressure on Iran will not make war more likely; it will make war less likely — (applause) — because the greater the pressure on Iran, the greater the pressure on Iran and more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller the chance that force will ever have to be used.

Ladies and gentlemen, peace is Israel’s highest aspiration. I’m prepared to make a historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors — (applause) — a peace that would end a century of conflict and bloodshed. Peace would be good for us. Peace would be good for the Palestinians. But peace would also open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and leading countries in the Arab world.

Many Arab leaders — and believe me, this is a fact, not a hypothesis, it’s a fact — many Arab leaders today already realize that Israel is not their enemy, that peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships. (Applause.)

The combination of Israeli innovation and Gulf entrepreneurship, to take one example — I think this combination could catapult the entire region forward. I believe that together, we can resolve actually some of the region’s water and energy problems. You know, Israeli has half the rainfall we had 65 years ago. We have 10 times the population. Our GDP has shot up, thank God — GDP per capita, up. So we have half the rainfall, 10 times the population, and our water use goes up. And which country in the world doesn’t have water problems? Yep. Israel. (Applause.)

Why? Because of technology, of innovation, of systems. We could make that available to our Arab neighbors throughout the region that is not exactly blessed with water. We could solve the water problems. We could solve the energy problems. We could improve agriculture. We could improve education with e-learning, health with diagnostics on the Internet. All of that is possible. We could better the lives of hundreds of millions. So we all have so much to gain from peace.

That’s why I want to thank the indomitable John Kerry. You know, New York — (applause) — and Tel-Aviv, they’re the cities that never sleep. John Kerry is definitely the secretary of state who never sleeps.

And — (applause) — and I’ve got the bags under my eyes to prove it. We’re working together, literally day and night, to seek a durable peace, a peace anchored in solid security arrangements and the mutual recognition of two nation-states. (Applause.)

Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — (applause) — where the civil rights of all citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, are guaranteed. The land of Israel is the place where the identity of the Jewish people was forged.

It was in Hebron that Abraham blocked the cave of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. It was in Bethel that Jacob dreamed his dreams. It was in Jerusalem that David ruled his kingdom. We never forget that, but it’s time the Palestinians stopped denying history. (Applause.)

Just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians must be prepared to recognize a Jewish state. (Applause.) President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state, and in doing so, you would be telling your people, the Palestinians, that while we might have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute. (Applause.)

You would be telling Palestinians to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, or amputating parts of the Negev and the Galilee. In recognizing the Jewish state, you would finally making clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict. So recognize the Jewish state. No excuses, no delays, it’s time. (Applause.)

Now, my friends, it may take years, it may take decades for this formal acceptance of Israel to filter down through all layers of Palestinian society. So if this piece is to be more than a brief interlude between wars, Israel needs long-term security arrangements on the ground to protect the peace and to protect Israel if the peace unravels. You see, those security arrangements would always be important, but they’re even more important and critical today when the entire Middle East is unraveling. Three years ago, our region was a very different place. Can anyone sitting here, anyone listening to us, can anyone tell me and be sure what the Middle East will look like five, 10, 20 years from now? We cannot bet the security of Israel on our fondest hopes.

You know, in the Middle East, that’s usually a losing bet. We should always hope for the best, but in the Middle East we have to be prepared for the worst. And despite the best of hopes, international peacekeeping forces sent to Lebanon, Gaza, Sinai, the Golan Heights, they didn’t prevent those areas from becoming armed strongholds against Israel.

If we reach an agreement, as I hope, with the Palestinians, I don’t delude myself. That peace will most certainly come under attack — constant attack by Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida and others. And experience has shown that foreign peacekeepers — foreign peacekeeping forces, well, that they keep the peace only when there is peace.

But when they’re subjected to repeated attacks, those forces eventually go home. So as long as the peace is under assault, the only force that can be relied on to defend the peace and defend Israel is the force defending its own home — the Israeli Army, the brave soldiers of the IDF. (Applause.)

I’m going to reveal to you a secret. This position may not win me universal praise.

That occasionally happens when I (state ?) our positions. But I’m charged with protecting the security of my people, the people of Israel. And I will never gamble with the security of the one and only Jewish state. (Applause.)

So as we work in the coming days, in the coming weeks, to forge a durable peace, I hope that the Palestinian leadership will stand with Israel and the United States on the right side of the moral divide, the side of peace, reconciliation and hope.

You can clap. You want to encourage them to do that. (Applause.) I do, and I know you do too.

Thank you.

My friends, one movement that’s definitely on the wrong side of the moral divide is the movement to boycott Israel, the so-called BDS. (Applause.) That movement will fail. (Applause.)

Let me tell you why. (Sustained applause.) I want to explain to you why.

Beyond our traditional trading partners, countries throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, where I’ll soon be going to, these countries are flocking to Israel. They’re not coming to Israel; they’re flocking to Israel.

They want Israeli technology to help transform their countries as it has ours. And it’s not just the small countries that are coming to Israel, it’s also the superpowers. You know, the other superpowers: Apple, Google — (laughter) — Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, Yahoo. They come because they want to benefit from Israel’s unique ingenuity, dynamism and innovation.

And I could tell you the BDS boycott movement is not going to stop that anymore than the Arab boycott movement could stop Israel from becoming a global technological power. They are going to fail. (Applause.) And in the knowledge based century, the knowledge based economy, Israel’s best economic day are ahead of it. Mark my words. (Applause.)

Now, wait, wait. I don’t want you to get complacent — (laughter) — because the fact that they’re going to fail doesn’t mean that the BDS movement shouldn’t be vigorously opposed. They should be opposed because they’re bad for peace and because BDS is just plain wrong. (Applause.)

Most people in the BDS movement don’t seek a solution of two states for two peoples. On the contrary, they openly admit that they seek the dissolution of the only state for the Jewish people. They’re not seeking peace, they’re not seeking reconciliation. But some of their gullible fellow travelers actually do believe that BDS advances peace.

Well, the opposite is true. BDS sets back peace because it hardens Palestinian positions and it makes mutual compromise less likely.

But I think these are all important points, but not the critical important. The critical thing is that BDS is morally wrong. It turns morality on its head. This is the main point. And I can tell you, it’s not that Israel, like all states, is not beyond criticism. We have a boisterous democracy where everyone has an opinion. And believe me, no one in Israel is shy about expressing it — about anything. In Israel, self-criticism is on steroids. (Laughter.)

But the BDS movement is not about legitimate criticism. It’s about making Israel illegitimate. It presents a distorted and twisted picture of Israel to the naive and to the ignorant. BDS is nothing but a farce. Here’s why, listen: In dozens of countries academics are imprisoned for their beliefs. So the universities of which country does BDS want to sanction and boycott? Israel — the one country in the Middle East where professors can say, write and teach what they want.

Throughout the Middle East, Christians are fleeing for their lives. So which country does BDS want churches to divest from? You got it — Israel, the one country in the Middle East that protects Christians and protects the right of worship for everyone. (Applause.)

Throughout the Middle East — throughout the Middle East, journalists are jailed, gays are hanged and women are denied their most basic rights. So which country does BDS want to sanction? Take a guess. Israel — the only country in the region with a free press, a progressive gays’ rights record and where women have presided over each of the three branches of government. (Applause.)

Now, when you hear this — and anybody can verify this — so you have to wonder, how could anyone fall for the BS in BDS? (Laughter, applause.) How can they fall for this?

Well, you shouldn’t be surprised. Throughout history, people believed the most outrageously absurd things about the Jews, that we were using the blood of children to bake matzos, that we were spreading the plague throughout Europe, that we were plotting to take over the world. Yeah, but you can say how can educated people, how could educated people today believe the nonsense spewed by BDS about Israel? Well, that shouldn’t surprise you either. Some of history’s most influential thinkers and writers — Voltaire, Dostoyevsky, T.S. Eliot, many, many others — spread the most preposterous lies about the Jewish people. It’s hard to shed prejudices that have been ingrained in consciousness over millennia.

And from antiquity to the Middle Ages to modern times, Jews were boycotted, discriminated against and singled out.

Today the singling out of the Jewish people has turned into the singling out of the Jewish state. So you see, attempts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, the most threatened democracy on Earth, are simply the latest chapter in the long and dark history of anti- Semitism. (Applause.) Those who wear — those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot. They should be exposed and condemned. The boycotters should be boycotted. (Applause, cheers.)

Everyone should know what the letters B-D-S really stand for: bigotry, dishonesty and shame. (Applause.) And those who — those who oppose BDS, like Scarlett Johansson, they should be applauded. (Cheers, applause.)

Scarlett, I have one thing to say to you: Frankly, my dear, I DO give a damn. (Applause.) And I know all of you give a damn, as do decent people everywhere who reject hypocrisy and lies and cherish integrity and truth.

My friends, on behalf of the people of Israel, I bring you message from Jerusalem, the cradle of our common civilization, the crucible of our shared values. It’s a message from the Bible. (In Hebrew.) (Applause.) I have put before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life so that you and your offspring may live.

Ladies and gentlemen, my friends, never forget — America and Israel stand for life. We stand together on the right side of the moral divide. We stand together on the right side of history. (Applause.) So stand tall, stand strong, stand proud. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you all. Keep doing a great job. (Applause.) Thank you.

Israel Political Brief March 4, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference: Netanyahu: Israel prepared to make peace, but Abbas must recognize Jewish state

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu: Israel prepared to make peace, but Abbas must recognize Jewish state

Source: Haaretz, 3-4-14

Netanyau at AIPAC, March 4, 2014.

Netanyahu acknowledges applause as he arrives to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in Washington, March 4, 2014. Photo by Reuters

Israel, U.S. stand on the ‘right side of the moral divide and of history,’ prime minister tells AIPAC conference….READ MORE

Israel Musings March 4, 2014: Netanyahu, Obama’s stand-off White House meeting after harsh Bloomberg interview

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu, Obama’s stand-off White House meeting after harsh Bloomberg interview

By Bonnie K. Goodman

In a meeting more frosty than the Washington snowstorm around them, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States President Barack Obama met in the White House Oval Office on Monday afternoon, Mar. 3, 2014 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2014: US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Speech at the 2014 American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC Policy Conference — Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference

Source: State.gov, 3-3-14

Remarks

John Kerry
Washington Convention Center
Washington, DC
March 3, 2014

Norm, thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you all, 14,000 strong or more. (Applause.) Howard, Howard Friedman and Executive Director Howard Kohr, incoming president Bob Cohen, incoming chairman Michael Kassen, outgoing chairman Lee Rosenberg, and Ambassador Ron Dermer and Ambassador Dan Shapiro. I don’t know where our ambassadors are. Would they – somebody ought to applaud both of them here. (Applause.) There they are. Thanks for your own, Norman.

Let me tell you, it really is an enormous pleasure for me to be able to be here. It’s a privilege. And good to see so many friends, all 14,000 of you – a little frightening to see myself on about eight, nine, ten screens up here – (laughter). The last time I spoke to AIPAC, I joined your national summit in Napa Valley. I did it via satellite. And you were in the vineyards, I was overseas – a different kind of vineyard. So today, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal because I am here with you in person, and your wine selection is a lot more limited this time.

I have to tell you, I had the pleasure of speaking to AIPAC back in the 1990s, it was a great honor, and every time I come here, whether I get a chance to talk to a smaller group during the daytime sessions or otherwise, this is a remarkably inspiring gathering – people from every corner of the country coming together to demonstrate our deep support as Americans for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. (Applause.)

And it is no exaggeration. It’s not just words to say that every single one of you brings here such a special passion to a cause that you so fiercely believe in. And let me tell you something unequivocally: After almost 30 years in the United States Senate, I can tell you that is precisely why AIPAC’s work is in the best traditions of American democracy, and I thank you for practicing it. (Applause.)

I want you to know that in my judgment, these democratic values are stamped in the DNA of both the United States and Israel. But we also share something much deeper than that. Like no other two countries on the planet, against the deepest odds, both America and Israel confidently, purposefully set out to be examples to the world. Think about it. From its earliest days, Israel has always said it’s not enough just to be one of many in a community of nations; Israel has strived since Isaiah’s time to serve as a light unto the nations. (Applause.) And that responsibility to be a light unto the nations sounds actually unbelievably similar to something that we as Americans know is part of who we are, too.

My grandfather ten times over – too hard to count in other terms – was a man by the name of John Winthrop. And he came to what was then the New World, and he came in search of freedom, freedom to worship as he wished. He was a minister. He and his congregants were outcasts, persecuted, heading into a rough and unforgiving land with no guarantee even of survival. And on his way here, he delivered a now fairly famous sermon at sea in which he called on his community to create a city upon a hill in their new home, America.

So whether you call it a city upon a hill or a light unto the nations, it actually means the same thing: being a model to the world. It means having a home that sets a standard, a standard of dignity and a standard of freedom. So the foundation of the friendship between the American people and the people of Israel was actually laid centuries before a single stone was set under the U.S. Capitol or under the Knesset. And looking around this room tonight, it is clear that our friendship has never been stronger. (Applause.)

And I’ll tell you why. Because today, as Israel faces serious challenges to her future, it is America that will stand firmly by her side. (Applause.) I will tell you that with the leadership of President Obama – and you can look it up, you can measure it; this is not an exaggeration, it’s a matter of fact – there has been a complete, unmatched commitment to Israel’s security. The record of this Administration in providing aid and assistance, consultation, weapons, help, standing up in various international fora, fighting, I am proud to tell you, is unrivaled. And the bottom line, pure and simple, has been making sure that Israel has the means to defend itself by itself and defending Israel’s right to be able to do so. That is what we’ve done. (Applause.)

Security. Security is fundamentally what President Obama is committed to. And so too is he committed to using the full force of our diplomacy to resolve the two great questions that most matter when it comes to ensuring the security of Israel: preventing a nuclear Iran and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Applause.)

Now let me start with Iran because I know there are many questions. I know many people – there’s been a healthy debate about the approach. We welcome that. But let me sum up President Obama’s policy in 10 simple, clear words, unequivocal: We will not permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period. (Applause.) Now, I added an eleventh word just for punctuation. (Laughter.)

But I want you to understand there are no if, ands, or buts. This is not a political policy. This is a real foreign policy. And we mean every word of what we say. You have the word of the President of the United States that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Now, as we said at the outset, and I say it again today, our diplomacy is guided by a simple bottom line: No deal is better than a bad deal. (Applause.) And we absolutely will not accept a bad deal. We are committed to a deal that gets the job done. (Applause.)

Why? Because we get it, we understand it. As President Obama said in Jerusalem, no one can question why Israel looks at the Iranian program and sees an existential threat. We understand it. We understand it in our gut. And we also know something else. This is not some favor that we do for Israel. This is something that is also in the interest of the United States of America, and it’s in the interest of countries surrounding Israel. (Applause.) A nuclear bomb for Iran would also threaten the stability of the region, indeed the entire world. It would produce an arms race among the surrounding countries. There is no way the world is safer anywhere in the world with a nuclear weapon in Iran, and we are not going to let it happen, period, end of story. (Applause.)

Now, to do that, to achieve this all-important goal, important for America’s security and for Israel’s security, it is crucial that we seizes what might be the last best chance to be able to have diplomacy work, and maybe the last chance for quite some time. Because the reality is only strong diplomacy can fully and permanently achieve the goal. Those who say strike and hit need to go look at exactly what happens after you’ve done that, whether that permanently eliminates the program or opens up all kinds of other possibilities, including Iran leaving the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, not even allowing IAEA inspectors in, not living under any international regimen. That’s a possibility. Only strong diplomacy can guarantee that a nuclear weapons program actually goes away for good instead of just going underground and becoming more dangerous. Only the exhaustion of diplomacy can justify more forceful options if you have to take them in the end.

So we say – President Obama and myself and others – we say let’s seize the diplomatic moment. And that’s what we are trying to do. And the truth is it is strong diplomacy that has actually made this moment possible. And we need to give it the space to work. We need to make sure that if this opportunity were to elude us, it is not because we are the ones that close the window.

Now, I understand the skepticism. I’ve been around this city for 29-plus years as a senator, became chairman of the foreign relations committee, worked with most of the members of your board and with AIPAC and others around the country, and proud to tell you that during that time I had a 100 percent voting record for Israel. (Applause.)

And I’m not coming here to stand up in front of you and tell you that I know that Iran is going to reach an agreement. I don’t know. I don’t know what they’ll do. I don’t know if they are able to make some of the tough decisions they’re going to have to make in the months ahead. But I know that if the United States is going to be able to look the world in the eye and say we have to do something, we have to have exhausted the possibilities available to us for that diplomatic peaceful resolution. Let me make it clear our approach is not Ronald Reagan’s and the Soviets –We’re not looking at this and saying trust, but verify. Our approach is a much more complex and dangerous world – it’s verify and verify. And that’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)

Now, there is very good reason for these sanctions to exist in the first place, and good reason that we have kept the architecture of these sanctions in place. And we continue to enforce it even as we negotiate a comprehensive agreement. In the last weeks, we have announced additional sanctions with respect to individuals who have been tempted to go around it or violate it. We have not changed one piece of the sanctions architecture. And yet we are able to negotiate. Our eyes, my friends, are wide open. This is not a process that is open-ended. This is not a process that is about trusting Tehran. This is about testing Tehran. And you can be sure that if Iran fails this test, America will not fail Israel. That, I promise. (Applause.)

Now, we have taken no options off the table, but so far there is no question but that tough sanctions and strong diplomacy are already making Israel and America safer. The first step agreement, the first step agreement – it’s not an interim agreement, it’s a first step agreement – and the agreement that’s in force today didn’t just halt the advance of the Iranian nuclear program for the first time in a decade; it’s actually rolled it back. And we all remember how Prime Minister Netanyahu highlighted Iran’s 20 percent enriched uranium in the 2012 speech at the United Nations. Well, today Iran is reducing its stockpile of 20 percent uranium. And without the agreement in force today, the opposite would have been in effect. The stockpile would have grown even more dangerous, and the amount of breakout time that they have would have grown smaller. Because of the agreement, Iran will soon have to take its entire stock of 20 percent enriched uranium down to zero. Zero. Zero. (Applause.) You don’t have to be a math major to know that Israel is safer when Iran has zero uranium enriched to 20 percent, and that’s what we’ve achieved.

The same independent inspectors who also tell us that Iran has halted its advances on the heavy water reactor known as the Arak reactor, without the agreement in force today, we could not have stopped them making progress on the Arak heavy water reactor, plutonium reactor. Iran has also stopped enriching all uranium above 5 percent, and it has given inspectors daily access to the facilities at Natanz and at Fordow. You know Fordow, you’ve heard about it, that underground facility that was a secret for so long. We’ve never had people in it. But because of this first step agreement, we now have people inside Fordow every single day telling us what is happening. (Applause.)

None of these things would have happened without forceful diplomacy by the United States and our international partners. But now, my friends, we have to finish the job. Like I tell my staff, there aren’t any exit polls in foreign policy. It’s results that count, final results. And that means we have to let forceful diplomacy keep working in order to put this test to Iran.

Now, right now we are carefully – and I mean carefully – negotiating a comprehensive agreement. We are consulting with our friends in Israel constantly. The minute Under Secretary Wendy Sherman finished her last set of meetings in Vienna the other day, she went immediately to Israel, briefed thoroughly on the talks, then went to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and continued to brief and briefed our European partners.

You might be asking: If no deal is better than a bad deal, what does the United States consider a good deal? Well, you have my word – and the President’s – that the United States will only sign an agreement that answers three critical questions the right way. First, will it make certain that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon? Second, can it continuously assure the world that Iran’s program remains entirely peaceful as it claims? And third, will the agreement increase our visibility on the nuclear program and expand the breakout time so that if they were to try to go for a bomb, we know we will have time to act?

Those are the tests. Those are our standards for any comprehensive agreement. It’s that simple. And those objectives, if they’re not met, then there won’t be an agreement. (Applause.) Now make no mistake, make no mistake; we can’t resolve the answer to those questions. It’s up to Iran. It’s up to Iran to prove to the world that its program is peaceful, and the world will hold Iran accountable.

Now, if it turns out that Iran cannot address the world’s concerns, I guarantee you it will face more pressure, Iran will face more pressure, more and more isolation. And Congress will introduce more tough sanctions. And let me assure you – I know Eric Cantor is here, sitting here – I assure you it’ll take about two hours to get it through the House and the Senate and it won’t be delayed and the Congress will have to do nothing more than schedule the vote, because President Obama and I fully support those sanctions under those circumstances. (Applause.)

In the meantime, as I said earlier, we are enforcing every letter of the existing sanctions. I have personally instructed every State Department bureau and mission around the world to watch vigilantly for any signs of the sanctions being skirted. And to any country that wants to trade with Iran with these sanctions firmly in place, the United States will tell them exactly what I have told foreign leaders in no uncertain terms: Iran is not open for business until Iran is closed for nuclear bombs. (Applause.)

Now, strong diplomacy is also essential to another threat to Israel’s security: ending the conflict with the Palestinians, and in doing so, preserving the Jewish and democratic nature of the state of Israel. (Applause.) I’ve had some folks ask me why I’m so committed to these negotiations and why I’m so convinced that peace is actually possible. And they ask, “Why does John Kerry go to Israel so often?” I think I heard Steny Hoyer say he’d been there 13 times, Eric Cantor who’s been there 12 times. I’ve been there more times than that just in the last nine months. (Laughter.) And I’ve been in the Middle East more times than even that in the last months because I don’t always wind up going to Israel.

But apart from the question, I’m surprised because people ask, because apart from my affection for Israel which dates back to my first visit back in 1986, and it just strikes me that it’s the wrong question to ask, why do I go. This isn’t about me. This is about the dreams of Israelis and the dignity of Palestinians. It’s about reconciling two peoples who want at long last to live normal secure lives in the land that they have fought over for so long. It’s about answering King David’s timeless call that we seek peace and pursue it. It’s about fulfilling the fervent prayer for peace that Jews around the world recite to welcome Shabbat. It’s about parents from Tsefat to Eilat who want to raise their families in a region that accepts the nation-state of the Jewish people is here to stay. (Applause.)

Now, it’s not news to any Israeli to hear me say that they live in a difficult neighborhood. Israelis know that better than anyone. No one needs to explain the importance of peace and security to a mother who has just sent her daughter to the army or a son who is waiting for his father to come home from another mission. No one knows the stakes of success or failure better than those who will inherit them for generations to come. And I have seen all of these realities in so many different ways in my travels in Israel, from the rocket casings in Sderot to the shelter in Kiryat Shmona that I visited years ago where children had to hide from Katyusha rockets. I’ve seen it.

My friends, I also believe that we are at a point in history that requires the United States as Israel’s closest friend and the world’s preeminent power to do everything we can to help end this conflict once and for all. Now, that is why America – (applause) – that is why America helped bring the parties back to the table, where, let’s be honest, Israelis and Palestinians have difficult choices to make. And no one understands just how complex those choices are or how emotional they are better than the leaders who have to summon the courage in order to actually make them.

I have sat with Bibi Netanyahu for hours and hours and days and days. We have become good friends. (Applause.) I believe – in fact, he ought to be charging me rent. (Laughter.) I’ve seen up close and personally the grit and the guts of this man and his love of country. And I can tell you with absolute certainty and without question, Prime Minister Netanyahu has demonstrated his courage and his commitment in pursuit of peace with security. (Applause.) He knows that it is the only way for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state; not a bi-national state. (Applause.)

As President Obama said publicly in the Oval Office today, and I quote him: “Prime Minister Netanyahu has approached these negotiations with a level of seriousness and commitment that reflects his leadership and the desire of the Israeli people for peace.”

Thus far, I will tell you also that President Abbas, and I know there are many doubters here – I’ve heard the arguments for 30-plus years, 40 years – that there’s no partner for peace, that Abbas won’t be there, that – both sides, by the way, say the same thing about each other. That’s one of the difficulties we have to try get through here. A very small needle to try to thread in terms of the trust deficit. Thus far, President Abbas, I will tell you, has demonstrated he wants to be a partner for peace. He’s committed to trying to end the conflict in all of its claims, but he obviously has a point of view about what’s fair and how he can do that. Let’s be candid. I know that some of you doubt that. But as Israeli security officials will attest, President Abbas has been genuinely committed against violence, and his own security forces have worked closely with Israel in order to prevent violence against Israeli citizens.

I’ve also spent many hours with President Abbas, and I believe that he clearly understands both the tremendous benefits of peace and the great costs of failure. He understands that in terms of his own people, his own grandchildren, the country he hopes to be able to lead, and in terms of the history that beleaguers all. He knows the Palestinian people will never experience the self determination that they seek in a state of their own without ending the conflict in a solution that delivers two states for two peoples. (Applause.)

And so does Prime Minister Netanyahu. When Bibi looks me in the eye and says, “I can’t accept a deal with Palestinians that doesn’t make the people of Israel safer,” we agree 100 percent. (Applause.) But I argue that there is a distinction between a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or from Gaza where nothing is resolved, and a phased withdrawal that is negotiated where everything is at least in an agreement resolved.

Now, I learned about Israel’s security on many different trips over there, but one stands out. I was – I’d been a pilot since I was in college and I was on a trip over there. I was having a luncheon at Ovda Airbase with the Israel Air Force. And the colonel who was in charge was – had flown. He was an ace from the Six-Day War. And we were having lunch at the time at Ovda and I had been badgering them to maybe let me go up and fly. And they disappeared at lunch and finally he comes back and he says, “Senator, I hope you don’t eat too much. We’re going flying.” I said, “Wow, great. This is what I’ve wanted.” And we went out, the two of us, drove out to this jet, and he trusted me. We put on our helmets, got in the jet, and he says, “The moment we’re off the ground, it’s your airplane.”

So literally, we took off, I take the stick, we go up, we’re flying around. Next thing I know in my ear he says, “Senator, you better turn faster. You’re going over Egypt.” (Laughter.) So I turned very fast and then I asked him if I could do some aerobatics over the Negev. And I turned upside down and did a big loop and I was coming down, I was looking upside-down, and I said to myself, “This is perfect.” I could see all of the Sinai. I could see Aqaba. I could see Jordan. I see all of Israel below me, each side to each side. Said, “This is the perfect way to see the Middle East upside-down and backwards.” I understand it. (Applause.)

The real point of this story is just to tell you that I can’t tell you the imprint on me, being up there and tiny – almost turning. You had barely space to turn. You get the sense of a missile from here, or a rocket from there, or the threat of war. You understand it’s impossible to ignore just how narrow those borders are, how vulnerable Israel can be, and why Israel’s security is our first priority. We understand that. (Applause.)

That is why, my friends, President Obama sent a four-star general, John Allen, one of the most respected minds in United States military to do something we’ve never done in all the history of administrations negotiating for Israel’s and Palestinians’ future and that is to work with Israelis and Jordanians and Palestinians to make the Jordan River border as strong as the strongest borders on Earth. That’s what makes this effort different from anything we’ve ever done before. With the combination of the best military experience America can offer and the best ideas in the Pentagon and the best technology that we could deliver, we believe we can deliver to Israel security that Israel needs in order to make peace, and President Obama is committed to doing that.

Now we have no illusions. We saw what happened after Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and Lebanon. We all learned lessons from that, I hope. That’s why a negotiated agreement is so important. That’s why the security arrangements that we are helping to design will need to be operationally proven. We’re not doing this on a whim and a prayer. We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza. (Applause.)

My friends, we understand that Israel has to be strong in order to make peace. But we also understand that peace will make Israel stronger. Any peace agreement must also guarantee Israel’s identity as a Jewish homeland. (Applause.) As Ehud Barak said on this stage last year, a two-state solution is the only way for Israel to stay true to its founding principles – to remain both Jewish and democratic. At last year’s AIPAC conference, he said statehood is not a favor for the Palestinians, and let me reaffirm: He is right; it is not.

Israel also needs peace in order to create greater prosperity. All of you here know the great economic benefits of peace. All of you have already seen what Israel has already been able to build with the forces of the region that raid against it. Just imagine what it will be able to build as a result of peace with Palestinian neighbors. I’ve had the foreign minister of one of the surrounding countries – a very wealthy country and a very smart foreign minister say to me if we make peace – this is under the Arab Peace Initiative and the Arab Follow-on Committee that is following everything we’re doing very closely and supporting it – and they said if we make peace, Israel will trade more in this community within a few years than it trades with Europe today. That’s what we have available to us. (Applause.) And I believe that we need to stand together with a single voice to reject any of the arbitrary unwarranted boycotts of Israel. For more than 30 years, I have staunchly, loudly, unapologetically opposed boycotts of Israel – (applause) – and I will continue to oppose those boycotts of Israel. That will never change. (Applause.)

Every time that Israel is subjected to attacks on its legitimacy, whether at the United Nations or from any nation, the United States will use every tool we have to defeat those efforts and we will stand with Israel. (Applause.)

Finally, peace demands that Israel fulfill its destiny not just as a nation but also as a neighbor. And that begins with the Palestinians, and it extends to the entire Arab League whose Arab Peace Initiative can open the door to peace and normalized relations with 20 additional Arab countries and a total of 55 Muslim countries. The upheaval in the Middle East has shown us all that Arabs and Israelis share some of the very same security concerns. Without the Palestinian conflict to divide them, these common interests can grow into real relationships and transform Israel’s standing in the region. And I just invite you – I promise you these conversations take place. I’ve had them throughout the Gulf region, throughout the Middle East, where increasingly those countries begin to see the possibilities of mutual security interests coming together for all of them against an Iran, against terrorism, against religious extremism. This is a commonality that is a new thread in the region, and I believe it brings the potential of new possibilities.

It is also important to remember that ending the conflict means ending the incitement. President Abbas has called incitement a germ that must be removed. And he has sought our help in order to try to deal with the problem. And I can tell you that with any final agreement it will also include a larger endeavor in order to help people on both sides move beyond a painful past and promote a culture of peace and tolerance.

After all these years, my friends, it is really no mystery what the end-game really looks like. I think you know that in your hearts. We understand what the end-game is. I know what peace looks like. When I talk to Prime Minister Netanyahu and others, I think everybody shares this because this is not new. After Camp David and Oslo and Wye and Annapolis and Taba and all of these efforts, what the end-game should look like is straightforward: security arrangements that leave Israelis more secure, not less; mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Jewish people and the nation-state of the Palestinian people; an end to the conflict and to all claims; a just and agreed solution for Palestinian refugees, one that does not diminish the Jewish character of the state of Israel; and a resolution that finally allows Jerusalem to live up to its name as the City of Peace. (Applause.)

It will take hard work. I’m not pretending any of the answers – these are all narrative issues. They’re tough issues. They complicated. But there is a vision of peace, and it takes tough choices on both sides, especially over the coming days. I guarantee you that America, that President Obama and this Administration will be there every day of the week, every step of the way. And we will stand with Israel’s leaders today and with the leaders of the future. And we will ensure that our light shines not just throughout the nations, but throughout the generations.

Leaders like a fellow named Guy – I’ll leave his last name out – but he’s a young Israeli who took part in an exchange program with the State Department, sponsors that brings Israelis and Palestinians together to talk about their histories and their hopes. Guy’s grandparents fled Europe. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. He served in the IDF. And he worked as an entrepreneur in Israel’s booming tech industry. And this is what he said in that program: We respect our past, but we don’t want to live it. We are young enough to dream, to believe that change is possible, and that fear can be defeated.

I think Guy is right. Change is possible. Fear can be defeated. But those are choices we have to make now.

My friends, a few months ago I landed in Tel Aviv and it was the 18th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. I went straight to Kikar Rabin, and I stood with the late-prime minister’s daughter, Dalia, at the site of her father’s murder. And we stood just steps away from where the great general, in the last moments of his life, sang the famous lyrics of Shir LaShalom: Don’t whisper a prayer; sing a song of peace in a loud voice. Don’t say the day will come; bring that day. (Applause.) That is our mission. All of us, in whatever capacity that we can, but just as important our mission is also to raise our voices for peace, and we also need to listen. We have to listen to those who first gave voice to our values, voices that still echo thousands of years later.

He almost – I think it was the first time I went to Israel. I spent a week there and went all over the country and like many first-time visitors, I climbed Masada. I climbed it with a guide – some of you may know him or heard of him, a fellow by the name of Yadin Roman. Yadin, the publisher of Eretz Israel. And our group debated Josephus Flavius’s account of what happened on the top of that mountain, the account of what happened 2,000 years before we were there.

Then Yadin, after we’d had this long debate, made us all vote to determine did it happen as he recounted or was it different. And we all voted unanimously it did happen the way he recounted. He told us to then walk to the edge of the precipice which we did, and to look out across the chasm and to shout, to shout across the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And as we stood where every new Israeli soldier begins his or her service, by swearing an oath to honor that history and secure the future, Yadin instructed us to shout, all at the same time, “Am Yisrael chai.” We shouted. (Applause.) And then I have to tell you, echoing across the chasm in the most eerie and unbelievably unforgettable way were these haunting echoes of “Am Yisrael chai, Am Yisrael chai, chai, chai.” I’ll never forget hearing the echo of those words bouncing off that mountain. It was literally like we were hearing the voices of the souls of those who had perished sacrificing their lives for Israel a thousand years ago. And we were affirming those words, the state of Israel lives. The people of Israel live.

We have to listen to those voices. Those long ago who encouraged us to build a city on a hill to be a light unto the nations, an example to the world, to ensure Israel’s survival. And we have to listen to the voices of young people whose futures depend on the choices that we, the leaders of today, make. It’s for their future that we will give new strength to the U.S.-Israel partnership as AIPAC does like no other organization in our country. It’s for their future that we will come together giving greater voice to the timeless oath and we will remember forever those words and be driven by them: “Am Yisrael chai” will be said generations upon generations into the future because of the work you do and the work we will do together.

Thank you all very much. Honored to be with you. (Applause.)

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2014: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks / Speech before Bilateral White House Meeting — Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 3-3-14 

Oval Office

2:04 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it’s a pleasure to welcome once again Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Oval Office.  There’s nobody I’ve met with more or consulted with more than Bibi.  And it’s a testimony to the incredible bond between our two nations. I’ve said before and I will repeat, we do not have a closer friend or ally than Israel and the bond between our two countries and our two peoples in unbreakable.

And that’s the reason why on a whole spectrum of issues we consult closely; we have the kind of military, intelligence and security cooperation that is unprecedented.  And there is a strong bipartisan commitment in this country to make sure that Israel’s security is preserved in any contingency.

We’re going to have a wide range of issues, obviously, to discuss given what’s happening on the world stage and the Middle East, in particular.  So we’ll spend some time discussing the situation in Syria and the need for us to not only find a political solution to the tragic situation there, but also to address growing extremism inside of Syria, the spillover effects on Lebanon and Jordan, in particular.

We’ll have an opportunity to discuss the work that we do in counterterrorism and the work that we are going to be continuing to do to try to stabilize an environment that has become very dangerous in many respects.

We’ll also have a chance to talk about Egypt, a country that obviously is of critical importance and where we have the opportunity, I think, to move beyond recent events over the last several years to a point in which once again there is a legitimate path towards political transition inside of Egypt.  And that’s important to Israel’s security as well as to U.S. security.

We’re going to be talking about Iran and my absolute commitment to make sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon — something that I know the Prime Minister feels very deeply about.  And we will discuss how the Joint Plan of Action that is currently in place can potentially at least lead to a solution that ensures that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.

And we’ll spend time talking about the prospects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  I want to commend publicly the efforts that Prime Minister Netanyahu had made in very lengthy and painstaking negotiations with my Secretary of State, John Kerry, Abu Mazen.  They are tough negotiations.  The issues are profound.  Obviously if they were easy they would have been resolved many years ago.  But I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu has approached these negotiations with a level of seriousness and commitment that reflects his leadership and the desire for the Israeli people for peace.

It’s my belief that ultimately it is still possible to create two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine in which people are living side by side in peace and security.  But it’s difficult and it requires compromise on all sides.  And I just want to publicly again commend the Prime Minister for the seriousness with which he’s taken these discussions.

The timeframe that we have set up for completing these negotiations is coming near and some tough decisions are going to have to be made.  But I know that, regardless of the outcome, the Prime Minister will make those decisions based on his absolute commitment to Israel’s security and his recognition that ultimately Israel’s security will be enhanced by peace with his neighbors.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to welcome you again, and thank you again for your leadership and your friendship with the American people.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you today, especially since I know you’ve got a few other pressing matters on your plate.  During the five years of your presidency, you and I, and Israel and the United States have worked very closely on critically important issues — security, intelligence-sharing, missile defense — and we’re deeply grateful for that.

I look forward to working closely with you in the years ahead to address the main challenges that confront both our countries, and of these, the greatest challenge, undoubtedly, is to prevent Iran from acquiring the capacity to make nuclear weapons.  I think that goal can be achieved if Iran is prevented from enriching uranium and dismantles fully its military nuclear installations.

Now, Mr. President, if that goal can be achieved peacefully and through diplomacy, I can tell you that no country has a greater stake in this than Israel.  Because, as you know and I’m sure you’ll appreciate, Iran calls openly for Israel’s destruction, so I’m sure you’ll appreciate that Israel cannot permit such a state to have the ability to make atomic bombs to achieve that goal.  We just cannot be brought back again to the brink of destruction.  And I, as the Prime Minister of Israel, will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state.

We’re also going to discuss the peace process, as you said. I want to thank you and Secretary Kerry for when I say tireless efforts, I mean tireless efforts that he has put into this quest, as you are.

It’s an opportunity to congratulate Secretary Kerry on the birth of his new granddaughter.  Mr. Secretary, you may not be aware of this — but the news of the new granddaughter came to Secretary Kerry while we were discussing the peace process.  So we’ve had many productive meetings, but this is truly a productive meeting.  (Laughter.)  And so I thank you both for you efforts and your team’s.

The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace.  I mean, we vacated cities in Judea and Samaria.  We left entirely Gaza.  We’ve not only frozen settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements.  We’ve released hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent months.

And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel.  So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t.

Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth.  And the people of Israel know that it’s the truth because they’ve been living it.  What they want is peace.  What we all want fervently is peace.  Not a piece a paper –- although that, too — but a real peace; a peace that is anchored in mutual recognition of two nation states that recognize and respect one another, and solid security arrangements on the ground.

Mr. President, you rightly said that Israel, the Jewish state, is the realization of the Jewish people’s self-determination in our ancestral homeland.  So the Palestinians expect us to recognize a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, a nation state for the Palestinian people.  I think it’s about time they recognize a nation state for the Jewish people.  We’ve only been there for 4,000 years.

And I hope President Abbas does this, as I hope that he’ll take seriously Israel’s genuine security needs.  Because, as you know and I think everybody does, in the Middle East, which is definitely the most turbulent and violent part of the Earth, the only peace that will endure is a peace that we can defend.  And we’ve learned from our history — Jewish history, but I think from general history — that the best way to guarantee peace is to be strong.  And that’s what the people of Israel expect me to do –- to stand strong against criticism, against pressure, stand strong to secure the future of the one and only Jewish state.

And I think there is a partnership there, a partnership between Israel and America, that I think is important for this end.   I want to thank you again for your friendship and your hospitality, and the warmth you’ve shown me on the snowy Washington day.  I thank you.  It’s good to see you again.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

Q    The initial punishments that the U.S. is threatening against Russia for their advances into Ukraine don’t seem to be having much of an effect.  What leverage do you believe you have over President Putin at this point?  And is the U.S. concerned primarily about getting Russian forces out of Crimea, or are you also concerned about Russian forces moving into parts of eastern Ukraine?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All of the above.  I spent the weekend talking to leaders across Europe, and I think the world is largely united in recognizing that the steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Ukraine’s territorial integrity; that they’re a violation of international law; they’re a violation of previous agreements that Russia has made with respect to how it treats and respects its neighbors.  And, as a consequence, we got strong statements from NATO, from the G7, condemning the actions that Russia has taken.  And we are going to continue these diplomatic efforts during the course of this week.

My interest is seeing the Ukrainian people be able to determine their own destiny.  Russia has strong historic ties to the Ukraine.  There are a lot of Russian nationals inside of Ukraine as well as native Russians, as there are a lot of Ukrainians inside of Russia.  There are strong commercial ties between those two countries.  And so all of those interests I think can be recognized.  But what cannot be done is for Russia, with impunity, to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognized around the world.

And I think the strong condemnation that its received from countries around the world indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this.

We are strongly supportive of the interim Ukrainian government.  John Kerry is going to be traveling to Kyiv to indicate our support for the Ukrainian people, to offer very specific and concrete packages of economic aid — because one of the things we’re concerned about is stabilizing the economy even in the midst of this crisis.  And what we are also indicating to the Russians is that if, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they’re on, that we are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia’s economy and its status in the world.

We’ve already suspended preparations for the G8 summit.  I think you can expect that there would be further follow-up on that.  We are taking a look a whole range of issues that John Kerry mentioned yesterday.

And the question for Mr. Putin, who I spoke to directly, and the question for the Russian government generally is if, in fact, their concern is that the rights of all Ukrainians are respected, if, in fact, their primary concern, as they’ve stated, is that Russian speakers and Russian nationals are not in any way harmed or abused or discriminated against, then we should be able to set up international monitors and an international effort that mediates between various parties, that is able to broker a deal that is satisfactory to the Ukrainian people — not to the United States, not to Russia, but to the Ukrainian people — and we should be able to deescalate the situation.

And so we’ve been very specific with the Russians about how that might be done under the auspices of either the United States or the OSCE, or some other international organization.  And John Kerry will pursue that further when he arrives.

And so there are really two paths that Russia can take at this point.  Obviously, the facts on the ground in Crimea are deeply troubling and Russia has a large army that borders Ukraine.  But what is also true is that over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia.  And now is the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force.

One last point I would make on this:  I’ve heard a lot of talk from Congress about what should be done, what they want to do.  One thing they can do right away is to work with the administration to help provide a package of assistance to the Ukrainians, to the people and that government.  And when they get back in, assuming the weather clears, I would hope that that would be the first order of business.  Because at this stage there should be unanimity among Democrats and Republicans that when it comes to preserving the principle that no country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position that stands outside of partisan politics.  And my expectation is, is that I’ll be able to get Congress to work with us in order to achieve that goal.

END
2:22 P.M. EST

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 2, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks before Leaving for the US

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS


PM Netanyahu’s Remarks before Leaving for the US

Source: PMO, 3-2-14
יום ראשון ל’ אדר א תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today made the following remarks before departing for the US:

“I am now leaving on an important trip to the US where I will meet with President Barack Obama. We will discuss the Iranian issue and the diplomatic process. I will stand steadfast on the State of Israel’s vital interests, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. In recent years the State of Israel has been under various pressures. We have rejected them in the face of the unprecedented storm and unrest in the region and are maintaining stability and security. This is what has been and what will be.”

Israel Musings March 1, 2014: Second guessing upcoming Netanyahu, Obama meeting, peace framework on the agenda

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Second guessing upcoming Netanyahu, Obama meeting peace framework on the agenda

By Bonnie K. Goodman

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit United States President Barack Obama in the White House on Monday, March 3, 2014 two topics will be on the agenda, Iran’s nuclear weapons, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 17, 2014: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Iran, Peace Talks, and Boycotts as Anti-Semitism — Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Source: PMO, 2-17-14

יום שני י”ז אדר א תשע”ד

Photo by GPO 

[Transcription]

Thank you Bob and thank you Malcolm. I’m delighted to see the current and the past President of the Presidents’ Conference, all good friends, and of course Moshe Arens, our Defense Minister. Once a Defense Minister, forever a Defense Minister. But he was Defense Minister three times. A tremendous job. And of course the Consul General of Egypt and all of you my friends.

First I want to welcome you again to Jerusalem, the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
We meet on the eve of the resumption of negotiations of what is called the final settlement with Iran. They’re supposed to begin tomorrow in Vienna. What is the goal? Or what ought to be the goal of these negotiations? It’s not merely to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. I want to be more precise. It’s to prevent Iran from having the capability of manufacturing nuclear weapons. That is different. If Iran perches itself as a threshold state in which it has all the elements of a nuclear weapon in place, they’ll just have to do one little twist of the knob to get final enrichment of fissile material that is the core of a nuclear weapon, then all they’ll have to do is take these components from one side of a room and another side of a room, put them together and in a very short time, days or weeks or perhaps even hours, they’d have a nuclear weapon.

Our goal is to prevent Iran from having the capacity to manufacture or put together nuclear weapons. That is our goal. Now, if they claim to want only civilian nuclear energy, that they have an abundance and they certainly don’t need what it is they’re insisting on. They don’t need enrichment for peaceful nuclear energy. They don’t a heavy water reactor for that. They don’t need ICBMs, long range inter-continental ballistic missiles. They don’t need that for that. They don’t need a weaponization program that Iran of course refuses to open to inspection. They don’t need any of these things, but these are precisely the things that Iran insists on. And they’re precisely the elements that they have to be denied. Now, they haven’t been denied this, in the so-called interim deal. They’ve been allowed to maintain their ICBMs’ their long-range ballistic missiles program, they continue to develop them. By the way, the range is geared to Europe and soon to the United States. It’s not for us. And there’s only one purpose in the world to develop ICBMs. You don’t develop inter-continental ballistic missiles to deliver some hundreds of kilos of TNT. Believe me, nobody does that. You develop an ICBM in order to deliver a nuclear payload. Iran continues to develop that and continues to develop a heavy water reactor, and continues to develop latter-day models of centrifuges. Now they’re developing, as we speak, they’re developing centrifuges that are supposed to be 15 times more effective and more efficient than the centrifuges that they have today. That will enable them to leap-frog the distance and the time from low enrichment of uranium to high enrichment like that.

We’ve made a calculation. How much time has been saved by the interim deal? How much has Iran regressed by agreeing to distill or to dilute the 20% enriched uranium that they have to 3.5%? Well, given everything that they’re preparing, the 19,000 centrifuges that they have in place, and the advanced centrifuges that they continue to develop under the deal, the sub-total of what they’ve been sent back in time is four weeks. That’s what Iran has given to the world, which means it’s given practically nothing, but Iran has received a great deal. It’s received the easing of sanctions. It’s received the nations that are queuing up to ease more sanction with Iran and do more business with Iran. It’s very important to understand that. Iran has given zero, or practically zero. It’s given four weeks, but it’s receiving a new position in the world. It’s being legitimized. Everybody is embracing Iran because of a smile. But Iran’s moderation is a myth.

You should know what Iran is doing as we speak. As we speak, inside Iran innocent people are being executed. They’re executed in horrific ways. They’re executed with these cranes in the middle of cities, innocent people, hoisted up, executed by this regime. This regime continues to foster terrorism around the world. It sends the most deadly weapons to Hezbollah, to Hamas, weapons that are fired on our civilians. This regime, participates in the slaughter, the massive slaughter, the unending slaughter in Syria. That would not be possible without Iran. The Assad regime does not exist a day without Iran, without Iran’s money, without Iran’s weapons, without Iran’s commanders who were there on the site to tell what is left of the Syrian army what to do. But in addition to that, when that didn’t help, when everything else failed, Iran supplied Assad with the most important component. They actually gave them fighters. Khamenei instructed Nasrallah to go and bring his people to Lebanon, and there they do the fighting for Assad. There is no Assad regime without Iran. So as Assad perpetrates this savagery day in and day out, Iran is committing the savagery. Iran is supporting terrorists around the world. Iran is sending these weapons, deadly weapons to be fired on Israel’s cities, and Iran has not changed one iota its call to annihilate the Jewish state. And yet this regime is being embraced.

So I think what is needed are two things. One, we have to expose Iran for what it is. It smiles but it continues its deadly business every day. And secondly, it has to be stripped of the capacity to make nuclear weapons. What the deal that is being discussed today should achieve is one simple thing: zero centrifuges. Not one. Zero enrichment. They don’t need any centrifuges and they don’t have a right for enrichment. I think this is something that requires firmness and clarity. It may not be fashionable, but it’s the right thing, it’s the truthful thing, and I think that the only way that we could make Iran become a more moderate element, a more moderate nation and a more peaceful nation is by exhorting consistent pressure on it, political pressure, economic pressure and the demands of dismantling the Iranian nuclear program, which should be maintained throughout. I think any other route will actually produce the other result and make a diplomatic solution less likely. It will kick it away and force us into a reality that I think none of us want. We all want to see a peaceful solution. For a peaceful solution to succeed, you need more, not less, pressure.

The second thing that we’re discussing every day is how to achieve a secure and enduring peace with the Palestinians. By the way, the strength of Iran weakens that too, because Iran now controls one half of the Palestinian population. They control Hamas, they control Gaza through their proxies Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and of course they tell them what they say in Tehran, no peace with Israel, no reconciliation with Israel, continuous war in Israel. That’s what Hamas and the other terror proxies that Iran again, arms, funds and instructs are doing in Gaza. So one half of the Palestinian population is under the boot of Iran. And the other half, so far, has refused to confront the first half.

We’re trying to make peace with those Palestinians who at least have not engaged in terror and we say to them, if you want to achieve a real peace, then that peace has to be based on a real reconciliation with the Jewish State of Israel. I appreciate the effort, I must say ceaseless efforts, that Secretary John Kerry is engaging with me. We shall soon see if we have a partner in Abu Mazen, but I think if there is a partner there, then there is a way to move this process forward. And for it to move forward and for it to succeed ultimately, then it must address first the root cause of the conflict. The root cause of the conflict is not the settlements, it’s not the territories. This conflict predated it by at least half a century. The root cause of this conflict is the refusal to accept the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in any boundaries. That remains a simple truth. Simple truths have a way of eluding common perception until they somehow land on you like a ton of bricks. Here is a simple truth that eluded all the experts and many of the commentators about the Middle East for decades. This was an area that was supposed to be preoccupied with one conflict and they always said the conflict, the core of the conflict in the Middle East, always in the singular. The core of the conflict was the Palestinian Israeli conflict. That’s what was said. Today if somebody repeated it, he should be at least laughed away. I think that you find that rarer and rarer. And that’s good, because when you see Syria imploding, and you see Iraq imploding, and you see Lebanon imploding and you see so many other parts of the Middle East imploding, Libya imploding, when you see all of that happening, you know that has nothing to do with the Palestinians.

I bring to your attention the fact that until two years ago people actually said this with a straight face. Professors, scholars, politicians, heads of state, they said the root cause of the conflict in the Middle East is the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Well that is as accurate as the next statement that they now say. That the root cause of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, inside the myriad conflicts of the Middle East is the settlements. Now, friends, you can take all the settlements and you can uproot them and the conflict will continue. You can have Israel continue, go back to the ’67 lines and the conflict will continue. How do we know that? Because we tried it. That’s exactly what we did in Gaza. We went back to the ’67 lines, we uprooted at terrible human cost and financial costs the 10,000 Israelis who were there. Did we get peace? What we got is a forward outpost of Iran from which they’ve so far fired about 12,000 rockets on our heads.

Now, what is going to prevent that from happening again? Well, what we need to see with the Palestinians who make a deal is that they’re resigned to the fact that they’ll have to make a genuine peace with Israel and that means finally recognizing the Jewish state. This will be a peace between two nation states. The Palestinians expect us to recognize a nation state for the Palestinian people. How do they have the temerity not to recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people? Do they not know that we’ve been here for the last 3,800 years? They don’t know that this is the land of the Bible? That this is where Jewish history and Jewish identity was forged? This is what defines us? This is how we define ourselves. We’ve been here a very long time, for God’s sake. They have no excuse, and they can try to distort ancient history and modern history, they can try to do that, but it doesn’t make it true. This is the land of Israel. We’ve been here on this land, associated with it for millennia, and now we say, we know that there has to be a very difficult decision to be made here. But in our ancestral homeland, we are the Jewish people. This is the Jewish land. This is the Jewish state. When we make an agreement it is an agreement between the nation state of the Jewish people and a nation state of the Palestinian people.

If they don’t accept that, you have to ask yourself why not? Why don’t they accept that? Why do they insist on not recognizing us? There is a reason.  Because once you accept the fact that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people then you have no more claims on this land and on this country, wherever the final border will be drawn. You cannot  claim the so called right of return because that claim of Palestinian refugees or their descendants will be satisfied in the nation state of the Palestinian people. Just as Jews can come here, Palestinians if they chose can go there. That claim evaporates.

Secondly, you cannot make any territorial claims on what remains as the territory of Israel. You cannot say, well there is another people there. Perhaps a sub-group of Israel’s citizens. They’re entitled to a sub-state or to separate state or to an irredentist claim. The minute you agree to the formulation of two nation states, a Jewish state for the Jewish people and a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, you end all claims. You end territorial claims, and you end refugee claims, you end the so-called “right of return.” That is all incorporated in ending the conflict. The fact that the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian Authority adamantly refuses to accept this raises serious questions on whether they’re committed to a genuine peace. And unless they’re willing to accept it, they’re not committed to a genuine peace.

Now, even if they accept it, which I sincerely hope they do, that doesn’t guarantee that the decades of incitement that they’ve led to their own people, teaching them to seek this solution, an elimination of the Jewish states, that that will come to an end. We don’t know that. We cannot guarantee that. And I certainly am not coming into any of this Pollyannaish. I’m not looking at this wide eyed, from pink eyeglasses. I can understand that this will be a very difficult experience but it starts with a Palestinian leadership that accepts the Jewish state, accepts the end of claims, ends the conflict and disavows, shuts down, the whole claim of flooding Israel with refugees. That’s a necessity. It’s just not a guarantee. In fact, there is no guarantee. There is no guarantee that the incitement will stop, that the culture of hatred will end. And that’s why we need very solid security arrangements.

We hope that there will be a cultural change.  We hope that the fruits of peace will take root in the soil. We hope that the new generation of Palestinians will embrace a different path. We hope, but we can’t base the peace on hope alone. We must base it also on security. I think we have to base it also on sound economic cooperation in every way that we can to give the individual Palestinians a stake in their future. But we cannot base it merely on our wishful thinking. It just doesn’t happen that way. Look at the Middle East as a whole. The whole land is convulsing, there are earthquakes everywhere you go. And how are we to be sure that areas that we cede to the Palestinians will not be taken over by Hamas and Hezbollah and Al-Queda and Salafis. They’re all there. So we must ensure solid security arrangements that protect the peace and protect Israel in case the peace unravels. And that is the second pillar of peace.

Now what are sound security arrangements? Are they security arrangements of which we ask UNIFIL to protect us? I don’t hear a response. Maybe EUBAM? Remember EUBAM? No? EUBAM was the European force that was placed along the Gaza-Sinai border after we departed from Gaza. I have to tell you that in its favor it lasted I think seven days. Well, maybe I’m wrong, maybe a few more, maybe a few less. But that’s about it. The minute Hamas took over, EUBAM evaporated. UNIFIL has been unable to staunch or stop the arming of Hezbollah, which by now has quintupled compared to what it was when we left Lebanon in 2006. UNIFIL was charged with preventing the rearming of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is rearmed five times and in many ways with much more deadly weapons.

Now, the charge, the mandate of UNIFIL is one. It only has one mandate. To report these violations. To report these violations – not to act against them, not to intercede, not to intervene, just to report these violations. So now Hezbollah has anywhere close to 100,000 missiles. How many missiles has UNIFIL reported? Want to guess? Zero. So who are we to rely on to enforce these arrangements? Not UNIFIL, not EUBAM. Maybe UNDOF in the Golan Heights? You know what’s happening there. We have Jihad on our fences. We have attacks literally bouncing off our fences. Sometimes they cross.

We are, of course, not indifferent to the suffering of the people there and we do take, we’ve taken hundreds of these people who were bleeding to death, suffering from loss of blood or loss of limbs. We’ve taken them into our hospitals. But UNDOF? Not UNDOF, not UNIFIL, not EUBAM. And we don’t ask for Western troops. We’re the only country that is allied with the United States in distress that is not asking for American troops or for NATO troops. We’re perfectly capable of defending ourselves by ourselves against any threat, and that’s what we need to continue.

So when we speak of robust security arrangements, these are not ones that include these illusionary, illusory arrangements that don’t foster security. And by the way, if security collapses, it’s not only the peace that will collapse, it’s also the Palestinian Authority that will collapse and other important regional structures. So when we seek a peace that we can defend, that peace and that security serves not only us, but also our partners in peace. These are the twin elements, the twin pillars of the real peace.  Mutual recognition of two nation states, a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state and it has to be a demilitarized Palestinian state that has around it and in Israel’s immediate borders the possibility of Israel defending itself with its own forces.

Now I don’t think this is a particularly complicated equation. It’s difficult, there are a lot of details in there that I haven’t discussed, as you can imagine. And I’m not saying the pursuit of peace will be easy. But I’m saying it becomes possible if you keep in mind the main items, the main elements of peace, which are mutual recognition and Israel’s capacity to defend itself by itself. I can assure you that these are not matters on which we intend to compromise. Peace always involves compromises, but I will never compromise on Israel’s security. Never. And never apologize for the fact that the Jewish people are living in their ancestral homeland. I never think of myself as an aggressor or as an outsider or some crusader kingdom. We’ve been here for so many centuries, and our attachments are so deep, that I’m always proud of the fact that the Jewish people have come home. This is our home and this is our city.

But obviously there are people who are uncomfortable with it and there is a new campaign against us, having failed to dislodge us with weapons, with armies, with terrorists, with rockets, with missiles, they now think that they’ll dislodge us with boycotts, and that’s nothing new. We’ve had that in our history as well. You know the boycotts of Jews, and I think the most eerie thing, the most disgraceful thing is to have people on the soil of Europe talking about the boycott of Jews. I think that’s an outrage, but that is something that we’re re-encountering. In the past, anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state. And by the way, only the Jewish state. Now, don’t take my word for it. The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They’re quite explicit about it. And I think it’s important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are. They’re classical anti-Semites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them. It’s time to delegitimize the delegitimizers. And it’s time that we fight back.

I know all of you participate in this. There are two ways of fighting back. One is exposing them and the other is something that is happening and they can’t do very much about it. And I’ll tell you what it is. You know, I meet heads of state, and captains of industry, as they’re called, that is founders and leaders of big companies and some small companies and medium-sized companies. They’re all coming to Israel, including today. I had a meeting with another head of state, and they all want the same three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology. They crave it. They thirst for it, because they know that we’re in the knowledge century. They know that Israel is the repository of great genius, great creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific capability, out-of-the-box thinking. This is a tremendous capacity that we have. It’s crystalized here for a variety of reasons. It’s not always easy to explain why these things happen, but it’s very important for us to realize that we possess a great treasure – the capacity to innovate is a great treasure of profound economic value in today’s world.

And that is something that is bigger than all these boycotters could possibly address. Because people are coming here. The new powers, the old powers and the new powers. You know, the new world powers, the super-powers, Google, Yahoo. They all want to participate in this. They all understand that the world economy is being propelled forward by the internet. The internet requires cyber protection, you have to protect your bank accounts, your privacy, your communications, the power lines, the power grids, traffic lights, train schedules. All of that is run today in the digital world and all of that requires protection and we happen to have a capacity to protect it.

So for this and for many many other reasons, Israel is being sought after. And I say that the response that we have to the BDS is twofold. One, expose them, the second is outflank them. We have the economic future of the world in Israel. We have it because we support it, we develop it. And somebody said to me, you know there are only two real centers of high-tech innovation. This was said to me by a young man whose company is worth today nine billion dollars and two years ago was worth a billion dollars. And he said to me, you know, there are only two centers of high-tech innovation in the world. He said, Palo Alto and Tel Aviv. I said, correction, add Be’er Sheva. Because Be’er Sheva will be the new cyber capital of Israel. And you should see what is happening now in the south of Israel, in the Negev. This fantastic growth, this fantastic explosion. We’re putting highways and railways to the North and to the South, it makes Israel sound like an enormous country. We’re just doing what the United States did in the 19th century. But we’re doing it. We’re connecting the periphery, we’re trying to eliminate the periphery. And the most important lines that we’re paving are the fast cyber, of rather fast fiber that we’re putting from Kiryat Shmona right to Eilat. That’s the real highway. That’s the information highway. That every child, every boy, every girl in Israel, Jew, non-Jew, Christian, Muslims, Bedouins, they’re all going to be connected to it and it’s a fabulous future that we have.

I think we’re perfectly suited for the information society. We have a lot of things that we have to do, improve our education, reduce our bureaucracy, deregulate, open ourselves up and we’re consciously opening ourselves up, including to the cyber companies of the world.

We’re doing this because I believe in Israel’s future. I believe we can overcome all these challenges that we face. But we have to be clear about the challenges. We have to be clear that there’s a force against us, engine of modernism that I call, and that is the force of Medievalism that is centered in Iran, and we have to make sure that those eerie Medievalists do not get their hands on the weapons of mass death. It is perfectly possible. It is within our reach if we so wish it. And we have to achieve a durable and stable peace with our Palestinian neighbors. One that is based on mutual recognition and solid security arrangements, and we have to keep developing the State of Israel while exposing those who would rob us of the legitimacy that we so much deserve and that we have earned over centuries of suffering.

These are tasks that I know you share. We have embarked on a task to ensure the Jewish future by cooperating between ourselves and the Jewish Agency, by bringing young people here in Taglit, in Masa, and so many other efforts. I’m always delighted when I see the Birthright kids who come here. I see their eyes sparkle and glow. I see what happens to them when they touch the Kotel. I see what happens to them when they realize that this is their land. Well, this is your land as well, and I know that we have no better partners than you.

I want to thank you for everything that you’ve been doing this year and over the years on behalf of the State of Israel, on behalf of the Jewish people. It’s one and the same thing.
Thank you

Israel Political Brief February 12, 2014: White House Announces PM Netanyahu’s US Visit and Meeting with President Barack Obama Set for March 3

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Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: WH, 2-12-14

On Monday, March 3, President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.  The President looks forward to discussing with the Prime Minister progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, developments in Iran, and other regional priorities.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of security issues.

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 9, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting about Easement of Sanctions on Iran

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 2-9-14

יום ראשון ט’ אדר א תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today :

“Our resolute policy against terrorism may be summed up in a single principle: Whoever attacks us or plans to attack us – will bear the consequences .

I would like to briefly comment on the easements that have been given to Iran. The international easing of the sanctions against Iran have not led Iran to moderate its international aggression, the complete opposite has occurred. The Iranian Foreign Minister recently met with the head of Islamic Jihad, Iran is continuing to supply terrorist organizations with deadly weapons, Iran continues to be complicit in massacres in Syria and to all this may be added the leader of Iran’s crude and sharp attack against the US, alongside sending warships to the Atlantic Ocean. What is happening here is that the international community has reduced the sanctions on Iran and Iran is stepping up its international aggression. This is the real result of the steps up until now.

Today, the Cabinet will make several decisions regarding assistance to various groups in the population. We will adopt decisions on the advancement and integration of Ethiopian Jews, expanding the health services basket and developing the city of Taybe. This is everyone’s government.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 26, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Including about Iran

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks – Including about Iran – at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 1-26-14
יום ראשון כ”ה שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“The purpose of the visit to Davos was to detail the advantages of the Israeli hi-tech and cyber defense industries to the leading forces in the world, both countries and new non-state forces, such as international organizations that are as strong as countries, even major powers. The good news is that Israel is very much in demand.

The interest in Israel is very great. The desire to operate here is very great. I estimate that in the coming year we will see the results of both this activity and that of our other actions, i.e. the entry of new companies into Israel, especially in the cyber market, and the expansion of their business activities within Israel, which is already happening.

I met there with the largest companies, including Google ,
Yahoo: ,
Cisco, Microsoft and various cyber companies in both individual and group meetings .

It is widely understood that in the information age information must be protected, otherwise there will be chaos, the jungle.  This is becoming a positive component in all new economic developments. The assessment is that Israel, due to our special circumstances could offer various solutions in this area. It is clear that there is a great opportunity and challenge for us here, first of all to ensure a favorable – and not hostile – business climate for these companies, and secondly, to ensure that our education system will be able to deliver the right tools to our boys and girls so that they will be able to continue to develop with the ability to bring results.

I held talks in Davos with representatives from all continents: With US Secretary of State John Kerry, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi , with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott , with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. All of them are important countries with markets and opportunities and important diplomatic significance.

Of course, they would all like to see progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. I made it clear that the desire is there and I think they also understand this.

I must say that the main interest was in regard to Iran’s ‘assault of pleasantness.’  Here, perhaps in contrast to what was depicted in the talks with the leaders, there was greater sharpness and greater clarity regarding the contradictory and mendacious messages that came up in Rouhani’s speech . Rouhani said that Iran was against international involvement in Syria, but Iran is the country that is most involved and aids the Assad regime in perpetrating mass slaughters on a daily basis.

He said that he was against the killing of innocents, but several days previously dozens of people were executed in Iran, most of whom, I can assure you, were innocent. He said that they favored free access to technology even as Iran denies its citizens free access to the Internet. He said that he favored the recognition of all countries in the Middle East and refused to answer the pointed questions that were directed to him about recognizing the State of Israel. The regime there calls for our destruction on an almost daily basis. Finally, the most important and most significant thing, Rouhani said that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge.

If Iran persists in saying this it means that the permanent agreement, which is the goal of any diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed. In effect, Iran is insisting on maintaining its ability to attain [enough] fissionable material for a bomb without any time constraints following the breakthrough. This means that many of the things which we have been saying will come true – are indeed coming true. Of course, there was also an attempt there to break through the sanctions regime. US Secretary of State Kerry told me that the US would act in order to maintain the existing sanctions, which is important, but it is important to see the test of its implementation.

In any case, Iranian President Rouhani’s remark that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge, alongside the interview given by the ‘exceedingly moderate’ Foreign Minister Zarif, in which he made it clear that Iran has an ideological agenda that brings it into perpetual conflict with the West and with the US, because it aspires to see a different world, a different world order, and you know what he means, the combination of these two remarks is causing people to understand that the reality vis-à-vis Iran is not rosy. There is a problem here. We know the truth. There is a regime here that, under cover of an assault of smiles, is trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to reach the status of a threshold state that could achieve nuclear weapons very quickly, and a country that has not changed its true ideology at all.

There are arguments inside Iran. There is an internal struggle within Iran over domestic reforms, but there is no change, not as of now, neither in the military nuclear program nor in Iran’s aggressive policy throughout the Middle East and in regard to terrorism well beyond the Middle East. Therefore, such a country cannot be allowed to have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This has been, and remains, our policy. I assure you that whoever we came into contact with there heard matters clearly both from myself and from President Peres.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Davos Speech

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Rouhani’s Davos Speech

Source: PMO, 1-23-14

יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today in Davos, made the following remarks:

“Rouhani is continuing with the Iranian show of deception.

At a time when Rouhani condemns the killing of innocents, dozens of innocents were recently executed in Iran.

At a time when Rouhani talks about a positive approach to technology, he prevents Iranians from freely surfing the Internet.

At a time when Rouhani is talking about the end of outside involvement in Syria, Iran is arming the Assad regime and directing Hezbollah to slaughter innocents in Syria.

At a time when Rouhani talks about peace with the countries of the Middle East, he refuses – even today – to recognize the existence of the State of Israel, and his regime daily calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

At a time when Rouhani claims that Iran is not interested in a nuclear project for military purposes, Iran continues to strengthen its centrifuges and heavy water reactor, and to arm itself with intercontinental missiles, the sole purpose of which is for nuclear weapons.

Rouhani has admitted that a decade ago, he deceived the West in order to advance the Iranian nuclear program. He is doing this today as well.

The goal of the Iranian ayatollahs’ regime, which is hiding behind Rouhani’s smiles, is to ease sanctions without conceding on their program to produce nuclear weapons.

Therefore, the international community must not go astray after this deception, and it must prevent Iran from attaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 8, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address to the Saban Forum

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PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Saban Forum

Source: PMO, 12-8-13

יום ראשון ה’ טבת תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

- Transcription

I am pleased to be joining you today, even if I’m doing it by remote Seatellite.
I remember the Willard Hotel when I came to Washington the first time in 1982, so this is – 30 years or more have passed and we know how the world has changed, but throughout that I think there’s been this strong U.S.–Israel relationship that taken on these complex issues that we face, and Haim, I want to express to you my personal appreciation for the fact that you are sponsoring the forum to address this complexity.

And it is legion, because the Middle East is undergoing great turmoil, great violence, great instability.
But in this turbulence, the special bond between Israel and the United States is the crucial anchor of stability. I didn’t say just a crucial anchor; I think it is the crucial anchor, and I want to thank President Obama for his commitment to our strong alliance. He has repeatedly said that Israel must have the right to defend itself, by itself against all threats. I think that’s a very important statement.
It will follow us 360 degrees.
And on President Obama’s watch, defense, security and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel – this cooperation has reached new heights.

I want you to know that we can have different perspectives. I understand that the United States is a global power with global responsibilities. And President Obama understands that the Jewish state is a beleaguered democracy in a hostile region, threatened like no other country on earth. And though we have the different perspectives of a superpower and a regional power, most of the time and on most things, if not the major things, we see eye-to-eye because we share common values, because we’re anchored in deeply democratic societies, because there is a special bond between the people of Israel and the people of the United States of America. Sometimes we differ because we have these different perspectives. But we always share our views honestly, sincerely and respectfully. That’s what good friends do, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.

Since President Obama’s historic visit to Israel, we have often spoken at length about the pressing issues of our times. I don’t know if there are any other two leaders in the world today who speak more frequently and more openly on such crucial matters. This communication serves both our countries well.

I also want to take this opportunity to praise Secretary John Kerry for his tireless efforts for peace. Tireless. I mean, this man doesn’t sleep. I spend so much time speaking or meeting with John Kerry that some of my cabinet colleagues are starting to get jealous. They complain that I only have time for him. Well John, you have my thanks and the thanks of the people of Israel for your dedication and your commitment to peace.

A moment ago I mentioned that the Middle East is going through unprecedented volatility, violence and instability. Out of all this uncertainty, one thing has become absolutely clear: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the source of the region’s problems. Today, for all but a few diehards, that reality has finally debunked that myth. The tragedy in Syria, the terrorism in Iraq, the nuclear weapons program in Iran, the instability in North Africa, the Shi’ite-Sunni conflict, the scourge of violent Islamic radicalism – none of these is rooted in our dispute with the Palestinians.

This is not to say that peace with the Palestinians is not important. It’s vital – first and foremost for Israel and the Palestinians. Achieving a genuine and enduring peace between us is a strategic goal of the State of Israel and of my government. I’ve made hard decisions to further peace negotiations. I’m willing to make even harder decisions to achieve peace.

I hope President Abbas also is willing to do so because peace can only be and must be a two-way street. I am ready for a historic compromise that ends the conflict between us once and for all. My willingness to make peace flies in the face of a second persistent myth – that peace has eluded us because Israel is not willing to demonstrate the necessary flexibility. That is not true. Under successive governments, Israel has demonstrated the flexibility and the willingness to make painful concessions. These will require discussing the issues of territory and settlements.

But the core of this conflict has never been borders and settlements. It is about one thing: The persistent refusal to accept the Jewish State in any border. The real key to peace is Palestinian recognition of the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination in this part of the world. This conflict didn’t begin because we denied the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own. We agreed to that in 1937 in the Zionist Movement’s response to the Peel Commission’s partition proposal. The Palestinians refused. We agreed to that again when we accepted the UN partition proposal in 1947 for a Jewish state next to a Palestinian state. The Palestinians again refused.

And in the 20 years since the Oslo accords, every time we’ve offered a
historic peace with a Palestinian state next to a Jewish state, the Palestinians still refused. Six successive Israeli Prime Ministers, myself included, have been ready for a historic compromise with the Palestinians. But it was never enough. Because all the Israeli proposals, all the Israeli concessions, were based on one premise: That the conflict would be over, that it would end and that there would be no further Palestinian national claims on the Jewish state. No right of return. No irredentist claims. No residual claims of any kind. And that the Palestinians have so far been unwilling to give.

So the question shouldn’t be, why does Israel make this demand? The question should be: why do the Palestinians consistently refuse to accept it? After all, we recognize that in peace there will be a nation-state for the Palestinian people. And surely we are entitled to expect them to do the same: to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people.

And my friends, we’ve only been around here for 4,000 years – well, a little less, 3,700 years. We have to have the Palestinians come to grips with the fact that there is going to be a Jewish state, a Jewish nation-state here next to their state. It’s not too much to ask. It’s the minimal requirement for peace.

But it’s not the only requirement, because I don’t delude myself. I think that any kind of peace we’ll have is likely, initially at least, to be a cold peace. And it must withstand the forces of terrorism and the ravaging forces of radicalism and all the forces backed by Iran and others that will try to unravel the peace. And therefore any agreement that we make must enable us to protect the peace or conversely to protect Israel in case the peace unravels. That often happens in our region. So there must be iron-clad security arrangements to protect the peace, arrangements that allow Israel to defend itself by itself against any possible threats. And those security arrangements must be based on Israel’s own forces. There is no substitute for that.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our best efforts to reach Palestinian-Israeli peace will come to nothing if Iran succeeds in building atomic bombs. A nuclear-armed Iran would give even greater backing to the radical and terrorist elements in the region. It would undermine the chances of arriving at a negotiated peace. I would say it would undermine those peace agreements that we have already reached with two of our neighbors.
Just three days ago Iran’s representative to the U.N. reiterated the regime’s refusal to even recognize Israel. This came a fortnight after the ruler of Iran referred to Israel as a “rabid dog” and to us as not worthy of being called human. He said we were doomed to “failure and annihilation”. And earlier in November, Khamenei called Israel “an illegitimate and bastard regime”. So the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons makes these remarks more than a simple matter of “sticks and stones”. People tend to discount rhetoric from rogue regimes, from radical regimes.

They said, well, it’s just talk, but talk has consequences. We’ve learned that in history, especially when the regime that makes these statements is actually building the capability to carry it out.
This same regime supplies its terrorist proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with thousands of rockets, rockets that are aimed at Israeli civilians, rockets that are precision-guided munitions that are increasingly lethal and deadly. This is a regime committed to our destruction. And I believe there must be an unequivocal demand alongside the negotiations in Geneva for a change in Iranian policy. This must be part and parcel of the negotiations. In other words, I’m saying that what is required is not merely a shift and a diminution of Iran’s capability and elimination of its capability to produce nuclear weapons, but also a demand to change its genocidal policy.

That is the minimal thing that the international community must do when it’s negotiating with Iran.

And as you all know, it’s not just about Israel. Iran continues to
trample the rights of its own people, to participate in the mass slaughter in Syria, to engage in terrorism across five continents and to destabilize regimes throughout the Middle East.

I don’t think I can overstate, I don’t think any of us can overstate the Iranian danger. So for the peace and security of the world, Iran must not be allowed to maintain the capability to produce nuclear weapons – not today and not tomorrow. The world must not allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear weapons state with the option to cross that threshold at a time of its choosing. Therefore, unlike the recent interim deal, any final deal must bring about the termination of Iran’s military nuclear capability.

I have expressed my concern since before Geneva that the sanctions would begin to unravel. I heard today that Iran’s president said that in fact the situation in Iran economically is already markedly improved since the accords were announced. They haven’t even been put in place yet. So steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of the sanctions. Because ultimately, the sanctions remain an essential element of the international effort to compel Iran to dismantle its nuclear military infrastructure: to take apart the centrifuges; to tear down the heavy water reactor; to eliminate the current stockpiles of enriched uranium; to cease the development of ballistic missiles and the work on weaponization, which by the way the Geneva agreement does not address.

None of these things that Iran insists it must have – none of them is necessary for a peaceful nuclear program.

So while Israel is prepared to do what is necessary to defend itself, we share President Obama’s preference to see Iran’s nuclear weapons program end through diplomacy. But for diplomacy to succeed, it must be coupled with powerful sanctions and a credible military threat.

Now let me repeat that: A diplomatic solution is better than a military option. But a military option is necessary for diplomacy to succeed, as are powerful sanctions.

We all agree that after a couple of years of tough sanctions, Iran finally began to negotiate seriously. Because of the pressure, what seemed impossible yesterday became possible today. We should not assume that more and tougher sanctions won’t lead to a better deal. What seems impossible today could become possible tomorrow.

My friends,

Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability is the
paramount challenge of our generation because a nuclear-armed Iran would literally change the course of history.

It would threaten the peace and security of us all by arming the world’s most dangerous regime with the world’s most dangerous weapons. I think we’ve learned from history that regimes with unlimited appetites act out their fantasies and their made ideologies when they think they have the weapons of mass death or at least incalculable power.

That’s what usually happens. Such power in the hands of such regimes unleashes the worst ambitions. It’s not that they don’t have diplomats – they do. They have diplomats, some of them even wear ties. They might speak English and they might make PowerPoint presentations where in the past they just spoke English and they spoke reasonably well. But when the powers behind the throne, the power on the throne is committed to a radical ideology and pursues it and talks about it again and again and again, then I say: Beware. We’ve learned in our experience, the experience of the Jewish people, to take seriously those who speak about our annihilation, and we will do and I will do what is necessary to protect the Jewish state and the future of the Jewish people.

Our best efforts, mine and those of President Obama, have yet to achieve the desired results. The jury is still out. Iran is perilously close to crossing the nuclear threshold. History will judge all of us on whether we succeed or not in rising to meet this greatest of all challenges.

President Obama and others have called the United States the “indispensable nation”. I agree. I believe though that in meeting this supreme challenge, Israel and the United States form the indispensable alliance. We will continue to work together to strengthen that indispensable alliance for the sake of peace, security and our common future.

Thank you all and good luck.

Israel Musings December 3, 2013: Netanyahu meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, discusses Iran, peace talks

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, discusses Iran, peace talks

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally had an audience with new Pope Francis on Monday morning, Dec. 2, 2013 at the Vatican while Netanyahu is on an official trip to Italy. At the 25-minute meeting Netanyahu and the Pope…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 25, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks in the Knesset Regarding the Iran Interim Geneva Agreement

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks in the Knesset Regarding the Geneva Agreement

Source: PMO, 11-25-13
יום שני כ”ב כסלו תשע”ד

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks today in the Knesset:

“I would be happy if I could join those voices around the world that are praising the Geneva agreement. It is true that the international pressure which we applied was partly successful and has led to a better result than what was originally planned but this is still a bad deal. It reduces the pressure on Iran without receiving anything tangible in return and the Iranians who laughed all the way to the bank are themselves saying that this deal has saved them.

I spoke last night with US President Barack Obama. We agreed that an Israeli team led by National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen will leave soon for the US to discuss the permanent agreement with Iran.

That agreement must lead to one result: The dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability. I remind you that only last week, during the talks, the leaders of Iran repeated their commitment to destroy the State of Israel, and I reiterate here today my commitment, as Prime Minister of Israel, to prevent them from achieving the ability to do so.”

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