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.)

Israel Musings October 29, 2014: US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Israel relations have gone downhill fast. At the beginning of the month, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a friendly meeting at the White House, but in four weeks, the fragile personal relationship has…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on Continuing Operation Protective Edge

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Statement by PM Netanyahu

Source: MFA, 8-20-14

MFASummaryNew

Operation Protective Edge has not ended, because this is a continuing campaign. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations has continued for many years. Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit very hard.id=”ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_ctl06_ctl00_RichImageField1__ControlWrapper_RichImageField” class=”ms-rtestate-field”>

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:

“First, I would like to personally turn to the IDF soldiers and commanders, to the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in Operation Protective Edge, to the wounded who are recovering in hospital, to the residents of communities close to the Gaza Strip, to the residents of the Negev, the greater Tel Aviv area, Jerusalem and the coastal plain, and to all citizens of the State of Israel.

I would like to commend you and to thank you for the steadfastness and extraordinary unity that the citizens and soldiers of Israel have shown during the past weeks. I want you to know that the ultimate responsibility for your security and peace is mine, as Prime Minister. I am concerned for the security and peace of all Israelis, both the sons that we have sent to the front and the families that are strong and determined in the home front.

Our goal is that the residents of Kerem Shalom, Sderot and the other communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv will be able to sleep quietly and that the children of Ofakim, Netivot, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva won’t have to run to the protected areas at school.

Along with my colleagues, especially Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who is currently attending a memorial ceremony for IDF soldiers, we are taking all measures to complete the campaign and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves: The restoration of quiet and security for you all. We are doing this in full cooperation, with sagacity, responsibility and determination, and thus shall we continue until the goal is achieved.

One consideration stands before me – the good of the State of Israel. And this consideration is the only one that guides my decision-making, as well as that of the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff, no other object, no harsh words from either the Right or the Left, and I condemn all harsh words, and no other interests, only the responsibility for the security and peace of all Israelis. Accordingly, I will continue to act with determination, responsibility and sagacity.

Operation Protective Edge has not ended, not even for a moment, because this is a continuing campaign and I am not speaking only about recent weeks. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations is long and has continued for many years – against Hezbollah, Al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, which is part of an Islamic terrorist network the newest member of which is a murderous gang, another terrorist organization, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and it has also attacked Lebanon.

In recent weeks we have hit Hamas very hard on the battlefield. All of the networks that it built in order to attack us have been foiled.

First of all, we prevented – via Iron Dome – attacks by thousands of rockets against our communities. We have killed hundreds of terrorists. We have destroyed thousands of rockets and launchers. We broke up the network of assault tunnels that Hamas built over the years in order to launch simultaneous attacks against our communities and we foiled all of its attempts to attack us from land, sea and air.

This is the harshest blow that Hamas has taken since it was founded. And I remind you that we have already dismantled its capabilities in Judea and Samaria and blocked its attempts to carry out a coup. We did all this before and during the operation. We have hit Hamas very hard. We are determined to continue the campaign by all means for as long as it takes. We will not stop until we have assured full security and a quiet life for the residents of the south and for all Israelis.

Hamas thinks that it can wear us down. It is mistaken. The Israeli people are strong. Instead of attrition, Hamas will be crushed – its infrastructures, terrorists and commanders.

Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit, and not just hit but hit very hard. And if Hamas does not understand this today, it will understand it tomorrow. And if not tomorrow then the day after tomorrow because in the Middle East, one needs not just military power but stamina and patience.

My grandfather came here in 1920, here to Jaffa. Several months after he came here, thugs burst into the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa and murdered Jews, in this area, including the well-known author Yosef Haim Brenner. This was almost 94 years ago.

Since then we have been fighting against terrorism – with considerable success. In this time we built our state, developed our cities, developed our economy and created a magnificent army.

Our spirit has not fallen, not even for a moment. On the contrary, it has grown, as has our unity, and we must continue to maintain our internal unity, as well as the courage and resilience of the nation and the home front.

All of these are vital components of our national strength. All of these are foundation stones as we fulfill the mission we have set for ourselves – restoring quiet and security, and I would like to add, in light of the very dramatic changes taking place in our region, not all of them negative, I also add achieving a new diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel.”

Following are remarks in English by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference:

I hope President Abbas plays a constructive role. He has an opportunity to do so.  I think he has to understand obviously that no one, and least of all Israel can accept the kind of terror attacks that are coming from Hamas. I think that were acting well within our rights, probably more rigorously than any, I would say. No other country has acted more rigorously than Israel in defending itself within legitimate means. And I expect President Abbas to do that.

I will look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror, to fulfilling the previous obligations that we have. And I think this is part and parcel of the larger picture that I’m talking about. We have to think carefully how we tie in the new circumstances to the advantage of peace and against terror.

Hamas is like ISIS. ISIS is like Hamas. They’re branches of the same tree. And I can say that the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of Isis. You saw this, the beheading of an American journalist, Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people. Well, we face the same savagery. The people who wantonly rocket our cities and want to conduct mass killings, and when they can they murder children, teenagers; they shoot them in the head, throw people from the sixth floor – their own people; and use their people as human shields.

Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas. They’re the enemies of peace; they’re the enemies of Israel; they’re the enemies of all civilized countries. I believe they’re the enemies of the Palestinians. And I’m not the only one who believes it.

Israel Political Brief April 24, 2014: Israel suspends peace talks with Palestinians

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Source: Los Angeles Times, 4-24-14

Israel suspended its involvement in peace talks Thursday after a Palestinian deal that would bring the militant Islamic group Hamas into a broader Palestinian government. Israel’s decision, announced after a six-hour Cabinet meeting….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 24, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement after Security Cabinet Meeting Announcing End to Peace Talks with the Palestinians

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Security Cabinet Statement

Source: PMO, 4-24-14
יום חמישי כ”ד ניסן תשע”ד

The Cabinet today, unanimously decided that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction.

In addition, Israel will respond to unilateral Palestinian action with a series of measures.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

“Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.

Abu Mazen has formed an alliance with an organization whose covenant calls for Muslims to fight and kill Jews. Hamas has fired more than 10,000 missiles and rockets at Israeli territory and has not halted terrorist actions against Israel even for a minute.

The agreement between Abu Mazen and Hamas was signed even as Israel is making efforts to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians. It is the direct continuation of the Palestinians’ refusal to advance the negotiations. Only last month Abu Mazen rejected the framework principles proposed by the United States. Abu Mazen has refused to even discuss recognizing Israel as the national state of the Jewish People. He violated existing agreements by unilaterally applying to accede to international treaties and then formed an alliance with Hamas.

Whoever chooses the terrorism of Hamas does not want peace.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the Palestinian Reunification Agreement between Fatah and Hamas

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Comments on the Agreement between Fatah and Hamas

Source: PMO, 4-23-14

יום רביעי כ”ג ניסן תשע”ד

 

 

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments on the agreement between Fatah and Hamas:

“I said this morning that Abu Mazen needs to choose between peace with Israel and an agreement with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and which both the United States and the European Union define as a terrorist organization.

This evening, as talks are still ongoing about extending the negotiations, Abu Mazen has chosen Hamas and not peace.

Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace.”

 

Israel Political Brief April 9, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu instructs government ministries to cease cooperation with Palestinians

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu instructs government ministries to cease cooperation with Palestinians

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-9-14

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday instructed all government ministries to cease civilian and economic cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the crisis in negotiations between Israel and the PA….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 6, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Promising Retaliation after Palestinian Unilateral UN Treaties Moves

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 4-6-14
יום ראשון ו’ ניסן תשע”ד

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

“In recent months the State of Israel has conducted negotiations with the Palestinians in order to reach a peace agreement. Israelis expect peace, a genuine peace, in which our vital national interests are assured, with security first and foremost. During these talks we carried out difficult steps and showed a willingness to continue implementing moves that were not easy, in the coming months as well, in order to create a framework that would allow for putting an end to the conflict between us. Just as we were about to enter into that framework for the continuation of the negotiations, Abu Mazen hastened to declare that he is not prepared even to discuss recognizing Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, which we have made clear to both the President of the United States and to other world leaders as well.

To my regret as we reached the moment before agreeing on the continuation of the talks, the Palestinian leadership hastened to unilaterally request to accede to 14 international treaties. Thus the Palestinians substantially violated the understandings that were reached with American involvement. The Palestinians’ threats to appeal to the UN will not affect us. The Palestinians have much to lose by this unilateral move. They will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves. These will only push a peace agreement farther away and unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part. We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price.”

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: Algemeiner, 3-4-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: Haaretz, 3-4-14

Netanyau at AIPAC, March 4, 2014.

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

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference

Source: State.gov, 3-3-14

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 3-3-14 

Oval Office

2:04 P.M. EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you, Mr. President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END
2:22 P.M. EST

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks upon Landing in the US

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks upon Landing in the US

Source: PMO, 3-3-14
יום שני א’ אדר ב תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made the following remarks upon landing in the US:

“The tango in the Middle East needs at least three. For years there have been two — Israel and the US. Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present. In any case, in order for us to have an agreement, we must uphold our vital interests. I have proven that I do so, in the face of all pressures and all the turmoil, and I will continue to do so here as well.”

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

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 2-17-14

יום שני י”ז אדר א תשע”ד

Photo by GPO 

[Transcription]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel Political Brief February 12, 2014: EU Parliament President Martin Schultz’s address to the Knesset causes uproar and walkout

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

EU Parliament President Martin Schultz’s address to the Knesset causes uproar and walkout

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adresses the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014.  (Photo credit: Flash90)

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz addresses the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Leaders from Israel’s Right leaning parties, including Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and his Bayit Yehudi party left as European Parliament President Martin Schulz addressed the Knesset on the last day of his Israel visit and made incorrect statements about Palestinian freedoms and access to water.

The comment that caused Knesset members to be upset was when Shulz asked; “One of the questions these young people asked me which I found most moving – although I could not check the exact figures – was this: how can it be that an Israeli is allowed to use 70 litres of water per day, but a Palestinian only 17?”

Bennett demanded that Schulz apologize for his ‘lying propaganda,’ and PM Benjamin Netanyahu stated it was “selective hearing” on the part of the EU President.

Sources:

“Lawmakers walk out of European Parliament president’s Knesset address,”  JTA, 2-12-14

“Netanyahu accuses EU Parliament chief of ‘selective hearing’ after Bennett walkout,” Haaretz, 2-12-14

Israel Musings February 3, 2014: Netanyahu and cabinet ministers denounce Kerry’s Israel boycott threats

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu and cabinet ministers denounce Kerry’s Israel boycott threats

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli leaders came out unified and condemning United States Secretary of John Kerry’s threats that there will be a global boycott against Israel unless their agree to a peace deal with the Palestinians. Kerry made those remarks on…Continue

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 2, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on US Secretary of John Kerry’s Israel Boycott Threats

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

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

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

“Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust. Moreover, they will not achieve their goal. First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away. Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

Source: PMO, 1-20-14

יום שני י”ט שבט תשע”ד

Photo by GPO
– Translation –

Mr. Speaker,
Ministers,
Members of Knesset,
Head of the Opposition,
Supreme Court Justice, Hanan Melcer,

Distinguished visitors from Canada, ministers, senators, everyone else is distinguished, too. But above all, my dear friend, Israel’s great friend, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

The warmest welcome to you, Stephen, to you dear wife, Laureen and to your entire delegation. The people of Israel deeply appreciate your steadfast support, your sincere friendship. Welcome to Israel, dear friend.

Stephen, you decided to start your visit to Israel with a lookout over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

This is the Jerusalem that has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people since the time of King David, 3,000 years ago. There are those in the international community who try to refute our connection to Jerusalem and our land, but not you. You are well familiar with the facts, past as well as present. I want to tell you, Members of Knesset, that there are others in the international community who also know the facts; but unlike the others, Stephen, you have the courage to stand up for the truth, and you have the courage to say the truth.

We live in an age of hypocrisy. In this age of hypocrisy there are those who, instead of dealing with the real problems of the Middle East – the slaughtering of thousands, the trampling on human rights, the systematic oppression of women, minorities and religions – in this age of hypocrisy, there are those who choose to denounce Israel, the only democracy in the region, where human rights are respected, where the rule of law is maintained and freedom of religion is guaranteed to members of all faiths.

In this age of hypocrisy that we live in, Canada, under your leadership, is a moral compass and a beacon of decency. You fight the attempts to deny the State of Israel’s legitimacy. You stand with us in the war against terror. Canada, and you Stephen in particular, fight anti-Semitism fearlessly. I believe that you understand and appreciate our desire for peace, true peace, peace that is based on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people – because that is the root of the conflict and always has been, and I hope it will be solved one day, perhaps soon – and peace that is based on solid security arrangements.

Stephen, you went from Jerusalem to Ramallah today. I am certain that you realized that the distance is not that great. I think that there are streets in Toronto that are longer than that. If I am not mistaken, Young Street is longer than the state of Israel. That illustrates why we yearn for peace – because we live so close to each other. But it also demonstrates why we require steadfast security arrangements – because in such short distances, we have no margin of error. We have to be very precise. We must make certain that after reaching an agreement, what happens in Ramallah is an explosion of construction, not a blast of rockets launched at us, like we have seen and still see in Gaza.

Distinguished guests, thousands of kilometers separate Canada, calm and vast, from Israel, not so big – bigger than life perhaps, but not as large as Canada – and dealing with endless existential threats. The geographic distance is immense, but our two peoples are truly close. This closeness, rooted in our hearts, narrows that distance.

Canada was one of the 33 countries which voted for the UN resolution to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. When Israel was established in the midst of war, volunteers arrived from Canada to fight in the War of Independence. One of the most prominent volunteers was Ben Dunkelman, a Toronto-born Jew who was a war hero in the Canadian army. He was in the invasion of Normandy, and wanted to come here, and use the military experience he had gained in World War II to help the embryonic Jewish state. He participated in the breaking of the siege of Jerusalem, and then commanded the Armored Brigade that freed the Upper Galilee.  This is what he wrote in his memoir: “I was simultaneously a Canadian and a Jew, and neither as a child not as an adult did I find any conflict between the two.”

This is the distinctive spirit of Canadian Jews which I encounter every time I visit: a warm, vibrant community, proud of its Jewishness and proud of Canada. Prime Minister Harper, my friend Stephen, Canada and Israel march together, shoulder to shoulder, throughout the years. Our two peoples believe in the future, a future of progress, of technology, of initiative, of freedom. These are the principles that I know guide you in Canada, and these are the principles that guide us here, in Israel.

In this visit, we are discussing ways to further enhance the ties between us, as cooperating with each other helps make both countries stronger, more prosperous, more progressive. I hope that the day comes that we will find partners here in the Middle East who share our vision, many partners. I hope that the parliaments will cooperate; I hope that there will be real parliaments. For example, let’s look at Syria. Here in the Parliament, as you have seen Stephen, anyone can speak their mind. They can stand up, talk, yell, irritate. But these are not things that can be done in Damascus. Only here in Israel do we have freedom. I must say that I have not found that our friends, Israeli Arabs, want to take leave of Israel. They all want to be here, and justly so. I understand them. I think I made my point about the robustness of Israeli democracy. That’s easy.

But looking forward, our feet must stay firmly planted in the ground. The Middle East outside of this home, outside of this country, is turbulent and unstable. But more than anything, what threatens peace, stability and security, and I add progress in the Middle East, is Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The international community’s objective must be to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities. That goal is still ahead of us.

The interim agreement, which went into effect today, does not stop Iran from realizing its goal of making nuclear weapons. Producing the fissile material, the core of the atomic bomb, is like a train that stops in three stations: station 1 – enriching uranium to 3.5%, station 2 – 20%, and the final destination – 90%. The Geneva agreement cancelled the 20% station, but left the train on the tracks, enabling Iran to improve and upgrade the engine by developing new centrifuges. When the time comes, Iran will be able to leap to the last stop faster, on an express line, without stopping at the stations on the way. In a final agreement, the international community must derail the Iranian nuclear train. Iran must not be left with the ability to build nuclear weapons.

Stephen and distinguished guests, I believe that it is time that the international community, which has recently been easing sanctions and giving Iran legitimacy, also demand that Iran stop calling for Israel’s destruction and arming terror organizations: Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and others. There is no justification for legitimizing a regime like Iran that maintains its murderous policy, and there is every reason to demand that it dismantle its nuclear capabilities and its radical policy.

I know Stephen, that our concerns are your concerns. You fully share our desire to see a stable, safe and peaceful Middle East. Canada, under your leadership, is one of Israel’s closest allies, and you will find that we have a fascinating country, a wonderful land, and we are happy that you and your dear wife, Laureen, have the opportunity to visit parts of it. Wherever you go, you will feel the deep friendship that the citizens of Israel have for you and your country. We will always have a close friend in Canada, and in you, a friend and leader of great stature, whose name will always be remembered with pride in the history of our relations.

Welcome to Jerusalem.
Bienvenue a Jerusalem.

Israel Musings January 13, 2013: World, Israeli leaders react to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s death

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

After over a week of where his health rapidly deteriorated, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-2006) died at age 85 Saturday afternoon 2 p.m. Israel time on Jan. 11, 2014 eight years after entering a coma from…READ MORE
%d bloggers like this: