Full Text Israel Political Brief December 28, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu statement in response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech attacking Israeli settlements Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Benjamin Netanyahu statement in response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech attacking Israeli settlements

Source: PMO, 12-28-16

 

הצהרת ראש הממשלה נתניהו

28/12/2016
יום רביעי כ”ח כסלו תשע”ז

הנאום של מזכיר המדינה ג’ון קרי הוא אכזבה גדולה.
הוא עוסק באופן אובססיבי בנושא ההתנחלויות בארץ ישראל, במקום לעסוק בשורש הסכסוך – הסירוב הפלסטיני העיקש, המתמשך, להכיר במדינה יהודית בגבולות כלשהם.

אני מוכרח להגיד לכם שאני הופתעתי.
זה מה שיש לשר החוץ של ארצות הברית, המעצמה הגדולה ביותר בתבל, זה מה שיש למזכיר המדינה להתמקד בו כאחד מהנאומים המסכמים, במשך שעה שלמה? המזרח התיכון כולו עולה בלהבות, מדינות שלמות קורסות, הטרור משתולל – ובמשך שעה שלמה מזכיר המדינה תוקף את הדמוקרטיה היחידה במזרח התיכון, ששומרת על היציבות במזרח התיכון, לא רק היציבות שלנו ושל אזרחינו, יהודים וערבים כאחד, אלא גם תורמת ליציבות ולביטחון באזורנו ולכמה וכמה משכנותינו.

אנחנו עכשיו בחג המולד, אולי מזכיר המדינה ג’ון קרי לא שם לב לכך שישראל היא המקום היחיד במזרח התיכון שבו נוצרים יכולים לחגוג את חג המולד בביטחון, בשלווה ובשמחה.
כל זה, לצערי, לא מעניין את מזכיר המדינה של ארצות הברית. הוא יוצר משוואה מוסרית מזויפת בין בניית בית בירושלים או בשכונותיה ובפרבריה, לבין טרור שמכה בחפים מפשע.
ואחרי שהוא יוצר את המשוואה, הוא מדבר כמעט אך ורק על הבית בירושלים, משלם מס שפתיים בלבד לגינוי הטרור.

אגב, בהחלטה של האו”ם שהוא יזם וקידם, שם בכלל מדברים על הסתה, אנונימית, לא יודעים של מי.
ההתנחלויות? זה ישראל.
הסתה? בשטח, לא יודעים של מי.
אני יכול רק להביע צער, כי לו היה הממשל משקיע במאבק בטרור הפלסטיני את אותן אנרגיות שהוא השקיע בגינוי הבנייה בירושלים, אולי היה סיכוי טוב יותר לקדם את השלום.

אני קיבלתי הערב מסר מהרב יהודה בן ישי, אביה של רותי פוגל זיכרונה לברכה, שנרצחה יחד עם משפחתה באיתמר.
הנה מה שהוא כותב לי, הוא אומר: “בימי חנוכה אלה, האור גובר על חושך. על ידך ועל ידי העם כולו המנורה, הסמל של מדינת ישראל, שוב מאירה למרחקים. מתוך אמונה בצור ישראל וגואלו נתגבר בעזרת השם על כל מכשול”.

Translation:

The speech of Secretary of State John Kerry is a big disappointment.
It deals obsessively on settlements in Israel, instead of dealing with the root of the conflict – the Palestinian refusal persistent, ongoing, recognize a Jewish state in any borders.

I must tell you that I was surprised.
This is what the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United States, the greatest power in the world, is what the Secretary of State to focus on one of the speeches summing up, for an hour? Middle East in flames, entire countries, terrorism rampant – and for an hour the secretary of state attacks the only democracy in the Middle East, which maintains stability in the Middle East, not only our stability and our citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, but also contributes to stability and security in the region and to several neighboring countries.

We are now at Christmas, perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry did not notice that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas in security, peace and joy.
All this, unfortunately, does not interest the Secretary of State of the United States. It creates a false moral equation between building a house in Jerusalem and its suburbs or neighborhoods, and terrorism strikes innocent people.
And after he makes the equation, he talks almost exclusively about the house in Jerusalem, pays only lip service to the condemnation of terrorism.

Incidentally, the decision of the United Nations that he initiated and promoted, where even talking about incitement, anonymous, did not know of any.
Settlement? It’s Israel.
Incitement? Area, do not know who.
I can only express regret that the government has been investing in the fight Palestinian terrorism the same energy he invested in condemning construction in Jerusalem, might have a better chance of promoting peace.

I received a message from Rabbi Yehuda evening Ben-Yishai, father of Ruth Fogel, of blessed memory, who was murdered along with her family in Itamar.
Here is what he wrote to me, he says: “day festival, light overcomes the darkness. By you and the entire nation Menorah, the symbol of the State of Israel, again shines far and wide. Believing the Rock of Israel and Savior will overcome with God’s help any obstacle.”

 

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Full Text Israel Political Brief December 28, 2016: Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the Middle East attacking Israeli settlements Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks on Middle East Peace

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
The Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
December 28, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Coughs.) Excuse me. Thank you for your patience, all of you. For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy Chanukah. And to everybody here, I know it’s the middle of a holiday week. I understand. (Laughter.) But I wish you all a very, very productive and Happy New Year.

Today, I want to share candid thoughts about an issue which for decades has animated the foreign policy dialogue here and around the world – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which, all of you know, I have worked on intensively during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region.

Now, I’d like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy, and provide some context for why we could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.

I’m also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act. And I want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve.

So it is vital that we have an honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices, because the alternative that is fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody’s interest – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the region – and not the United States.

Now, I want to stress that there is an important point here: My job, above all, is to defend the United States of America – to stand up for and defend our values and our interests in the world. And if we were to stand idly by and know that in doing so we are allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold which promises greater conflict and instability to a region in which we have vital interests, we would be derelict in our own responsibilities.

Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles – even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond today that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.

They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values – or even the stated democratic values of Israel – and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

And that’s the bottom line: the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.

In fact, this Administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy.

On this point, I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.

Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel’s back. We have strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting Israel in international fora, whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system. In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one-half of our entire global Foreign Military Financing goes to Israel. And this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the United States has provided to any country, at any time, and that will invest in cutting-edge missile defense and sustain Israel’s qualitative military edge for years to come. That’s the measure of our support.

This commitment to Israel’s security is actually very personal for me. On my first trip to Israel as a young senator in 1986, I was captivated by a special country, one that I immediately admired and soon grew to love. Over the years, like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, I have climbed Masada, swum in the Dead Sea, driven from one Biblical city to another. I’ve also seen the dark side of Hizballah’s rocket storage facilities just across the border in Lebanon, walked through exhibits of the hell of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, stood on the Golan Heights, and piloted an Israeli jet over the tiny airspace of Israel, which would make anyone understand the importance of security to Israelis. Out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28 years in the Senate or my four years as Secretary.

I have also often visited West Bank communities, where I met Palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation, passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal, and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits that they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care.

And I have witnessed firsthand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. I’ve seen Israeli children in Sderot whose playgrounds had been hit by Katyusha rockets. I’ve visited shelters next to schools in Kiryat Shmona that kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. I’ve also seen the devastation of war in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian girls in Izbet Abed Rabo played in the rubble of a bombed-out building.

No children – Israeli or Palestinian – should have to live like that.

So, despite the obvious difficulties that I understood when I became Secretary of State, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to help end this conflict. And I was grateful to be working for President Obama, who was prepared to take risks for peace and was deeply committed to that effort.

Like previous U.S. administrations, we have committed our influence and our resources to trying to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict because, yes, it would serve American interests to stabilize a volatile region and fulfill America’s commitment to the survival, security and well-being of an Israel at peace with its Arab neighbors.

Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.

The truth is that trends on the ground – violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation – they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

Today, there are a number – there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both – and it won’t ever really be at peace. Moreover, the Palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution.

Now, most on both sides understand this basic choice, and that is why it is important that polls of Israelis and Palestinians show that there is still strong support for the two-state solution – in theory. They just don’t believe that it can happen.

After decades of conflict, many no longer see the other side as people, only as threats and enemies. Both sides continue to push a narrative that plays to people’s fears and reinforces the worst stereotypes rather than working to change perceptions and build up belief in the possibility of peace.

And the truth is the extraordinary polarization in this conflict extends beyond Israelis and Palestinians. Allies of both sides are content to reinforce this with an us or – “you’re with us or against us” mentality where too often anyone who questions Palestinian actions is an apologist for the occupation and anyone who disagrees with Israel policy is cast as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.

That’s one of the most striking realties about the current situation: This critical decision about the future – one state or two states – is effectively being made on the ground every single day, despite the expressed opinion of the majority of the people.

The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation, but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope that anything can be done to change it. And with this passive resignation, the problem only gets worse, the risks get greater and the choices are narrowed.

This sense of hopelessness among Israelis is exacerbated by the continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement, which are destroying belief in the possibility of peace.

Let me say it again: There is absolutely no justification for terrorism, and there never will be.

And the most recent wave of Palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year, including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks and bombings, many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media. Yet the murderers of innocents are still glorified on Fatah websites, including showing attackers next to Palestinian leaders following attacks. And despite statements by President Abbas and his party’s leaders making clear their opposition to violence, too often they send a different message by failing to condemn specific terrorist attacks and naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists.

President Obama and I have made it clear to the Palestinian leadership countless times, publicly and privately, that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned violence and terrorism, and even condemned the Palestinian leadership for not condemning it.

Far too often, the Palestinians have pursued efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora. We have strongly opposed these initiatives, including the recent wholly unbalanced and inflammatory UNESCO resolution regarding Jerusalem. And we have made clear our strong opposition to Palestinian efforts against Israel at the ICC, which only sets back the prospects for peace.

And we all understand that the Palestinian Authority has a lot more to do to strengthen its institutions and improve governance.

Most troubling of all, Hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda: they refuse to accept Israel’s very right to exist. They have a one-state vision of their own: all of the land is Palestine. Hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forms of incitement to violence, and many of the images that they use are truly appalling. And they are willing to kill innocents in Israel and put the people of Gaza at risk in order to advance that agenda.

Compounding this, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, exacerbated by the closings of the crossings, is dire. Gaza is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of people enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities. 1.3 million people out of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance – food and shelter. Most have electricity less than half the time and only 5 percent of the water is safe to drink. And yet despite the urgency of these needs, Hamas and other militant groups continue to re-arm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening more attacks on Israeli civilians that no government can tolerate.

Now, at the same time, we have to be clear about what is happening in the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. The result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history,” are leading in the opposite direction. They’re leading towards one state. In fact, Israel has increasingly consolidated control over much of the West Bank for its own purposes, effectively reversing the transitions to greater Palestinian civil authority that were called for by the Oslo Accords.

I don’t think most people in Israel, and certainly in the world, have any idea how broad and systematic the process has become. But the facts speak for themselves. The number of settlers in the roughly 130 Israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. The settler population in the West Bank alone, not including East Jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since Oslo, including 100,000 just since 2009, when President Obama’s term began.

There’s no point in pretending that these are just in large settlement blocks. Nearly 90,000 settlers are living east of the separation barrier that was created by Israel itself in the middle of what, by any reasonable definition, would be the future Palestinian state. And the population of these distant settlements has grown by 20,000 just since 2009. In fact, just recently the government approved a significant new settlement well east of the barrier, closer to Jordan than to Israel. What does that say to Palestinians in particular – but also to the United States and the world – about Israel’s intentions?

Let me emphasize, this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict. Of course they are not. Nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly removed, you’d have peace. Without a broader agreement, you would not. And we understand that in a final status agreement, certain settlements would become part of Israel to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 49 years – we understand that – including the new democratic demographic realities that exist on the ground. They would have to be factored in. But if more and more settlers are moving into the middle of Palestinian areas, it’s going to be just that much harder to separate, that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty, and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating.

Let’s be clear: Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel’s security. Many settlements actually increase the security burden on the Israeli Defense Forces. And leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations.

Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They’re often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible. There are over 100 of these outposts. And since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized, despite pledges by past Israeli governments to dismantle many of them.

Now leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of those outposts. For the first time, it would apply Israeli domestic law to the West Bank rather than military law, which is a major step towards the process of annexation. When the law passed the first reading in the Israeli parliament, in the Knesset, one of the chief proponents said proudly – and I quote – “Today, the Israeli Knesset moved from heading towards establishing a Palestinian state towards Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.” Even the Israeli attorney general has said that the draft law is unconstitutional and a violation of international law.

Now, you may hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers who don’t want to leave can just stay in Palestine, like the Arab Israelis who live in Israel. But that misses a critical point, my friends. The Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel, subject to Israel’s law. Does anyone here really believe that the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine?

Likewise, some supporters of the settlements argue that the settlers could just stay in their settlements and remain as Israeli citizens in their separate enclaves in the middle of Palestine, protected by the IDF. Well, there are over 80 settlements east of the separation barrier, many located in places that would make a continuous – a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Does anyone seriously think that if they just stay where they are you could still have a viable Palestinian state?

Now, some have asked, “Why can’t we build in the blocs which everyone knows will eventually be part of Israel?” Well, the reason building there or anywhere else in the West Bank now results in such pushback is that the decision of what constitutes a bloc is being made unilaterally by the Israeli Government, without consultation, without the consent of the Palestinians, and without granting the Palestinians a reciprocal right to build in what will be, by most accounts, part of Palestine. Bottom line – without agreement or mutuality, the unilateral choices become a major point of contention, and that is part of why we are here where we are.

You may hear that these remote settlements aren’t a problem because they only take up a very small percentage of the land. Well, again and again we have made it clear, it’s not just a question of the overall amount of land available in the West Bank. It’s whether the land can be connected or it’s broken up into small parcels, like a Swiss cheese, that could never constitute a real state. The more outposts that are built, the more the settlements expand, the less possible it is to create a contiguous state. So in the end, a settlement is not just the land that it’s on, it’s also what the location does to the movement of people, what it does to the ability of a road to connect people, one community to another, what it does to the sense of statehood that is chipped away with each new construction. No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace.

But the problem, obviously, goes well beyond settlements. Trends indicate a comprehensive effort to take the West Bank land for Israel and prevent any Palestinian development there. Today, the 60 percent of the West Bank known as Area C – much of which was supposed to be transferred to Palestinian control long ago under the Oslo Accords – much of it is effectively off limits to Palestinian development. Most today has essentially been taken for exclusive use by Israel simply by unilaterally designating it as “state land” or including it within the jurisdiction of regional settlement councils. Israeli farms flourish in the Jordan River Valley, and Israeli resorts line the shores of the Dead Sea – a lot of people don’t realize this – they line the shore of the Dead Sea, where Palestinian development is not allowed. In fact, almost no private Palestinian building is approved in Area C at all. Only one permit was issued by Israel in all of 2014 and 2015, while approvals for hundreds of settlement units were advanced during that same period.

Moreover, Palestinian structures in Area C that do not have a permit from the Israeli military are potentially subject to demolition. And they are currently being demolished at an historically high rate. Over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 600 children, have been displaced by demolitions in 2016 alone – more than any previous year.

So the settler agenda is defining the future of Israel. And their stated purpose is clear. They believe in one state: greater Israel. In fact, one prominent minister, who heads a pro-settler party, declared just after the U.S. election – and I quote – “the era of the two-state solution is over,” end quote. And many other coalition ministers publicly reject a Palestinian state. And they are increasingly getting their way, with plans for hundreds of new units in East Jerusalem recently announced and talk of a major new settlement building effort in the West Bank to follow.

So why are we so concerned? Why does this matter? Well, ask yourself these questions: What happens if that agenda succeeds? Where does that lead?

There are currently about 2.75 million Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, most of them in Areas A and B – 40 percent of the West Bank – where they have limited autonomy. They are restricted in their daily movements by a web of checkpoints and unable to travel into or out of the West Bank without a permit from the Israelis.

So if there is only one state, you would have millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank, with no real political rights, separate legal, education, and transportation systems, vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms. Separate and unequal is what you would have. And nobody can explain how that works. Would an Israeli accept living that way? Would an American accept living that way? Will the world accept it?

If the occupation becomes permanent, over the time the Palestinian Authority could simply dissolve, turn over all the administrative and security responsibilities to the Israelis. What would happen then? Who would administer the schools and hospitals and on what basis? Does Israel want to pay for the billions of dollars of lost international assistance that the Palestinian Authority now receives? Would the Israel Defense Force police the streets of every single Palestinian city and town?

How would Israel respond to a growing civil rights movement from Palestinians, demanding a right to vote, or widespread protests and unrest across the West Bank? How does Israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? How does the U.S. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals?

Nobody has ever provided good answers to those questions because there aren’t any. And there would be an increasing risk of more intense violence between Palestinians and settlers, and complete despair among Palestinians that would create very fertile ground for extremists.

With all the external threats that Israel faces today, which we are very cognizant of and working with them to deal with, does it really want an intensifying conflict in the West Bank? How does that help Israel’s security? How does that help the region?

The answer is it doesn’t, which is precisely why so many senior Israeli military and intelligence leaders, past and present, believe the two-state solution is the only real answer for Israel’s long term security.

Now, one thing we do know: if Israel goes down the one state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the Arab world, and I can say that with certainty. The Arab countries have made clear that they will not make peace with Israel without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s not where their loyalties lie. That’s not where their politics are.

But there is something new here. Common interests in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities, and fighting extremists, as well as diversifying their economies have created real possibilities for something different is Israel takes advantage of the opportunities for peace. I have spent a great deal of time with key Arab leaders exploring this, and there is no doubt that they are prepared to have a fundamentally different relationship with Israel. That was stated in the Arab Peace Initiative, years ago. And in all my recent conversations, Arab leaders have confirmed their readiness, in the context of Israeli-Palestinian peace, not just to normalize relations but to work openly on securing that peace with significant regional security cooperation. It’s waiting. It’s right there.

Many have shown a willingness to support serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and to take steps on the path to normalization to relations, including public meetings, providing there is a meaningful progress towards a two-state solution. My friends, that is a real opportunity that we should not allow to be missed.

And that raises one final question: Is ours the generation that gives up on the dream of a Jewish democratic state of Israel living in peace and security with its neighbors? Because that is really what is at stake.

Now, that is what informed our vote at the Security Council last week – the need to preserve the two-state solution – and both sides in this conflict must take responsibility to do that. We have repeatedly and emphatically stressed to the Palestinians that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned all violence and terrorism, and we have strongly opposed unilateral efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora.

We’ve made countless public and private exhortations to the Israelis to stop the march of settlements. In literally hundreds of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I have made clear that continued settlement activity would only increase pressure for an international response. We have all known for some time that the Palestinians were intent on moving forward in the UN with a settlements resolution, and I advised the prime minister repeatedly that further settlement activity only invited UN action.

Yet the settlement activity just increased, including advancing the unprecedented legislation to legalize settler outposts that the prime minister himself reportedly warned could expose Israel to action at the Security Council and even international prosecution before deciding to support it.

In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interest to help anyone on either side create a unitary state. And we may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them. And it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies.

That is why we decided not to block the UN resolution that makes clear both sides have to take steps to save the two-state solution while there is still time. And we did not take this decision lightly. The Obama Administration has always defended Israel against any effort at the UN and any international fora or biased and one-sided resolutions that seek to undermine its legitimacy or security, and that has not changed. It didn’t change with this vote.

But remember it’s important to note that every United States administration, Republican and Democratic, has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace, and action at the UN Security Council is far from unprecedented. In fact, previous administrations of both political parties have allowed resolutions that were critical of Israel to pass, including on settlements. On dozens of occasions under George W. Bush alone, the council passed six resolutions that Israel opposed, including one that endorsed a plan calling for a complete freeze on settlements, including natural growth.

Let me read you the lead paragraph from a New York Times story dated December 23rd. I quote: “With the United States abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring Israel’s handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories, which the resolution defined as, including Jerusalem. All of the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor.” My friends, that story was not written last week. It was written December 23rd, 1987, 26 years to the day that we voted last week, when Ronald Reagan was president.

Yet despite growing pressure, the Obama Administration held a strong line against UN action, any UN action, we were the only administration since 1967 that had not allowed any resolution to pass that Israel opposed. In fact, the only time in eight years the Obama Administration exercised its veto at the United Nations was against a one-sided settlements resolution in 2011. And that resolution did not mention incitement or violence.

Now let’s look at what’s happened since then. Since then, there have been over 30,000 settlement units advanced through some stage of the planning process. That’s right – over 30,000 settlement units advanced notwithstanding the positions of the United States and other countries. And if we had vetoed this resolution just the other day, the United States would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose.

So we reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel. On the contrary, it is not this resolution that is isolating Israel; it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. And virtually every country in the world other than Israel opposes settlements. That includes many of the friends of Israel, including the United Kingdom, France, Russia – all of whom voted in favor of the settlements resolution in 2011 that we vetoed, and again this year along with every other member of the council.

In fact, this resolution simply reaffirms statements made by the Security Council on the legality of settlements over several decades. It does not break new ground. In 1978, the State Department Legal Adviser advised the Congress on his conclusion that Israel’s government, the Israeli Government’s program of establishing civilian settlements in the occupied territory is inconsistent with international law, and we see no change since then to affect that fundamental conclusion.

Now, you may have heard that some criticized this resolution for calling East Jerusalem occupied territory. But to be clear, there was absolutely nothing new in last week’s resolution on that issue. It was one of a long line of Security Council resolutions that included East Jerusalem as part of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, and that includes resolutions passed by the Security Council under President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. And remember that every U.S. administration since 1967, along with the entire international community, has recognized East Jerusalem as among the territories that Israel occupied in the Six-Day War.

Now, I want to stress this point: We fully respect Israel’s profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We’ve never questioned that. This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations on East Jerusalem, which must, of course, reflect those historic ties and the realities on the ground. That’s our position. We still support it.

We also strongly reject the notion that somehow the United States was the driving force behind this resolution. The Egyptians and Palestinians had long made clear to all of us – to all of the international community – their intention to bring a resolution to a vote before the end of the year, and we communicated that to the Israelis and they knew it anyway. The United States did not draft or originate this resolution, nor did we put it forward. It was drafted by Egypt – it was drafted and I think introduced by Egypt, which is one of Israel’s closest friends in the region, in coordination with the Palestinians and others.

And during the time of the process as it went out, we made clear to others, including those on the Security Council, that it was possible that if the resolution were to be balanced and it were to include references to incitement and to terrorism, that it was possible the United States would then not block it, that – if it was balanced and fair. That’s a standard practice with resolutions at the Security Council. The Egyptians and the Palestinians and many others understood that if the text were more balanced, it was possible we wouldn’t block it. But we also made crystal clear that the President of the United States would not make a final decision about our own position until we saw the final text.

In the end, we did not agree with every word in this resolution. There are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed or even addressed at all. But we could not in good conscience veto a resolution that condemns violence and incitement and reiterates what has been for a long time the overwhelming consensus and international view on settlements and calls for the parties to start taking constructive steps to advance the two-state solution on the ground.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Israeli people to decide whether the unusually heated attacks that Israeli officials have directed towards this Administration best serve Israel’s national interests and its relationship with an ally that has been steadfast in its support, as I described. Those attacks, alongside allegations of U.S.-led conspiracy and other manufactured claims, distract attention from what the substance of this vote was really all about.

And we all understand that Israel faces very serious threats in a very tough neighborhood. Israelis are rightfully concerned about making sure that there is not a new terrorist haven right next door to them, often referencing what’s happened with Gaza, and we understand that and we believe there are ways to meet those needs of security. And Israelis are fully justified in decrying attempts to legitimize[1] their state and question the right of a Jewish state to exist. But this vote was not about that. It was about actions that Israelis and Palestinians are taking that are increasingly rendering a two-state solution impossible. It was not about making peace with the Palestinians now – it was about making sure that peace with the Palestinians will be possible in the future.

Now, we all understand that Israel faces extraordinary, serious threats in a very tough neighborhood. And Israelis are very correct in making sure that there’s not a terrorist haven right on their border.

But this vote – I can’t emphasize enough – is not about the possibility of arriving at an agreement that’s going to resolve that overnight or in one year or two years. This is about a longer process. This is about how we make peace with the Palestinians in the future but preserve the capacity to do so.

So how do we get there? How do we get there, to that peace?

Since the parties have not yet been able to resume talks, the U.S. and the Middle East Quartet have repeatedly called on both sides to independently demonstrate a genuine commitment to the two-state solution – not just with words, but with real actions and policies – to create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

We’ve called for both sides to take significant steps on the ground to reverse current trends and send a different message – a clear message – that they are prepared to fundamentally change the equation without waiting for the other side to act.

We have pushed them to comply with their basic commitments under their own prior agreements in order to advance a two-state reality on the ground.

We have called for the Palestinians to do everything in their power to stop violence and incitement, including publicly and consistently condemning acts of terrorism and stopping the glorification of violence.

And we have called on them to continue efforts to strengthen their own institutions and to improve governance, transparency, and accountability.

And we have stressed that the Hamas arms buildup and militant activities in Gaza must stop.

Along with our Quartet partners, we have called on Israel to end the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of taking land for exclusive Israeli use and denying Palestinian development.

To reverse the current process, the U.S. and our partners have encouraged Israel to resume the transfer of greater civil authority to the Palestinians in Area C, consistent with the transition that was called for by Oslo. And we have made clear that significant progress across a range of sectors, including housing, agriculture, and natural resources, can be made without negatively impacting Israel’s legitimate security needs. And we’ve called for significantly easing the movement and access restrictions to and from Gaza, with due consideration for Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks.

So let me stress here again: None of the steps that I just talked about would negatively impact Israel’s security.

Let me also emphasize this is not about offering limited economic measures that perpetuate the status quo. We’re talking about significant steps that would signal real progress towards creating two states.

That’s the bottom line: If we’re serious about the two-state solution, it’s time to start implementing it now. Advancing the process of separation now, in a serious way, could make a significant difference in saving the two-state solution and in building confidence in the citizens of both sides that peace is, indeed, possible. And much progress can be made in advance of negotiations that can lay the foundation for negotiations, as contemplated by the Oslo process. In fact, these steps will help create the conditions for successful talks.

Now, in the end, we all understand that a final status agreement can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. We’ve said that again and again. We cannot impose the peace.

There are other countries in the UN who believe it is our job to dictate the terms of a solution in the Security Council. Others want us to simply recognize a Palestinian state, absent an agreement. But I want to make clear today, these are not the choices that we will make.

We choose instead to draw on the experiences of the last eight years, to provide a way forward when the parties are ready for serious negotiations. In a place where the narratives from the past powerfully inform and mold the present, it’s important to understand the history. We mark this year and next a series of milestones that I believe both illustrate the two sides of the conflict and form the basis for its resolution. It’s worth touching on them briefly.

A hundred and twenty years ago, the First Zionist Congress was convened in Basel by a group of Jewish visionaries, who decided that the only effective response to the waves of anti-Semitic horrors sweeping across Europe was to create a state in the historic home of the Jewish people, where their ties to the land went back centuries – a state that could defend its borders, protect its people, and live in peace with its neighbors. That was the vision. That was the modern beginning, and it remains the dream of Israel today.

Nearly 70 years ago, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 finally paved the way to making the State of Israel a reality. The concept was simple: to create two states for two peoples – one Jewish, one Arab – to realize the national aspirations of both Jews and Palestinians. And both Israel and the PLO referenced Resolution 181 in their respective declarations of independence.

The United States recognized Israel seven minutes after its creation. But the Palestinians and the Arab world did not, and from its birth, Israel had to fight for its life. Palestinians also suffered terribly in the 1948 war, including many who had lived for generations in a land that had long been their home too. And when Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2018, the Palestinians will mark a very different anniversary: 70 years since what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe.

Next year will also mark 50 years since the end of the Six-Day War, when Israel again fought for its survival. And Palestinians will again mark just the opposite: 50 years of military occupation. Both sides have accepted UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for the withdrawal of Israel from territory that it occupied in 1967 in return for peace and secure borders, as the basis for ending the conflict.

It has been more than 20 years since Israel and the PLO signed their first agreement – the Oslo Accords – and the PLO formally recognized Israel. Both sides committed to a plan to transition much of the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian control during permanent status negotiations that would put an end to their conflict. Unfortunately, neither the transition nor the final agreement came about, and both sides bear responsibility for that.

Finally, some 15 years ago, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia came out with the historic Arab Peace Initiative, which offered fully normalized relations with Israel when it made peace – an enormous opportunity then and now, which has never been fully been embraced.

That history was critical to our approach to trying to find a way to resolve the conflict. And based on my experience with both sides over the last four years, including the nine months of formal negotiations, the core issues can be resolved if there is leadership on both sides committed to finding a solution.

In the end, I believe the negotiations did not fail because the gaps were too wide, but because the level of trust was too low. Both sides were concerned that any concessions would not be reciprocated and would come at too great a political cost. And the deep public skepticism only made it more difficult for them to be able to take risks.

In the countless hours that we spent working on a detailed framework, we worked through numerous formulations and developed specific bridging proposals, and we came away with a clear understanding of the fundamental needs of both sides. In the past two and a half years, I have tested ideas with regional and international stakeholders, including our Quartet partners. And I believe what has emerged from all of that is a broad consensus on balanced principles that would satisfy the core needs of both sides.

President Clinton deserves great credit for laying out extensive parameters designed to bridge gaps in advanced final status negotiations 16 years ago. Today, with mistrust too high to even start talks, we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum. Neither side is willing to even risk acknowledging the other’s bottom line, and more negotiations that do not produce progress will only reinforce the worst fears.

Now, everyone understands that negotiations would be complex and difficult, and nobody can be expected to agree on the final result in advance. But if the parties could at least demonstrate that they understand the other side’s most basic needs – and are potentially willing to meet them if theirs are also met at the end of comprehensive negotiations – perhaps then enough trust could be established to enable a meaningful process to begin.

It is in that spirit that we offer the following principles – not to prejudge or impose an outcome, but to provide a possible basis for serious negotiations when the parties are ready. Now, individual countries may have more detailed policies on these issues – as we do, by the way – but I believe there is a broad consensus that a final status agreement that could meet the needs of both sides would do the following.

Principle number one: Provide for secure and recognized international borders between Israel and a viable and contiguous Palestine, negotiated based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed equivalent swaps.

Resolution 242, which has been enshrined in international law for 50 years, provides for the withdrawal of Israel from territory it occupied in 1967 in return for peace with its neighbors and secure and recognized borders. It has long been accepted by both sides, and it remains the basis for an agreement today.

As Secretary, one of the first issues that I worked out with the Arab League was their agreement that the reference in the Arab Peace Initiative to the 1967 lines would from now on include the concept of land swaps, which the Palestinians have acknowledged. And this is necessary to reflect practical realities on the ground, and mutually agreed equivalent swaps that will ensure that the agreement is fair to both sides.

There is also broad recognition of Israel’s need to ensure that the borders are secure and defensible, and that the territory of Palestine is viable and contiguous. Virtually everyone that I have spoken to has been clear on this principle as well: No changes by Israel to the 1967 lines will be recognized by the international community unless agreed to by both sides.

Principle two: Fulfill the vision of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of two states for two peoples, one Jewish and one Arab, with mutual recognition and full equal rights for all their respective citizens.

This has been the fundamental – the foundational principle of the two-state solution from the beginning: creating a state for the Jewish people and a state for the Palestinian people, where each can achieve their national aspirations. And Resolution 181 is incorporated into the foundational documents of both the Israelis and Palestinians. Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has been the U.S. position for years, and based on my conversations in these last months, I am absolutely convinced that many others are now prepared to accept it as well – provided the need for a Palestinian state is also addressed.

We also know that there are some 1.7 million Arab citizens who call Israel their home and must now and always be able to live as equal citizens, which makes this a difficult issue for Palestinians and others in the Arab world. That’s why it is so important that in recognizing each other’s homeland – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinian people – both sides reaffirm their commitment to upholding full equal rights for all of their respective citizens.

Principle number three: Provide for a just, agreed, fair, and realistic solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, with international assistance, that includes compensation, options and assistance in finding permanent homes, acknowledgment of suffering, and other measures necessary for a comprehensive resolution consistent with two states for two peoples.

The plight of many Palestinian refugees is heartbreaking, and all agree that their needs have to be addressed. As part of a comprehensive resolution, they must be provided with compensation, their suffering must be acknowledged, and there will be a need to have options and assistance in finding permanent homes. The international community can provide significant support and assistance. I know we are prepared to do that, including in raising money to help ensure the compensation and other needs of the refugees are met, and many have expressed a willingness to contribute to that effort, particularly if it brings peace. But there is a general recognition that the solution must be consistent with two states for two peoples, and cannot affect the fundamental character of Israel.

Principle four: Provide an agreed resolution for Jerusalem as the internationally recognized capital of the two states, and protect and assure freedom of access to the holy sites consistent with the established status quo.

Now, Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue for both sides, and the solution will have to meet the needs not only of the parties, but of all three monotheistic faiths. That is why the holy sites that are sacred to billions of people around the world must be protected and remain accessible and the established status quo maintained. Most acknowledge that Jerusalem should not be divided again like it was in 1967, and we believe that. At the same time, there is broad recognition that there will be no peace agreement without reconciling the basic aspirations of both sides to have capitals there.

Principle five: Satisfy Israel’s security needs and bring a full end, ultimately, to the occupation, while ensuring that Israel can defend itself effectively and that Palestine can provide security for its people in a sovereign and non-militarized state.

Security is the fundamental issue for Israel together with a couple of others I’ve mentioned, but security is critical. Everyone understands that no Israeli Government can ever accept an agreement that does not satisfy its security needs or that risk creating an enduring security threat like Gaza transferred to the West Bank. And Israel must be able to defend itself effectively, including against terrorism and other regional threats. In fact, there is a real willingness by Egypt, Jordan, and others to work together with Israel on meeting key security challenges. And I believe that those collective efforts, including close coordination on border security, intelligence-sharing, joint cooperations – joint operation, can all play a critical role in securing the peace.

At the same time, fully ending the occupation is the fundamental issue for the Palestinians. They need to know that the military occupation itself will really end after an agreed transitional process. They need to know they can live in freedom and dignity in a sovereign state while providing security for their population even without a military of their own. This is widely accepted as well. And it is important to understand there are many different ways without occupation for Israel and Palestine and Jordan and Egypt and the United States and others to cooperate in providing that security.

Now, balancing those requirements was among the most important challenges that we faced in the negotiations, but it was one where the United States has the ability to provide the most assistance. And that is why a team that was led by General John Allen, who is here, for whom I am very grateful for his many hours of effort, along with – he is one of our foremost military minds, and dozens of experts from the Department of Defense and other agencies, all of them engaged extensively with the Israeli Defense Force on trying to find solutions that could help Israel address its legitimate security needs.

They developed innovative approaches to creating unprecedented, multi-layered border security; enhancing Palestinian capacity; enabling Israel to retain the ability to address threats by itself even when the occupation had ended. General Allen and his team were not suggesting one particular outcome or one particular timeline, nor were they suggesting that technology alone would resolve these problems. They were simply working on ways to support whatever the negotiators agreed to. And they did some very impressive work that gives me total confidence that Israel’s security requirements can be met.

Principle six: End the conflict and all outstanding claims, enabling normalized relations and enhanced regional security for all as envisaged by the Arab Peace Initiative. It is essential for both sides that the final status agreement resolves all the outstanding issues and finally brings closure to this conflict, so that everyone can move ahead to a new era of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. For Israel, this must also bring broader peace with all of its Arab neighbors. That is the fundamental promise of the Arab Peace Initiative, which key Arab leaders have affirmed in these most recent days.

The Arab Peace Initiative also envisions enhanced security for all of the region. It envisages Israel being a partner in those efforts when peace is made. This is the area where Israel and the Arab world are looking at perhaps the greatest moment of potential transformation in the Middle East since Israel’s creation in 1948. The Arab world faces its own set of security challenges. With Israeli-Palestinian peace, Israel, the United States, Jordan, Egypt – together with the GCC countries – would be ready and willing to define a new security partnership for the region that would be absolutely groundbreaking.

So ladies and gentlemen, that’s why it is vital that we all work to keep open the possibility of peace, that we not lose hope in the two-state solution, no matter how difficult it may seem – because there really is no viable alternative.

Now, we all know that a speech alone won’t produce peace. But based on over 30 years of experience and the lessons from the past 4 years, I have suggested, I believe, and President Obama has signed on to and believes in a path that the parties could take: realistic steps on the ground now, consistent with the parties’ own prior commitments, that will begin the process of separating into two states; a political horizon to work towards to create the conditions for a successful final status talk; and a basis for negotiations that the parties could accept to demonstrate that they are serious about making peace.

We can only encourage them to take this path; we cannot walk down it for them. But if they take these steps, peace would bring extraordinary benefits in enhancing the security and the stability and the prosperity of Israelis, Palestinians, all of the nations of the region. The Palestinian economy has amazing potential in the context of independence, with major private sector investment possibilities and a talented, hungry, eager-to-work young workforce. Israel’s economy could enjoy unprecedented growth as it becomes a regional economic powerhouse, taking advantage of the unparalleled culture of innovation and trading opportunities with new Arab partners. Meanwhile, security challenges could be addressed by an entirely new security arrangement, in which Israel cooperates openly with key Arab states. That is the future that everybody should be working for.

President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from the longstanding U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem, and the possibility of a two-state solution. That is for them to decide. That’s how we work. But we cannot – in good conscience – do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away.

This is a time to stand up for what is right. We have long known what two states living side by side in peace and security looks like. We should not be afraid to say so.

Now, I really began to reflect on what we have learned – and the way ahead – when I recently joined President Obama in Jerusalem for the state funeral for Shimon Peres. Shimon was one of the founding fathers of Israel who became one of the world’s great elder statesmen – a beautiful man. I was proud to call him my friend, and I know that President Obama was as well.

And I remembered the first time that I saw Shimon in person – standing on the White House lawn for the signing the historic Oslo Accords. And I thought about the last time, at an intimate one-on-one Shabbat dinner just a few months before he died, when we toasted together to the future of Israel and to the peace that he still so passionately believed in for his people.

He summed it up simply and eloquently, as only Shimon could, quote, “The original mandate gave the Palestinians 48 percent, now it’s down to 22 percent. I think 78 percent is enough for us.”

As we laid Shimon to rest that day, many of us couldn’t help but wonder if peace between Israelis and Palestinians might also be buried along with one of its most eloquent champions. We cannot let that happen. There is simply too much at stake – for future generations of Israelis and Palestinians – to give in to pessimism, especially when peace is, in fact, still possible.

We must not lose hope in the possibility of peace. We must not give in to those who say what is now must always be, that there is no chance for a better future. It is up to Israelis and Palestinians to make the difficult choices for peace, but we can all help. And for the sake of future generations of Israelis and Palestinians, for all the people of the region, for the United States, for all those around the world who have prayed for and worked for peace for generations, let’s hope that we are all prepared – and particularly Israelis and Palestinians – to make those choices now.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 25, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on US Abstaining on UN Security Council Resolution 2334

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting  25/12/2016

Source: PMO,  12-25-16


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, made the following remarks:
[Translated from Hebrew]
“I share ministers’ feelings, anger and frustration vis-à-vis the unbalanced resolution that is very hostile to the State of Israel, and which the [UN] Security Council passed in an unworthy manner. From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed. This is, of course, in complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement, like any issue related to them in the Security Council, and, of course, the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps.
We will do whatever is necessary so that Israel will not be damaged by this shameful resolution and I also tell the ministers here, we must act prudently, responsibly and calmly, in both actions and words. I ask ministers to act responsibly as per the directives that will be given today at the Security Cabinet meeting immediately following this meeting. I have also asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare an action plan regarding the UN and other international elements, which will be submitted to the Security Cabinet within one month. Until then, of course, we will consider our steps.”
[English]
“Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue. We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace further away.

And, as I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council. I’m encouraged by the statements of our friends in the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike. They understand how reckless and destructive this UN resolution was, they understand that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory.
I look forward to working with those friends and with the new administration when it takes office next month. And I take this opportunity to wish Israel’s Christian citizens and our Christian friends around the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 23, 2016: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s Full Speech at the Security Council after the passage of UNSC Resolution 2334 Transcript

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U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s Full Speech at the Security Council

Source: Haaretz, 12-23-16

The full text of Samantha Power’s address to the Security Council concerning the resolution against Israeli settlements.

The full text of Samantha Power’s address to the United Nations Security Council concerning the resolution against Israeli settlements, on Dec 23rd 2016
Thank you, Mr. President.

Let me begin with a quote: “The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements during the transitional period. Indeed, the immediate adoption of a settlement freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.”

This was said in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan. He was speaking about a new proposal that he was launching to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While ultimately, of course, President Reagan’s proposal was not realized, his words are still illuminating in at least two respects.
First, because they underscore the United States’ deep and long-standing commitment to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. That has been the policy of every administration, Republican and Democrat, since before President Reagan and all the way through to the present day.

Second, because President Reagan’s words highlight the United States’ long-standing position that Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 undermines Israel’s security, harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome, and erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region. Today, the Security Council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity. The United States has been sending the message that the settlements must stop – privately and publicly – for nearly five decades, through the administrations of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama. Indeed, since 1967, the only president who had not had at least one Israeli-Palestinian-related Security Council resolution pass during his tenure is Barack Obama. So our vote today is fully in line with the bipartisan history of how American Presidents have approached both the issue – and the role of this body.

Given the consistency of this position across U.S. administrations, one would think that it would be a routine vote for the U.S. to allow the passage of a resolution with the elements in this one, reaffirming the long-standing U.S. position on settlements, condemning violence and incitement, and calling for the parties to start taking constructive steps to reverse current trends on the ground. These are familiar, well-articulated components of U.S. policy.

But in reality this vote for us was not straightforward, because of where it is taking place – at the United Nations. For the simple truth is that for as long as Israel has been a member of this institution, Israel has been treated differently from other nations at the United Nations. And not only in decades past – such as in the infamous resolution that the General Assembly adopted in 1975, with the support of the majority of Member States, officially determining that, “Zionism is a form of racism” – but also in 2016, this year. One need only look at the 18 resolutions against Israel adopted during the UN General Assembly in September; or the 12 Israel-specific resolutions adopted this year in the Human Rights Council – more than those focused on Syria, North Korea, Iran, and South Sudan put together – to see that in 2016 Israel continues to be treated differently from other Member States.

Like U.S. administrations before it, the Obama Administration has worked tirelessly to fight for Israel’s right simply to be treated just like any other country – from advocating for Israel to finally be granted membership to a UN regional body, something no other UN Member State had been denied; to fighting to ensure that Israeli NGOs are not denied UN accreditation, simply because they are Israeli, to getting Yom Kippur finally recognized as a UN holiday; to pressing this Council to break its indefensible silence in response to terrorist attacks on Israelis. As the United States has said repeatedly, such unequal treatment not only hurts Israel, it undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations itself.

The practice of treating Israel differently at the UN matters for votes like this one. For even if one believes that the resolution proposed today is justified – or, even more, necessitated – by events on the ground, one cannot completely separate the vote from the venue.

And Member States that say they are for the two-state solution must ask themselves some difficult questions. For those states that are quick to promote resolutions condemning Israel, but refuse to recognize when innocent Israelis are the victims of terrorism – what steps will you take to stop treating Israel differently? For those states that passionately denounce the closures of crossings in Gaza as exacerbating the humanitarian situation, but saying nothing of the resources diverted from helping Gaza’s residents to dig tunnels into Israeli territory so that terrorists can attack Israelis in their homes – what will you do to end the double-standard that undermines the legitimacy of this institution?

Member States should also ask themselves about the double standards when it comes to this Council taking action. Just this morning we came together, as a Council, and we were unable to muster the will to act to stop the flow of weapons going to killers in South Sudan, who are perpetrating mass atrocities that the UN has said could lead to genocide. We couldn’t come together just to stem the flow of arms. Earlier this month, this Council could not muster the will to adopt the simplest of resolutions calling for a seven-day pause in the savage bombardment of innocent civilians, hospitals, and schools in Aleppo. Yet when a resolution on Israel comes before this Council, members suddenly summon the will to act.

It is because this forum too often continues to be biased against Israel; because there are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution; and because the United States does not agree with every word in this text, that the United States did not vote in favor of the resolution. But it is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground – and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic administration throughout the history of the State of Israel – that the United States did not veto it.

The United States has consistently said we would block any resolution that we thought would undermine Israel’s security or seek to impose a resolution to the conflict. We would not have let this resolution pass had it not also addressed counterproductive actions by the Palestinians such as terrorism and incitement to violence, which we’ve repeatedly condemned and repeatedly raised with the Palestinian leadership, and which, of course, must be stopped.

Unlike some on the UN Security Council, we do not believe that outside parties can impose a solution that has not been negotiated by the two parties. Nor can we unilaterally recognize a future Palestinian state. But it is precisely our commitment to Israel’s security that makes the United States believe that we cannot stand in the way of this resolution as we seek to preserve a chance of attaining our long-standing objective: two states living side-by-side in peace and security. Let me briefly explain why.

The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the very viability of that two-state solution. The number of settlers in the roughly 150 authorized Israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has increased dramatically. Since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords – which launched efforts that made a comprehensive and lasting peace possible – the number of settlers has increased by 355,000. The total settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem now exceeds 590,000. Nearly 90,000 settlers are living east of the separation barrier that was created by Israel itself. And just since July 2016 – when the Middle East Quartet issued a report highlighting international concern about a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions, and legalizations – Israel has advanced plans for more than 2,600 new settlement units. Yet rather than dismantling these and other settler outposts, which are illegal even under Israeli law, now there is new legislation advancing in the Israeli Knesset that would legalize most of the outposts – a factor that propelled the decision by this resolution’s sponsors to bring it before the Council.

The Israeli Prime Minister recently described his government as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history,” and one of his leading coalition partners recently declared that “the era of the two-state solution is over.” At the same time, the Prime Minister has said that he is still committed to pursuing a two-state solution. But these statements are irreconcilable. One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution that would end the conflict. One has to make a choice between settlements and separation.

In 2011, the United States vetoed a resolution that focused exclusively on settlements, as if settlements were they only factor harming the prospects of a two-state solution. The circumstances have changed dramatically. Since 2011, settlement growth has only accelerated. Since 2011, multiple efforts to pursue peace through negotiations have failed. And since 2011, President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned – publically and privately – that the absence of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk, and threaten Israel’s stated objective to remain both a Jewish State and a democracy. Moreover, unlike in 2011, this resolution condemns violence, terrorism and incitement, which also poses an extremely grave risk to the two-state solution. This resolution reflects trends that will permanently destroy the hope of a two-state solution if they continue on their current course.

The United States has not taken the step of voting in support of this resolution because the resolution is too narrowly focused on settlements, when we all know – or we all should know – that many other factors contribute significantly to the tensions that perpetuate this conflict. Let us be clear: even if every single settlement were to be dismantled tomorrow, peace still would not be attainable without both sides acknowledging uncomfortable truths and making difficult choices. That is an indisputable fact. Yet it is one that is too often overlooked by members of the United Nations and by members of this Council.

For Palestinian leaders, that means recognizing the obvious: that in addition to taking innocent lives – the incitement to violence, the glorification of terrorists, and the growth of violent extremism erodes prospects for peace, as this resolution makes crystal clear. The most recent wave of Palestinian violence has seen terrorists commit hundreds of attacks – including driving cars into crowds of innocent civilians and stabbing mothers in front of their children. Yet rather than condemn these attacks, Hamas, other radical factions, and even certain members of Fatah have held up the terrorists as heroes, and used social media to incite others to follow in their murderous footsteps. And while President Abbas and his party’s leaders have made clear their opposition to violence, terrorism, and extremism, they have too often failed to condemn specific attacks or condemn the praised heaped upon the perpetrators.

Our vote today does not in any way diminish the United States’ steadfast and unparalleled commitment to the security of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. We would not have let this resolution pass had it not also addressed counterproductive actions by Palestinians. We have to recognize that Israel faces very serious threats in a very tough neighborhood. Israelis are rightfully concerned about making sure there is not a new terrorist haven next door. President Obama and this administration have shown an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security because that is what we believe in.

Our commitment to that security has never wavered, and it never will. Even with a financial crisis and budget deficits, we’ve repeatedly increased funding to support Israel’s military. And in September, the Obama administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide $38 billion in security assistance to Israel over the next 10 years – the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history to any country. And as the Israeli Prime Minister himself has noted, our military and intelligence cooperation is unprecedented. We believe, though, that continued settlement building seriously undermines Israel’s security.

Some may cast the U.S. vote as a sign that we have finally given up on a two-state solution. Nothing could be further from the truth. None of us can give up on a two-state solution. We continue to believe that that solution is the only viable path to provide peace and security for the state of Israel, and freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And we continue to believe that the parties can still pursue this path, if both sides are honest about the choices, and have the courage to take steps that will be politically difficult. While we can encourage them, it is ultimately up to the parties to choose this path, as it always has been. We sincerely hope that they will begin making these choices before it is too late.

I thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 23, 2016: UN Security Council Resolution 2334 Condemning Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

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United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334

Source: UN, 12-23-16

The full text of resolution 2334 (2016) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008),

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice,

Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,

Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,

Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,

Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,

Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Stressing that the status quo is not sustainable and that significant steps, consistent with the transition contemplated by prior agreements, are urgently needed in order to (i) stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality, and (ii) to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations and for advancing the two-State solution through those negotiations and on the ground,

“1.   Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

“2.   Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;

“3.   Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;

“4.   Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution;

“5.   Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;

“6.   Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;

“7.   Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;

“8.   Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010;

“9.   Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;

“10.  Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;

“11.  Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions;

“12.  Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution;

“13.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 10, 2016: PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony for Those Who Fell During their Foreign Service Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony for Those Who Fell During their Foreign Service

Source: PMO, 10-10-16

The names of the 16 people from our Foreign Service who were killed during their service are engraved in iron and stone on the wall of commemoration behind me. The acted bravely and with great dedication to bring word of Israel to the nations. Their lives were cut short by malicious hands. We do not only remember our loved ones through this physical memorial, but first and foremost in our hearts, in the nation’s consciousness, with gratitude to its emissaries for their contribution in strengthening the country’s position.

Our people here in Israel and abroad have for many years faced a dual front: first, on the public diplomacy front where they have been conducting a continual campaign to convince the world of the justness of our actions, deepen our international ties, gain public support and curb the many lies about the Jewish state.

The second front is that of their personal safety. As those who represent sovereign Israel, they themselves are a target for attack. Employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are under threat from parties that use every method available to undermine the relations between Israel and countries around the world. Our representatives stand guard to beat back political propaganda attacks, and because of this they may become victims of physical attacks.

I remember well the first incident. Edna Pe’er’s name is engraved here on the wall. I was a soldier in the Special Forces at the time, and I remember the great shock the Israeli public felt after what happened in Asuncion. Since ancient times it was customary that diplomats were off limits. Not only were they off limits, they were the limit, and it became clear that all-encompassing terror would strike at this foundation of our relations. My fellow soldiers in the unit and I felt at the time that we had to act vigorously against these terrorists who had no consideration for human lives.

Over the years, the State of Israel has had many significant achievements in its determined campaign against terror and against terror directed at diplomats. Warnings keep coming. Clearly, in most cases we are successful in stopping terrorist attacks in Israel and abroad. I say most cases because unfortunately we have experienced tragedies we were unable to stop, during which we lost the best of our people – in Turkey, in London, in Argentina – and every tragedy is burned into our skin.

We make efforts, mainly through the Mossad and the ISA, to defend ourselves and all our employees in the Foreign Service and our representatives abroad. This effort is large-scale, it is unique and it has saved many hundreds of lives, not only in our Foreign Service, but also in the Foreign Services of other countries.

Sometimes these efforts are successful by a hairsbreadth. Here, several years ago, in the situation room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we dealt with a siege that grew ever tighter around our people in the Israeli embassy in Cairo. A wild mob came to slaughter our people and that night we worked with all the tools at our disposal, including threats to extract them using the IDF, which finally tipped the scale and the Egyptian forces, then under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, together with tight coordination on our end from the situation room, and eventually led to a successful outcome in this instance.

The employees of the office and I spoke with the security officer in charge. He told me over the radio, “My name is Yoni”. And I told him, “Yoni, the State of Israel will get you out of there”. I regret that we were unable to do so in other cases that we commemorate today, but I do want to tell you that we spare no effort in defending you while you are defending our country.

Israel is in the eye of a storm. In many ways it serves as the vanguard in the ongoing fight against terror, including terrorism directed at diplomats. There are no compromises to be made with bloodthirsty extremists. We owe ourselves and the following generations a crushing victory by the forces of freedom and enlightenment. At the same time, we continue the mission of those who fell during their Foreign Service, and are expanding in an unprecedented manner, as you here know, the scope of our diplomatic ties – a tight net of relations with approximately 160 countries – and there is still more to be done.

Countries around the world are taking advantage of our capabilities in the fight against terror. They are also growing closer to us because of our proven technological innovation, and this is why Israel is courted and pursued, parallel to the various attacks that continue to be waged against us. I am certain that this accomplishment would make our lost loved ones very proud. Their lives were cut short, but their life’s mission, this mission, is being realized in an impressive fashion.

Dear families, bereaved families, we all bow our heads in memory of the fallen. Losing them left deep wounds on your hearts, all our hearts. The entire nation shares your pain, and of course so does the Foreign Service family from throughout its history. We will continue to pursue the realization of their last will and testament – safeguarding the strength, security, prosperity and well-being of our country. May their memories forever be blessed.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 10, 2016: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers Yom Hazikaron Transcript

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Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Opening Ceremony of the Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers

Source: PMO, 10-10-16 

Honorable Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein,
Distinguished guests, first and foremost my brothers and sisters, members of the bereaved families,

As the son of a bereaved family, I, like you, carry the weight of despair. I know the depths of sadness and the agonizing pain of loss. They are relentless. When I received the news of my brother and later had to break it to my parents, my whole world collapsed. The same thing happened to you. We spend the remainder of our lives struggling to emerge from the ruins. It never fully happens, but there is new life. Today I spoke with the mother of Ben Vanunu, a remarkable young boy who fell in Operation Protective Edge. Sarit and Ilan welcomed a daughter into the world today, and tears of sadness and joy mix together.

Twenty three thousand, four hundred and forty seven – this is the number of Israel’s fallen soldiers, in honor of whom we bow our heads today – in grief, silence, admiration and gratitude. The day bereavement first enters our doorstep is the day our loved ones become no longer just ours. While they fundamentally belong to us, a part of our flesh that has been cut off, they also belong to the nation, a nation that pays tribute to them today and acknowledges the enormity of their sacrifice. Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians, men and women – we all share one fate.

Anyone who has ever lost a son, a brother, a father, a daughter or a friend has cried out: Why? I myself asked the exact same question when my brother was killed. But in time I came to understand that the question should be: For what? What is the purpose? What is the meaning of the price that we have paid? Our sons and daughters went to battle with their heads held high. They died for a higher calling – to ensure Israel’s existence and guarantee its future. This is precisely the difference, the whole difference, between a beaten and oppressed nation, a persecuted nation that is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers, as we were until 68 years ago, and a nation that lives on its land, builds its country, controls its destiny. But the price is horrible. We know more than anyone how horrible it is.

I try to familiarize myself with the personal stories of many of the fallen. So much power is embodied in what they themselves said and wrote. Avraham Lustig, who fought in the War of Independence and was killed in the Convoy of 35, wrote in his journal a day before he went to battle that suffering is okay and death is okay as long as you know why and what for. Eliraz Peretz, son of our friend Miriam, who fell six years ago on the border with Gaza, adopted this principle: “If you love, love with no limits; if you are going to be friends, be friends with no limits; and if you are going to be a combat soldier, then without limits and give it your all.” Eliav Gelman, an officer in an elite unit who was killed two months ago at the Gush Etzion Junction while trying to protect civilians from a knife-wielding terrorist, used to say to his soldiers: “Self-sacrifice for higher values such as love for the Land of Israel, connection to the succession of generations and contribution to the greater good is what enables our people’s existence in its land.” It is an ongoing account of resilience and strength – on the battlefield, in protecting our borders and at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.

My brothers and sisters, dear families, life in an era of revival and rebirth exacts a personal price and a national price. But our people’s spirit is strong and we believe in the Glory of Israel.

As a 3,000-year-old nation determined to protect its land, we will continue to stand strong in the face of our enemies, build our land, develop our country and guarantee our existence. We will not lose hope for reconciliation with our enemies, but we will first make peace within ourselves. True reconciliation comes from our shared destiny, and there is no deeper or more noble expression of this shared destiny than this day, the day we remember with great love and admiration our sons and daughters, the heroes who sacrificed their lives so that we can live in our land.

May the memory of our loved ones – Israel’s fallen soldiers – be forever blessed.

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 24, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Statements on Terrorism

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Statements by PM Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry

Source: PMO, 11-24-15


Statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry met at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem and issued the following statements before their meeting:

Prime Minister Netanyahu

“Good morning, John. I’d like to welcome you again to Jerusalem.

You are a friend in our common effort to restore stability, security and peace. There can be no peace when we have an onslaught of terror – not here or not anywhere else in the world, which is experiencing this same assault by militant Islamists and the forces of terror. Israel is fighting these forces every hour. We are fighting them directly against the terrorists themselves; we’re fighting also against the sources of incitement. And we believe that the entire international community should support this effort. It’s not only our battle, it’s everyone’s battle. It’s the battle of civilization against barbarism.

Welcome, John.”

US Secretary of State Kerry

“Thank you.

Mr. Prime Minister, Bibi, thank you for welcoming me here, and for me, I am pleased to be back in Jerusalem, pleased to be back in Israel, though I come at a time that, as the Prime Minister has just said, is very troubled. Clearly, no people anywhere should live with daily violence, with attacks in the streets, with knives or scissors or cars. And it is very clear to us that the terrorism, these acts of terrorism which have been taking place, deserve the condemnation that they are receiving and today I expressed my complete condemnation for any act of terror that takes innocent lives and disrupts the day-to-day life of a nation.

Israel has every right in the world to defend itself. It has an obligation to defend itself. And it will and it is. Our thoughts and prayers are with innocent people who have been hurt in this process. I know that yesterday a soldier was killed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who were wounded, their families. Regrettably, several Americans have also been killed in the course of these past weeks, and just yesterday I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school, ready to go to college, excited about his future, and yesterday his family was sitting shiva and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent for the loss of a child.

So I’m here today to talk with the Prime Minister about the ways that we can work together, all of us – the international community – to push back against terrorism, to push back against senseless violence and to find a way forward, to restore calm and to begin to provide the opportunities that most reasonable people in every part of the world are seeking for themselves and for their families.

We have much to talk about. There’s a lot happening in the region, as well as those events that are happening here in Israel. We are deeply concerned about Syria, about Daesh, about regional unrest. We all have an interest, needless to say, in working together against this spasm of violence that is interrupting too much of the daily life of too many nations.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your welcome. I’m pleased to be back here, to continue to work with you on these issues, and I thank you for your always generous welcome.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 14, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement after the Terrorist Attacks in Paris

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement after the Terrorist Attacks in Paris

Source: PMO, 11-14-15
PM Netanyahu’s Statement after the Terrorist Attacks in Paris
Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening, issued the following statement regarding the terrorist attacks in Paris:

“On behalf of the people and Government of Israel, I extend our deepest sympathies to the people of France and to the families of those who were brutally murdered in Paris last night. We also extend our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Israel stands shoulder-to-shoulder with France in this common battle against militant Islamic terrorism. I’ve instructed Israel’s security and intelligence forces to assist their French counterparts and their counterparts from other European countries in any way possible.

Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians. It can never be justified. Terrorism must always be condemned. It must always be fought. Innocent people in Paris, like those in London, Madrid, Mumbai, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem, are the victims of militant Islamic terrorism, not its cause. As I’ve said for many years, militant Islamic terrorism attacks our societies because it wants to destroy our civilization and our values.

I call on the entire civilized world to unite to defeat the plague of worldwide terrorism. An attack on any one of us should be seen as an attack on all of us. All terrorism must be condemned and fought equally with unwavering determination. It’s only with this moral clarity that the forces of civilization will defeat the savagery of terrorism.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 12, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Knesset Winter Session Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Knesset Winter Session

Source: PMO, 10-12-15

At the outset, I would like to send my wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded and to encourage the security forces.

In the 1920s, Albert Londres, who is still considered one of the greatest journalists in France, visited the Land of Israel. In his book, The Wandering Jew Has Arrived, he described the repeated terrorist attacks by rioting Arabs against the Jewish inhabitants of the Land of Israel and against the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv. Londres mentions in particular that the city’s symbol contained the words from the Bible, “I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt”, but he added, and I quote, “From the very day that the first stone was laid, the Arab stance has been ‘I will destroy you and you will be destroyed'”.

When Londres visited Tel Aviv in 1929 it had several tens of thousands of residents. Today more than one million people live in the Greater Tel Aviv area. One hundred years of terror, one hundred years during which our enemies have tried to destroy the Zionist enterprise, and they have still not learned: Terror will not vanquish us. Time and again we are the ones who vanquish it. “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”

We will also vanquish this current wave of terror, through the determined action of our soldiers and police officers, by neutralizing the terrorists, as occurred today in Jerusalem, through the resourcefulness and courage of our citizens as events happen, through the mutual responsibility for one another that characterizes our people, especially when they are in danger, as the late Rabbi Nehemia Lavi demonstrated, when he, with supreme and extraordinary bravery, came to the aid of the Benita family, thereby saving the lives of Adel and her two small children.

We are working against these terrorists on all fronts. I instructed that there be massive reinforcement of forces. We added regiments in Judea and Samaria. We mobilized many companies of border patrol fighters to Jerusalem and all parts of the country. We are taking the initiative, entering neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, preventing the immunity of rioters wherever they are, destroying the homes of terrorists, working against inciters, setting up ambushes and conducting undercover operations, making arrests, advancing legislation to revoke the rights of murderers, and working to make the Islamic Movement illegal. We clarified the instructions for opening fire on firebombers and rock throwers, like those who took the lives of innocent civilians like the toddler, Adele Biton, or Jerusalem resident Alexander Levlovitz.

Members of Knesset, yesterday the Government approved legislation for minimum sentences for rock throwers and firebombers, and the imposition of fines on minors and their parents. I expect the support of the opposition parties for this emergency legislation on this important security issue, as well as for legislating the war on terror law, which will also be presented during this session. What guides us is the profound recognition that we are fighting a just fight.

There were terrorist attacks before the establishment of the country and after it, before the Six Day War and after the Six Day War, when the peace process was at its zenith and when the peace process was stopped. It must be understood once and for all: Terror does not result from frustration due to the lack of progress in the political process. Terror is the result of a desire to destroy us. It was the motivation for terrorism during the early days of Zionism and it is the motivation today as well.

After the beginning of the peace process in Oslo, during the mid-1990s, 1994 through 1996 and also in the early 2000s, more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered in suicide terror attacks and on buses that exploded. Suicide terror did not vanquish us then and the terror of knife attacks will not vanquish us now. What wins every time is the recognition that this is our home, this is our homeland. What wins is our will to live, which overcomes our enemies’ will to die. I tell you, enemies of Israel: You did not succeed and you will not succeed in destroying the State of Israel. There is no way to stop the Zionist enterprise.

Members of Knesset, this is not the first time our enemies have used specious propaganda regarding the Temple Mount in order to encourage riots. My late grandfather arrived in the Land of Israel in 1920, and that same year at the Nebi Musa celebrations in April, Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini stated that the Jews were planning a surprise, and I quote, “to take control of the Temple Mount and destroy the mosques”. This lie is repeated today, although I must admit that back then, in 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council at least included one iota of truth. Allow me to read from the booklet it published in English for tourists visiting the Temple Mount. “The fact that Haram el-Sharif stands where in the past Solomon’s temple stood is unimpeachable. This is also the place where, according to tradition, David built an altar to God.”

Even they, at least back then, could not deny the historic fact that the two temples built by the Jews – the First and Second Temples – stood on that location for a thousand years. And some people tell us today that the Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount. Apparently one can say anything because Husseini’s successors today arrogantly claim that the Jews have absolutely no connection to this place. They say the Jews dirty and defile the Temple Mount. They repeat over and over again the lie that we intend to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque or change the status quo at the Temple Mount. This is an absolute lie. The complete opposite is true: We are committed to preserving the status quo at the Temple Mount.

We stringently protect the holy places of all religions. And moreover, members of Knesset, if it were not for Israel, radical Islamic extremists would come here and they would destroy the holy places and historic heritage sites – at the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem – as they do across the entire Middle East. We are those who protect the holy places of all religions at the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem.

The distributors of this defamatory incitement, and I mention incitement because it is the source and it is explosive – explosive. This is an attempt to ignite a religious conflagration which none of us want. The President rightly said that we have no argument with Islam, but rather with the attempt of radicals to ignite a religious conflagration based on an absolute lie. This is very dangerous incitement, which unfortunately takes its toll in human lives. Its distributors include, first and foremost, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Regrettably, they do not educate their people for peace but rather to continue the conflict, each in their own way. They include anti-Semitic incitement in their textbooks, in the media and on social media.

Abu Mazen must renounce the incitement and defamatory statements against Jews and against Israel. He must strongly condemn the attacks, just as I condemned serious acts of terror carried out by Jews against Arabs. We are a law-abiding country and we will not allow any party, any side, to break the law. We will deal severely with anyone who lifts their hand against innocents, Jews and Arabs alike.

But there in another main party which incites all the time, which constantly spreads this great lie about the Temple Mount – and this party is the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. We will act against this source of incitement with all means. Yesterday, I asked that the legal infrastructure to declare them illegal be completed. There will be no immunity for those who incite and encourage terror.

Let it be clear, we want coexistence between Jewish and Arab citizens of the State of Israel. We are investing in the Arab sector, in Druze, in Circassians, in Bedouins, as governments before us did not, in tremendous amounts. This is a worldview. But unfortunately, in the boundaries of the State of Israel, it is not just the Islamic Movement which incites, and I think it is impossible to deal with this without saying these things.

The recent wave of murders has taken the lives of young parents, the late Naama and Eitam Henkin. They were slaughtered in front of their young children. Someone here, a member of this house, said, “The Henkins were settlers. You cannot treat them as if they were innocent civilians.” What does that mean? That they can be murdered? That it is permissible to murder Nehamia Lavi and Aharon Benita? And hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens? It was MK Ghattas who said this, but MK Zoabi did not limit herself to settlers. She justifies all acts of terrorism. She said, I must say with sadness, with concern, to a Hamas newspaper, just two days ago, “Actions by individuals is not enough; we need an entire intifada.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is unbelievable; it is simply unbelievable. A member of Knesset in Israel calls for wholesale terrorist attacks against the citizens of Israel. There is nothing more justified than initiating a criminal investigation against her. This is what should be done, period.

Members of Knesset are the first who must respect the law in the State of Israel. They cannot justify murder. They cannot call for murder. Whoever has done so or does so is not deserving of being a member of this house.

I appeal to the Israeli Arabs: You must see that Israel is the only place that is quiet, normal, in the entire area. You see what is happening to Muslims and Christians in the region, what happens to the countries that devolved into religious wars and civil wars. We will meet every challenge, but I call on you to eject the radicals among you, just as I call on the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel to do the same.

I appeal to the Israeli Arabs, citizens of this country, and I say: Will you follow a leadership which incites, which reaches absurd heights – the members of the communist Balad party, behind whom stands a trail of ISIS flags? A leadership which seeks to fragment the country? Or will you follow the path of coexistence, peace, loyalty to the country of which you are a part? Because you cannot have it both ways. You cannot have the best of both worlds, enjoying all the rights available in democratic Israel, which respects the rights of all its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, while at the same time undermining the country. I beseech you: Chose the right path, the path of truth, the path of coexistence. There is no other choice. We will meet any challenge, but this is important for you, for your children, for all of us – for all of us.

Members of Knesset, the wave of radical Islam is flooding the entire region. Just two days ago, nearly a hundred people were murdered in the heart of Ankara, Turkey, and the flames reach us here too. All our neighbors within a very wide radius are fighting the Islamist volcano. Hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered just beyond our borders. Millions of refugees are escaping the expanse of extremism. I assure you, they understand very well – just ask them – they understand very well to which depths they have been dragged by those same extremist Islamic radicals, which are composed of two camps: the radical Shiite axis, led by Iran, and the extremist Sunni axis, led by ISIS. They certainly are not partners for peace, but unfortunately Abu Mazen also runs time and again from peace negotiations. Many times I have called on Abu Mazen to sit with me – most recently in my speech at the UN – to try and advance the issues on the agenda, but he persists in refusing.

I know that he knows that I do not have any preconditions for entering negotiations for any peace arrangement, but he knows that in any peace arrangement, no matter who is in this house, he will eventually need to declare an end to the conflict, relinquish the right of return and recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He knows that he will have to give us, our people, what he demands for his own people. It is this refusal to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people in any borders which was and is the root of the conflict.

Distinguished colleagues, at this time what we must do is stand strong in the face of the radical Islamic proxies surrounding us. Iran is expanding its activities in Syria as we speak. Just today, thousands of Iranian soldiers arrived in Syria, not far from our northern border. ISIS is also established there and it is also established in the Sinai. Our first duty is to strengthen control over our borders. I instructed that a security fence be built along our eastern border, as we previously built a 220 kilometer-long security fence along our shared border with Egypt, as well as in the Golan. Work began there one month ago.

In addition to sealing our borders, we will prevent the establishment of terrorist bases near our borders. Anyone who endangers our security and threatens our sovereignty will bear the consequences. I made this clear to the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. During our meeting in Moscow, I stood up for our principles: Israel attacks whoever attacks it. We will not allow Iran to transfer deadly weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory, or at least we will do everything in our power to prevent it; and we will not allow Iran to open an additional terrorist front against us in the Golan.

In the face of the threats posed by Iran and radical Islam, we stand united with Egypt and Jordan, members of Knesset, and with many other Arab countries in the region. I choose my words carefully. Reality shifts rapidly. We reserve the right to act against anyone who threatens to destroy us. No international agreement will bind our hands.

I wish to tell you that despite the differences of opinion regarding the nuclear agreement, President Obama and I have full understanding regarding the need to oppose Iranian aggression and the need to prevent Iran from transferring weapons to its terrorist proxies. In the United States, both the supporters of the agreement and those opposed to it as a whole agree that Israel must be strengthened even more at this time in order to face the threats I described and others, and during my upcoming visit to Washington, I will discuss Israel’s security needs in the coming years, the coming decade, with the President.

Members of Knesset, security and safeguarding lives come first, but they are not the most important thing. Alongside the fight against terror and the other threats, we continue building our country and acting for the benefit of all the citizens of Israel. Soon we will present a budget which includes many reforms, including those to reduce the cost of living – of food, transportation, health, credit and many other areas.

We reduced the value added tax by 1%, the corporate tax rate by 1.5%. We will continue increasing the minimum wage. We will soon continue the process of producing natural gas. We will continue developing transportation arteries along the length and breadth of Israel. You must see this every day: The road to Jerusalem is expanding, the work on the light rail in Tel Aviv has begun, we are connecting the periphery to the center of the country. These are not just empty words; it is finally happening after half a century of talk.

The Negev and the Galilee are transforming. We are moving IDF units south to the Negev, to the “training camp city”. The bases we will evacuate – in Ziffrin, in Tel Hashomer – in these evacuated areas we will establish new residential neighborhoods. We will advance the plan for the train from Eilat to Kiryat Shmona. This is the vision: One uninterrupted line of transportation, a continuous multi-lane road and eventually also a rail line, a railway connection from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. We will open a new airport in Timna soon. We signed agreements with municipalities for the construction and development of tens of thousands of housing units in Rishon Le’Zion, Rosh Ha’Aiyn, Modi’in, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Gat, and recently an historic agreement for 20,000 housing units in Beer Sheva. All the money earned from selling the land will be invested in the infrastructure of these cities.

My vision is clear: Within 12 years, half a million citizens will live in Beer Sheva. And this vision includes something else: Beer Sheva will become, is already becoming, a global cyber city. This is a tremendous revolution which is transforming the Negev and the country. Several years ago, from this podium, I promised that Israel would become a cyber world power.

Allow me to present you a single figure: In 2014, the State of Israel received 10% of global investments in cyber security. This is one hundredfold for our relative size, but that figure has changed. In 2015 we see that this percentage will increase to 20%. It doubled itself in one year. This is geometric growth. All the countries and companies around the world have noticed our technological capabilities, which are integrated – and this is because of the genius of our citizens but it is also because of the government’s investments in these areas.

This week the President of India is coming to Israel for an historic first visit. My friends, Indian Prime Minister Modi told me, “I need Israel. I need its technology and its knowledge.” This is what is happening in our relations with China and Japan as well. I just came from a meeting with the Vice President of Kenya, and he told me, “Most of the African countries greatly desire to renew their relations with Israel now.”

Just this month, I will meet with leaders from four continents. I know, members of the opposition, that you like to speak about Israel’s isolation in the world, but this is simply not true. We are expanding our relations with Arab countries in the region, with Asian countries, with African countries and with Latin American countries. I do not deny that we have problems with some of the Western European countries.

They are captive to an old line of reasoning, a line of reasoning that is outdated, i.e. that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of all conflict in the Middle East. Once, people would say conflict in the singular, just one conflict – and I think it is time that they suit themselves and their countries to the changing reality.

Despite the difficulties, faced with these challenges, Israel continues to march forward in developing its economy, in making the land bloom, in absorbing new immigrants in ever increasing numbers. Our hope is not the result of burying our heads in the sand, of creating a false reality, of ignoring the difficulties. Our hope, as stated in our national anthem, is the result of fortifying our strength as a free people in our land. Our response to one hundred years of terror is one hundred years of development, creation and prosperity.

We established a country whose accomplishments are unique on any scale. I am proud of our country, proud of its residents, proud of its soldiers and police officers, who are working night and day to safeguard our security and well-being. I am proud of you, citizens of Israel. One hundred years of terror did not succeed and will not succeed. Israel will remain here forever.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 10, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting about the Wave of Terrorism Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 10-11-15

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

“We are in the midst of a wave of terrorism originating from systematic and mendacious incitement regarding the Temple Mount – incitement by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Movement in Israel. This weekend I ordered the mobilization of 16 Border Police companies in order to restore security and order. It is better to mobilize massive forces to deal with possible developments, rather than do so after the fact, and we will call up more forces as necessary.

Today I will hold another meeting to advance government action against the Islamic Movement in Israel. I will not tolerate internal incitement. We will use all means at our disposal against the instigators from any direction. In this regard, note the words of incitement and violence over the weekend uttered by Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi in Hamas’s official journal (al-Risala). Here is what she said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of worshipers should go up to Al- Aqsa in order to face down an Israeli plot for the blood of East Jerusalem residents.

Today there are actions only by individuals and what is needed is popular support. If only individual attacks continue without popular support, they will sputter out within a few days. Therefore the outpouring of thousands of our people will make these events a real intifada.’ This wild and deceitful incitement is a clear call to violence. This is serious and I will not ignore it. This morning I contacted the Attorney General to immediately open a criminal investigation against MK Zoabi.

At my instruction, the government today will approve legislation for minimum prison sentences for those who throw rocks and firebombs and fines for minors and their parents.

I would like to wish a speedy recovery to the civilians, policemen and soldiers who were wounded in recent days. Also, I want to commend the security forces, police, border police, the IDF and the ISA for their dedicated and tireless actions for the security of Israel, and I particularly want to commend the citizens of Israel for their impressive display of vigilance, determination and composure.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 1, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly

Source: PMO, 10-1-15


Photo by Avi Ohayon, GPO

– Transcription –

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you greetings from Jerusalem. The city in which the Jewish People’s hopes and prayers for peace for all of humanity have echoed throughout the ages.

Thirty-one years ago, as Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, I stood at this podium for the first time.

I spoke that day against a resolution sponsored by Iran to expel Israel from the United Nations.
Then as now, the UN was obsessively hostile towards Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Then as now, some sought to deny the one and only Jewish state a place among the nations.

I ended that first speech by saying:
Gentlemen, check your fanaticism at the door.

More than three decades later, as the Prime Minister of Israel, I am again privileged to speak from this podium.

And for me, that privilege has always come with a moral responsibility to speak the truth.

So after three days of listening to world leaders praise the nuclear deal with Iran, I begin my speech today by saying:

Ladies and Gentlemen, check your enthusiasm at the door.

You see, this deal doesn’t make peace more likely.

By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war more likely.

Just look at what Iran has done in the last six months alone, since the framework agreement was announced in Lausanne.

Iran boosted its supply of devastating weapons to Syria.

Iran sent more soldiers of its Revolutionary Guard into Syria. Iran sent thousands of Afghani and Pakistani Shi’ite fighters to Syria.

Iran did all this to prop up Assad’s brutal regime.

Iran also shipped tons of weapons and ammunitions to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, including another shipment just two days ago.

Iran threatened to topple Jordan.

Iran’s proxy Hezbollah smuggled into Lebanon SA-22 missiles to down our planes, and Yakhont cruise missiles to sink our ships.

Iran supplied Hezbollah with precision-guided surface-to-surface missiles and attack drones so it can accurately hit any target in Israel.

Iran aided Hamas and Islamic Jihad in building armed drones in Gaza.

Iran also made clear its plans to open two new terror fronts against Israel, promising to arm Palestinians in the West Bank and sending its Revolutionary Guard generals to the Golan Heights, from which its operatives recently fired rockets on northern Israel.

Israel will continue to respond forcefully to any attacks against it from Syria.

Israel will continue to act to prevent the transfer of strategic weapons to Hezbollah from and through Syrian territory.

Every few weeks, Iran and Hezbollah set up new terror cells in cities throughout the world. Three such cells were recently uncovered in Kuwait, Jordan and Cyprus.

In May, security forces in Cyprus raided a Hezbollah agent’s apartment in the city of Larnaca. There they found five tons of ammonium nitrate, that’s roughly the same amount of ammonium nitrate that was used to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

And that’s just in one apartment, in one city, in one country.

But Iran is setting up dozens of terror cells like this around the world, ladies and gentlemen, they’re setting up those terror cells in this hemisphere too.

I repeat: Iran’s been doing all of this, everything that I’ve just described, just in the last six months, when it was trying to convince the world to remove the sanctions.

Now just imagine what Iran will do after those sanctions are lifted.

Unleashed and un-muzzled, Iran will go on the prowl, devouring more and more prey.

In the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran is spending billions of dollars on weapons and satellites.

You think Iran is doing that to advance peace?

You think hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief and fat contracts will turn this
rapacious tiger into a kitten?

If you do, you should think again.

In 2013 president Rouhani began his so-called charm offensive here at the UN. Two years later, Iran is executing more political prisoners, escalating its regional aggression, and rapidly expanding its global terror network.

You know they say, actions speak louder than words.

But in Iran’s case, the words speak as loud as the actions.

Just listen to the Deputy Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force. Here’s what he said in February:

“The Islamic revolution is not limited by geographic borders….” He boasted that Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Yemen are among the countries being “conquered by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Conquered.

And for those of you who believe that the deal in Vienna will bring a change in Iran’s policy, just listen to what Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said five days after the nuclear deal was reached: “Our policies towards the arrogant government of the United States will not change.”

The United States, he vowed, will continue to be Iran’s enemy.

While giving the mullahs more money is likely to fuel more repression inside Iran, it will definitely fuel more aggression outside Iran.

As the leader of a country defending itself every day against Iran’s growing aggression, I wish I could take comfort in the claim that this deal blocks Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.

But I can’t, because it doesn’t.

This deal does place several constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.

And rightly so, because the international community recognizes that Iran is so dangerous.

But you see here’s the catch:

Under this deal, If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, In fact, if it becomes even more dangerous in the years to come, the most important constraints will still be automatically lifted by year 10 and by year 15.

That would place a militant Islamic terror regime weeks away from having the fissile material for an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs.

That just doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve said that if Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.

But this deal, this deal will treat Iran like a normal country even if it remains a dark theocracy that conquers its neighbors, sponsors terrorism worldwide and chants “Death to Israel”, “Death to America.”

Does anyone seriously believe that flooding a radical theocracy with weapons and cash will curb its appetite for aggression?

Do any of you really believe that a theocratic Iran with sharper claws and sharper fangs will be more likely to change its stripes?

So here’s a general rule that I’ve learned and you must have learned in your life time – When bad behavior is rewarded, it only gets worse.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have long said that the greatest danger facing our world is the coupling of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.

And I’m gravely concerned that the nuclear deal with Iran will prove to be the marriage certificate of that unholy union.

I know that some well-intentioned people sincerely believe that this deal is the best way to block Iran’s path to the bomb.

But one of history’s most important yet least learned lessons is this:

The best intentions don’t prevent the worst outcomes.

The vast majority of Israelis believe that this nuclear deal with Iran is a very bad deal.

And what makes matters even worse is that we see a world celebrating this bad deal, rushing to embrace and do business with a regime openly committed to our destruction.

Last week, Major General Salehi, the commander of Iran’s army, proclaimed this:

“We will annihilate Israel for sure.”

“We are glad that we are in the forefront of executing the Supreme Leader’s order to destroy Israel.”

And as for the Supreme Leader himself, a few days after the nuclear deal was announced, he released his latest book.
Here it is.

It’s a 400-page screed detailing his plan to destroy the State of Israel.

Last month, Khamenei once again made his genocidal intentions clear before Iran’s top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts.

He spoke about Israel, home to over six million Jews.
He pledged, “there will be no Israel in 25 years.”

Seventy years after the murder of six million Jews,
Iran’s rulers promise to destroy my country.

Murder my people.

And the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here has been absolutely nothing!

Utter silence!

Deafening silence.

Perhaps you can now understand why Israel is not joining you in celebrating this deal.

If Iran’s rulers were working to destroy your countries, perhaps you’d be less enthusiastic about the deal.

If Iran’s terror proxies were firing thousands of rockets at your cities, perhaps you’d be more measured in your praise.

And if this deal were unleashing a nuclear arms race in your neighborhood, perhaps you’d be more reluctant to celebrate.

But don’t think that Iran is only a danger to Israel.

Besides Iran’s aggression in the Middle East and its terror around the world, Iran is also building intercontinental ballistic missiles whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear warheads.

Now remember this: Iran already has missiles that can reach Israel.

So those intercontinental ballistic missiles that Iran is building – they’re not meant for us –
They’re meant for you.

For Europe.

For America.

For raining down mass destruction – anytime, anywhere.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s not easy to oppose something that is embraced by the greatest powers in the world.

Believe me, it would be far easier to remain silent.

But throughout our history, the Jewish people have learned the heavy price of silence.

And as the Prime Minister of the Jewish State, as someone who knows that history,

I refuse to be silent.

I’ll say it again:

The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies –
those days are over.

Not being passive means speaking up about those dangers.

We have. We are.
We will.

Not being passive also means defending ourselves against those dangers.

We have. We are.
And we will.

Israel will not allow Iran to break-in, to sneak-in or to walk-in to the nuclear weapons club.

I know that preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons remains the official policy of the international community.

But no one should question Israel’s determination to defend itself against those who seek our destruction.

For in every generation, there were those who rose up to destroy our people.

In antiquity, we faced destruction from the ancient empires of Babylon and Rome.

In the Middle Ages, we faced inquisition and expulsion.

And In modern times, we faced pogroms and the Holocaust.

Yet the Jewish people persevered.

And now another regime has arisen, swearing to destroy Israel.

That regime would be wise to consider this:

I stand here today representing Israel, a country 67 years young,
but the nation-state of a people nearly 4,000 years old.

Yet the empires of Babylon and Rome are not represented in this hall of nations.
Neither is the Thousand Year Reich.

Those seemingly invincible empires are long gone.

But Israel lives.

The people of Israel live.

עם ישראל חי.

The re-birth of Israel is a testament to the indomitable spirit of my people.

For a hundred generations, the Jewish people dreamed of returning to the
Land of Israel.

Even in our darkest hours, and we had so many, even in our darkest hours we never gave up hope of rebuilding our eternal capital Jerusalem.

The establishment of Israel made realizing that dream possible.

It has enabled us to live as a free people in our ancestral homeland.

It’s enabled us to embrace Jews who’ve come from the four corners of the earth to find refuge from persecution.

They came from war-torn Europe, from Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, from Ethiopia and the Soviet Union, from a hundred other lands.

And today, as a rising tide of anti-Semitism once again sweeps across Europe and elsewhere, many Jews come to Israel to join us in building the Jewish future.

So here’s my message to the rulers of Iran:

Your plan to destroy Israel will fail.

Israel will not permit any force on earth to threaten its future.

And here’s my message to all the countries represented here:

Whatever resolutions you may adopt in this building, whatever decisions you may take in your capitals, Israel will do whatever it must do to defend our state and to defend our people.

Distinguished delegates,

As this deal with Iran moves ahead, I hope you’ll enforce it…how can I put this? With a little more rigor than you showed with the six Security Council resolutions that Iran has systematically violated and which now have been effectively discarded.

Make sure that the inspectors actually inspect.

Make sure that the snapback sanctions actually snap back.

And make sure that Iran’s violations aren’t swept under the Persian rug.

Well, of one thing I can assure you:
Israel will be watching… closely.

What the international community now needs to do is clear:

First, make Iran comply with all its nuclear obligations.

Keep Iran’s feet to the fire.

Second, check Iran’s regional aggression.

Support and strengthen those fighting Iran’s aggression, beginning with Israel.

Third, use sanctions and all the tools available to you to tear down Iran’s global terror network.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel is working closely with our Arab peace partners to address our common security challenges from Iran and also the security challenges from ISIS and from others.

We are also working with other states in the Middle East as well as countries in Africa, in Asia and beyond.

Many in our region know that both Iran and ISIS are our common enemies.

And when your enemies fight each other, don’t strengthen either one – weaken both.

Common dangers are clearly bringing Israel and its Arab neighbors closer.

And as we work together to thwart those dangers, I hope we’ll build lasting partnerships – lasting partnerships for security, for prosperity and for peace.

But in Israel, we never forget one thing. We never forget that the most important partner that Israel has has always been, and will always be, the United States of America.

The alliance between Israel and the United States is unshakeable.

President Obama and I agree on the need to keep arms out of the hands of Iran’s terror proxies.

We agree on the need to stop Iran from destabilizing countries throughout the Middle East.
Israel deeply appreciates President Obama’s willingness to bolster our security, help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge and help Israel confront the enormous challenges we face.

Israel is grateful that this sentiment is widely shared by the American people and its representatives in Congress, by both those who supported the deal and by those who opposed it.

President Obama and I have both said that our differences over the nuclear deal are a disagreement within the family.

But we have no disagreement about the need to work together to secure our common future.

And what a great future it could be.

Israel is uniquely poised to seize the promise of the 21st century.

Israel is a world leader in science and technology, in cyber, software, water, agriculture,
medicine, biotechnology and so many other fields that are being revolutionized by Israeli ingenuity and Israeli innovation.

Israel is the innovation nation.

Israeli knowhow is everywhere.

It’s in your computers’ microprocessors and flash drives.

It’s in your smartphones, when you send instant messages and navigate your cars.

It’s on your farms, when you drip irrigate your crops and keep your grains and produce fresh.

It’s in your universities, when you study Nobel Prize winning discoveries in chemistry and economics.

It’s in your medicine cabinets, when you use drugs to treat Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

It’s even on your plate, when you eat the delicious cherry tomato.

That too was perfected in Israel, in case you didn’t know.

We are so proud in Israel of the long strides our country has made in a short time.

We’re so proud that our small country is making such a huge contribution to the entire world.

Yet the dreams of our people, enshrined for eternity by the great prophets of the Bible, those dreams will be fully realized only when there is peace.

As the Middle East descends into chaos, Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are two cornerstones of stability.

Israel remains committed to achieving peace with the Palestinians as well.

Israelis know the price of war.

I know the price of war.

I was nearly killed in battle.

I lost many friends.

I lost my beloved brother Yoni.

Those who know the price of war can best appreciate what the blessings of peace would mean – for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren.

I am prepared to immediately, immediately, resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever.

Unfortunately, President Abbas said yesterday that he is not prepared to do this.

Well, I hope he changes his mind.

Because I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.

You know, the peace process began over two decades ago.

Yet despite the best efforts of six Israeli prime ministers – Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert and myself – the Palestinians have consistently refused to end the conflict and make a final peace with Israel.

And unfortunately, you heard that rejectionism again only yesterday from President Abbas.

How can Israel make peace with a Palestinian partner who refuses to even sit at the negotiating table?

Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to abide by its commitments.

The Palestinians should not walk away from peace.

President Abbas, I know it’s not easy. I know it’s hard. But we owe it to our peoples to try, to continue to try, because together, if we actually negotiate and stop negotiating about the negotiation, if we actually sit down and try to resolve this conflict between us, recognize each other, not use a Palestinian state as a stepping stone for another Islamist dictatorship in the Middle East, but something that will live at peace next to the Jewish state, if we actually do that, we can do remarkable things for our peoples.

The UN can help advance peace by supporting direct, unconditional negotiations between the parties.

The UN won’t help peace, certainly won’t help advance peace by trying to impose solutions or by encouraging Palestinian rejectionism,

And the UN, distinguished delegates, should do one more thing. The UN should finally rid itself of the obsessive bashing of Israel.

Here’s just one absurd example of this obsession:

In four years of horrific violence in Syria, more than a quarter of a million people have lost their lives.

That’s more than ten times, more than ten times, the number of Israelis and Palestinians combined who have lost their lives in a century of conflict between us.

Yet last year, this Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel and just one resolution about the savage slaughter in Syria.

Talk about injustice. Talk about disproportionality. Twenty. Count them. One against Syria.

Well, frankly I am not surprised.

To borrow a line from Yogi Berra, the late, great baseball player and part time philosopher: When it comes to the annual bashing of Israel at the UN, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Enough!

Thirty one years after I stood here for the first time, I’m still asking:

When will the UN finally check its anti-Israel fanaticism at the door?

When will the UN finally stop slandering Israel as a threat to peace and actually start helping Israel advance peace?

And the same question should be posed to Palestinian leaders.

When will you start working with Israel to advance peace and reconciliation and stop libeling Israel, stop inciting hatred and violence?

President Abbas, here’s a good place to begin:

Stop spreading lies about Israel’s alleged intentions on the Temple Mount.

Israel is fully committed to maintaining the status quo there.

What President Abbas should be speaking out against are the actions of militant Islamists who are smuggling explosives into the al-Aqsa mosque and who are trying to prevent Jews and Christians from visiting the holy sites.

That’s the real threat to these sacred sites.

A thousand years before the birth of Christianity, more than 1,500 years before the birth of Islam, King David made Jerusalem our capital, and King Solomon built the Temple on that mount.

Yet Israel, Israel will always respect the sacred shrines of all.

In a region plagued by violence and by unimaginable intolerance, in which Islamic fanatics are destroying the ancient treasures of civilization, Israel stands out as a towering beacon of enlightenment and tolerance.

Far from endangering the holy sites, it is Israel that ensures their safety.

Because unlike the powers who have ruled Jerusalem in the past, Israel respects the holy sites and freedom of worship of all – Jews, Muslims, Christians, everyone.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, will never change.

Because Israel will always stay true to its values.

These values are on display each and every day:

When Israel’s feisty parliament vigorously debates every issue under the sun,

When Israel’s Chief Justice sits in her chair at our fiercely independent Supreme Court,

When our Christian community continues to grow and thrive from year to year, as Christian communities are decimated elsewhere in the Middle East,

When a brilliant young Israeli Muslim student gives her valedictorian address at one of our finest universities,

And when Israeli doctors and nurses – doctors and nurses from the Israeli military –

treat thousands of wounded from the killing fields of Syria and thousands more in the wake of natural disasters from Haiti to Nepal.

This is the true face of Israel.

These are the values of Israel.

And In the Middle East, these values are under savage assault by militant Islamists who are forcing millions of terrified people to flee to distant shores.

Ten miles from ISIS, a few hundred yards from Iran’s murderous proxies, Israel stands in the breach – proudly and courageously, defending freedom and progress.

Israel is civilization’s front line in the battle against barbarism.

So here’s a novel idea for the United Nations:

Instead of continuing the shameful routine of bashing Israel, stand with Israel.

Stand with Israel as we check the fanaticism at our door.

Stand with Israel as we prevent that fanaticism from reaching your door.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Stand with Israel because Israel is not just defending itself.

More than ever, Israel is defending you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 1, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Opens the 2015-2016 School Year at Primary Schools in Ashdod and Ashkelon Remarks Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu Opens the 2015-2016 School Year at Primary Schools in Ashdod and Ashkelon

Source: PMO, 9-1-15


Photo by Avi Ohayon, GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today opened the 2015-2016 school year at the Amirim primary school in Ashdod, where he was welcomed by the children with flags and songs, and at the Ramat Keramim primary school in Ashkelon. He was accompanied in Ashdod by Ashdod Mayor Dr. Yehiel Lasri and Education Ministry Southern District Director Amira Chaim, and in Ashkelon by Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

In Ashkelon, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “The first lesson in first grade is ‘Shalom first grade’ with the emphasis on shalom [peace].’ We educate our children for peace. A few kilometers from here, Hamas teaches is children the opposite of peace and it tries, from time to time, to fire at us, at you. And our policy is clear – zero restraint, zero let-up, zero tolerance for terrorism. We respond to every firing at our territory, whether by open or concealed action, and we also foil terrorism like we did yesterday in Jenin. I wish a quick recovery to the soldier who was wounded. We want peace but we first of all we must watch over our land, our children, we must watch over you. This is our first obligation – the security of our children.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu added: “There are two major things here – a great momentum of construction in Ashkelon and momentum in our education system. In education, we want you to study, expand your knowledge, know how to read and write, read the Tanakh and also write new things. You should know mathematics and sciences. I know that you already know how to use computers but you should use them not just to play games. You should be able to use them to connect to the entire world, to know what you want to know and to excel. Don’t just excel, be Zionists too. We have just the army and this land and we need to watch over it. I would like to wish all of you in first grade and up in his growing and developing school that you should study and succeed and above all be friends with each other. And remember, each one of you is different. Respect each other and love one another because we love you very much. May you have much success.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 30, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement in Wake of the Stabbing at the Pride Parade in Jerusalem Transcript

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Statement by PM Netanyahu in Wake of the Stabbing at the Pride Parade in Jerusalem

Source: PMO, 7-30-15
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening issued the following statement:

“A despicable hate crime was committed this evening in Jerusalem. In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right. I welcome the Israeli religious leadership’s condemnation of this terrible crime, and I call on all those in positions of leadership to denounce this contemptible act. In the name of all of Israelis, I wish the wounded a full and speedy recovery.”

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 3, 2015: Full text of UNHRC resolution on Gaza war probe

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Full text of UNHRC resolution on Gaza war probe

Motion passed on Friday by UN Human Rights Council welcomes findings of McGowan Davis commission

Source: Times of Israel, 7-3-15

UNHRC United Nations Human Rights Council
UNHRC Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry
Operation Protective Edge

The following is the full text of Friday’s UN Human Rights Council resolution backing last week’s report by the Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry. It is titled “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”:

​The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling the relevant rules and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which is applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other human rights covenants, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

Recalling further its relevant resolutions, including resolutions S-9/1 of 12 January 2009 and S-21/1 of 23 July 2014, and the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,

Expressing its appreciation to the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict for its comprehensive report,

Affirming the obligation of all parties to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law,

Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians, reaffirming the obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and deploring the civilian deaths that resulted from the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, including the killing of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children and 299 women, and six Israeli civilians,

Gravely concerned by reports regarding serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, including the findings of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict, and of the boards of inquiry convened by the Secretary-General,

Condemning all violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, and appalled at the widespread and unprecedented levels of destruction, death and human suffering caused,

Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967,

Deploring the non-cooperation by Israel with the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and the refusal to grant access to or to cooperate with international human rights bodies seeking to investigate alleged violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Regretting the lack of implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which follows a pattern of lack of implementation of recommendations made by United Nations mechanisms and bodies,

Alarmed that long-standing systemic impunity for international law violations has allowed for the recurrence of grave violations without consequence, and stressing the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity, ensure justice, deter further violations, protect civilians and promote peace,

Emphasizing the need for States to investigate grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 to end impunity, uphold their obligations to ensure respect, and promote international accountability,

Noting the accession by Palestine to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 2 January 2015,

1.​ Welcomes the report of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict;

2. ​Calls upon all duty bearers and United Nations bodies to pursue the implementation of all recommendations contained in the report of the commission of inquiry, in accordance with their respective mandates;

3.​ Notes the importance of the work of the commission of inquiry and of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2009 and the information collected regarding grave violations in support of future accountability efforts, in particular, information on alleged perpetrators of violations of international law;

4. ​Emphasizes the need to ensure that all those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law are held to account through appropriate fair and independent domestic or international criminal justice mechanisms, and to ensure the provision of effective remedy to all victims, including reparations, and stresses the need to pursue practical steps towards these goals;

5.​ Calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened;

6.​ Calls upon all States to promote compliance with human rights obligations and all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to respect, and to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions, and to fulfill their obligations under articles 146, 147 and 148 of the said Convention with regard to penal sanctions, grave breaches and the responsibilities of the High Contracting Parties;

7.​ Recommends that the General Assembly remain apprised of the matter until it is satisfied that appropriate action with regard to implementing the recommendations made by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in its report has been or is being taken appropriately at the domestic or international levels to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators;

8.​ Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present, as part of the reporting requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolutions S-9/1 and S-12/1, a report on the implementation of the present resolution, as well as on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, to the Council at its thirty-first session;

9.​ Decides to remain seized of the matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 3, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Responds to the UNHRC Decision Transcript

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PM Netanyahu Responds to the UNHRC Decision

Source: PMO, 7-3-15
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, responded to the UN Human Rights Council decision:

“The UN Human Rights Council is not interested in the facts and is not really interested in human rights.

On the day on which Israel was fired at from Sinai, and at a time when ISIS is committing vicious terrorist attacks in Egypt, as Assad slaughters his people in Syria and as the number of arbitrary executions per annum climbs in Iran – the UN Human Rights Council decides to condemn the State of Israel for no fault of its own, for acting to defend itself from a murderous terrorist organization.

Israel is a stable democracy in the Middle East that upholds equal rights for all its citizens and acts in accordance with international law.

Those who fear to openly attack terrorism will – in the end – be attacked by terrorism.

The council that has hitherto adopted more decisions against Israel than against all other countries cannot call itself a human rights council.

The State of Israel will continue to defend its citizens against those who call for its destruction and take daily action to achieve this goal.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 29, 2015: Security Cabinet Approves PM Netanyahu’s Proposal to Begin Work on an Approximately 30-km. Section of Security Fence along Israel’s Eastern Border with Jordan

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Security Cabinet Approves PM Netanyahu’s Proposal to Begin Work on an Approximately 30-km. Section of Security Fence along Israel’s Eastern Border

Source: PMO, 6-29-15

The Security Cabinet yesterday adopted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to begin work on an approximately 30-kilometer long section of security fence along the State of Israel’s eastern border, from Eilat to the site designated for the Timna airport. The Security Cabinet also approved the necessary allocation of resources for building the section of fence.

The Government of Israel is in contact with the Government of Jordan and emphasizes that the construction of this section of security fence is being carried out on the Israeli side of the border. The fence will not, in any way, infringe on the sovereignty of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its national interests, which will be respected.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, today (Monday, 29 June 2015), at the start of a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, referred to the foregoing decision:

“Yesterday in the Security Cabinet, we made a very important decision to continue a section of fence along our southern border, this time from Eilat, 30 kilometers north to past the Timna airport that is under construction. This is important. It is part of our national security. It joins the fence that we built along the length of our border with Sinai, which blocked the entry of illegal migrants into Israel and – of course – the various terrorist movements. This step also joins the fence that we built on our border on the Golan Heights.

I would like to make it clear that this fence will be entirely within the territory of the State of Israel. It will not, in any way, infringe on the sovereignty of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its national interests.

I think that this is a very important step. I am also pleased that the members of the Security Cabinet approved the sources of financing.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 26, 2015: Israeli response to Vatican recognition of Palestinian Authority as a state

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Israeli response to Vatican recognition of PA as a state

Source: MFA, 6-26-15

Israel cannot accept the unilateral determinations in the agreement which do not take into account Israel’s essential interests and the special historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its regret regarding the Vatican decision to officially recognize the Palestinian Authority as a state, in the agreement signed on Friday (June 26, 2015). This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement and harms the international effort to convince the PA to return to direct negotiations with Israel.

We also regret the one-sided texts in the agreement which ignore the historic rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and to the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem. Israel cannot accept the unilateral determinations in the agreement which do not take into account Israel’s essential interests and the special historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.

Israel will study the agreement in detail, and its implications for future cooperation between Israel and the Vatican.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 22, 2015: Israeli response to the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry

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Israeli response to the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry

Source: MFA, 6-22-15
It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel’s moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted. This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.
The 2014 Gaza Conflict: Factual and Legal Aspects – The Full Report

Israel is studying the Commission of Inquiry Report (COI) from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC). However, some initial comments can be made about the COI process in general:

1) It is well known that the entire process that led to the production of this report was politically motivated and morally flawed from the outset. Just as Israel seriously considered every complaint, no matter its origin, it will also seriously study this report. We take note of the fact that the authors of this report admitted that they lacked much of the relevant information.

It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel’s moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted.

2) This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate, and initially headed by a grossly biased chairperson, William Schabas. The UNHRC has a singular obsession with Israel, passing more country specific resolutions against Israel than against Syria, Iran and North Korea combined – in fact, more than against all other countries combined. The commission of inquiry’s mandate presumed Israel guilty from the start and its original chairman, William Schabas, was compelled to resign due to a blatant conflict of interest (paid work for the Palestinians), which he concealed from the United Nations.

3) The COI also lacked the necessary tools and expertise to conduct a professional and serious examination of armed conflict situations.

Israel will consider the report in light of these essential failings. It would encourage all fair-minded observers to do the same.

4) Israel is a democracy committed to the rule of law, forced to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists who commit a double war crime: They indiscriminately target Israeli civilians while deliberately endangering Palestinian civilians, including children, by using them as human shields.

5) In defending itself against attacks, Israel’s military acted according to the highest international standards. This was confirmed by a comprehensive examination by Israeli military and legal experts, as well as reports produced by internationally renowned military professionals.

6) Israel will continue to uphold its commitment to the law of armed conflict despite the brutal tactics of its enemies. Israel will continue to investigate alleged wrongdoing in accordance with international standards and to cooperate with those UN bodies that conduct themselves in an objective, fair and professional manner.
See: The 2014 Gaza Conflict: Factual and Legal Aspects – THE FULL REPORT

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 22, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry report

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Statement by PM Netanyahu on the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry report

Source: MFA, 6-22-15
Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel is defending itself from a murderous terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and which has perpetrated many war crimes. We will not sit, and have not sat, idly by.
Israel will continue to uphold its commitment to the laws of armed conflict despite the brutal tactics of its enemies, and it will continue to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing in accordance with highest international standards.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday, 22 June 2015), at the Knesset, issued the following statement:
“The report on Operation Protective Edge issued by the commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council is biased. The commission that wrote this report was appointed by a council that calls itself the ‘Human Rights Council.’ In effect, it does everything but look after human rights. This is a body that condemns Israel more than Iran, Syria and North Korea combined. It first appointed to head the commission a man who was caught inciting against the State of Israel and who also took money from the Palestinians. It first began to investigate events in the region from the day after – the day after – the kidnapping of the three youths, who were murdered. It is on this basis that one needs to consider its findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Israel is defending itself and is doing so in accordance with international law. We are not the only ones who say this. Last week we issued a detailed, professional report that evaluated our actions, in accordance with international law, against terrorists that fire at civilians and hide behind civilians. This is also backed up by the report issued by senior US and European generals who claimed, and reached the conclusion, that Israel defended itself in accordance with the standards of international law. But they say, ‘above and beyond’. One of the senior generals said that there is no country that acted like the State of Israel and went beyond the letter of the law to observe international law.
Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel is defending itself from a murderous terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and which has perpetrated many war crimes. Any country that wants to live would have acted this way. But the commission expects a country, the citizens of which have been attacked by thousands of missiles, to sit idly by. We will not sit, and have not sat, idly by. We will continue to take strong and determined action against all those who try to attack us and our citizens, and we will do so in accordance with international law.”

* * *
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement today (Monday, 22 June 2015):
“Israel is a democracy committed to the rule of law. Time and again it is forced to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists who commit a double war crime: They deliberately target civilians while deliberately hiding behind Palestinian civilians. The Palestinian civilians they use as human shields include children, and they deliberately target our civilians while deliberately putting their civilians in harm’s way.
In defending itself against such attacks, Israel’s military acted, and acts, according to the highest international standards.
The report in hand was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution; it was given an obviously biased mandate; it was initially headed by a grossly biased chairperson who received money from the Palestinians and was forced to resign.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has a singular obsession with Israel. It has passed more resolutions against Israel than against Syria, North Korea and Iran combined. In fact, it has passed more resolutions against Israel that against all the countries of the world combined.
So, Israel treats this report as flawed and biased, and it urges all fair-minded observers to do the same. Such fair-minded observers recently investigated Israel’s conduct in the Gaza campaign. They include senior generals from the United States and NATO countries. They found that not only did Israel uphold the highest standards of international law, in the laws of armed conflict, they said that Israel exceeded the highest standards.
Israel will continue to uphold its commitment to the laws of armed conflict despite the brutal tactics of its enemies, and it will continue to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing in accordance with highest international standards.”

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