Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2016: PM Netanyahu’s Eulogy at the Funeral for Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Eulogy at the Funeral for Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres

Source: PMO, 9-30-16


PM Netanyahu at the Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres
Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at the funeral for Israel’s ninth President, Shimon Peres, delivered the following eulogy:

“You have come from near and far to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, to pay last respects to Shimon Peres, one of the founders of the state, one of the greatest leaders of our nation, a venerable leader, the remarkable Shimon Peres.
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[Transcribed from the English]

I want to thank you all for coming today.

That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon, is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace, his love of Israel.

The people of Israel deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon and the state to which he dedicated his life.

Shimon lived a life of purpose. He soared to incredible heights. He swept so many with his vison and his hope. He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world.

Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy, as does the world.
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My friends,

Shimon Peres not only led a long life, but a meaningful life.

He played an active role as a senior partner in the national rebirth of the Jewish people.

He belonged to the generation that emerged from bondage to liberty, that struck roots in our ancient homeland, and wielded the Sword of David in its defense.

Shimon made a monumental contribution to guaranteeing our capacity to defend ourselves for generations.

And for that he will have the gratitude of generations.

At the same time, he made every effort throughout his adult life to achieve peace with our neighbors.

It is no secret that Shimon and I were political rivals, but over time we became friends, close friends.

In one of our many late night meetings at the President’s House, late at night, I asked him, “Tell me, Shimon, throughout your long career, who were the Israeli leaders you most revered?”

Before he managed to answer me, I said, “The first one is clear. You studied at the feet of Ben-Gurion.”

For indeed, as a young man, Shimon saw how Ben-Gurion forged our freedom and shouldered the responsibility for building Israel and securing its destiny.

But in the same conversation, he also talked about Rabin, Begin, and other leaders with genuine appreciation for their unique contributions to our state.

He then surprised me somewhat when he also mentioned one other person – Moshe Dayan.

Shimon talked about Dayan’s valor on the battlefield and his originality, and one other characteristic.

“Moshe never cared what anybody thought about him,” Shimon told me.

“Dayan completely ignored political considerations. He was what he wanted to be.”

Shimon appreciated these qualities, but he also knew one other truth – that if you want to realize the things you believe in, your diplomatic, economic and social goals, you can’t really disconnect from politics.

And therefore, in the 50 years that he served in Knesset and in government, Shimon lived in that inherent tension between statesmanship and politics.

He soared on the wings of vision but he knew that the runway passes through the rocky field of politics.

He was able to do all that—to be pummeled, to fall and get back on his feet time after time—thanks to his passion for activism and ideals.

I first encountered that passion, here, on this very hill 40 years ago.

Two days after the bold rescue operation in Entebbe in which my brother gave his life, Yoni’s funeral was held here.

As defense minister, together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon approved that operation.

At the funeral, he delivered a deeply stirring eulogy, which I will never forget.

It was the first time I ever met him.

My late parents, my brother, and I were profoundly moved by what he said about Yoni, about the Operation, about the bond with our forefathers, and about the pride of our nation.

From that point on, a special bond was formed between us.

Shimon and I disagreed about many things, but those disagreements never overshadowed our many warm and thoughtful discussions.

Our friendship deepened with each meeting.

Yet we never glossed over our differences of opinion.

In one of our nearly night-long discussions, we addressed a fundamental question: From Israel’s perspective, what is paramount—security or peace?

Shimon enthusiastically replied, “Bibi, peace is the true security. If there will be peace, there will be security.”

And I responded to him, “Shimon, in the Middle East, security is essential for achieving peace and for maintaining it.”

The debate intensified.

We went back and forth for hours, flinging arguments at one another.

He came from the left, I came from the right.

I came from the right, and he came back from the left.

And in the end – like two worn-out prizefighters – we put down our gloves.

I saw in his eyes, and I think he saw in mine, that our principles stemmed from deep-seeded beliefs and a commitment to the cause – ensuring Israel’s future.

PM Netanyahu at the Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture

My friends, do you know what surprising conclusion I reached with the passage of time?

We were both right.

In a turbulent Middle East in which only the strong survive, peace will not be achieved other than by permanently preserving our power.

But power is not an end in itself.

It’s a means to an end.

That goal is to ensure our national existence and co-existence.

To promote progress, prosperity and peace – for us, for the nations of the region, and for our Palestinian neighbors.

Distinguished guests,

Shimon also reached the conclusion that no one camp has a monopoly on truth.

The day after his swearing in as Israel’s 9th president, he attended the official memorial ceremony for Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whom I regard as one of my spiritual mentors.

Addressing the ceremony, Shimon said, “History bestowed on the two major streams of Zionism – the Labor movement and the Jabotinsky movement – the task of building the Zionist enterprise. The many gaps between these two camps have narrowed on many issues. The adherents of these streams are today partners in political parties and in the leadership of the state – something that was inconceivable in the distant past.”

“It seems,” Shimon concluded, “that King Solomon was right. Two are better than one.”

At the end of his speech, I approached him, shook his hand and warmly thanked him for his unifying message.

Nine years later, two months ago, my wife and I came to honor Shimon at the opening of the “Peres Center for Innovation.”

Nano and medical technology, neuroscience and computer engineering, satellites and robotics—all were on prominent display.

Shimon radiated pride. I don’t think I had ever seen him that happy.

It was the realization of one of his dreams.

He put a pair of 3-D glasses over his eyes – the same eyes from which his corneas have been donated for the benefit of the next generation.

Nothing could be more symbolic.

Shimon always looked to the future. He believed, as we believe, in progress, in science and technology.

They have the power to strengthen our security as well as to lay the future foundations for peace.

If we nurture these capabilities and act resolutely against the enemies of progress, modernity will triumph over barbarism, good will win out over evil, and light will defeat darkness.

Shimon, my friend, you said that one of the few times you shed a tear was when you heard the tragic news of the death of my brother Yoni in Entebbe.

You cried then, Shimon. And today, I weep for you.

I loved you. We all love you.

Be at peace, Shimon, dear friend, great leader.

We will cherish your memory in the heart of our nation and – I can confidently say – in the heart of all nations.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 22, 2016: PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly

Source: PMO, 9-22-16


PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly
Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I’m about to say is going to shock you: Israel has a bright future at the UN.

Now I know that hearing that from me must surely come as a surprise, because year after year I’ve stood at this very podium and slammed the UN for its obsessive bias against Israel. And the UN deserved every scathing word – for the disgrace of the General Assembly that last year passed 20 resolutions against the democratic State of Israel and a grand total of three resolutions against all the other countries on the planet.

Israel – twenty; rest of the world – three.

And what about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined. As women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world, which is the only country that the UN’s Commission on Women chose to condemn this year? Yep, you guessed it – Israel. Israel. Israel where women fly fighter jets, lead major corporations, head universities, preside – twice – over the Supreme Court, and have served as Speaker of the Knesset and Prime Minister.

And this circus continues at UNESCO. UNESCO, the UN body charged with preserving world heritage. Now, this is hard to believe but UNESCO just denied the 4,000 year connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce. So when it comes to Israel at the UN, you’d probably think nothing will ever change, right? Well think again. You see, everything will change and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.

More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow.

Today Israel has diplomatic relations with over 160 countries. That’s nearly double the number that we had when I served here as Israel’s ambassador some 30 years ago. And those ties are getting broader and deeper every day. World leaders increasingly appreciate that Israel is a powerful country with one of the best intelligence services on earth. Because of our unmatched experience and proven capabilities in fighting terrorism, many of your governments seek our help in keeping your countries safe.

Many also seek to benefit from Israel’s ingenuity in agriculture, in health, in water, in cyber and in the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence – that fusion that is changing our world in every way.

You might consider this: Israel leads the world in recycling wastewater. We recycle about 90% of our wastewater. Now, how remarkable is that? Well, given that the next country on the list only recycles about 20% of its wastewater, Israel is a global water power. So if you have a thirsty world, and we do, there’s no better ally than Israel.

How about cybersecurity? That’s an issue that affects everyone. Israel accounts for one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, yet last year we attracted some 20% of the global private investment in cybersecurity. I want you to digest that number. In cyber, Israel is punching a whopping 200 times above its weight. So Israel is also a global cyber power. If hackers are targeting your banks, your planes, your power grids and just about everything else, Israel can offer indispensable help.

Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

This summer I had an unbelievable opportunity to see this change so vividly during an unforgettable visit to four African countries. This is the first visit to Africa by an Israeli prime minister in decades. Later today, I’ll be meeting with leaders from 17 African countries. We’ll discuss how Israeli technology can help them in their efforts to transform their countries.

In Africa, things are changing. In China, India, Russia, Japan, attitudes towards Israel have changed as well. These powerful nations know that, despite Israel’s small size, it can make a big difference in many, many areas that are important to them.

But now I’m going to surprise you even more. You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere. It’s taking place in the Arab world. Our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan continue to be anchors of stability in the volatile Middle East. But I have to tell you this: For the first time in my lifetime, many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly.

So Israel’s diplomatic relations are undergoing nothing less than a revolution. But in this revolution, we never forget that our most cherished alliance, our deepest friendship is with the United States of America, the most powerful and the most generous nation on earth. Our unbreakable bond with the United States of America transcends parties and politics. It reflects, above all else, the overwhelming support for Israel among the American people, support which is at record highs and for which we are deeply grateful.

The United Nations denounces Israel; the United States supports Israel. And a central pillar of that defense has been America’s consistent support for Israel at the UN. I appreciate President Obama’s commitment to that longstanding US policy. In fact, the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011. As President Obama rightly declared at this podium, peace will not come from statements and resolutions at the United Nations.

I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s automatic majority against Israel at the UN reminds me of the story, the incredible story of Hiroo Onada. Hiroo was a Japanese soldier who was sent to the Philippines in 1944. He lived in the jungle. He scavenged for food. He evaded capture. Eventually he surrendered, but that didn’t happen until 1974, some 30 years after World War II ended. For decades, Hiroo refused to believe the war was over. As Hiroo was hiding in the jungle, Japanese tourists were swimming in pools in American luxury hotels in nearby Manila. Finally, mercifully, Hiroo’s former commanding officer was sent to persuade him to come out of hiding. Only then did Hiroo lay down his arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished delegates from so many lands,

I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms. The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended. Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?

We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.

But regardless of what happens in the months ahead, I have total confidence that in the years ahead the revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations will finally penetrate this hall of nations. I have so much confidence, in fact, that I predict that a decade from now an Israeli prime minister will stand right here where I am standing and actually applaud the UN. But I want to ask you: Why do we have to wait a decade? Why keep vilifying Israel? Perhaps because some of you don’t appreciate that the obsessive bias against Israel is not just a problem for my country, it’s a problem for your countries too. Because if the UN spends so much time condemning the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, it has far less time to address war, disease, poverty, climate change and all the other serious problems that plague the planet.

Are the half million slaughtered Syrians helped by your condemnation of Israel? The same Israel that has treated thousands of injured Syrians in our hospitals, including a field hospital that I built right along the Golan Heights border with Syria. Are the gays hanging from cranes in Iran helped by your denigration of Israel? That same Israel where gays march proudly in our streets and serve in our parliament, including I’m proud to say in my own Likud party. Are the starving children in North Korea’s brutal tyranny, are they helped by your demonization of Israel? Israel, whose agricultural knowhow is feeding the hungry throughout the developing world?

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If UN habits die hard, Palestinian habits die even harder. President Abbas just attacked from this podium the Balfour Declaration. He’s preparing a lawsuit against Britain for that declaration from 1917. That’s almost 100 years ago – talk about being stuck in the past. The Palestinians may just as well sue Iran for the Cyrus Declaration, which enabled the Jews to rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. Come to think of it, why not a Palestinian class action suit against Abraham for buying that plot of land in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried 4,000 years ago? You’re not laughing. It’s as absurd as that. To sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration? Is he kidding? And this is taken seriously here?

President Abbas attacked the Balfour Declaration because it recognized the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel. When the United Nations supported the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947, it recognized our historical and our moral rights in our homeland and to our homeland. Yet today, nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians still refuse to recognize those rights – not our right to a homeland, not our right to a state, not our right to anything. And this remains the true core of the conflict, the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. You see, this conflict is not about the settlements. It never was.

The conflict raged for decades before there was a single settlement, when Judea Samaria and Gaza were all in Arab hands. The West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands and they attacked us again and again and again. And when we uprooted all 21 settlements in Gaza and withdrew from every last inch of Gaza, we didn’t get peace from Gaza – we got thousands of rockets fired at us from Gaza.

This conflict rages because for the Palestinians, the real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

Now mind you, the issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations. But this conflict has never been about the settlements or about establishing a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state, a Jewish state in any boundary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate: Our right to the one and only Jewish state.

Wow, sustained applause for the Prime Minister of Israel in the General Assembly? The change may be coming sooner than I thought.

Had the Palestinians said yes to a Jewish state in 1947, there would have been no war, no refugees and no conflict. And when the Palestinians finally say yes to a Jewish state, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all.

Now here’s the tragedy, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future.

I want you to imagine a day in the life of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, I’ll call him Ali. Ali wakes up before school, he goes to practice with a soccer team named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of a busload of 37 Israelis. At school, Ali attends an event sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education honoring Baha Alyan, who last year murdered three Israeli civilians. On his walk home, Ali looks up at a towering statue erected just a few weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority to honor Abu Sukar, who detonated a bomb in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 Israelis.

When Ali gets home, he turns on the TV and sees an interview with a senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, who says that if he had a nuclear bomb, he’d detonate it over Israel that very day. Ali then turns on the radio and he hears President Abbas’s adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, urging Palestinians, here’s a quote, “to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them.” Ali checks his Facebook and he sees a recent post by President Abbas’s Fatah Party calling the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a “heroic act”. On YouTube, Ali watches a clip of President Abbas himself saying, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Direct quote.

Over dinner, Ali asks his mother what would happen if he killed a Jew and went to an Israeli prison? Here’s what she tells him. She tells him he’d be paid thousands of dollars each month by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, she tells him, the more Jews he would kill, the more money he’d get. Oh, and when he gets out of prison, Ali would be guaranteed a job with the Palestinian Authority.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All this is real. It happens every day, all the time. Sadly, Ali represents hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children who are indoctrinated with hate every moment, every hour.

This is child abuse.

Imagine your child undergoing this brainwashing. Imagine what it takes for a young boy or girl to break free out of this culture of hate. Some do but far too many don’t. How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

We in Israel don’t do this. We educate our children for peace. In fact, we recently launched a pilot program, my government did, to make the study of Arabic mandatory for Jewish children so that we can better understand each other, so that we can live together side-by-side in peace.

Of course, like all societies Israel has fringe elements. But it’s our response to those fringe elements, it’s our response to those fringe elements that makes all the difference.

Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I’ll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him.

No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, “This is not our people. This is not our way.” I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed’s assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.

Now, for some, this story shows that both sides have their extremists and both sides are equally responsible for this seemingly endless conflict.

But what Ahmed’s story actually proves is the very opposite. It illustrates the profound difference between our two societies, because while Israeli leaders condemn terrorists, all terrorists, Arabs and Jews alike, Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists. While Israel jails the handful of Jewish terrorists among us, the Palestinians pay thousands of terrorists among them.

So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hear the buzz. I know that many of you have given up on peace. But I want you to know – I have not given up on peace. I remain committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two peoples. I believe as never before that changes taking place in the Arab world today offer a unique opportunity to advance that peace.

I commend President el-Sisi of Egypt for his efforts to advance peace and stability in our region. Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab peace initiative and welcomes a dialogue with Arab states to advance a broader peace. I believe that for that broader peace to be fully achieved the Palestinians have to be part of it. I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.

President Abbas spoke here an hour ago. Wouldn’t it be better if instead of speaking past each other we were speaking to one another? President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem. And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While Israel seeks peace with all our neighbors, we also know that peace has no greater enemy than the forces of militant Islam. The bloody trail of this fanaticism runs through all the continents represented here. It runs through Paris and Nice, Brussels and Baghdad, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Minnesota and New York, from Sydney to San Bernardino. So many have suffered its savagery: Christian and Jews, women and gays, Yazidis and Kurds and many, many others.

Yet the heaviest price, the heaviest price of all has been paid by innocent Muslims. Hundreds of thousands unmercifully slaughtered. Millions turned into desperate refugees, tens of millions brutally subjugated. The defeat of militant Islam will thus be a victory for all humanity, but it would especially be a victory for those many Muslims who seek a life without fear, a life of peace, a life of hope.

But to defeat the forces of militant Islam, we must fight them relentlessly. We must fight them in the real world. We must fight them in the virtual world. We must dismantle their networks, disrupt their funding, discredit their ideology. We can defeat them and we will defeat them. Medievalism is no match for modernity. Hope is stronger than hate, freedom mightier than fear.

We can do this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel fights this fateful battle against the forces of militant Islam every day. We keep our borders safe from ISIS, we prevent the smuggling of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, we thwart Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, and we deter missile attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

That’s the same Hamas terror organization that cruelly, unbelievably cruelly refuses to return three of our citizens and the bodies of our fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Hadar Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, are here with us today. They have one request – to bury their beloved son in Israel. All they ask for is one simple thing – to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son Hadar in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn’t care less.

I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that’s decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas – all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran. Iran openly seeks Israel’s annihilation. It threatens countries across the Middle East, it sponsors terror worldwide.

This year, Iran has fired ballistic missiles in direct defiance of Security Council Resolutions. It has expended its aggression in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen. Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism continued to build its global terror network. That terror network now spans five continents.

So my point to you is this: The threat Iran poses to all of us is not behind us, it’s before us. In the coming years, there must be a sustained and united effort to push back against Iran’s aggression and Iran’s terror. With the nuclear constraints on Iran one year closer to being removed, let me be clear: Israel will not allow the terrorist regime in Iran to develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in a decade, not ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I stand before you today at a time when Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, is fighting for his life. Shimon is one of Israel’s founding fathers, one of its boldest statesmen, one of its most respected leaders. I know you will all join me and join all the people of Israel in wishing him refuah shlemah Shimon, a speedy recovery.

I’ve always admired Shimon’s boundless optimism, and like him, I too am filled with hope. I am filled with hope because Israel is capable of defending itself by itself against any threat. I am filled with hope because the valor of our fighting men and women is second to none. I am filled with hope because I know the forces of civilization will ultimately triumph over the forces of terror. I am filled with hope because in the age of innovation, Israel – the innovation nation – is thriving as never before. I am filled with hope because Israel works tirelessly to advance equality and opportunity for all its citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, everyone. And I am filled with hope because despite all the naysayers, I believe that in the years ahead, Israel will forge a lasting peace with all our neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am hopeful about what Israel can accomplish because I’ve seen what Israel has accomplished. In 1948, the year of Israel’s independence, our population was 800,000. Our main export was oranges. People said then we were too small, too weak, too isolated, too demographically outnumbered to survive, let alone thrive. The skeptics were wrong about Israel then; the skeptics are wrong about Israel now.

Israel’s population has grown tenfold, our economy fortyfold. Today our biggest export is technology – Israeli technology, which powers the world’s computers, cellphones, cars and so much more.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The future belongs to those who innovate and this is why the future belongs to countries like Israel. Israel wants to be your partner in seizing that future, so I call on all of you: Cooperate with Israel, embrace Israel, dream with Israel. Dream of the future that we can build together, a future of breathtaking progress, a future of security, prosperity and peace, a future of hope for all humanity, a future where even at the UN, even in this hall, Israel will finally, inevitably, take its rightful place among the nations.

Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 21, 2016: President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Remarks Before Bilateral Meeting Transcript

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Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 9-21-16

Lotte New York Palace Hotel
New York, New York

12:58 P.M. EDT

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, it’s very good to see you again.  First, I want to thank you for the Memorandum of Understanding that we signed last week.  It greatly enhances Israel’s security.  It fortifies the principle that you’ve enunciated many times that Israel should be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

Secondly, I want to thank you for the extensive security and intelligence cooperation between our two countries.  I don’t think people at large understand the breadth and depth of this cooperation, but I know it.  And I want to thank you on behalf of all the people of Israel.

Third, I want to thank you for the many meetings we’ve had in which we discussed how to confront common challenges and how to seize common opportunities.  The greatest challenge is, of course, the unremitting fanaticism.  The greatest opportunity is to advance a global peace.  That’s a goal that I and the people of Israel will never give up on.

We’ve been fortunate that, in pursuing these two tasks, Israel has no greater friend than the United States of America, and America has no greater friend than Israel.  Our alliance has grown decade after decade, through successive presidents, a bipartisan Congress, and the overwhelming support of the American people.  It’s an unbreakable bond based on common values, buttressed by common interest, and bound by a shared destiny.

And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity to once again discuss how we can shape that destiny together.  And I’d like to add, if I may, one final point.  As you conclude your presidency, I know you’re going to be busy with many, many things, much more than improving what I hear is a terrific golf game.  (Laughter.)  Your voice, your influential voice will be heard for many decades.  And I know you’ll continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself and its right to thrive as a Jewish state.  So I want you to know, Barack, that you’ll always be a welcome guest in Israel.

And, by the way, I don’t play golf, but right next to my home in Caesarea, in Israel, is a terrific golf course.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We’ll set up a tee time.  (Laughter.)

Thank you.  Thank you so much.

Well, it’s good to once again welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and his delegation here.  I want to start by just sending a message that all of the American people, my entire administration, and me, personally, are thinking about Shimon Peres — a great friend, a hero, and giant in the history of Israel.  And we are hopeful that he will have a speedy recovery.
I’ve always joked whenever I’ve seen Shimon that I wanted to see what he ate and what he did, because he’s always looked so good.  I know this has been a challenging time for him and his family, but I wanted to make sure that I relay my gratitude to him for his friendship and his leadership, and helping to forge a strong U.S.-Israeli bond.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned, the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable.  It is based on common values, family ties, a recognition that a Jewish state of Israel is one of our most important allies, and a guiding principle throughout my presidency — one that I’ve expressed often to the Prime Minister — is, is that it is important for America’s national security to ensure that we have a safe and secure Israel, one that can defend itself.

And so the Memorandum of Understanding that we recently signed I think is indicative of that.  What it does is provide an assurance and a foundation for the kinds of ongoing military and intelligence cooperation that has been the hallmark of our relationship.  It allows I think Israeli planners the kind of certainty in a moment where there’s enormous uncertainty in the region.  It is a very difficult and dangerous time in the Middle East, and we want to make sure that Israel has the full capabilities it needs in order to keep the Israeli people safe and secure.

This will give us an opportunity to talk about the challenges that arise out of situations like Syria.  I’ll also be interested in hearing from the Prime Minister his assessment of conditions within Israel and in the West Bank.  Obviously, our hearts go out to those who have been injured, both Israeli and Palestinian.  Clearly, there is great danger of not just terrorism, but also flare-ups of violence.  We do have concerns around settlement activity, as well.  And our hope is that we can continue to be an effective partner with Israel in finding a path to peace.

Obviously, I’m only going to be President for another few months.  The Prime Minister will be there quite a bit longer.  And our hope will be that in these conversations we get a sense of how Israel sees the next few years, what the opportunities are and what the challenges are in order to assure that we keep alive the possibility of a stable, secure Israel at peace with its neighbors, and a Palestinian homeland that meets the aspirations of their people.

But obviously, these are challenging times.  One thing I can say about Prime Minister Netanyahu is he has always been candid with us, and his team has cooperated very effectively with ours. We very much appreciate it.  And I guarantee you that I will visit Israel often, because it is a beautiful country with beautiful people.  And Michelle and the girls I think resent the fact that I’ve not taken them on most of these trips, so they’re insistent that I do take them.  Of course, they will appreciate the fact that the next time I visit Israel I won’t have to sit in bilats — (laughter) — but instead can enjoy the sights and sounds of a remarkable country.

So thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

END

1:06 P.M. EDT

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

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

Source: PMO, 10-10-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: PMO, 10-10-16 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 9, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice President Joe Biden in a joint statement transcript

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PM Netanyahu and Vice President Joe Biden in a joint statement

Source: PMO, 3-9-16
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden:

“Mr. Vice President, Joe, it’s good to welcome you again in Jerusalem. You’re here with your wife Jill and your wonderful family: your daughter-in-law Hallie, your grandchildren Natalie and Hunter. And I hope you feel at home here in Israel because the people of Israel consider the Biden family part of our family. You’re part of our mishpucha. And I want to thank you personally for your, for our personal friendship of over 30 years. We’ve known each other a long time. We’ve gone through many trials and tribulations. And we have an enduring bond that represents the enduring bond between our people.

As you well know, the last 24 hours have been very difficult for Israel, including this morning. Twelve people were injured in five terrorist attacks. An American citizen, Taylor Force, was murdered. Taylor was a graduate of West Point, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, a graduate student of Vanderbilt University. And I want to extend our deepest condolences to his family and wish the injured a speedy recovery. And I know I speak for you because you’ve said these very words.

Joe, I appreciate your strong condemnation of terrorism. Nothing justifies these attacks. But unfortunately President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorist attacks, his Fatah party actually praised the murderer of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero.

Now, this is wrong. And this failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everybody in the international community.

We have taken many steps in recent months to fight Palestinian terrorism, and we’re taking even stronger measures now.

I believe that to fight terror, all civilized societies must stand together. And while Israel has many partners in this decisive battle, we have no better partner than the United States of America. It’s a partnership anchored in common values, confronting common enemies and striving for a more secure, prosperous and peaceful future.

I see your visit here as an opportunity for us to further strengthen this great partnership. We’ve just been discussing some of the challenges we face. The first one is the persistent incitement in Palestinian society that glorifies murderers of innocent people, and calls for a Palestinian state not to live in peace with Israel, but to replace Israel. And we are witnessing, regrettably, the collapse of states throughout the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and Iran’s relentless aggression and terror in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, the Golan and Gaza, and elsewhere in the region and around the world.

But we’re also standing before great opportunities, and I think some of them stem from these great challenges. The first opportunity is to deepen ties between Israel and the moderate Arab states, and this could help us build a solid foundation for peace and stability. We can also make Israel energy independent, an exporter of natural gas to the region and beyond. And we can use Israel’s advanced technology to continue to better our world – in agriculture, in water, in cyber and in many other areas. And I know, Joe, that one area is particularly close to your heart. We were discussing that just now – the battle against cancer in which you are taking a leading role.

Israel is making important strides in this field, and I have no doubt that Israel can contribute even more by working together with the United States of America. And that’s just true across the board, in every field. America and Israel are stronger when we work together. So I look forward to continuing to work together with you and President Obama to strengthen the remarkable and unbreakable alliance between our two countries.

Joe, my friend, welcome to Jerusalem.”
US Vice President Joe Biden issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“It’s true that Prime Minister Bibi and I go back a long way. I joked some time, a long time ago when you were at the Israeli consulate, we met outside of a, in a parking lot outside of a restaurant where I was meeting with some American Jewish leaders, and we became close friends and I later signed a picture for you that I, as a joke I said ‘Bibi, I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.’ And the joke was, I would have been a member of the Labour party, not the Likud party. We were joking about what party we’d be in.

We’ve been friends, our families have been friends, you have come to know my sons, my daughter you’ve met, and I have made it an important part of my family’s life that as my children and grandchildren approach the age of 15, the first place I’ve taken them is in Europe, to Dachau, the second place is to Israel. And my deceased son Beau who died eight months ago – and thank you for your great personal concern, and I know you knew him – I brought along his two children who are ten and twelve, whose grandmother is Jewish and got raised in a Jewish family, their mum, because I want them to see that they’re not too young to understand all of what you talked about: that this is a commitment that goes deeper than security, and I appreciate your welcome. And my granddaughter, love of my life named after my deceased daughter Naomi, she’s coming, she’s on a visit here with her boyfriend whose family lives here, she’s a senior at Penn.

But all kidding aside, it’s been a close relationship. And it’s been one that is of consequence not only for Israel but for the United States and for freedom loving people all over the world. But as you said, we started our discussion about the most recent heinous terrorist attack yesterday in Jaffa and Jerusalem and Petah Tikva, my wife and my two grandchildren and granddaughter are having dinner on the beach not very far from where that happened. I don’t know exactly whether it’s 100 meters or 1,000 meters, and it just brings home that it can happen.

It can happen anywhere at any time. And what Bibi and I talked about was not just the death of Taylor, Taylor Force who served two tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, West Point graduate, a brilliant future. But we talked about the other wounded and the students he was with, and our instinct was the same. We both said ‘Let’s go to the hospital. Now. Let’s go see them. Let’s go see the families and meet with them.’

The reason I cite that, and as a personal note, is the instinct is the same ‘Let’s go see; let’s go touch; let’s go let those families know how much we care about them; let them know that that expression ‘if you don’t go get the terrorist, they’ll come to you.’’ And we’re dealing with it all over the world. So my condolences to Taylor’s family and all those who were victims of the attack yesterday and every day.

Let me say in no uncertain terms: the United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi. This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave even if it appears to inure to the benefit of one side or the other. It’s just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence, and the United States stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.

That’s why we’ve done more to bolster, help bolster Israel’s security than any other administration in history. Across the board we’ve raised our security cooperation and military intelligence fields to unprecedented levels. And we’ve provided a historical amount of security assistance. We’ve ensure Israel has the most advanced weapons, including one of the most effective missile defense systems in the world. At the same time we are struggling to increase our missile defense capability because of the threat from North Korea.

It doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, but you never need to doubt that the United States of America has Israel’s back. And we know Israel has our back as well, I might add. It’s not a one way street. We’re committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats, maintain its qualitative edge with a quality, a quantity sufficient to maintain that. And it’s critical because Israel lives, as Bibi knows better than anyone, lives in a very, very tough neighborhood – a tough and changing neighborhood. Living some little sense of hope, but an awful lot of consternation.

All has changed since I started coming here when I first met with Golda Meir, and her assistant, a fellow named Rabin. I sat across the desk for an hour as she flipped those maps up and down, chain smoking, telling me about the Six Day War. And I had just come from Egypt and I was one of the few people allowed to go to the Suez Canal, I’m still not sure why. And all this activity was occurring in the desert, they kept telling me it was sand storms. And I came back and I said to the Prime Minister, I think there’s going to be another war. I think they’re getting ready to go to war again.

Well, several months later the Yom Kippur war occurred. I was just a rooky; I had no idea what it was. But I’ll never forget from that moment on, the intensity of the relationship has grown, but the face of the enemy has changed. The face of the enemy has changed and morphed in many ways.

But it also presents some small opportunity. And that is that that’s why it’s absolutely… we’re united in the belief that a nuclear armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and to the United States. And I want to reiterate which I know people still doubt here. If in fact they break the deal, we will act. We will act. And all their conventional activity outside of the deal is still beyond the deal, and we will and are attempting to act wherever we can find it.

And together we’re seeking ways to advance our shared security interests and address, as I said, the new realities of the region. I just came from two days in the UAE, I’ll be heading to Jordan, I was at the Camp David conference, the GCC’s meeting with the President later in April, and as I said, I spend a lot of time as you do with the King of Jordan, I’m heading over from here to see him, and I want to make a couple points.

If you had talked in the region as a whole, four years ago, about whether any Arab states were under some conditions prepared to make peace, real peace with Israel, it would have been, at least I would have said, there’s no shot. Common enemies make the, you know, you know, the enemy… Anyway, you get the torrent. And so I think there are possibilities here. I did not come with a plan. I just came to speak to a friend and to be able to have an open discussion in a closed room, where we brainstorm the whole range of things.

But it is not all hopeless. It is not all hopeless. We will crush Daesh. We will crush ISIS. Together we will crush them. They will not be sustained. I promise you. It will take time, but they will not be sustained. And they’re losing ground every day in Syria, but really losing ground – they’ve lost 40% of the ground they had in Iraq. It’s hard. It’s difficult. But it requires coalitions. It requires cooperation. Most of all, it requires people realizing what their self-interest is. And as we Catholics say, these folks have had an epiphany. They’ve realized that they’d rather be in your orbit than in the orbit of Daesh and ISIS and terrorism, and al-Nusra, et cetera.

And so, if we’re lucky and smart and tenacious, over the next six months, year, eighteen months, we can actually make some real progress. But progress always requires taking a chance and that’s one of the things we’re going to discuss.

And so, I’m here in the region to discuss shared threats that we face and how to advance common security. That includes seeking resolutions to the crisis in Syria and our shared commitment to destroying ISIL. Bibi and I talked very, just a few moments ago. I doubt that you would have thought either of us, was saying as old friends, you know, it’s good we’re cooperating with Russia in Syria. Right? I mean, that would not have come out of either one of our mouths – at least mine – four or five years ago, but the truth is Russia has seen the Lord on some of these issues as well.

It also includes our efforts to ensure that Iran complies with its obligations under the nuclear deal and jointly address the remaining challenges Iran poses to the region. And I’m also back here in Israel to talk to Bibi about the great opportunities that exist in the region, especially new opportunities relating to energy. It’s funny that in the last five years the United States, North America, has become the epicenter of energy in the world. Well, guess what? Little old Israel is about to become the epicenter of energy in this entire region, and can have a profound, profound positive impact on relationships from Egypt to Turkey to Cyprus to Greece to Jordan. And it’s not easy getting there, but you have the tools now to be able to get there. And so, you know, the only way to assure, in my view, the future of a Jewish, democratic State of Israel – and by the way, that’s what in ’48 it called for, a Jewish state, okay? We should get over all of this. It was a Jewish state that was set up – is that the status quo has to break somewhere along the line here in terms of a two state solution. Even though it may be hard to see the way ahead, we continue encourage all sides to take steps to move back toward the path to peace – not easy – and for the sake of Israel, and I might add, for the sake of the Palestinians in the region. But the kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop. There can’t be, there cannot be unilateral steps to undermine trust. That only takes us further away, further and further away from an outcome we know in our hearts is the only fundamental outcome, the only outcome that is the ultimate guarantor.

So what I want, I urge everyone to work to restore the calm for the Israelis and you’re already trying it, Bibi, and the Palestinians alike to… so they can go about their daily lives without fear – easier said than done – so that the vision of two states and two people can endure.

Bibi, I want to thank you again for your partnership and at a more personal level for your personal friendship, and I look forward to the discussions we are going to have today with our teams. On a personal note, I want to say how much I’m looking forward to my young grandchildren seeing everything from Yad Vashem to the Wall, the things that are the stuff of which cultures are made. I want them to understand for themselves that the relationship between the United States and Israel is more than the relationship of two governments. It’s a bond between people, forged a link by successive generations and grounded in an abiding commitment to Israel’s security – a bond that can never be broken. It’s something that Bibi knows I take personally and I assure you, so does the President.

So for, as I said, we’ve known each other a long time. We’ll probably, you know… When we get together, our key staffs have heart attacks, because we’re supposed to be meeting with all of them and we get talking and we just leave them all behind. We leave everything for them to straighten out. But it’s the nature of the friendship and it’s the nature of the relationship, so I still think, Bibi, there’s a lot we can get done.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 26, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the Occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement on the Occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Source: PMO, 1-26-16

 

Dear Friends,

Preserving the memory of the Holocaust is more important today than ever for in this period of resurgent and sometimes violent anti-Semitism, it is commemorations like this that remind us all where the oldest and most enduring hatred can lead.

Unfortunately, in Europe and elsewhere, Jews are once again being targeted just for being Jews. Around the world, Jewish communities are increasingly living in fear. We see anti-Semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state. Israel is targeted with the same slurs and the same libels that were leveled against the Jewish people since time immemorial.

Islamic extremists incorporate the most outrageous anti-Semitism into their murderous doctrines. We see this in Gaza; we see it in Raqqa; we see it in Tehran. And it’s not just Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Europe. Even respected Western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

The obsession with the Jews – the fixation on the Jewish state – defies any other rational explanation. While across the region, Islamist militants brutalize entire populations, enslave and rape women, murder Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly condemns Israel. More than North Korea. More than Iran. More than Syria. More than all of them put together. Some things just don’t change.

But one thing has changed. We have changed. The Jews have changed. We are no longer a stateless people endlessly searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to offer us protection.

Today we are an independent and sovereign people in our own homeland. Today we can speak out against the voices of hatred and those seeking our destruction. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedom. We have changed and we stand and speak out and we defend ourselves. But where is Europe? Where is the rest of civilization?

When a state like Iran and movements like Daesh and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust, we will not let it happen. But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us. Not for our sake; for theirs.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 1, 2016: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Session Marking 40 Years Since the Late President Chaim Herzog’s Speech to the UN

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Session Marking 40 Years Since the Late President Chaim Herzog’s Speech to the UN

Source: PMO, 1-5-16
Chaim Herzog was one of our preeminent delegates and representatives to the United Nations. The 40 years that have passed since the dramatic day of November 10, 1975, did not blunt the impression of deep polarization that characterized that day. On the one hand, the United Nations displayed an unprecedented low moral standard, and on the other hand is Ambassador Herzog’s proud and admirable stand.

I will start with the UN Resolution which stated, and I quote, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. Any reasonable person understood that Zionism was not the only target of this ridiculous attack. Those poisonous arrows equally, and in fact first and foremost, targeted the State of Israel, which is the embodiment of the Zionist idea.

These two targets were perceived as a single one. The Arab countries, the producers of petroleum, were hostile towards Israel since the day of its establishment, and they joined forces with the Soviet Union. They brought countries from Asia and Africa into their ranks and brought their slanderous campaign to its peak, which only intensified after our victory. Their failure to defeat us on the battlefield through the use of arms jumpstarted a new effort to try and undermine the just and moral foundation for Israel’s existence, thereby gradually leading to the country’s destruction.

It was an absurd group – an absurd display and an absurd group. A group of anti-democratic countries that trample on human rights, encourage terrorism and that are infected with anti-Semitism. This group was terribly hypocritical in vilifying Israel – a democratic country that upholds freedom and democracy as sacred values and extends its hand in peace to all its neighbors.

There was another party that provided a platform for this libel about racism – I am talking about the United Nations naturally. The United Nations was formed after World War II to promote friendship among the nations and prevent tragedies similar to the ones that had transpired during the years of the war.

Unfortunately, the United Nations quickly transformed into an organization that reinforces the divisions between countries and blocs. In many cases, not only did it not facilitate conflict resolution, it deepened conflicts by adopting resolutions that almost always sided with only one side, that of tyranny versus democracy. This is what the automatic majority in the UN means and it was true in this case as well. The outrageous comparison between Zionism and racism was a turning point, not so much in the history of the UN, but rather in the history of global anti-Semitism.

Until then, hatred of Jews found expression in different countries or lands, for instance in medieval England, Spain during the inquisition, France during the Dreyfuss trial, Ukraine and Russia during the waves of pogroms and in Germany and Europe during the horrifying years of the Holocaust. However, this case created a new situation. It was the first time that our enemies used a global mechanism, a worldwide mechanism, a respected international mechanism which is supposed to represent the entirety of humanity to delegitimize and dehumanize the Jewish state.

Throughout the decades, our enemies described us as the adversaries of humanity, disinheritors of nations, murderers of children and poisoners of wells. Thirty-five countries objected to this characterization and voted against the UN resolution. They well understood the absurdity in calling the Jewish state racist. Four decades later, we are still deeply grateful to them.

They were led by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was one of our strongest and staunchest supporters. He stated very clearly that Israel is a democracy, and the fact of the matter is that tyrannical regimes take advantage of every opportunity to destroy the thing that threatens them most, namely, democracy. Moynihan, who was a very special man, stood by the side of another very special man, our ambassador to the United Nations.

Herzog’s speech to the UN in response to those who initiated the resolution denounced the denouncers. He first mentioned Kristallnacht in Germany, which preceded the annihilation of our people and occurred on exactly the same day 37 years beforehand. Herzog condemned the hatred and ignorance, the arrogance and the slander which were the foundations for the resolution comparing Zionism to racism. He promised, and I quote, “This episode will strengthen Zionism while weakening the UN.”

Tearing up the resolution at the UN podium was an act of planned spontaneity. It was a repetition of an act by his father, Rabbi Herzog, who tore up the White Paper as a public protest during the British Mandate against its restrictions. Chaim Herzog’s profound words stirred empathy for the Zionist cause throughout the Jewish world. The impression made by his speech remains to this day. I can add that it also affected me deeply. I spoke to Chaim Herzog on many occasions, including prior to his term as the Israeli Ambassador to the UN and also during my tenure. I went to see him for some Biblical discourse with someone whom I considered a great rabbi in telling the truth about Israel.

Nine years after he made his speech, I stood at the podium in the UN and delivered my inaugural speech under similar circumstances, though not identical. Iran, supported by Libya and Syria, submitted a proposal to expel Israel from the organization. Chaim Herzog’s devotion, his allegiance to the truth and his profound knowledge of the justness of our path inspired me to say similar things. I said: “We all must decide on which side we belong.

We can continue tolerating the attempts to turn this organization into a parody of itself. We can let it deteriorate until it resembles one of the ridiculous parliaments that gather in Damascus, Tripoli and Tehran, whose representatives, not surprisingly, are the living spirit behind today’s attempt to expel Israel; or alternatively we can tell them: Please check your fanaticism at the door.”

Those years were characterized by an effort to overturn that despicable resolution, an effort that intensified later. Indeed, at the end of 1991 the resolution was overturned, 16 years after it was adopted. The end of the Cold War resulted in the decline of the ideological conflict between the Soviet bloc and the Western countries. It introduced other changes in the international sphere that enabled overturning that UN resolution. Members of Knesset, I would like to mention the obvious: Even after it was overturned, we did not achieve peace and tranquility, far from that. The hostile attitudes towards Israel in UN institutions continue to this day.

There are parties in the UN who condemn us every opportunity they have. The pattern of automatic voting against Israel continues. Over the past year, the UN General Assembly adopted close to 20 resolutions against Israel, compared to only one against Iran, for example.

The same distortion exists in the UN Human Rights Council, which stands out in its discriminatory attitude towards us. Since the establishment of the Council in 2006, millions of people have been massacred around the world or have fled conflict, but this Council adopted 61 resolutions against Israel, more than all the resolutions it adopted against all the other countries combined.

This absurdity is very clear and it has nothing to do with what we do or do not do. As a country that upholds the rule of law, we do not fear legitimate criticism, but when it comes to the UN, its tendency to slander Israel is obsessive, distorted and immoral. Not only is it doing us an injustice, it also abandons those who truly suffer the evils of tyranny, aggression and terrorism, those whom the UN disregards. In fact, it is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, which defends itself against vicious terrorism, that is strongly condemned.
We saw this just recently following the defensive military operations that were forced on us: Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge. The UN condemned us, initiated investigations against us, and thereby abuses its role and provides support for terrorism.

This distorted reality will not discourage us. Our roots are stronger than any lie or slanderous incitement. Members of Knesset, I must reiterate that many countries in the world realize this. A strange duality exists here. On the one hand, they vote for these ridiculous resolutions and on the other hand, they wish to cooperate with us. This is a dramatic transformation in the nature of our relations with the countries of the world. Powerful countries like China, Japan, India, Russia, African countries and Latin American countries wish to learn from our experience in fighting militant Islamic terrorism and from our technological capabilities in so many diverse areas.

Our relations with these countries are growing stronger, and I tell their leaders, “It is time that our good relations will also be reflected in your votes in the UN.” This message is beginning to sink in. We should repeat it in our meetings with foreign representatives. This has already begun to occur in some important votes, including the impressive majority of countries that voted against resolutions singling out Israel in the International Atomic Energy Agency and in several other votes.

As for the UN – there is still a long way to go.
That moment when Chaim Herzog tore up those false allegations against us engraved on our memories. It demonstrated his profound belief in the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, truth over the lie. We believe that, in the end, the people of Israel will prevail and Chaim Herzog played an important part in preserving this belief.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 9, 2015: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office Press Release on Donald Trump’s Plan to Ban Muslims from the United States

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Prime Minister’s Office Press Release on Donald Trump’s Recent Statement

Source: PMO, 12-9-15
Regarding Donald Trump’s recent statement, the Prime Minister’s Office issued the following:

“Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims.

The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world.

As for the meeting with Mr. Trump that was set some two weeks ago, the Prime Minister decided earlier this year on a uniform policy to agree to meet with all presidential candidates from either party who visit Israel and ask for a meeting.

This policy does not represent an endorsement of any candidate or his or her views. Rather, it is an expression of the importance that Prime Minister Netanyahu attributes to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 6, 2015 : PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Saban Forum

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Saban Forum

Source: PMO, 12-6-15

Greetings from Jerusalem.

I want to thank my friend Haim for giving me the opportunity to address you. This comes at a time when the United States has experienced a terrible and savage attack in San Bernardino, and I wish to offer the condolences of the people of Israel to the families, the aggrieved families, and of course send our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The terrorists are attacking in California or in Israel, or for that matter in Paris. They are attacking the very values that we hold dear – freedom, tolerance, diversity. All the things that define the value of life and society in our eyes, they find anathema and that’s why they attack us. I think too that this is what makes us strong. They think that we are hedonistic and weak; we’re actually very strong societies, very resilient, because of the very values that they despise so much.

And these values are what makes the bond between Israel and the United States, the American people and the people of Israel, so strong. It’s that identity of values, those very values that are under such fierce attack today. I think nobody should underestimate the resilience and power of our societies. Nobody should underestimate the United States. It was, it remains and will be the leader of the world precisely because it is so rooted in the values that make societies great.

And these are the same values by which we live, and that’s why nobody should underestimate Israel, and nobody should underestimate the strength of our alliance. It’s strong and it will be even stronger in years to come. And I appreciate the President’s willingness to forge a new agreement between Israel and the United States, a ten-year MoU to strengthen Israeli-American cooperation and strengthen Israel’s security with American support. I think everybody in Israel appreciates that, beginning with me.

We face today two challenges that I’d like to briefly discuss with you. One is a global challenge of the battle of militant Islamic terrorism that plagues not only the Middle East, but increasingly Europe and the United States and Asia, everywhere – Africa. And the second is the specific problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which I’d like to address.

On the global front, I have to say that many used to say that the core of the conflicts in the Middle East, and from there the rest of the world, were rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That was never true, but it’s now demonstrably false. And what we see is the old order established after the Ottoman Empire collapsing and militant Islam, either of the Shiites, Shiite hue led by Iran, or the Sunni hue, led by ISIS, rushing in to fill the void. Now those two forces are clashing with each other because each wants to be the king of the Islamist hill. They hope to first establish in the Middle East and after that in their mad designs throughout the rest of the world, but it nonetheless is a battle of militant Islam against other Muslims and against everyone else.

That is clearly demonstrated in the case of ISIS, that doesn’t mince its words, and is disguised by Iran, that has equal ambitions. The danger that we face is augmented when militant Islam gets a sovereign state, because a state gives them money, in oil revenues in particular for either one, and it gives them the power to develop weapons or acquire weapons – chemical weapons in the case of ISIS and other sophisticated weapons – and of course the quest for nuclear weapons or submarines or satellites and sundry other rockets and precision-guided missiles in the case of Iran.

These battles, these forces are battling each other now over the soil of Syria, and our position has been – my position has been not to intervene because an ISIS-dominated Syria is bad and a Iran-dominated Syria is bad. I think that our policy has been therefore not to try to strengthen one at the expense of the other, but weaken both. But in any case, my policy has been non-intervention with two exceptions. The first is humanitarian. We were among the first countries to offer humanitarian aid to Syria. We established a field hospital right next to the border of, our border in the Golan and have taken in thousands of Syrians who’ve come in, astounded. They were always taught that Israel and Israelis were devils and now they were healing angels. And the second thing that I’ve decided to do is to make it clear that Israel will not tolerate the use of Syrian territory for passing lethal weapons to Hezbollah, to open up a warfront against us in Lebanon, or to use Syrian territory for attacks against us or to enable Iran to build a second terror or military front against us from the Golan or anywhere else in Syria.

These are clear principles which we uphold. I’ve expressed also to President Putin of Russia that these are principles that we’ll continue to uphold and that it makes sense that Russia and Israel have deconfliction. We’ve done that, just as the United States has done that, but it’s very important for me to stress that Israeli policy will continue along the lines that I’ve just outlined.

If I look at the world overall, the core of the conflicts in the Middle East, that is the battle between early medievalism and modernity, is the battle that is being waged now around the world. And the advanced countries in the world, the civilized countries of the world, have to make common cause to contain and ultimately defeat militant Islam. Deep down, human beings want to have freedom and I think that desire and the technology of freedom, the spread of information, will ultimately defeat militant Islam, just as it defeated another murderous ideology bent on world domination: Nazism.

In the case of Nazism, it took down about 60 million people and a third of our own people before it went down, and this cannot allow to happen again. I think it won’t happen again: one, because we have the historical antecedents; and two, because we have the State of Israel, as far as the Jewish people are concerned. We will not allow any one of these violent medievalist forces to threaten our country and threaten our people.

Insofar as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is concerned, I think there is another misunderstanding. People have long said that the core of this conflict is the acquisition of territories by Israel in the 1967 War. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed in any peace process, as is the question of settlements, but it’s not the core of the conflict. In Gaza, nothing changed. In fact, instead of getting peace, we gave territory and got 15,000 rockets on our heads. We took out all the settlements; we disinterred people from their graves; and did we get peace? No. We got the worst terror possible.

I think that happened earlier too, when we left Lebanon and people said, “Well, if you leave Lebanon, then Hezbollah will make peace with you.” And in fact, we got 15,000 rockets from there too. And so people are naturally saying, look, if we want a solution vis-à-vis the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, in the West Bank, how can we ensure that this doesn’t happen again? Well, in order for us to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, we have to address the root cause of the problem. Why has this conflict not been resolved for a hundred years? Why has it not been resolved after successive Israeli prime ministers, six in fact after the Oslo Agreement, have offered to make peace, have offered the Palestinians the possibility of building a state next to Israel – it’s because the Palestinians have not yet been willing to cross that conceptual bridge, that emotional bridge, of giving up the dream not of a state next to Israel, but a state instead of Israel.

And that’s why they persistently refuse – not only Hamas in Gaza, but the PA – they consistently refuse to accept that in a final peace settlement, they will recognize the Jewish state, they will recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people. They ask that we recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, but refuse to accord that same right to us. I have said and I continue to say it, that ultimately the only workable solution is not a unitary state, but a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. That’s the solution. But the Palestinians have to recognize the Jewish state and they persistently refuse to do so. They refuse to recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundary. That was and remains the core of the conflict. Not this or that gesture or the absence of this or that gesture, but the inability or unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to make the leap.

You got a hint of that the other day when Abu Mazen spoke about the “occupation of Palestinian lands for the last 67 years”. Did you hear that? Occupation of Palestinian lands? For the last 67 years? Sixty-seven years ago was 1948. That’s when the State of Israel was established. Does Abu Mazen mean that Tel Aviv is occupied Palestinian territory? Of Haifa? Or Beer Sheba? He refuses to fess up to his people and say it’s over, from their point of view what they say are the borders they wish, the final borders they wish. They refuse to recognize that they will have no more claim on the territory of the Jewish state, that they will not try in any way to flood it with the descendants of refugees. After all, we in Israel took in an equal and even larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

I mention this point about mutual national recognition because it is so fundamental, and like the mantra that was raised time and time and time again, that the core of the conflict, always in the singular, the conflict in the Middle East was the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, that has turned out to be even childish and irrelevant. The same thing I am saying will happen with the argument about the core of the conflict being the settlements or the territories. They’re an issue to be resolved, but they are not the core of the conflict.

And I think it’s important if we’re ever going to resolve this issue is to demand from the Palestinian leadership to recognize the Jewish state. We’ll still have many, many issues to resolve, but it begins with the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own. This is the fundament of peace and the absence of this recognition is the real obstacle.

I don’t lose hope. You can’t be a leader of the Jewish people and not have hope because we’ve overcome so many travails in the last thousands of years and in the last hundred years. We have clawed our way back to a sovereign existence. We built a remarkable state. It’s a world leader in technology, in agriculture, in irrigation, in cyber, in medicine – in so many areas. And we’ve made peace with two countries: Jordan and Egypt. And as the picture that I described about the threat of militant Islam to Arab and Muslim society emerges, we are making inroads and a lot of contacts with Arab countries – a lot of contacts that are not Arab countries as well: the leading countries of Asia, China, India, Japan; dozens of African countries; countries in Latin America. And it’s heartening. It’s heartening to see how Israel is being received and how people are changing their view of Israel as they change their view of the essential conflict between medievalism and modernity that is now spreading throughout the entire world.

But I know, with all the openness that we have with dozens and dozens of countries, including in our own region, I still know that we have no better friend than the United States. This is a partnership of solid values. It’s the deepest partnership there is. I value it across the partisan divide – Democrats, Republicans, Independents – we cherish your support. We value it and we believe that this partnership between Israel and the United States of America is the axis around which many other partnerships can be built in our region and beyond for the betterment of all humanity.

Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 30, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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PM Netanyahu Meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Source: PMO, 11-30-15


PM Netanyahu Meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the climate conference in Paris, met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and invited him to visit Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

“I’m delighted to see Prime Minister Trudeau. We’ve had a chance to speak on the telephone. Canada and Israel have had superb relations. There’s a foundation there to make these relations even stronger. Very practical things that are of interest to both our peoples, and I look forward to having that conversation with you. Now I’m inviting you to Israel at your earliest opportunity.”

PM Netanyahu Meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau:

“Indeed it would be a pleasure to return to Israel when it works out, but in general this is really about starting and continuing… starting a conversation to continue the very strong friendship and relationship between Canada and Israel. We have many issues to talk about, to discuss, but also many issues to collaborate on, and I look forward to continuing the strong friendship that Canada has shown towards Israel for decades, and will continue for ongoing times.”

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

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Statements by PM Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry

Source: PMO, 11-24-15


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

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

Prime Minister Netanyahu

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

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

Welcome, John.”

US Secretary of State Kerry

“Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 20, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the Release of Jonathan Pollard

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement on the Release of Jonathan Pollard

Source: PMO, 11-20-15

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning, issued the following statement on the release of Jonathan Pollard:

“The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard. As someone who raised Jonathan’s case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come. After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan has been reunited with his family. May this Sabbath bring him much joy and peace that will continue in the years and decades ahead.”

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

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement after the Terrorist Attacks in Paris

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

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

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

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

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PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-10-15


PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the GA
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture

-Transcription-

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the GA

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m delighted to be here today with you, the leaders of Jewish communities across North America. You work tirelessly to strengthen Jewish identity and you work tirelessly to support the State of Israel. You are Israel’s partners, you are my partners in building the Jewish future.

Now, this past year has not been simple. Great issues were debated. Passions ran high and the stakes were even higher. But we must always remember two simple truths. The first one is that no matter what disagreements there are between Israel and the United States, Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel. Here’s the second truth: No matter what disagreements there have been within the Jewish community, maintaining the unity of our people is of paramount importance. There is only one Jewish people. There is only one Jewish state. And now, more than ever, we must work together to unite the Jewish people and secure the Jewish state.

Israel is a state of amazing, amazing successes. If we were in the South, I would say amazing grace. I’m saying it here too – amazing success, amazing grace. You know all about the start-up nation. You know that Israel is a global epicenter of innovation, of ingenuity – a leader in water technology, in agritech, in medicine, in science, in cyber.

I want to give you two numbers. First on water: We had twice the rainfall in 1948, the year of Israel’s founding and one-tenth the population. So in 67 years, the water supply has gone down by half from rainfall, roughly half, and the population has grown ten times. Our GDP per capita has grown 40 times, and with it goes water usage. So we had to have a big water problem, but we don’t. We have a water surplus. Israel leads the world by far in the recycling of waste water and in so many other technologies related to water. And people are coming to us and they say: Teach us. Or la’goyim. Teach us. Teach us what you’ve done for yourself. We can do it in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America. Every week somebody else comes and says teach us how to get water out of the stone.

So here’s another little factoid. Is that how you call it, factoid? Factum? Fact. Okay, here’s another fact. In 2014 Israel was receiving 10% of the global investment in cyber security. That’s an extraordinary number given that we are… It’s about 100 times our size in the relative population of the world. In 2015 that number has changed. It grew from 10% to 20%. It doubled in one year, one year. So in cyber, Israel is punching 200 times above its weight. That’s an extraordinary figure.

In cyber, in water and in many, many other fields of Israeli technology, our economy continues its remarkable ascent. In 1948, Israel had roughly the same GDP per capita as our neighbors. Today Israel’s GDP per capita has surpassed the European average and according to three of the four indices that I looked at before I came here, it surpassed that of Japan. And as our economy has grown, so has the reach of Israeli exports. Today Israel is dramatically increasing trade with India and China. I point that out because they’re two small countries, and together with our small country, we encompass about a third of the population of the world, which is another factoid you can file away. The combination of new innovations, really new products and services, and new markets, is propelling Israel’s economy to ever greater and greater heights.

That’s important because, you see, while we have tremendous opportunity, we also have one or two challenges. I think you’ve heard about them. We have to pay for defense. Defense is very, very expensive. In fact, it gets more and more expensive all the time, so the principal way by which we pay for our defenses is by growing our economy. And the other, I have to say, is the generous support that we are getting from the United States of America, and yesterday I had a wonderful discussion with President Obama how to secure that assistance for the coming decade. Thank you America and thank you President Obama.

I know that all of you are proud of Israel’s stunning technological achievements. But I think we should no less be proud of Israel’s values. And you see those values on display every day. You see it in our freedom – when you watch the passionate speeches in our Knesset, if you bring noise plugs, and indeed when you read the spirited debate in our press – bring pink sunglasses; it’ll lower the glare. But this is democracy. This is intense, robust democracy.

You see it in our pluralism – in our growing and thriving Christian population, the only Christian population in the Middle East that is growing and thriving and not shrinking and being decimated; in our proud and our strong LGBT community. Tel Aviv is a renowned capital of pluralism and diversity and tolerance, as is Israel altogether.

You see it in our egalitarianism. You see it in an Arab schoolboy who knows that – or schoolgirl – they can grow up to be Knesset members or ambassadors or a Supreme Court justice. We have an Arab Supreme Court justice, in case you didn’t know. And it’s the only truly independent court in a very, very large radius. You see it in Israeli schoolgirls who know they can become fighter pilots, central bank governors and prime ministers. We’ve had one of each, actually more than one of each – one of each for prime minister.

You see our compassion when you visit the hospitals, the field hospital that we’ve set up that treat thousands of wounded Syrians from the battles inside the Syrian inferno. We set up a field hospital I think about ten or fifty yards away, on our side of the Syrian border, and we take in these people who’ve suffered unbelievable tragedy. We take care of them at our expense and we’ve been doing so for years. You won’t read about it, but you should know about it. It’s very important.

And you see our values when you follow our expert rescue teams to faraway places like Haiti and Nepal. Just recently we had this horrible earthquake in Nepal and the biggest rescue delegation was from India. That’s a small country. The second largest in the world came from Israel. Second largest rescue delegation in the world.

Now, the demonstration of liberal democratic values would be impressive anywhere, anytime. But what is truly remarkable is that Israel upholds these values in the darkest and most oppressive region on earth and when facing unmatched security challenges. This is why when our detractors defame Israel, we must defend Israel. This is why when they tell us that we should be ashamed of Israel, we must tell them we are proud of Israel.

From my office in Jerusalem the dangers facing Israel can sometimes appear daunting. Israel is surrounded by many forces driven by fanaticism and hatred. Militant Islam is on the march – the Sunni extremists led by ISIS, the Shiite fanatics led by Iran.

But despite these enormous dangers, I have no doubt that Israel will continue to flourish in the years and decades ahead because the people of Israel are strong, because the alliance between America and Israel is strong and because the partnership between Israel and Jewish communities around the world is strong.

Through decades of war and terrorism, three generations of Israelis have shown extraordinary fortitude and resilience. I visit our troops just about every week. I go and see our young men and women in uniform and it is an experience that I hope that all of you can share, possibly have shared. To talk with our young men and women in uniform is to be inspired by their deep faith in the justice of Israel’s cause and by their fierce determination to defend our homeland. We’re going to be celebrating Hanukkah. These are the new Maccabees. They have such fortitude, such courage, such spirit. These soldiers are Israel’s future. So believe me when I tell you, Israel’s future is in very, very good hands.

The second source of my confidence in Israel’s future is the unshakeable alliance between Israel and America – an alliance that I believe will only get stronger. And as I said, yesterday I had a very good meeting with President Obama at the White House, and I deeply appreciate his commitment to bolster Israel’s security at the time when the Middle East is becoming more dangerous than ever.

And I also want to say that we are sharing so many things. The United States is giving indispensable help to Israel, indispensable, but Israel is returning that assistance almost on a daily basis in intelligence and in many other things. I think that what is important is not merely President Obama’s commitment to bolstering Israel’s security for the next ten years, but also his commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat. That is the most important commitment. And despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran’s regional aggression and to fight Iranian terrorism around the world.

Now, the third reason I am confident about the future is the tremendous partnership between us. Since the founding of Israel, well, even before the founding of Israel, you have been our partners in building the Jewish future. Your support has been invaluable in helping Israel successfully absorb millions of immigrants, build world-class hospitals, create an oasis of modernity in the middle of the desert, and in the last two decades, well, in the last two decades, well, Israel has begun investing in you.

This was a revolutionary idea that was put to me, a young prime minister, 20 years ago. They said, well, you know, the Diaspora and Jewish communities, especially in North America, have been investing in Israel, you know, for five decades. How about returning the favor? As our economy grows, we could invest in Jewish education, in Jewish identity. And I said, well, that’s a crazy idea. I like that. So well before we reached our current economic levels, we began, and Natan Sharansky remembers that very well, we began to invest in Birthright, which I thought was an extraordinary idea.

Now, half a million people later, half a million young Jews, young men and women who have visited Israel, I’m proud to say that we’ll continue to invest in Birthright. It is, after all, our birthright. And tens of thousands of course, tens of thousands have participated in the longer Masa programs. And thousands have decided to make Israel their permanent home. I think the hundreds of thousands have come back to their communities – this is a large number. Hundreds of thousands who come back to the Jewish communities with stronger Jewish identities and a stronger commitment to the Jewish future – that strengthens the Jewish world. It is a remarkable program. And whether Jews decide to live in Israel or not, I want to guarantee one thing to each and every one of you: As Prime Minister of Israel, I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel – Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews – all Jews.

As a testament to my commitment to this principle, I have established a roundtable, headed by my Cabinet Secretary, to address the concerns of the different streams of Judaism in Israel. That’s significant. That’s a governmental decision. You want to know our politics? Not now, but that’s a significant decision. This is a roundtable of the Government of Israel in which the various streams of Judaism sit together side-by-side to discuss problems and more importantly to discuss solutions. And now, for the first time, the Government of Israel is joining with the Jewish Agency to invest in strengthening Reform and Conservative communities within Israel. I am also hopeful that we will soon conclude a long overdue understanding that will ensure that the Kotel is a source of unity for our people, not a point of division. And we’re getting there, I have to say.

My dear friends,

The unity of the Jewish people is important at all times, but especially at this time. It’s especially important when the assault on the Jews is not confined to the Middle East, because as Michael said correctly there is a wave of anti-Semitism that is raging across Europe, but it goes beyond there to other continents as well.

I want to say something about anti-Semitism. My father was a great historian and a student of this phenomenon. It has ancient roots. It goes back roughly to Hellenistic times, five hundred years before the birth of the Christian era. It has a long tradition and old traditions die hard. Sometimes they don’t die. For centuries the world believed the worst things about Jews – and these lies were believed not just by the ignorant masses; they were believed as well by the educated elites. They said about us that we were poisoners of wells, spreaders of plagues, killers of children. Now the lies that were once leveled at the Jewish people are now leveled at the Jewish state. They say that Israel harvests organs, spreads AIDS and executes innocent children.

Once, the Jewish people couldn’t even raise its collective voice to fight against these lies, these slanders. Today, we have a voice. Today we have a voice. And we must ensure that our voice is heard loud and clear. We must speak out against the slander of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Now, whether it’s the Prime Minister of Israel speaking at the United Nations or Jewish students speaking at a college campus, we can and must fight lies and the only way you fight lies is telling the truth. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We have everything to be proud of. Stand up proudly. Speak the truth about Israel. Be proud as Jews.

The truth is Israel is a great country, a deeply moral country. Of course, like all countries, Israel is not a perfect country. But Israel is constantly judged by many in the international community according to a standard of perfection that is applied to no other country and that no country could possibly meet.

There is a name for holding the Jews to a different standard than other people. You know what it’s called. It begins with an “a” and it ends with an “m”. We recognize it for what it is. You cannot, you cannot hold the Jewish state to what I call the triple standard. One standard is for the dictatorships – you don’t expect much of them. The second standard is for the democracies. And the third standard – it’s not even a double standard, it’s the triple standard. There’s a special defined standard for the democracy called Israel. No way, no double standards, no triple standards. Treat Israel fairly. Treat Israel decently.

Now I have a friend whom you may know. His name is Alan Dershowitz. And he gave what I think is a very good test. He said this in the Oxford Student Union. By the way, he said he was the only one who won an Oxford Student Union debate on Israel. He gives a great fight. So here’s what our friend Alan Dershowitz, a great exponent of the truth, said. He said name a single country in the history of the world faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel that has a better record of human rights, complies more rigorously with the rule of law and does more to minimize civilian casualties. He asked that and the answer was: There is no other country. Israel stands at the top of the list.

And I think we have to speak the truth about peace as well. The truth is that the reason that we don’t have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements or a territorial dispute, the territories that that were won in our defensive war of 1967. Israelis and Palestinians had a conflict for half a century – almost 50 years – before Israel captured any of those territories or built even a single one of those settlements. And afterwards, we left part of that territory – Gaza. Left it to the very last centimeter or inch. Stripped out the settlements, went to the ’67 boundaries, uprooted all the people who were there, disinterred people from their graves. What did we get? Peace? We got rockets.

The truth is that the reason that there isn’t peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. That’s the truth. If you recognize the problem, you’ll be able to get to its solution.

And here’s another simple truth: The truth is that Israel seeks peace. The truth is that I seek peace. And when Israel, the people of Israel, the governments of Israel, met Arab leaders who wanted peace equally, like Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein, Israel made peace. We could do so when you meet an Arab leader who essentially says we’re burying the past. We’re seizing the future. We have no more demands of the Jewish state.

And when Israel will face a Palestinian leadership that seeks peace, that is willing to bury the past, that will make no more demands on the State of Israel – not get a state next to Israel in order to displace Israel, not get a state next to Israel in order to flood the adjoining State of Israel with millions of Palestinian descendants; when we meet a leader who actually is willing to recognize finally the Jewish state, we will have peace and that is the first requirement, the most essential requirement.

I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state, and Israel will continue to work for peace in the hope that what is not achievable today might be achievable tomorrow.

My friends,

If you have any doubts about Israel’s future, I suggest you think about how far Israel has already come. You know, for each of us, especially the older ones, we have a personal perspective that we can… we can assess the future based on the road we’ve travelled so far. I was born a year after the founding of the state, and the change, in my perspective, has been nothing less than stunning.

I remember as a child the excitement that gripped my friends and the entire country as we celebrated our first decade of independence, chag asor. It was a decade in which we won our War of Independence and doubled our population. And as Israel turned 20, I celebrated as a young soldier, with my fellow soldiers and with the people of Israel – I’d enlisted shortly after our great victory in the Six Day War and I was still awed that only a year earlier we had liberated and reunited our eternal capital Jerusalem.

I remember the feeling, I remember the feeling at the end of the Six Day War. I’d grown up in Jerusalem, and my father’s office – he was the editor-in-chief of the Hebrew Encyclopedia – and his office was right next to the wall separating Jerusalem. And I would go there because the bicycle fixers were there, so I always knew that I couldn’t go that direction because I’d hit the wall and Jordanian snipers. And all of a sudden, there was, at the end of the Six Day Way, there was a breach in the wall and we started flowing, just thousands, tens of thousands flowing through that breach into the Old City to the Kotel. And we went there and just stood next to the Kotel. Nobody said anything. We were just so mesmerized by realizing the dream of ages. That was what I remember from the third decade of Israel’s existence, the beginning of the third decade.

And then, at the end of it, when Israel turned 30, we were on the verge of achieving a great historic peace with the largest Arab country, with Egypt. And when I was privileged to preside over Israel’s 50th anniversary celebrations as prime minister, we were already at peace with Jordan and we were busy welcoming home nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Now, two decades have passed since that 50th anniversary – nearly two decades since that 50th anniversary celebration, and we have since then liberalized our economy, won eight more Nobel Prizes – that’s a large number – built 21st century roads and rails, discovered gas, transformed Israel into a global technological power and reversed that joke, “How do you make a small fortune in Israel? Start with a big fortune”. Turned it completely on its head. And we are showing the world new ways to travel, new ways to enrich life, new ways to protect health, new ways to grow crops. Today we’re forging new ties with countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and no less important, today we’re forging new ties with Arab states in the region that increasingly see Israel not as an implacable enemy but as a valued ally, as a partner, in confronting common dangers together. I hope they also see it as a partner in seizing the future for the betterment of their peoples in this great battle between modernity and medievalism. Modernity must win.

So now that Israel is approaching the end of its seventh decade, we can only marvel at what we have been able to achieve against impossible odds. And I have no doubt that despite the enormous challenges we still face, Israel will continue to thrive because I believe in the indomitable spirit of our people, because I believe in our unshakable bond with the United States and because I believe in you, in the unbreakable bond that unites Jews everywhere with the Jewish people. It’s a bond of faith. It’s a bond of hope – not the shallow hope of wishful thinking but the deep wellspring of confidence that comes from a people who have forded history’s most turbulent rivers and emerged triumphant on the other side in the Promised Land. That’s what I believe in.

Thank you all for your indispensable part in our common journey. And thank you all for your unceasing efforts to secure our common future. Thank you all. Thank you very much.

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 9, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award Ceremony

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PM Netanyahu at the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award Ceremony

Source: PMO, 11-9-15


PM Netanyahu at the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award Ceremony
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today attended the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Annual Dinner and presentation of the Irving Kristol Award. Following are excerpts from his remarks.

From the Prime Minister’s remarks on Israel-US relations:

“Common values, first. I think the values of freedom, free societies, the idea of individual choice that is enveloped with a collective purpose. And I think that defines Israel and defines America. These are two societies built on a purpose, on the idea of freedom. I’ve spoken in the Congress a number of times and each time I look and I see the emblem of Moses in the American Congress, and it says a lot. It’s the idea of the Promised Land, the land of freedom – freedom from bondage, freedom to pursue your future.

So I think this is the, I would say the identity of conviction. But there is something else that I think has to be seen in a historic context. We were a people scattered among the nations. We had no capacity to defend ourselves and by dint of historical regularity, we should have disappeared. Most nations that existed in the past do not exist today. And certainly a nation scattered from its land and becoming utterly defenseless, subject to the whims, the worst whims of humanity, should have disappeared. We gathered our resolve, came back to the Land of Israel, the Promised Land, rebuilt our country when we repossessed the power to defend ourselves.

But it was said here before that all powers, all countries, even great powers, need alliances. We need an alliance too. We did not have that alliance in the first half of the 20th century when the founding fathers of Zionism identified the threat of anti-Semitism, the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe, we had no capacity yet to build our nation. We built it having lost six million of our brethren. And I believe that if the United States had been the preeminent world power in the first half of the 20th century, things might have turned out differently.

And yet Israel was born in mid-century. The United States became the global power at that point. And what a difference it made. It made a difference for the entire world by guaranteeing liberty, by facing down Soviet totalitarianism. It made a difference for us in that we had a partner. And I think that not only the common ideals of Israel and the United States – and they were mentioned here – but I think it’s also the role, the active role of the United States in defending liberty around the world and standing by its allies, in this case the best possible ally of the United States, Israel – I think it’s made a world of difference. And I bet on this alliance. I wouldn’t sell the Unites States short; I wouldn’t sell Israel short; and I would not at all diminish the importance of this alliance. I think it’s pivotal for the future of our world and if you ask me about it, I’ll tell you more. This is what I believe.”

The Prime Minister referred to the situation in the Middle East:

“Well, I went to serve in the United Nations 100 years ago as Israel’s Ambassador, and there was a woman there. Her name was Jeane Kirkpatrick. And I had read an article that she had written called Dictatorships and Double Standards. And she said basically in this article, she said we are committed to the larger battle against Soviet totalitarianism and on occasion we decide for the larger goal to make arrangements with secular dictatorships. That’s basically what she said. Now, mind you, Saddam was horrible, horrible, a brutal killer. So was Qaddafi. There’s no question about that. I had my own dealings with each of them. But I do want to say that they were in many ways neighborhood bullies. That is, they tormented their immediate environment, but they were not wedded to a larger goal.

The militant Islamists, either Iran leading the militant Shiites with their proxies Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and Hamas, or – even though Hamas is Sunni – or the militant Sunnis led by Da’ash, by ISIS… They have a larger goal in mind. Their goal is not merely the conquest of the Middle East; it’s the conquest of the world. It’s unbelievable. People don’t believe that. They don’t believe that it’s possible to have this quest for an imamate or a caliphate in the 21st century, but that is exactly what is guiding them. And against this larger threat that could, that would present two Islamic states – one the Islamic state of Da’ash and the other the Islamic Republic of Iran – each one of them seeking to arm themselves with weapons of mass death: chemical weapons in the case of ISIS, nuclear weapons in the case of Iran. That poses a formidable threat to our world and therefore if I have to categorize the threats, I would say that these are the larger threats.

And it doesn’t mean that you have to form alliances with secular dictatorships; it means you have to categorize what is the larger threat, and that is something that I think is required from all of us. Political leadership involves always choosing between bad and worse. I seldom have had a choice between bad and good. I welcome it when it happens, but these are by far the easiest choices. It’s choosing between bad and worse that defines a good part of leadership. And I think I know how to choose that.”

On the Syrian issue the Prime Minister said:

“I have acted several years ago, and I think I was the first country to do that, to put a military hospital ten yards away from our border with the Golan, with Syria. And we’ve taken in thousands of Syrians – children, women, men, amputated, horrible conditions – given them treatment in Israeli hospitals. We never show their picture because if their photograph is seen and they are then rehabilitated and they go back to their villages or towns, they’ll be executed on the spot. But other than that, I’ve left the internal battle in Syria untouched because I’m not sure what to choose and you have to openly admit it.

But here’s what I do define in Syria: I don’t want Syria to be used as a launching ground for attacks against us. And I have said this to Vladimir Putin when I flew to Moscow to see him. I went to see him first to make sure that our planes don’t crash at each other; it’s not a good idea. But I told him, here’s what we do in Syria. We will not allow Iran to set up a second front in the Golan, and we will act forcefully and have acted forcefully to prevent that. We will not allow the use of Syrian territory from which we’d be attacked by the Syrian army or anyone else, and we have acted forcefully against that. And third, we will not allow the use of Syrian territory for the transfer of game-changing weapons into Lebanon, into Hezbollah’s hands. And we have acted forcefully on that. I made it clear that we will continue to act that way. I explained that to Putin. I said, “Whatever your goals are in Syria, these are our goals and we’ll continue to act that way.” And I think that message was received.

Now, there is talk now of an arrangement in Syria and I spoke about it today in a very good conversation I had with President Obama. And I said that any arrangement that is struck in Syria if one is achievable – I’m not sure, I’m not sure Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again. I have strong doubts. I’m not sure Syria as a state can be reconstituted. But whatever arrangements are made in Syria that do not preclude Iran from continuing its aggression against us directly or by transferring weapons to Hezbollah, that doesn’t oblige us. We have very clear policy demands in Syria. We keep them and we’ll continue to keep them. The defense of Israel is what concerns me in Syria first and foremost, and on that we’ll continue to act forcefully.”

On economic-technological matters the Prime Minister said:

“Israel is becoming I would say the preeminent or one of the two great centers of innovation in the world. And as a result our ability to make alliances is shifting. We are now in an extraordinary relationship with two small countries in Asia – India and China and Japan. Together we account for roughly two-and-a-half billion people in the world. Now, they’re all coming to this new Israel. You asked where is Israel going. In the century of conceptual products and knowledge, the ones who will prosper are those who can innovate faster. Israel is a speed chess innovator. We don’t have that large a number of innovators, but we have a very, very large number of very fast innovators. And our culture promotes that.

So I think Israel is moving into a leadership position in technology. I’ll give you a number to illustrate this because I think it’s important that I take this away from general concepts and make it concrete. In 2014, as a result of a deliberate policy that my government is leading, Israel had 10% of the global investments in cyber security. That’s a hundred times our size. In 2015, we track that number, we receive double that amount. We receive 20% of the global investment in cyber security. In cyber, we’re punching 200 times above our weight.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the 2015 AEI Irving Kristol Award. The award is given to individuals who have made exceptional intellectual and practical contributions to improve government policy, social welfare, or political understanding. The award is given at an annual event which was held this year at the National Building Museum, is America’s leading cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment. It does so by telling the stories of architecture, engineering, and design.

Among those in attendance were Supreme Court justices, Senators, members of the House of Representatives and senior managers from multi-national companies.

Previous recipients of the Irving Kristol Award include Nobel laureate Eugene Fama, Gen. David Petraeus, Bernard Lewis, US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, Leon Kass and Martin Feldstein.

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 9, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama’s Statements at the White House

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Statements by US President Barack Obama and PM Netanyahu at the White House

Source: PMO, 11-9-15


Statements by US President Barack Obama and PM Netanyahu at the White House
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO

President Obama:

“Welcome once again Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to the Oval Office. There’s no foreign leader who I’ve met with more frequently and I think that’s a testimony to the extraordinary bond between the United States and Israel.

Before I get started, I just want to say a brief word about the Jordanian attack that we discovered earlier, the fact that someone dressed in a military uniform carried out an attack at a training facility in which it appears that there may have been two or three U.S. citizens killed and a number of other individuals injured.

Obviously, a full investigation is taking place. We take this very seriously and we’ll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened. But at this stage, I want to just let everyone know that this is something we’re paying close attention to and at the point where the families have been notified, obviously, our deepest condolences will be going out to them.

I also want to extend my condolences to the Israeli people on the passing of former President Navon. Obviously, he’s an important figure in Israeli politics and we extend heartfelt condolences to his family.

This is going to be an opportunity for the Prime Minister and myself to engage in a wide-ranging discussion on some of the most pressing security issues that both our countries face. It’s no secret that the security environment in the Middle East has deteriorated in many areas. And as I’ve said repeatedly, the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities, and that has expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds. We have closer military and intelligence cooperation than any two administrations in history.

The military assistance that we provide, we consider not only an important part of our obligation to the security of the state of Israel, but also an important part of US security infrastructure in the region, as we make sure that one of our closest allies can not only protect itself, but can also work with us in deterring terrorism and other security threats. In light of what continues to be a chaotic situation in Syria, this will give us an opportunity to discuss what’s happening there.

We’ll have an opportunity to discuss how we can blunt the activities of ISIL, Hezbollah, other organizations in the region that carry out terrorist attacks. A lot of our time will be spent on a memorandum of understanding that we can potentially negotiate. It will be expiring in a couple of years, but we want to get a head start on that to make sure that both the United States and Israel can plan effectively for our defense needs going forward.

We’ll also have a chance to talk about how implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement is going. It’s no secret that the Prime Minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue, but we don’t have a disagreement on the need to making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don’t have a disagreement about the importance of us blunting destabilizing activities that Iran may be taking place.

And so, we’re going to be looking to make sure that we find common ground there.

And we will also have an opportunity to discuss some of the concerns that both of us have around violence in the Palestinian territories. I want to be very clear that we condemn in the strongest terms Palestinian violence against innocent Israeli citizens.

And I want to repeat, once again, it is my strong belief that Israel has not just the right, but the obligation to protect itself. I also will discuss with the Prime Minister his thoughts on how we can lower the temperature between Israeli and Palestinians, how we can get back on a path towards peace, and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process, even as we make sure that Israel is able to secure itself.

And so, there’s going to be a lot of work to do with too little time. Which is why I will stop here, and just once again say, welcome.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

“Mr. President. First let me express the condolences of the people of Israel for the loss of American lives. We’re with you.

We’re with each other in more ways than one, and I want to thank you for this opportunity to strengthen our friendship, which is strong, strengthen our alliance, which is strong.

I think it’s rooted in shared values. It’s buttressed by shared interests. It’s driven forward by a sense of a shared destiny. We are obviously tested, today, in the instability and insecurity in the Middle East, as you described it. I think everybody can see it with the savagery of ISIS, with the aggression and terror by Iran’s proxies, and by Iran itself, and the combination of turbulence has now displaced millions of people, has butchered hundreds of thousands, and we don’t know what will transpire.

And I think this is a tremendously important opportunity for us to work together, to see how we can defend ourselves against this aggression and this terror, how we can roll it back. It’s a daunting task.

Equally, I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace. We’ll never give up our hope for peace. And I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.

I don’t think that anyone should doubt Israel’s determination to defend itself against terror and destruction, but neither should anyone doubt Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us.

And I look forward to discussing with you practical ways in which we can lower the tension, increase stability, and move towards peace.

And finally, Mr. President, I want to thank you for your commitment to further bolster Israel security, and the Memorandum of Understanding that we’re discussing. Israel has shouldered a tremendous defense burden over the years, and we’ve done it with the generous assistance of the United States of America. And I want to express my appreciation to you, the appreciation of the people of Israel to you, for your efforts in this regard during our years of common service, and what you’re engaging in right now. How to bolster Israel’s security, how to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, so that Israel can, as you’ve often said, defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

So, for all these reasons, I want to thank you again for your hospitality, but even more so for sustaining and strengthening the tremendous friendship and alliance between Israel and the United States of America.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.”

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

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

Source: PMO, 10-12-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 10-11-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations General Assembly

Source: PMO, 10-1-15


Photo by Avi Ohayon, GPO

– Transcription –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen, check your enthusiasm at the door.

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

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

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

Iran boosted its supply of devastating weapons to Syria.

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

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

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

Iran threatened to topple Jordan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You think Iran is doing that to advance peace?

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

If you do, you should think again.

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

You know they say, actions speak louder than words.

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

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

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

Conquered.

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

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

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

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

But I can’t, because it doesn’t.

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

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

But you see here’s the catch:

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

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

That just doesn’t make any sense.

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

The best intentions don’t prevent the worst outcomes.

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

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

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

“We will annihilate Israel for sure.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Murder my people.

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

Utter silence!

Deafening silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Europe.

For America.

For raining down mass destruction – anytime, anywhere.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

I refuse to be silent.

I’ll say it again:

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

Not being passive means speaking up about those dangers.

We have. We are.
We will.

Not being passive also means defending ourselves against those dangers.

We have. We are.
And we will.

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

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

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

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

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

In the Middle Ages, we faced inquisition and expulsion.

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

Yet the Jewish people persevered.

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

That regime would be wise to consider this:

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

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

Those seemingly invincible empires are long gone.

But Israel lives.

The people of Israel live.

עם ישראל חי.

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

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

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

The establishment of Israel made realizing that dream possible.

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

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

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

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

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

Your plan to destroy Israel will fail.

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

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

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

Distinguished delegates,

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

Make sure that the inspectors actually inspect.

Make sure that the snapback sanctions actually snap back.

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

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

What the international community now needs to do is clear:

First, make Iran comply with all its nuclear obligations.

Keep Iran’s feet to the fire.

Second, check Iran’s regional aggression.

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The alliance between Israel and the United States is unshakeable.

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

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

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

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

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

And what a great future it could be.

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

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

Israel is the innovation nation.

Israeli knowhow is everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israelis know the price of war.

I know the price of war.

I was nearly killed in battle.

I lost many friends.

I lost my beloved brother Yoni.

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

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

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

Well, I hope he changes his mind.

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

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

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

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

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

Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to abide by its commitments.

The Palestinians should not walk away from peace.

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

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

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

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

Here’s just one absurd example of this obsession:

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

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

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

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

Well, frankly I am not surprised.

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

Enough!

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

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

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

And the same question should be posed to Palestinian leaders.

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

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

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

Israel is fully committed to maintaining the status quo there.

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

That’s the real threat to these sacred sites.

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

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

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

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

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

And that, ladies and gentlemen, will never change.

Because Israel will always stay true to its values.

These values are on display each and every day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the true face of Israel.

These are the values of Israel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Stand with Israel because Israel is not just defending itself.

More than ever, Israel is defending you.

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