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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

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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.”

Israel Political Brief November 18, 2013: Netanyahu, Hollande Make Landmark Speeches in Knesset

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Netanyahu, Hollande Make Landmark Speeches in Knesset

Source: Arutz 7, 11-18-13

PM demands Abbas visit Knesset, publicly recognize Israel as a Jewish state; Hollande supports French Jews – and “dual”Jerusalem….READ MORE

Israel Musings November 18, 2013: France backs Israel’s position on Iran nuclear weapons deal

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France backs Israel’s position on Iran nuclear weapons deal

By Bonnie K. Goodman

French President Francois Hollande landed in Israel on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 on a three-day visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres where the main topic of conversation was the Iran nuclear weapons talks and…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 12, 2013: Netanyahu focuses on Iran and peace talks in JFNA General Assembly address

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Netanyahu focuses on Iran and peace talks in JFNA General Assembly address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly on Sunday evening, Nov. 10, 2013 in Jerusalem where he continued to warn against a deal with Iran that does not completely dismantle…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-10-13

יום ראשון ז’ כסלו תשע”ד

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers an address to the Jewish Federation of North America's General Assembly, Jerusalem, Nov. 10, 2013; Netanyahu spoke of the proposed Iran nuclear weapons deal and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

AG for JFNA

Transcription

Thank you Michael, and thank you all. He was subtle, wasn’t he? Well, wait until you hear me.
I want to start with the most important thing: the most important thing is to assure the security and the future of the Jewish state, the one and only Jewish State of Israel. For decades we have been struggling mightily against a regime that calls for our destruction and it pursues nuclear weapons in order to achieve our destruction. Other’s destruction too, but first ours. It is a vital interest for other countries – the United States, the Europeans, many others, the Arabs, in my opinion the Chinese and the Russians as well – but for us it’s a matter of our existence. And the international community has placed demands on Iran to cease and desist the building of capabilities to produce atomic bombs that will threaten us and threaten the peace of the world. They put together a sanctions regime that has brought Iran to its knees, crippling sanctions. The purpose of those sanctions was to get Iran to dismantle – dismantle – its nuclear enrichment capabilities, which are used for atomic bombs and its heavy water plutonium reactor, which is used for atomic bombs.

This is what the sanctions are for. They’re not for preventing civilian nuclear energy or medical isotopes. I suppose Iran is building those ICBMs in order to launch medical isotopes to the Iranian patients orbiting the Earth. It is to prevent fissile material – that’s the material that you put inside an atomic bomb – that’s what those sanctions were about. To dismantle the centrifuge installations, underground military installations, centrifuge halls, and the plutonium reactor.

Now there’s a deal. Why the Iranians came to deal is obvious: because the sanctions are biting, biting their economy, crippling that regime. So they came to the table because they have to. And what is being offered now, and I’m continuously updated in detail. I know whereof I speak. What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity. Not one centrifuge is dismantled. Not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low enriched uranium and they can take these centrifuges, which are not dismantled, in the halls, underground, which are not dismantled – using advanced centrifuges that they’ve already installed, some of them, that are not dismantled – and they can rush within a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, that’s all, and create at the time of their choosing, the fissile material for a bomb.

Iran does not give up anything of that. It makes a minor concession that is meaningless in today’s technology and in their current capacities. In other words, none of the demands of the Security Council resolutions, which the P5+1 powers passed are met. None of them! But what is given to them is the beginning of the rollback of sanctions. This means that the sanctions that took years to put in place are beginning to rollback with several billions of dollars of assets that are freed up; the automotive industry contracts that is central to Iran’s economy freed up; petrochemical industry freed up; matters that involved gold and even petroleum revenues freed up some.

There are people here who deal in the marketplace. The price of anything is determined by future expectations. The pressure on Iran today is based on future expectations. That’s the pressure that’s built up in Iran. That’s the pressure in the international community. But when you start letting up sanctions, rolling back sanctions, you are signaling in Iran that it’s reversed. For the first time, you go down. And people understand it’s over.

This is the deal that is proposed now. Iran does not roll back its nuclear weapons-making capacities at all, but the P5+1 are rolling back sanctions. That’s a bad deal. It’s a dangerous deal because it keeps Iran as a nuclear threshold nation and it may very well bring about a situation where the sanctions are dissolved or collapsed. It’s a bad and dangerous deal that deals with the thing that affects our survival. And when it comes to the question of Jewish survival and the survival of the Jewish state, I will not be silenced, ever. Not on my watch.

When the Jewish people were silent on matters relating to our survival, you know what happened. This is different. We are the Jewish state. We are charged with defending ourselves and we are charged with speaking up. And it is time now to speak up – all of us. All of us have to stand up now and be counted.
I can think of nothing that is as important and as crucial. We shall continue to work with the rest of the world, and it’s good that we have now a few days because this is not only in the interest of Israel; this is in the interest of the entire world. Yes, we speak up, but I think there are other nations in this region and perhaps beyond who can now unite and say: we do not want a nuclear Iran and we stand together to make sure that Iran dismantles its enrichment capacities, its heavy water plutonium reactor, all the things that they need to make nuclear weapons. They’re not entitled to it and it is possible right now, given the precariousness and vulnerability of the Iranian economy, to press forward the demand for Iran to dismantle its nuclear bomb-making capacity. That’s what I expect from every one of you, and I know it’s achievable. And it’s important.

I know that there have been many times that we have stood together. You have stood together with us. I have to stand more comfortably. Well, I have a list of all the people who are here and I want to acknowledge all of you, my dear friends. First of all, my friend of many, many decades, Michael Siegal. Michael, you’re a true champion of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
And Dede Feinberg and Jerry Silverman and Michael & Susie Gelman and Ronny Douek and recently elected Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, doing a great job. Well, one mayor deserves another, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, welcome.
Well now, I know something about Philadelphia. It’s the City of Brotherly Love. We’re all brothers and sisters here in a common cause, so welcome back to Jerusalem all of you.

Every five years, the Jewish Federations convene the General Assembly here in Israel. Well, that’s a fact. You’ve come here in good times, and you’ve come here in difficult times. You have come here when we have have faced violence and terrorism. You kept on coming and so I am very glad to welcome you here. And you demonstrate by doing this to the entire world that there is a vibrant, united Jewish world, and that is exemplified first by the tremendous bond between Israel and the Jewish communities of the United States and Canada. You are our partners. You are our brothers and sisters, and we are one big Jewish family. And like all families, we have to face challenges together. That’s what families do.

I mentioned Iran, and I mentioned those ICBMs. What is Iran targeting when it’s building those ICBMs? Not us. They already have rockets to reach us and missiles. They need those ICBMs to reach North America. It’ll take them a few years – not many by the way. And they could be nuclear tipped ICBMs. That’s the plan coming to a theater near you. Do you want that? I don’t hear you. Well, do something about it. We are. This is the greatest threat. I began with it, I continue with it. Iran must end enrichment at all levels, because they don’t need it. They must take out from their territory all the fissile material. They must stop the construction of the heavy water reactor in Arak. And Iran must dismantle the considerable military nuclear infrastructure, including the underground facilities and the advanced centrifuges.

It’s not my position. This has been the position of the international community. I stress it again. So here’s what you see over time: what you see is as you go from 2005, 2004, Iran is steadily building its nuclear weapons capability and the international community is steadily diminishing and reducing its demands. It’s almost a perfect scissor’s movement. That’s the bad news. The good news is that parallel to the increase in Iranian capabilities, just to give you an idea, they had I think in 2005 around 170 centrifuges. You know how many they have today? About 18,000. That’s not 100% increase – it’s a hundred fold increase. This in the face of all international resolutions. That’s not surprising because this is a regime that, in the face of all international resolutions, murders tens of thousands of innocent people, including children, in Syria. It participates, its keeps Assad going. There is no Assad regime; there’s an Iranian-propped Assad regime. It’s a regime that practices terror as we speak on five continents; a regime that supplies Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah with endless rockets to fire on Israeli civilians; a regime that remains committed to our destruction and subverts just about every single country in the Middle East, and let me tell you, beyond the Middle East. It’s a regime that tries to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and sends its killers either directly or through its proxy, Hezbollah, to Bangkok, to Nigeria, to Bulgaria, everywhere. This regime cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. It’s a historically pivot.

So the good news is that the international community did do something powerful and the powerful thing was to get those sanctions that followed Iran’s building of its capabilities and now, when Iran is on the ropes, now when Iran has to come to negotiate, now when Iran understands that if they don’t make a real compromise, they’ll get more sanctions – now you let it out? Now you say, well, if we don’t acquiesce to their demands, they’ll continue? They can’t continue because their economy will collapse. And even if they do, they’ll maintain their capabilities now? I always said that the combination of crippling sanctions and a military option – that has the power to stop Iran and everything I see tells me that. I think it’s important to have steady nerves and a firm purpose and stop this program. We can do it.

In any case, you know that the idea of the Jewish state and the purpose of the Jewish state is to enable Jews to defend themselves. This is something that we could not do before we had the Jewish state. But we can do it now and we shall always, always defend ourselves and defend our state.

I heard the learned commentaries of experts who explained to us that Israel cannot defend itself. They must know something I don’t know. This is our purpose. This is our goal. This is our way of assuring our destiny. And we have not come nearly four millennia in our odyssey over time, from the time that Abraham set foot in this country to the present, to have the likes of the ayatollahs threaten our life. We will always defend ourselves and our state.

We also want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I am ready for a historic compromise. We need to end this conflict once and for all, and to end it, there’s a simple principle. That principle is: two nation-states, two states for two peoples. Not one state for one people, the Palestinians, and then another state for two peoples. No. Two states for two peoples, which means that if the Palestinians expect us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, they must recognize the Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Now, you’ve got to ask yourself a simple question: not why am I raising this obvious, simple, basic demand; but why have they persisted in refusing to accept it? Why? Why do they refuse to accept the simple principle of a Jewish state? Now, I’m not asking it for them to affirm our identity. I don’t need that. I know our history, believe me; I know our attachment to this land; I know our own nationhood. I’m asking it because I want them to give up any demands, any national demands, any claims on the Jewish state. That’s what peace is about. It’s not to make a Palestinian state from which they continue the conflict to try to dissolve the Jewish state, either through the “right of return” or through irredentist claims on our territory in the Negev and the Galilee or anywhere else. It’s to finally come to grips with something they have refused to come to grips with for close to a century – that the Jewish state is here by right, that is has a right to be here. And they must recognize that right and teach their children to recognize that right and to accept it.

I think this conflict began in 1921. My grandfather came here in 1920 in Jaffa, got off the boat to a little boat and then in a dinghy came to Jaffa port; went from there to the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa. In 1921, a mob attacked this immigration house because the Palestinian Arabs were opposed to any Jewish immigration at all. This was followed in 1929 by the massacre of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. Horrible, disembowelment of children, beheading of babies, horrible. And that was followed by system attacks on the Jewish community from 1936 to 1939. And that was followed by systemic efforts by the Palestinian leadership, led by the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, during the war years in Berlin with Hitler to advocate the Final Solution. Don’t expel the Jews, he said, destroy them. And that was followed finally after the tragedy that befell our people, with a declaration and a resolution by the United Nations for two states – a Jewish state. They didn’t say a Palestinian state, by the way. They said an Arab state, but that’s all right. We accepted and they refused. And then from 1947 until 1967, system attacks on us, an attempt to snuff out the life of the Jewish state by three Arab countries and several Arab armies in May of 1967 that we foiled in the great victory of the Six Day War.

So from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century – 46 years – there were systemic attacks on the very nature of a Jewish state. Not on settlements – there weren’t any. Not on our presence in the territories – we weren’t there. What was this conflict about? Not on the absence of a Palestinian state. They rejected it; we accepted it. This conflict was not about settlements, about territories, even though these issues will have to be resolved. It wasn’t even about a Palestinian state. It was and still is about the Jewish state. They have to recognize the Jewish state.

And you know, afterwards, when we left Gaza, every square inch of it, and they kept on firing rockets at us, and we asked them: why are you firing rockets at us? Is it to liberate Judea and Samaria, the West Bank? They said, yeah, sure, but that too. We said, what do you mean, that too? They said, well, it’s to liberate Palestine – Ashkelon (they call it Majda), Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Jaffa. So that’s the bad guys, the guys who are lobbing the rockets on us. What about the other part of Palestinian society, those who don’t engage in terror (and it’s good they don’t engage in terror)? I ask them, so will you recognize the Jewish state? We recognize the Israeli people, we recognize the State of Israel. No, no, no, that’s not what I asked. Will you recognize the state of the Jewish people? You have a state. Palestinians can go there if they choose. We have a state. Jews can come here – a Jewish state – if they choose. Do you recognize that? No. Do you recognize that you won’t have any national claims wherever the border is drawn? No answer.

This conflict is about the Jewish state. Have I made that point, you think, subtly enough? You get it. Alright. So now let’s ask the second question. Because, you know, since 1921 until today it’s almost a century of unremitting incitement and an education of hatred. Now, I don’t mean in Hamas or Islamic Jihad. I mean in the Palestinian Authority: textbooks, schools, kindergartens. I showed John Kerry a teacher teaching young kids – four year olds, five year olds. What will you be? Shaheedim, martyrs (that’s suicide bombers)? And what will you struggle for? Palestine? What is Palestine? From Kiryat Shmona to Umm-Rash-Rash (that’s Eilat). From the river to the sea.

That’s what they teach. In their textbooks, Israel disappears. It completely disappears. In their state-controlled media – what a wonderful term – in their state-controlled media, they control everything. That’s what they put forward. We had a wonderful initiative that President Peres and I put forward to bring the Barcelona team, the soccer team, to Israel to play with the Palestinians and then to play with Israel, combined Jewish-Arab games in Israel. In the Palestinian territory, they played in Hebron. When they came to President Peres a day later, there was a song in Hebrew, in Arabic, we talked of peace, we talked of two states for two peoples, we had an exhibition game – Jewish children, Arab children from Israel… that was Israel. A day earlier – I found out that a day later but a day earlier in Hebron, in the soccer stadium, the Palestinian football federations, an official arm and an official spokesman and he said to the Barca team: welcome to Palestine. Palestine is from the river to the sea, from Lebanon to the Red Sea, from Eilat to Rosh Hanikra, the Arab name for Rosh Hanikra.

There is a century of this. The minimum thing that we can demand, aside from demanding the end of incitement, but to get a deal is that the official position of the Palestinian leadership recognize the Jewish state. That’s a minimum, but I don’t delude myself. This will be a long process. But it must begin with that. Otherwise, what are we saying? That this plan to dissolve Israel in stages will continue? Of course not. But we also have to recognize that it may not take root. It may not. We have at best a cold peace. I hope for a warm one. By the way, a cold peace is better than a hot war. But a warm peace is better than a cold peace. I hope for a warm peace, beginning with that recognition of the Jewish state and the abandonment of the “right of return” and all those other fantasies that are still harbored in Palestinian culture.

But we have to know that even if the Palestinian leadership puts an end to 90 years of rejection, and even if they recognize the Jewish state, we know that in this volatile and violent region, that can be reversed. We know that in our region, there can be no durable peace that is not based on security. A peace agreement that is not based on absolute, robust security arrangements for Israel, by Israel, will not stand the test of time. We want a peace that endures. We need a peace based on security. That’s the other fundament. We need security to defend the peace. But we also need security to defend Israel in case the peace unravels. And in our region, peace has a tendency to unravel now and then, if you haven’t watched around us. You have.

Now for this genuine peace of a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, for this peace I am willing to make difficult decisions. I am willing to be both creative and flexible. But I cannot compromise and will not compromise on the safety and security of the one and only Jewish state. And the Palestinians, of course, will have to compromise too. They’ll have to compromise and accept the legitimacy and necessity of robust security arrangements that ensure that Israel’s security border does not begin four miles from Ben-Gurion airport and a few hundred meters from this hall.

You know, Israel is the most challenged country on Earth. There is no other country, no other power, that is challenged for its very survival as we are, and we are one of the smallest countries on Earth. We need to have very robust security arrangements, and these are the two essential foundations for a secure peace – mutual recognition of two nation-states and robust security arrangements. This is what we need – we need many other things, believe me, many other things. For example, we have this minor attachment – well, I’m joking – we have this small… no, we have this huge, historic attachment to our capital, Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It’s always been our capital; it always will be our undivided capital.
But I don’t want to do the negotiations here. I do want to say that I hope that this current round of talks will lead to peace. I hope the other side, like me, is ready to make tough decisions for peace. I stood at Bar Ilan University – it’s a religious university – and I expressed my willingness to recognize a Palestinian nation-state alongside their recognition of a Jewish nation-state. That wasn’t easy. In my previous government, I agreed to an unprecedented freeze on construction in the settlements. Believe me, that wasn’t easy. But there is something even harder, maybe the toughest decision I made. I agreed to the release of terrorist prisoners. They served 20 years. They killed a lot of people. I’ve made difficult choices to try to advance the peace, but it must be a two way street. It cannot be that the Palestinians are forever pampered by the international community; that their incitement goes by without a tick; that their refusal to recognize a Jewish state goes by without a bat of an eyelash; that their inefficacy in fighting terrorism is accepted or lionized as a great capacity. It’s time that the international community, certainly the serious members of the international community, understand this is a two-way street because peace is not a one-way street and it won’t be. To stick, it’s going to be very tough, not only for Israel. Everybody says that. It’s going to be very tough for the Palestinian leadership. It must be, otherwise it’s not a genuine peace. And we don’t want a fake peace. We’ve had enough.

So the question is, will they rise up to it? I don’t know. It’s in their interest. I hope that they stand up, not only for themselves – and I think they would if they accepted what I’m saying, but they would ensure a future for their children and for their grandchildren and for future generations. But they must be able to give the Beir Zeit speech. They must be able to give the Beir Zeit speech. A Palestinian leader must do what Anwar Sadat did. He said, it’s over, it’s gone. No more war. No more bloodshed. But he was speaking for Egypt. A Palestinian leader must stand and say, I accept the Jewish state. That’s a simple litmus test of seriousness.

We have another kind of peace that we have to foster and continuously promote – it’s our internal peace. We call it shalom bayit, peace in our house. That’s always guided me as Prime Minister. I always said I have to keep the peace of the Jewish people. I am the Prime Minister of Israel, Israel is the Jewish state. I have to worry about the inclusion of Jews from every part of the Jewish world.

The Kotel is in Israel, but the Kotel belongs to all the Jewish people. And I have been working with you – not merely for you, with you – because I think we have to consult together and reach solutions together. I asked Natan Sharansky, a great Jewish leader, to bring the Jewish people a solution, to bring me a solution, and I think he has. I asked my Cabinet Secretary, Avichai Mandelblit, a very able, very able public servant, to help along with that. We have now a solution; it reflects my desire to have a solution for all of you, by all of you, with all of you. And I am convinced that we can soon have this solution in place.

We have also been working closely to have young Jews from North America and from around the world, come to Israel. When I was Prime Minister the first time – this is my third term. In my first term, people came to me, Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman, came to me with a revolutionary idea of having Taglit. They said they’re putting up the money, but they said, you know, there’s one small factor: you have to put up money too. And when we spoke about it with the Cabinet and with others, they said, what? Israel will pay money? You remember this, Natan. Israel will pay money to bring American kids here? And I said, yeah, it’s our future, and yes, we’re going to do it. And we’ll put our money where our mouth is. And we did 15, 16 years ago. And we’ve done it since. It’s been a tremendous success – Taglit, Masa, Hefzibah. We’re committed to this.

Now, as you know, we have a new initiative, a broad and deep initiative to unite the Jewish people, to initiate programs to help reach the inner cords of identity of the Jewish people around the world. We know we’re challenged by the internet age. We know that it fragments people. We cannot change that; we don’t intend to change that; we don’t intend to go against the internet. We intend to use the internet. We’re not going to go into horse and buggies. We understand it’s a new age. In fact, Israel is leading technologically this tremendous development. But we also know it challenges our unity. We also know that the forces of assimilation and intermarriage are there. We also read these recent polls. We understand: we have a challenge. You understand, together, that we have a challenge. And we have sponsored this initiative to work together, think this through together, and then put forward programs to help solidify the core of the conviction and identity that is so central to securing our future.
When I think of the challenges that the Jewish people have undergone, challenges that no nation has undergone, no people have undergone, and we’ve been able to overcome them over nearly 4,000 years – challenges to our physical survival, challenges to our spiritual survival and cohesion. I know that we have that inner strength to guarantee the Jewish future. I know it and you know it; and together we’re going to achieve exactly that – to defend and secure the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state. I say that here in our eternal capital, Jerusalem, and I know, I know that you stand with me.

Thank you very much, all of you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Israel Musings November 10, 2013: Obama phones Netanyahu over opposition to proposed Iran nuclear deal

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama phones Netanyahu over opposition to proposed Iran nuclear deal

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had his third meeting this week with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, President Barack Obama phoned Netanyahu on Friday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2013 to discuss Netanyahu’s opposition to the…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 8, 2013: Netanyahu warns against ‘historic mistake’ in Iran nuclear talks

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu warns against ‘historic mistake’ in Iran nuclear talks

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As the P5+1 nations meet with Iran in effort to dismantle the country’s nuclear program on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, they are considering lifting some economic sanctions placed on Iran in exchange for Iran…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 8, 2013: Netanyahu cautions Kerry about Iran at Jerusalem meeting

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu cautions Kerry about Iran at Jerusalem meeting

November 8, 2013

Netanyahu and Kerry met at a Jerusalem hotel on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, and although the focus of was about progressing the stalled Israeli Palestinian peace talks, they also discussed the international negotiations to end Iran’s nuclear weapons…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 7, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference on Joint Strategic Dialogue between the Government of Israel and World Jewish Communities

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference on Joint Strategic Dialogue between the Government of Israel and World Jewish Communities

Source: PMO, 11-7-13

יום חמישי ד’ כסלו תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

Thank you, my good friend, Natan Sharansky. You speak of leaders? You’re a leader – a leader of the Jewish people. And there is a fire that burns inside you and that flame spreads, and I think it’s consumed everyone here and it has made that partnership between us, I think, has made the launching of this program natural, real and ultimately successful. But we need every one of you, and so many who are not here to support it – and you do. I include among that you, Duvdev, my good friend: you’re committed to this, as is my Director General, Harel Locker, who spoke to you about spirit. We need – how do you say this? Kemach and Torah.

[Recording cut off]

Dvir Kahana and Alan Hoffman again. We have here our new ambassador – Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. He was instrumental in launching this. And many of the representatives of the government ministries who are charged with our side of this, and you representing so many Jewish communities throughout the world.
I understand, Moritzia, that you speak about our collective genius. We’re definitely sure about the collective – we’ll have to live up to the other part of that. But the Jewish people have shown a remarkable genius in many fields, and the most important one is to continue the thread of our existence through thousands of years, through extraordinary challenges, maintaining our identity; not always able to secure our existence. We’ve lost tragically not only in the last century. But we’ve been able to rise up, reestablish our national life in our ancestral homeland, build a state, build an army, build an economy, build technology, build culture.

And now we’re charged with the task of securing the Jewish future, which to me always means, first and foremost, the Jewish state, but the Jewish state for the Jewish people – all of the Jewish people. Now there are two challenges, great challenges that face the Jewish state and the Jewish people. And we have to address and meet both challenges.

The first one is the challenge posed by Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. Israel understands that there are proposals on the table in Geneva today that would ease the pressure on Iran, ease the pressure on Iran for concessions that are not concessions at all. This proposal would allow Iran to retain the capabilities to make nuclear weapons. Israel totally opposes these proposals. I believe that adopting them would be a mistake of historic proportions. They must be rejected outright. The sanctions regime has brought the Iranian economy to the edge of the abyss and the P5+1 can compel Iran to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program. This means ending all enrichment and stopping all work on the heavy water plutonium reactor. Anything less will make a peaceful solution less likely. And Israel always reserves the right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

This is one of the central lessons we have learned in our history when we were powerless to defend ourselves, by ourselves and against any threat. We don’t forget our history. We use it to chart our path to the future. And we have done so with remarkable success. Every time you come to Israel, I’m sure that you see the tremendous development that takes place, the rise of our economic prowess, the tremendous initiative and enterprise that you see in this country. Can you imagine? A Jewish state with Jewish businesses? You’re not laughing. This was a different state. I mean, we had a tremendous investment in infrastructure and in state-building, but we didn’t have the tremendous genius – I use that word genius – of our people come to full fruition until we opened up our economy and now Israel is widely recognized as a global power in technology. We contribute to medicine; we contribute to communication; we contribute to anything from genetic research to food, unusual foods, crop yields, irrigation. We have cows that produce – well, which country has cows that produce the most milk per cow? Well, you think it’s France or Holland? No, it’s Israel. Number one country in recycling by far of water? Israel. And so on and so on and so on. It’s endless.

But we always recognize that what we have to do in developing our country and defending our country is not only for us. We’re a link in the chain of generations of Jews who have dreamt about resuscitating the Jewish collective life by reestablishing our sovereignty in the Land of Israel but also by ingathering the exiles and by creating a human bridge to Jewish communities around the world. And I feel that deeply. I am aware of our history. I think I’m intimately familiar with it. And I know that what has kept the thread of our life through the generations was the ability of successive generations of Jews to maintain our culture, our history, our values, our identity.

The Jewish were unique in this because we were one of the few if not the only broadly literate people in antiquity, and we were literate when nobody else was, in ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages. This is a remarkable thing in the age of knowledge. Today we’re in a century of knowledge. The Jews were for centuries in centuries of knowledge. Fathers taught their sons to read and write. That was part of our inherent faith and traditions. And this created a potent power and a potent tradition. Reading, writing, arguing – truth wasn’t fixed, narrow. It evolved through discourse, through debate. Our whole Talmudic system was based on this idea of this expanding fruit of knowledge.
But throughout that, we carried our traditions forward. And this is what made our success possible. This is what made the dream of returning to Zion and reestablishing the Jewish people possible.

I think that this collective identity is under threat today. It’s under threat because we live in an age of fragmentation, fragmentation and in many ways – ridud [Hebrew]? My English! Ron, help me out. Shallowness? We’re not that deep in this modern age. Knowledge is theoretically available to all, but it doesn’t mean that all sees it. It’s there but it can be paper thin. Even though it’s instantly available, even though there are libraries today that are unimaginable and you can get them at your fingertips. You can get any piece of information. That is not knowledge and that is not identity. That is information; it’s available but it doesn’t necessarily form the foundation of identity, of culture and of conviction. It can have the opposite effect. That is unstoppable, mind you. We’re investing in fast fiber; we’re investing in digital education; we’re investing in all those things that are part of the modern world. But we have to invest in something else. We have to use these instruments, but also create a firm base of identity and conviction. That’s a big challenge. It’s not easy.

I’ve always thought that we have to use the instruments of tomorrow today to shape tomorrow. And therefore I thought it’s particularly important to embrace this initiative and work together to get this partnership with the Jewish world to secure the Jewish future. It’s something that you have been involved in. You’ve been thinking about it. You’ve been talking about programs. You’ve been talking about spirit. And you’ve been talking about the flour. We’ll put more flour. Did you tell them, Harel? Yeah, more flour. But you’ve got to get some flour too. I mean this is, in all things, this is a joint cooperative action.

And I think that’s what underlies my belief in how we succeed. We work together. And I always thought that. In my first term… this is my third term as Prime Minister. I want you to know [applause]… Well, I’m not that old, you know? But I want you to know that when I was considerably younger and you reminded me, Natan, how we met with Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman. I thought at that time already that Israel was no longer crawling, already walking and in some ways already beginning, well at least to trot if not to run. And I thought that we were able to begin to put back to the Jewish world. We’d been the recipient of aid and I thought that the proportion of aid as part of our GDP was shrinking anyway, but that the larger resource and the more important resource was not the assistance we were getting from the Diaspora, but the assistance that we could give to the Diaspora to maintain our common identity. And therefore we put some flour in this and Taglit was the first program and I think we dealt with it in ’97, as you say. It changed; it pivoted the idea that basically Israel was the recipient, the Diaspora were the donors and that was it. That changed economically in many ways, but it was a cultural change in which we said, no, we’re going for a partnership to strengthen Jewish identity. How? By getting young people to come here.

That developed into Masa, which I later had the opportunity to assist, both as Finance Minister and of course as Prime Minister, and other programs like Hefzibah. But now what we’re dealing with is broadening it, broadening this to a variety of programs that will create a critical mass of understanding and knowledge and identity and conviction to carry us through our journey and to the next few decades. And I think it’s very exciting and very important.

I don’t say that we don’t have immediate problems; we do. I’ve always adopted the policy from my first term as Prime Minister of partnership. I always viewed the Prime Minister of Israel, a post that I occupy with great reverence, to my responsibilities for all Jews. I thought that we have to make sure that we work as much together and avoid the pitfalls that could break us apart.

One of these issues that we’ve dealt with lately; actually in the last government we began to address it with Avichai Mandelblit. Avichai, stand up so they see you. I charged him with this now, but we began on the question of the Kotel, making sure that it’s the Kotel for all the Jewish people. I began that project and Avichai took it with Natan. I asked Natan and the new Cabinet Secretary, who by the way was a JAG, is that what it is? JAG? What is that? Judge Advocate General.

But he comes at it not with a legalistic mind, but with a very warm Jewish mind, heart, which is what I think has guided Natan with the proposal that you presented to me which I adopt with enthusiasm. I think it serves to illustrate a point: we are trying to solve problems, not for you but with you. We’re not standing there on a hilltop – it happens to be a hill – but you’re standing there with us. And I encourage this partnership, this exchange, this dialogue, this process. And I find it expressed in this process. I want to expand it to something that will give us the critical core of partnership for the Jewish people, between the Jewish people and the Jewish state, for the coming generations.

We’re about to celebrate Chanukah and Chanukah was both a physical and a moral struggle. We were nearly overwhelmed and perhaps it was at that point that the thread of Jewish existence, which had been around for about 1,500 years, could have been snapped. It could have been snapped not only by the physical submission of the Jews to a foreign power, but the cultural submission of the Jews to the Hellenistic culture that could have erased our traditions and severed our future. And this was resisted mightily by a few people who inflamed, if you will, the rest and produced what appears to be a miraculous victory against one of the greatest forces of the day – the Seleucid Empire was a great force at the time. We emerged victorious there but we also emerged victorious in securing the Jewish traditions and the Jewish faith, and without that victory, I’m not sure that the Jewish people would be here more than 2,000 years later.

Well, we’re faced with equal challenges today. We’re armed with our knowledge of the past and our hope for the future with the examples of the Maccabees and with our sense of being responsible for each other. Kol Israel arevim ze l’ze. That’s exactly how I feel. I know that’s exactly how you feel and that’s the most important thing to make sure that we have a secure, common future for the Jewish people.

Thank you very much.

Israel Musings November 2, 2013: Netanyahu urges pressure on Iran during Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary ceremony

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu urges pressure on Iran during Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary ceremony

November 2, 2013

Iran took center stage at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon all spoke at…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 1, 2013: Kerry to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem as peace talks reach impasse

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Kerry to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem as peace talks reach impasse

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet again for the second time in two weeks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu according to a State Department announcement made on Thursday Oct. 31, 2013. Kerry will make a trip…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 27, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Iran’s Nuclear Capability and the Peace Talks

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 10-27-13

יום ראשון כ”ג חשון תשע”ד

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

“Iran is willing to give up on enriching uranium to 20% and therefore a discussion on this issue is unimportant. The importance of the issue became superfluous in the wake of the technological improvements that allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5% to 90% in a number of weeks. Pressure on Iran should be increased because it is continuing enrichment even as it negotiates.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu added:

“We want to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In this agreement, we will insist on the vital interests of the State of Israel, first of all security, of course, and including our ability to continue defending our eastern border. We ascribe importance to the unity of Jerusalem and, of course, to the cancellation of the right of return. Regarding the issue of the Jewish state that comes up from time to time, we are not looking for the Palestinians to ratify our identity, our heritage and our connection to this land – this is not the problem from our point-of-view. We are demanding from them that at the end of the negotiations, they will renounce all their claims, including national claims, and that they recognize the national rights of the Jewish people in the State of Israel, and [recognizing] Israel as our national state is an integral part of their recognition that there are no national demands and no national rights in the State of Israel. These views were presented very clearly in my talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and in other forums.”

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