ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS
PM Netanyahu and Vice President Joe Biden in a joint statement
Source: PMO, 3-9-16
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden:
“Mr. Vice President, Joe, it’s good to welcome you again in Jerusalem. You’re here with your wife Jill and your wonderful family: your daughter-in-law Hallie, your grandchildren Natalie and Hunter. And I hope you feel at home here in Israel because the people of Israel consider the Biden family part of our family. You’re part of our mishpucha. And I want to thank you personally for your, for our personal friendship of over 30 years. We’ve known each other a long time. We’ve gone through many trials and tribulations. And we have an enduring bond that represents the enduring bond between our people.
As you well know, the last 24 hours have been very difficult for Israel, including this morning. Twelve people were injured in five terrorist attacks. An American citizen, Taylor Force, was murdered. Taylor was a graduate of West Point, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, a graduate student of Vanderbilt University. And I want to extend our deepest condolences to his family and wish the injured a speedy recovery. And I know I speak for you because you’ve said these very words.
Joe, I appreciate your strong condemnation of terrorism. Nothing justifies these attacks. But unfortunately President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorist attacks, his Fatah party actually praised the murderer of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero.
Now, this is wrong. And this failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everybody in the international community.
We have taken many steps in recent months to fight Palestinian terrorism, and we’re taking even stronger measures now.
I believe that to fight terror, all civilized societies must stand together. And while Israel has many partners in this decisive battle, we have no better partner than the United States of America. It’s a partnership anchored in common values, confronting common enemies and striving for a more secure, prosperous and peaceful future.
I see your visit here as an opportunity for us to further strengthen this great partnership. We’ve just been discussing some of the challenges we face. The first one is the persistent incitement in Palestinian society that glorifies murderers of innocent people, and calls for a Palestinian state not to live in peace with Israel, but to replace Israel. And we are witnessing, regrettably, the collapse of states throughout the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and Iran’s relentless aggression and terror in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, the Golan and Gaza, and elsewhere in the region and around the world.
But we’re also standing before great opportunities, and I think some of them stem from these great challenges. The first opportunity is to deepen ties between Israel and the moderate Arab states, and this could help us build a solid foundation for peace and stability. We can also make Israel energy independent, an exporter of natural gas to the region and beyond. And we can use Israel’s advanced technology to continue to better our world – in agriculture, in water, in cyber and in many other areas. And I know, Joe, that one area is particularly close to your heart. We were discussing that just now – the battle against cancer in which you are taking a leading role.
Israel is making important strides in this field, and I have no doubt that Israel can contribute even more by working together with the United States of America. And that’s just true across the board, in every field. America and Israel are stronger when we work together. So I look forward to continuing to work together with you and President Obama to strengthen the remarkable and unbreakable alliance between our two countries.
Joe, my friend, welcome to Jerusalem.”
US Vice President Joe Biden issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“It’s true that Prime Minister Bibi and I go back a long way. I joked some time, a long time ago when you were at the Israeli consulate, we met outside of a, in a parking lot outside of a restaurant where I was meeting with some American Jewish leaders, and we became close friends and I later signed a picture for you that I, as a joke I said ‘Bibi, I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.’ And the joke was, I would have been a member of the Labour party, not the Likud party. We were joking about what party we’d be in.
We’ve been friends, our families have been friends, you have come to know my sons, my daughter you’ve met, and I have made it an important part of my family’s life that as my children and grandchildren approach the age of 15, the first place I’ve taken them is in Europe, to Dachau, the second place is to Israel. And my deceased son Beau who died eight months ago – and thank you for your great personal concern, and I know you knew him – I brought along his two children who are ten and twelve, whose grandmother is Jewish and got raised in a Jewish family, their mum, because I want them to see that they’re not too young to understand all of what you talked about: that this is a commitment that goes deeper than security, and I appreciate your welcome. And my granddaughter, love of my life named after my deceased daughter Naomi, she’s coming, she’s on a visit here with her boyfriend whose family lives here, she’s a senior at Penn.
But all kidding aside, it’s been a close relationship. And it’s been one that is of consequence not only for Israel but for the United States and for freedom loving people all over the world. But as you said, we started our discussion about the most recent heinous terrorist attack yesterday in Jaffa and Jerusalem and Petah Tikva, my wife and my two grandchildren and granddaughter are having dinner on the beach not very far from where that happened. I don’t know exactly whether it’s 100 meters or 1,000 meters, and it just brings home that it can happen.
It can happen anywhere at any time. And what Bibi and I talked about was not just the death of Taylor, Taylor Force who served two tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, West Point graduate, a brilliant future. But we talked about the other wounded and the students he was with, and our instinct was the same. We both said ‘Let’s go to the hospital. Now. Let’s go see them. Let’s go see the families and meet with them.’
The reason I cite that, and as a personal note, is the instinct is the same ‘Let’s go see; let’s go touch; let’s go let those families know how much we care about them; let them know that that expression ‘if you don’t go get the terrorist, they’ll come to you.’’ And we’re dealing with it all over the world. So my condolences to Taylor’s family and all those who were victims of the attack yesterday and every day.
Let me say in no uncertain terms: the United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi. This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave even if it appears to inure to the benefit of one side or the other. It’s just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence, and the United States stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.
That’s why we’ve done more to bolster, help bolster Israel’s security than any other administration in history. Across the board we’ve raised our security cooperation and military intelligence fields to unprecedented levels. And we’ve provided a historical amount of security assistance. We’ve ensure Israel has the most advanced weapons, including one of the most effective missile defense systems in the world. At the same time we are struggling to increase our missile defense capability because of the threat from North Korea.
It doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, but you never need to doubt that the United States of America has Israel’s back. And we know Israel has our back as well, I might add. It’s not a one way street. We’re committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats, maintain its qualitative edge with a quality, a quantity sufficient to maintain that. And it’s critical because Israel lives, as Bibi knows better than anyone, lives in a very, very tough neighborhood – a tough and changing neighborhood. Living some little sense of hope, but an awful lot of consternation.
All has changed since I started coming here when I first met with Golda Meir, and her assistant, a fellow named Rabin. I sat across the desk for an hour as she flipped those maps up and down, chain smoking, telling me about the Six Day War. And I had just come from Egypt and I was one of the few people allowed to go to the Suez Canal, I’m still not sure why. And all this activity was occurring in the desert, they kept telling me it was sand storms. And I came back and I said to the Prime Minister, I think there’s going to be another war. I think they’re getting ready to go to war again.
Well, several months later the Yom Kippur war occurred. I was just a rooky; I had no idea what it was. But I’ll never forget from that moment on, the intensity of the relationship has grown, but the face of the enemy has changed. The face of the enemy has changed and morphed in many ways.
But it also presents some small opportunity. And that is that that’s why it’s absolutely… we’re united in the belief that a nuclear armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and to the United States. And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here. If in fact they break the deal, we will act. We will act. And all their conventional activity outside of the deal is still beyond the deal, and we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.
And together we’re seeking ways to advance our shared security interests and address, as I said, the new realities of the region. I just came from two days in the UAE, I’ll be heading to Jordan, I was at the Camp David conference, the GCC’s meeting with the President later in April, and as I said, I spend a lot of time as you do with the King of Jordan, I’m heading over from here to see him, and I want to make a couple points.
If you had talked in the region as a whole, four years ago, about whether any Arab states were under some conditions prepared to make peace, real peace with Israel, it would have been, at least I would have said, there’s no shot. Common enemies make the, you know, you know, the enemy… Anyway, you get the torrent. And so I think there are possibilities here. I did not come with a plan. I just came to speak to a friend and to be able to have an open discussion in a closed room, where we brainstorm the whole range of things.
But it is not all hopeless. It is not all hopeless. We will crush Daesh. We will crush ISIS. Together we will crush them. They will not be sustained. I promise you. It will take time, but they will not be sustained. And they’re losing ground every day in Syria, but really losing ground – they’ve lost 40% of the ground they had in Iraq. It’s hard. It’s difficult. But it requires coalitions. It requires cooperation. Most of all, it requires people realizing what their self-interest is. And as we Catholics say, these folks have had an epiphany. They’ve realized that they’d rather be in your orbit than in the orbit of Daesh and ISIS and terrorism, and al-Nusra, et cetera.
And so, if we’re lucky and smart and tenacious, over the next six months, year, eighteen months, we can actually make some real progress. But progress always requires taking a chance and that’s one of the things we’re going to discuss.
And so, I’m here in the region to discuss shared threats that we face and how to advance common security. That includes seeking resolutions to the crisis in Syria and our shared commitment to destroying ISIL. Bibi and I talked very, just a few moments ago. I doubt that you would have thought either of us, was saying as old friends, you know, it’s good we’re cooperating with Russia in Syria. Right? I mean, that would not have come out of either one of our mouths – at least mine – four or five years ago, but the truth is Russia has seen the Lord on some of these issues as well.
It also includes our efforts to ensure that Iran complies with its obligations under the nuclear deal and jointly address the remaining challenges Iran poses to the region. And I’m also back here in Israel to talk to Bibi about the great opportunities that exist in the region, especially new opportunities relating to energy. It’s funny that in the last five years the United States, North America, has become the epicenter of energy in the world. Well, guess what? Little old Israel is about to become the epicenter of energy in this entire region, and can have a profound, profound positive impact on relationships from Egypt to Turkey to Cyprus to Greece to Jordan. And it’s not easy getting there, but you have the tools now to be able to get there. And so, you know, the only way to assure, in my view, the future of a Jewish, democratic State of Israel – and by the way, that’s what in ’48 it called for, a Jewish state, okay? We should get over all of this. It was a Jewish state that was set up – is that the status quo has to break somewhere along the line here in terms of a two state solution. Even though it may be hard to see the way ahead, we continue encourage all sides to take steps to move back toward the path to peace – not easy – and for the sake of Israel, and I might add, for the sake of the Palestinians in the region. But the kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop. There can’t be, there cannot be unilateral steps to undermine trust. That only takes us further away, further and further away from an outcome we know in our hearts is the only fundamental outcome, the only outcome that is the ultimate guarantor.
So what I want, I urge everyone to work to restore the calm for the Israelis and you’re already trying it, Bibi, and the Palestinians alike to… so they can go about their daily lives without fear – easier said than done – so that the vision of two states and two people can endure.
Bibi, I want to thank you again for your partnership and at a more personal level for your personal friendship, and I look forward to the discussions we are going to have today with our teams. On a personal note, I want to say how much I’m looking forward to my young grandchildren seeing everything from Yad Vashem to the Wall, the things that are the stuff of which cultures are made. I want them to understand for themselves that the relationship between the United States and Israel is more than the relationship of two governments. It’s a bond between people, forged a link by successive generations and grounded in an abiding commitment to Israel’s security – a bond that can never be broken. It’s something that Bibi knows I take personally and I assure you, so does the President.
So for, as I said, we’ve known each other a long time. We’ll probably, you know… When we get together, our key staffs have heart attacks, because we’re supposed to be meeting with all of them and we get talking and we just leave them all behind. We leave everything for them to straighten out. But it’s the nature of the friendship and it’s the nature of the relationship, so I still think, Bibi, there’s a lot we can get done.”