Full Text Israel Political Brief December 31, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses the 7th Galilee Conference on the Prospects for Peace

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PM Netanyahu Addresses the 7th Galilee Conference

Source: PMO, 12-31-13
יום שלישי כ”ח טבת תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks, this morning to the 7th Galilee Conference in Tiberias:

“The essence of the difference between us and our neighbors may be seen in one picture. While we are prepared to take very painful steps in an effort to try and reach an agreement that would put an end to the conflict, they, along with their highest leadership, are celebrating. Murderers are not heroes. This is not how one educates for peace. Peace can exist only when the education toward incitement and the destruction of Israel stops. There will be peace only if our security interests and our communities are assured. Peace will be established only when we can defend ourselves by ourselves against any threat.”

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Israel Musings December 30, 2013: Netanyahu to make Pollard major condition in the peace talks as Kerry returns

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu to make Pollard major condition in the peace talks as Kerry returns

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to the Middle East for his 10th trip since March 2013 in attempt to advance the Israeli Palestinians peace talks after a freak snowstorm cut short his trip to…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief December 26, 2013: PM Netanyahu, Liberman raise electoral threshold, compromise could keep Arabs out of Knesset

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Netanyahu, Liberman compromise could keep Arabs out of Knesset

Source: Jerusalem Post, 12-26-13

PM, foreign minister decide to raise electoral threshold from 2% to 3.25%, which would make factions have minimum of 4 MKs….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 22, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Jonathan Pollard and Illegal Migrants

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

Source: PMO, 12-22-13

יום ראשון י”ט טבת תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

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

“We do not need any special event in order to discuss the release of Jonathan Pollard. We are dealing with it. I am dealing with it, with all US presidents, including President Obama, all the time, including now. We hope that the conditions will be created that will enable us to bring Jonathan home. This is neither conditional on, nor related to, recent events, even though we have given our opinion on these developments.

Illegal migrants cannot be allowed to take the law into their own hands. We will enforce the law and we will deport them according to law. It must be understood that the State of Israel cannot absorb those seeking work. While we certainly treat genuine refugees with respect and uphold our obligations under the international commitment on this issue, we cannot allow an open border for illegal labor migrants from Africa or any other place. We will not allow this. We blocked illegal migration and we are committed to deporting those who succeeded in migrating here before we blocked the border, and we will carry out this commitment, if not down to the last migrant then certainly regarding most of them. This is both our intention and our mission.”

Israel Brief December 22, 2013: Bomb explodes on bus near Tel Aviv; no one hurt

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Bomb explodes on bus near Tel Aviv; no one hurt

Source: JTA, 12-22-13

A bomb exploded on a public bus in Bat Yam, a city neighboring Tel Aviv, after the passengers had been removed….READ MORE

Israel Brief December 16, 2013: American Studies Association votes for boycott of Israeli universities

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American Studies Association votes for boycott of Israeli universities

Source: JTA, 12-16-13

The membership of the American Studies Association endorsed its national council’s call for a boycott of Israeli universities….READ MORE

Full Text Jewish Brief December 15, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial

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Full text of Netanyahu’s speech to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial

Source: Times of Israel, 12-16-13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Full text of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Union for Reform Judaism, delivered via satellite from Jerusalem, December 15, 2013.

We’ll ensure that the Western Wall is a source of unity, not division…READ MORE

Israel Musings December 14, 2013: Netanyahu and Kerry meet about peace talks in Jerusalem snow wonderland

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ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu & Kerry meet about peace talks in Jerusalem snow wonderland

By Bonnie K. Goodman

For the second time in a week and the ninth time since March 2013 United States Secretary of State John Kerry met in Israel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a very unusually snowy Friday morning, Dec. 13, 2013…READ MORE

Israel Brief December 13, 2013: Rare snowstorm slams Jerusalem

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Rare snowstorm slams Jerusalem

Source: NY Daily News, 12-13-13

The intense storm left the city covered in snow. About 20 inches of snow had fallen since Thursday, with more expected through the next day….READ MORE

Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, two  of the holiest sites for for Jews and Muslims, were covered in snow after a rare snowstorm blanketed Jerusalem on Friday.

Dusan Vranic/AP

Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, covered in snow after a rare snowstorm blanketed Jerusalem on Friday.

Israel Brief December 13, 2013: Photo Essay: Snow in Jerusalem

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Photo Essay: Snow in Jerusalem

Source: Arutz 7, 12-13-13

The snow has brought both wonder, smiles and damage. The following are photos from Snowstorm 5774….READ MORE

Israel Brief December 13, 2013: ‘Historic’ Israeli Snowstorm; Power Outage In Jerusalem

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‘Historic’ Israeli Snowstorm; Power Outage In Jerusalem

Source: Arutz 7, 12-13-13

Power outages throughout Israel in storm of ‘rare ferocity, thousands of stranded drivers rescued by IDF and police….READ MORE

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.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 8, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

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

Source: PMO, 12-8-13
יום ראשון ה’ טבת תשע”ד

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

“Today we welcome the Secretary General of the OECD, our friend Angel Gurria. Angel Gurria played an important role in our entry to the OECD, which I and previous finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, worked very hard to achieve, as well as governments before ours. Membership in this important organization of the world’s leading economies gives us objective criteria by which to compare the Israeli economy and Israeli society to other countries, and to find ways to improve what needs improving. I must say that in this international comparison, as we will soon hear from the OECD Secretary General, Israel is in a pretty good situation: Growth is among the highest in the developed countries, unemployment is among the lowest in the world and Israel is implementing many good things according to other indices as well, including health in which we are ranked very high.

I am also pleased that this report focuses on high-tech. I just sat with the OECD Secy.-Gen. and I told him what we are doing in the cyber field – to turn Be’er Sheva into a global cyber capital, which will enable many investors and companies from the private sector to come to Israel. I call on them to do this, they are doing it without me, but there is no doubt that this will continue and grow as part of the Israeli engine for participating in the global economy.

Alongside all the good things, we also heard about things that we need to improve, including the gaps within the State of Israel, which are wide in comparison to the world’s economies, especially the non-participation of parts of our population – the ultra-orthodox and the Arabs – which must be integrated into the Israeli labor force, and of course other things that need correcting, including in advancing our education system, in carrying out international tests. I recently spoke about this with the Education Minister, how we might continue the trend of improvement and strengthen it so that Israeli children will be equipped with the tools to compete in tomorrow’s world.

I think that all of this is helped by these reports. They are very interesting and compare us to others. We have greatly improved. In the past decade, we have overtaken most of the countries here. We made greater progress than they did and we must ensure that this trend continues in the coming decade according to all the main indicators. On closing the gaps, I would say that there will be more people who will participate and benefit from growth. This is the main thing that I would say that we need to do, but we must ensure that there will be benefits. The allocation of the benefits is also important, but it is possible only if there are benefits. Creating growth is the critical thing that we are committed to.

I would like to comment on one other thing, which is unusually severe in my opinion. I have heard about the threats of physical attacks by extremist elements in Israeli society against Christians, Christian Arabs who want to enlist in the IDF, who want to be part of the State of Israel. Against these people is an extremist group that is threatening them. We will not tolerate this; I will not tolerate this. We will use all of our tools to stop these thugs and we will allow whoever – Christian, Muslim and Druze – wants to link their fate even more to the State of Israel and wants to serve in the IDF to do so. We will protect them.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 6, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

Source: PMO, 12-6-13

יום שישי ג’ טבת תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, early this morning, issued the following statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela:

“Nelson Mandela was among the greatest figures of our time. He was the father of his country, a man of vision and a freedom fighter who disavowed violence. He set a personal example for his country during the long years in which he was imprisoned. He was never haughty. He worked to heal rifts within South African society and succeeded in preventing outbreaks of racial hatred. He will be remembered as the father of the new South Africa and a moral leader of the highest order.”

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
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