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

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Source: Los Angeles Times, 4-24-14

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

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

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

Source: PMO, 4-23-14

יום רביעי כ”ג ניסן תשע”ד

 

 

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

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

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

Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace.”

 

Israel Political Brief April 14, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu sends condolences to families of Kansas Jewish center shootings

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Netanyahu sends condolences to families of Kansas Jewish center shootings

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-14-14Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the families of those killed in Sunday’s shootings at two Jewish centers in Overland Park Kansas….READ MORE

PM Netanyahu Sends Condolences to Families of the Victims of the Massacre in Kansas

Source: PMO, 4-14-14
יום שני י”ד ניסן תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends his condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s massacre in Overland Park, Kansas in the US. “We understand that the murders were — according to indications — were perpetrated out of hatred of Jews .

The State of Israel is at the forefront, along with all civilized peoples which are committed to the struggle against this scourge,” the Prime Minister said.

 

 

 

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

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Netanyahu instructs government ministries to cease cooperation with Palestinians

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-9-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 9, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Iranian Weapons Ship to Gaza

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

Source: PMO, 3-9-14
יום ראשון ז’ אדר ב תשע”ד

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

“The Iranian weapons ship reached Israel last night. The operation to seize the ship  had two goals: Preventing the delivery of deadly weapons to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, which would have directly endangered Israel’s citizens, and exposing the true face of Iran, which was behind this weapons shipment . Iran completely denies its involvement; it is lying in the most brazen manner. We will present evidence of this tomorrow and later.

I call this to the attention of Catherine Ashton, who is now visiting Tehran. I would like to ask her if she asked her Iranian hosts about this shipment of weapons for terrorist organizations, and if not, why not. Nobody has the right to ignore the true and murderous actions of the regime in Tehran. I think that it would be proper for the international community to give its opinion regarding Iran’s true policy, not its propaganda.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 5, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the IDF Seizure of an Iranian Arms Ship in the Red Sea to Gaza

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Statement by PM Benjamin Netanyahu on the IDF Seizure of an Iranian Arms Ship in the Red Sea

Source: PMO, 3-5-14

יום רביעי ג’ אדר ב תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a series of security consultations prior to approving the IDF action that began this morning.

After the seizure of the ship, the Prime Minister spoke with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and praised them for the quality intelligence that led to the action and for the precision with the operation was carried out. Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I would like to commend the IDF, the intelligence services of the State of Israel and – of course – the navy commanders and personnel who carried out a perfect operation to intercept a secret Iranian weapons ship. At a time when it is talking to the major powers, Iran smiles and says all sorts of nice things, the same Iran is sending deadly weapons to terrorist organizations and is doing so via a ramified network of secret operations in order to send rockets, missiles and other deadly weapons that will be used to harm innocent citizens. This is the true Iran and this state cannot possess nuclear weapons. We will continue to whatever is necessary in order to defend Israel’s citizens.”

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

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

Source: Algemeiner, 3-4-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Haaretz, 3-4-14

Netanyau at AIPAC, March 4, 2014.

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

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

Israel Musings March 4, 2014: Netanyahu, Obama’s stand-off White House meeting after harsh Bloomberg interview

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu, Obama’s stand-off White House meeting after harsh Bloomberg interview

By Bonnie K. Goodman

In a meeting more frosty than the Washington snowstorm around them, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States President Barack Obama met in the White House Oval Office on Monday afternoon, Mar. 3, 2014 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian…READ MORE

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

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Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 3-3-14 

Oval Office

2:04 P.M. EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you, Mr. President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END
2:22 P.M. EST

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks upon Landing in the US

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

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 2, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks before Leaving for the US

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS


PM Netanyahu’s Remarks before Leaving for the US

Source: PMO, 3-2-14
יום ראשון ל’ אדר א תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today made the following remarks before departing for the US:

“I am now leaving on an important trip to the US where I will meet with President Barack Obama. We will discuss the Iranian issue and the diplomatic process. I will stand steadfast on the State of Israel’s vital interests, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. In recent years the State of Israel has been under various pressures. We have rejected them in the face of the unprecedented storm and unrest in the region and are maintaining stability and security. This is what has been and what will be.”

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

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 2-17-14

יום שני י”ז אדר א תשע”ד

Photo by GPO 

[Transcription]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel Political Brief February 13, 2014: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Speaks with UK Prime Minister David Cameron about Cancelled State Trip to Israel and Floods

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Prime Minister Netanyahu Speaks with UK Prime Minister Cameron

Source: PMO,  2-13-14
יום חמישי י”ג אדר א תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and offered assistance in dealing with the storms affecting Great Britain. They agreed to coordinate on a new date for UK Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Israel, which was due to take place next week but has been postponed due to the aforesaid storms.

Israel Political Brief February 12, 2014: White House Announces PM Netanyahu’s US Visit and Meeting with President Barack Obama Set for March 3

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Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: WH, 2-12-14

On Monday, March 3, President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.  The President looks forward to discussing with the Prime Minister progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, developments in Iran, and other regional priorities.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of security issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 12, 2014: European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s Speech Addressing the Knesset — Transcript

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European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s Speech Addressing the Knesset

Source: Times of Israel, 2-12-14

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adressess the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014.  (photo credit: Flash 90)

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adressess the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

I stand before you today as the German President of a multinational European Parliament. I am well aware that it is by no means self-evident that the German language should be heard in this House, and I should like to express to you my gratitude for allowing me to address you in my mother tongue.

It is a great honour for me to be in Jerusalem as a guest of the Knesset, the body which is the heartbeat of Israeli democracy, the body which symbolises the realisation of the hope cherished for so long by the Jewish people for a homeland of their own; following centuries in which the Jewish people were betrayed and persecuted throughout the world; following the unprecedented break with all civilised values which the Shoah represented; and following the barbaric murder of six million Jews.

I was born in 1955. I am a German who did not experience at first hand the atrocities of National Socialism, but the crimes committed by the Nazis were the reason I became involved in politics and their repercussions have influenced political thinking from the start. I bear the same responsibility as every other German for the mass murder perpetrated in the name of my nation. In the name of my nation, the Jewish people were forced to endure suffering for which no reparation can ever be made. I bow down before the memory of all those who were murdered.

As a German who holds political office, and international political office at that, I regard it as my first duty to honour the following pledge: Never again. Never forget.

We must make sure that the act of commemorating past disasters which have befallen humanity engenders a sense of responsibility for the present and the future, and that we let this sense of responsibility guide our actions.

Letting this sense of responsibility guide our actions means standing up for freedom, for democracy and for human dignity every day.

We are all witnessing with dismay a return to ways of thinking which we thought had long been consigned to history, in the form of anti-Semitism, ultra-nationalism and populism. This merely strengthens me in my conviction that we must stand firm together – every one of us – against all those who stir up hatred. I believe that what the philosopher Edmund Burke said still holds true: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.

We have no choice, therefore, but to act responsibly. Acting responsibly means observing the principle enshrined in Germany’s Basic Law that ‘human dignity is sacrosanct’.

Acting responsibly means, for us, nurturing the European unification process, because integration between our States and our peoples was the response we Europeans found to the wars, destruction and murders which disfigured the first half of the 20th century. Unification and integration have helped us to banish the old demons and have immunised Europe against the threat of war.

Acting responsibly means, for us, openly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to live in security and peace. The European Union will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel.

Dear Members of the Knesset,
For the sake of our children and our children’s children we must remember. For the sake of future generations, who will never have the opportunity to talk with survivors of the Shoah, we need events and places which help us remember.

Yesterday I had a deeply moving experience. Together with Judge Gabriel Bach I visited the Yad Vashem memorial. I had the honour of meeting Judge Bach for the first time two years ago, on International Holocaust Memorial Day, which we celebrated at the European Parliament for the third time only a few weeks ago, together with members of the European Jewish Congress and survivors of the Shoah. I find Judge Bach’s life story very inspiring, and meeting him has restored my faith in justice. The fact that a 10-year-old boy who was driven from his homeland by a Nazi criminal in 1938 should later, as Deputy State Prosecutor of a democratic Israel, put that criminal, Adolf Eichmann, on trial, shows that there is such a thing as justice in this world. And that justice is something worth fighting for every day!

Ladies and gentlemen,
Israel embodies the hope cherished by a people of being able to live a life of freedom in a homeland of their own. As a result of the actions of brave men and women, Israel represents the realisation of that very human dream. Throwing off the shackles of prejudice and persecution, in order to live in freedom and dignity – this is a desire shared by many people throughout the world.

Today, Israel is a robust democracy, a vibrant, open society with all the conflicts that implies, and a modern economy. The kibbutzim which once made the desert bloom have been replaced by hundreds of start-ups and high-tech research centres in which work is being done which will lead to the inventions of the future; minute microchips and robots, computer tomography and ultrasound scanners. Israeli researchers are world leaders in many areas. Israel has only eight million inhabitants, but it can boast seven major research universities, including the Technion in Haifa and the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, and 12 Nobel Prize winners!

Israel has built a society founded on the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Israel and the European Union share these values. They are the ties which hold our partnership, our friendship, together. They are the basis for the answers we are seeking together to the challenges of the 21st century: climate change and water scarcity, refugee problems, peace and security. They are the basis for our scientific and economic cooperation.

If you will allow me, I will deal first with security and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Arab Spring has brought with it revolutions and upheavals in the region which are presenting Israel and the EU with new challenges. Together, we can exert a positive influence on developments in our neighbourhood. This is a responsibility we cannot ignore.

The changes and upheavals I referred to a moment ago are leaving many people uneasy, and with good reason. Syria is experiencing an ever more brutal escalation of violence. The Assad regime would rather massacre its own population than give up power! Even children are being tortured and killed. The opposition is also guilty of perpetrating appalling massacres and recruiting child soldiers. We condemn the savage violence in the strongest possible terms. The killing must stop!

Two days ago in Jordan I visited the Al Zaatari camp, which houses 90 000 of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees. I was deeply shocked by the human suffering I witnessed there, but I was also deeply moved by the generosity which has led the States in this region to open their borders to refugees from the civil war and do whatever they can to provide them with food and a roof over their heads. Israel, too, is saving many lives by giving medical care to people damaged physically and mentally by the Syrian war. Sometimes I wish we in Europe would show the same kind of commitment.

But there are also grounds for hope: Tunisia’s new constitution is a document to gladden the hearts of all democrats. The EU will always support those who commit themselves to upholding democracy and universal human rights.

This sense of hope is creating a new opportunity to establish peace in the region.

I understand that bitter experience may make some people reluctant to extend the hand of peace. People in this chamber know much more about the Holocaust than I do. There are people in this chamber who risked their lives in wars waged to secure Israel’s survival. For years on end, Israel’s neighbours challenged its very right to exist.

No one has forgotten the open threats made against Israel by the last Iranian President, or the fact that not so long ago political gatherings in Tehran ended with the words ‘Death to Israel’.

For that reason I can readily understand why Israel regards an Iran which has the capability to launch nuclear missiles as a threat to its existence. That is a threat not just to Israel, but to world peace in general.

This is why the EU is monitoring the implementation of the preliminary agreement very closely. Let me assure you that there is one thing on which the EU and Israel agree: Iran must never acquire nuclear weapons. In our eyes, diplomacy and dialogue are the best way of ensuring that, since it is in all our interests that this issue should be resolved peacefully and that everything should be done to prevent another war in the Middle East.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Security is a very abstract concept, but it has an immediate impact on people’s lives.

We in Europe have little understanding of the physical and emotional scars which terrorism leaves behind, what it means for parents in Sderot and Ashkelon to live every day with the fear that their children may die in a rocket attack on their way to school. I was the father of children who could go to school without fear. For that reason, Israel has the right and the government the duty to protect its people. We condemn the rocket attacks on innocent people in the strongest possible terms. Terrorist attacks are crimes for which there is no justification.

It is only the peoples directly involved who can make peace in the Middle East. It is only the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves who can make peace between their two peoples. We Europeans support them on that difficult road, which will require both sides to make painful concessions.

We know that the Israeli people want peace. Courageous men such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres held out the hand of peace and signed agreements in Madrid and Oslo. The hopes embodied in those agreements have not always been fulfilled, and this has made some people pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the future. Others, only a small minority to be sure, are even actively working to scupper any peace agreement which might be signed.

On the Palestinian side as well, courageous men and women are working for peace. In recent years, building on their impressive ‘no violence’ policy, Mahmud Abbas and Salam Fayyad have developed modern institutions and done much to establish law and order.

Two days ago I spoke with young people in Ramallah. Like young people everywhere in the world, their dream is to train, study and travel, to find work and to start a family. But they have another dream as well, one which concerns something most young people take for granted: they want to be able to live freely in their own country, with no threat of violence, with no restrictions on their freedom of movement. The Palestinian people, like the Israeli people, have the right to fulfil their dream of creating their own viable democratic state. The Palestinians, just like the Israelis, have the right to self-determination and justice.

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

(In the wake of this question, members of the right-wing Jewish Home party heckled Shultz, with Moti Yogev MK declaring “that’s a lie, the Palestinians are lying,” and several walked out of the chamber. Left-wing MKs later criticized them for their behavior.)

Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, the upheavals in the Middle East are creating a new opportunity for peace.

The future of young Palestinians, but also the future of young Israelis, hinges on the way Israel responds to these changes.

For without peace there can be no security. Military power can quell disorder, but it cannot create peace.

Ariel Sharon, may he rest in peace, said something for which I admire him: ‘It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.’

From the outset, the whole rationale behind the two-State solution proposal was to make it possible for the Palestinian people to live in dignity, and on the basis of self-determination, and to safeguard peace and security for all Israelis. Despite all the obstacles in the way of its achievement, we must remain true to the objective, born out of a desire to build a better future, which the two-State solution represents. Even if this objective is achieved, the security of the Israeli state will remain an issue of major importance.

For that reason, we support the US commitment to mediation and the tireless work being done by Secretary of State John Kerry.

One of the main bones of contention is Israel’s settlement policy. As you are no doubt aware, both the European Parliament and the United Nations have adopted numerous resolutions which criticise the ongoing process of building and expanding settlements and call for it to be halted. In the eyes of the EU and the entire international community, the fact that East Jerusalem is cut off from the West Bank is certainly an obstacle on the road to a peaceful settlement.

The blockade of the Gaza Strip is your response to attacks on Israeli civilians and I can understand that. But it is stifling all economic development and driving people to despair – despair which in turn is being exploited by extremists. The blockade may in fact undermine, rather than strengthen, Israel’s security.

How can we break the vicious circle of violence?
This was the question which lent the initial impetus to the European unification process, and the founding fathers of the European Union came up with the answer. My grandparents’ generation would have regarded reconciliation with the arch enemy France as impossible. But the impossible came to pass, through a simple acknowledgement of the fact that if Europe was not to continue tearing itself apart on the battlefield we Europeans had no choice but to make peace and work together. I believe that if we want to grant people a life in dignity there is no alternative to peace for the Israelis and Palestinians today.

It was because our neighbours were prepared to hold out the hand of reconciliation to Germany, which had started the war in the first place, that Germany was able to find its place in the international community once again and become a stable democracy. As Yitzhak Rabin put it so aptly, ‘peace is something you make with your enemies, not with your friends’.

Yes, we achieved reconciliation. Then, through the efforts of courageous men and women, who planned for and organised peace, the idea took root in people’s hearts and trust grew.

I firmly believe that a negotiated settlement, the outcome of which is an Israeli State and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace, is realistic. The European Union believes this as well, which is why, once a definitive peace agreement has been signed, we have pledged to provide unprecedented support, in the form of funding and human resources, under a special privileged partnership. The agreement reached by the Foreign Ministers in December will also afford Israel and a future State of Palestine easier access to the European market, will facilitate trade and investment, will enhance cultural and scientific exchanges and will lead to closer cooperation in the area of security. Let me seize this opportunity to make a clarification: the EU has no intention to boycott Israel. I am of the conviction that what we need is more cooperation, not division.

All too often issues of security and peace overshadow other aspects of our relations which are hugely important for people in Israel and Europe – social justice and equal opportunities are cases in point.

The financial and economic crisis has brought with it increased levels of poverty and unemployment in Europe. Huge numbers of young people are jobless, and as a result more and more of them are losing faith in politics. This is hardly surprising if we consider that the most open-minded and best educated generation which Europe has ever had is watching as its prospects are destroyed by a crisis for which it was in no way to blame.

Everywhere, even in countries whose economies are performing well, poverty and despair are spreading to the middle classes and the weakest members of society are being marginalised more and more. The marches of the indignados which reached our capitals in spring 2011 were repeated a few months later in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Giving young people fresh hope in a better future is certainly our most important task as politicians. To do this, we must also safeguard the competitiveness of our economies in the globalised 21st century. Only in this way will jobs – good jobs – be created.

Our economic ties are already close. The EU is Israel’s most important trading partner and our cooperation in the area of research, science and technology is the basis for our future economic strength. Our competitiveness in a globalised world will hinge on two things – innovation and education.

The Israeli-European research community is already into its third generation and its members are forging ever closer links. Israel’s formal involvement in the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, which will start soon, will take our cooperation to a new level. Horizon 2020 is the largest research and innovation programme there has ever been. It promises to yield more breakthroughs and discoveries because it will provide backing for every stage in the process of turning ideas tested in the laboratory into marketable products. Scientific cooperation is already the most successful aspect of our partnership. I am convinced that as a result of our cooperation under Horizon 2020 new records will be set. I am also particularly delighted that more and more Israeli students are taking part in the Erasmus Mundus exchange programme.

You and I are the heirs of the founding generation of the State of Israel and of the European Union. We must safeguard that heritage.

Parents all over the world are prepared to make sacrifices for their children, to do everything they can to give them a good future. It is now up to us, the heirs, to show the same boldness, drive and vision in safeguarding the State of Israel and the European Union for future generations. The words which should guide us in that endeavour are those spoken by the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Willy Brandt, a man who fought against Nazi Germany and knelt before the memorial to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. ‘Peace is not everything, but without peace there is nothing.’

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 9, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting about Easement of Sanctions on Iran

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

Source: PMO, 2-9-14

יום ראשון ט’ אדר א תשע”ד

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

“Our resolute policy against terrorism may be summed up in a single principle: Whoever attacks us or plans to attack us – will bear the consequences .

I would like to briefly comment on the easements that have been given to Iran. The international easing of the sanctions against Iran have not led Iran to moderate its international aggression, the complete opposite has occurred. The Iranian Foreign Minister recently met with the head of Islamic Jihad, Iran is continuing to supply terrorist organizations with deadly weapons, Iran continues to be complicit in massacres in Syria and to all this may be added the leader of Iran’s crude and sharp attack against the US, alongside sending warships to the Atlantic Ocean. What is happening here is that the international community has reduced the sanctions on Iran and Iran is stepping up its international aggression. This is the real result of the steps up until now.

Today, the Cabinet will make several decisions regarding assistance to various groups in the population. We will adopt decisions on the advancement and integration of Ethiopian Jews, expanding the health services basket and developing the city of Taybe. This is everyone’s government.”

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

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Netanyahu and cabinet ministers denounce Kerry’s Israel boycott threats

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

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

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PM Netanyahu Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

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

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

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 26, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Including about Iran

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks – Including about Iran – at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 1-26-14
יום ראשון כ”ה שבט תשע”ד

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

“The purpose of the visit to Davos was to detail the advantages of the Israeli hi-tech and cyber defense industries to the leading forces in the world, both countries and new non-state forces, such as international organizations that are as strong as countries, even major powers. The good news is that Israel is very much in demand.

The interest in Israel is very great. The desire to operate here is very great. I estimate that in the coming year we will see the results of both this activity and that of our other actions, i.e. the entry of new companies into Israel, especially in the cyber market, and the expansion of their business activities within Israel, which is already happening.

I met there with the largest companies, including Google ,
Yahoo: ,
Cisco, Microsoft and various cyber companies in both individual and group meetings .

It is widely understood that in the information age information must be protected, otherwise there will be chaos, the jungle.  This is becoming a positive component in all new economic developments. The assessment is that Israel, due to our special circumstances could offer various solutions in this area. It is clear that there is a great opportunity and challenge for us here, first of all to ensure a favorable – and not hostile – business climate for these companies, and secondly, to ensure that our education system will be able to deliver the right tools to our boys and girls so that they will be able to continue to develop with the ability to bring results.

I held talks in Davos with representatives from all continents: With US Secretary of State John Kerry, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi , with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott , with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. All of them are important countries with markets and opportunities and important diplomatic significance.

Of course, they would all like to see progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. I made it clear that the desire is there and I think they also understand this.

I must say that the main interest was in regard to Iran’s ‘assault of pleasantness.’  Here, perhaps in contrast to what was depicted in the talks with the leaders, there was greater sharpness and greater clarity regarding the contradictory and mendacious messages that came up in Rouhani’s speech . Rouhani said that Iran was against international involvement in Syria, but Iran is the country that is most involved and aids the Assad regime in perpetrating mass slaughters on a daily basis.

He said that he was against the killing of innocents, but several days previously dozens of people were executed in Iran, most of whom, I can assure you, were innocent. He said that they favored free access to technology even as Iran denies its citizens free access to the Internet. He said that he favored the recognition of all countries in the Middle East and refused to answer the pointed questions that were directed to him about recognizing the State of Israel. The regime there calls for our destruction on an almost daily basis. Finally, the most important and most significant thing, Rouhani said that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge.

If Iran persists in saying this it means that the permanent agreement, which is the goal of any diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed. In effect, Iran is insisting on maintaining its ability to attain [enough] fissionable material for a bomb without any time constraints following the breakthrough. This means that many of the things which we have been saying will come true – are indeed coming true. Of course, there was also an attempt there to break through the sanctions regime. US Secretary of State Kerry told me that the US would act in order to maintain the existing sanctions, which is important, but it is important to see the test of its implementation.

In any case, Iranian President Rouhani’s remark that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge, alongside the interview given by the ‘exceedingly moderate’ Foreign Minister Zarif, in which he made it clear that Iran has an ideological agenda that brings it into perpetual conflict with the West and with the US, because it aspires to see a different world, a different world order, and you know what he means, the combination of these two remarks is causing people to understand that the reality vis-à-vis Iran is not rosy. There is a problem here. We know the truth. There is a regime here that, under cover of an assault of smiles, is trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to reach the status of a threshold state that could achieve nuclear weapons very quickly, and a country that has not changed its true ideology at all.

There are arguments inside Iran. There is an internal struggle within Iran over domestic reforms, but there is no change, not as of now, neither in the military nuclear program nor in Iran’s aggressive policy throughout the Middle East and in regard to terrorism well beyond the Middle East. Therefore, such a country cannot be allowed to have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This has been, and remains, our policy. I assure you that whoever we came into contact with there heard matters clearly both from myself and from President Peres.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the World Economic Forum at Davos

Source: PMO, 1-23-14
יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Photos by GPO

-Transcription-

Introductory Remarks by Espen Barth Eide – Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s a particular honor for me to welcome you back to Davos and to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. The Davos community fondly remembers your visit as Prime Minister back in 1997, as well as your visit here in 2009, then as Chairman of the Likud Party.

You are joining us here in Davos at a time of deep transformations in the Middle East, as well as a time of significant shifts in the global economy. In both areas, Israel is a key stakeholder if we are to realize positive outcomes. Building on the foundations you yourself put in place already as Finance Minister, Israel has been remarkably resilient during the global economic crisis and has clearly shown the value of fiscal and monetary prudence. What is also remarkable is the resilience and ever-growing pace of Israel’s hi-tech sector, an area I know you care particularly much about, which is a key contributor to your country’s unique position in the global economy.

At the same time, your country is dealing with important issues of income disparity and other socio-economic reforms, which makes you also stand out among the OECD countries.

Mr. Prime Minister, you are also joining us a time of significant turbulence and change in the Middle East region, ranging from the humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe of today’s Syria to the deep uncertainties surrounding North Africa and the border region. All these are events that will significantly shape our shared future. In this dynamic context, the potential for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is seen as a critical pillar of future stability.

I would like to express our support from the World Economic Forum for the leadership that you yourself, as well as your Palestinian counterparts, had provided in restarting the direct negotiations.

So Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us in Davos yet again, and it’s now my pleasure to invite you here to the lectern to develop your special address.

Address by PM Netanyahu:

Thank you very much. I’d like to acknowledge the presence of Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, who’s been one of the architects of Davos, a regular participant, and he will be given a special award tomorrow, which he much deserves. And of course, I’d like to acknowledge the presence of my wife: she’s here too, so… and my delegation. It’s good to see all of you. . Many of you have been to Israel or are already in Israel. I don’t mean as tourists, but as investors, and if you’re not, I hope that by the end of my talk, you will be.
Israel is often called the Start-Up Nation. I call it the Innovation Nation. The future belongs to those who innovate. Those who don’t innovate, whether in companies or in countries, will fall behind. Innovation is the only way to consistently add value to your products and services in an increasingly competitive global economy. And Israel is a global center for innovation, and by that I mean two things. It’s a center not only for science and technology, but for the indispensable ingredient of entrepreneurship. It’s the man or woman who has an idea – sometimes a child almost, young men and women – who have an idea. And that idea takes science and technology and turns it into a workable plan that can actually profit and grow. So Israel is the epicenter of world innovation right now.
But before I tell you about it, I have to briefly digress because you mentioned the fact that I was here in ’97. I digress on something that you cannot innovate on. You must have an economy that follows the rules of economic gravity. They are no different in Israel or in Nepal or in Columbia or anywhere else. And unless you keep to fundamental rules, the platform that you seek to have to have all these thousands of start-up companies take off. They won’t take off – they’ll crash and sink with your economy.
So to have an economy that is run soundly, you have to observe certain principles. The first one is very simple, but I say that to those of you who are in the audience who run states. The most important rule, number one is: don’t spend over time more than you bring in. You can’t afford it. And the second is, of course to maintain a sound macro-economic policy. I say that because we have done it in Israel and we are doing it now. To do that is not easy.
A short time after I was here, in 2003, I became the Finance Minister. The economy was shrinking. Inflation was growing at 7% a year. Our unemployment was at 11%. One of our major banks was in danger of collapse. It would have taken our entire banking system with it, and you know what that does. We’ve already learned what that does. So, when I took over as Finance Minister, I sought to give an explanation to the Israeli public of what it is that we have to do. And what we had to do then was what we have to do and are continuing to do now.
I described my first day in the Israeli army, in the paratroopers. The commander put us all in line and he said, “Now, you’re going to take special race,” and he pointed to me, the first man on the line. He said, “Look to the man on your right and put him on your shoulders”. I did. He was a pretty big guy, about my size. The next guy, he said, was the smallest man in the platoon. He said, “Put the guy to your right on your shoulders”. And he got the biggest guy in the platoon. And the third soldier, who was a big guy, received a small person; and so on. And then the commander blew the whistle and I could barely take a few steps. The little guy who was carrying the biggest guy in the platoon collapsed. And the third guy shot forward like a rocket and took the race.
I said in the international economy – I said then, I say now – in the global economy, all national economies are pairs of a public sector sitting on the shoulders of a private sector, who has to carry the race.
In our case, ten years ago in Israel, the guy at the top, the fat guy, the fat man became too fat and we had to put him on a diet. Hard to do; we had to cut government spending. We had to give a lot of oxygen to the thin man at the bottom, which meant cutting taxes; and we did. And then we had to remove all the barriers to the competition, ditch a fence, a wall, so that the thin man could run forward and compete. What we did then, we must do now; and we are. We just passed a bill in the government to fight cartels and monopolies, and I think that this is most interesting, the most important condition. It’s a prerequisite for innovation, requiring no innovation, but requiring a lot of political will and a lot of clarity. So conceptually, it’s very easy to do. Politically it’s very difficult, but necessary.
And since then, we’ve grown at roughly 4.6% a year with the decade that has followed. We’ve brought down our debt to GDP ratio from over 100% to about 67%, where it is now. We’ve brought down our inflation and we’ve brought down our unemployment. It’s now about 6%. So we have that macro-economic platform, and any of you thinking of coming to Israel, you’re coming to a well-managed country. We have our problems, as does everyone, but we manage it.
Now, innovation. It’s not enough to have some macro-economic policy. You know, nobody ever got rich by balancing their checkbooks. You just avoid bankruptcy. But it doesn’t make you prosperous. What I’ve just described doesn’t make you rich.
But Israel is becoming prosperous because of something else, and that is the ability to add that value through innovation. And the question is: why is it? What is it that we have, aside from good macro-economic policies, aside from market reforms, what is it that makes Israel this nexus of high technology? Because we have, as I said, thousands of start-up companies. And people have tried to crack the code of Israel. You have endless delegations coming to us from many countries and they are trying to figure out: can we do what you do? We don’t mind – we try to share with everyone, as I’m trying to do here. But I want to tell you why I think it would be very useful for you and us to make partnerships. There is something special that we have in Israel. Everybody has their own specialization. Everybody has their own advantages. Here’s our advantage: the concentration of exceptionally gifted hi-tech start-up companies in Israel, I believe is a function of five things.
First, a curse that has been turned into a blessing: our defense needs. We have had to have a very robust defense, so we take the best and the brightest of our young people in the military, and we put them in our various operations and then three years later, they come out. This is a perpetual machine that produces knowledge workers and knowledge entrepreneurs who are very, very gifted. This is reason number one, and I think that this produces a human resource that is unique.
The second is research, we have excellent research institutions and universities. You know some of them of course, the Technion, the Weizmann Institute and our other exceptional universities. They produce an inordinate share of Nobel Prize winners for Israel and I think that tells you a lot of what it is. We also spend 5% of our GDP on R&D. I think it’s the – a bit less than 5%, but it’s still the highest number of any country.
Third, I think there’s a special culture. The Jewish people have always treasured education and knowledge. In ancient times we were effectively the only literate people that I know of, because every father teach his son, not his daughter but his son how to read the Bible. And that brought us through the Middle Ages and into modern time with literary capacity. That was unusual. When the walls of the ghetto broke down with the French Revolution, that discipline burst out into many, many areas: into physics and mathematics, into chemistry and so on. There was a culture there. So, from the Talmud to Einstein, the Jewish people were always asking questions, truth was never finite. It never ended. There was an iterative process from Jewish communities around the world trying to find out what is the right thing, what is the true thing? And that questioning mind, I think, is something that is in our culture and I think adds very much to our capacities. Fourth, size: we’re very small. I mean, really small, like the the size of New Jersey or Wales. And so everything is close by and everyone is close to everyone else. Everybody competes with each other and collaborates with each other. There is an ongoing vibrant cross fertilization. So technology that is used for missiles can be put in a camera in a pill that goes into a digestive system to find out how healthy you are and where you are not healthy. The technology that is used to track data flow is used to track water flows and so on.
And the fifth reason I think is because we have no choice.  I don’t think any people in the world has been given the situation of the Jewish people, and to survive, we had to innovate. We didn’t have abundant natural resources. We were outnumbered; we were facing constant threats. Our neighbors even imposed upon us an economic boycott. Some world powers imposed upon us a weapons boycott. We had to innovate to survive.
The birth of modern Israel, remember, was an innovation. The rebirth of the Hebrew language was an innovation. The rebirth of agriculture in our land, something we hadn’t done for 2,000 years, was an innovation. It changed our capacities in a very, very short time and we became a key player in the world community.
This penchant of these five factors that converged together has created a unique situation where is this innovation nation,  and we produce more conceptual products per-capita than any other country on Earth. I think most of you, possibly all of you, know this. So the question is: what can Israel give you?
I think in a nutshell, we can be your science and technology incubator. And I think for all of you, for any business and for any country, the ability to create, to have R&D centers or R&D investments or product development investments that allow you to seize the future, to be constantly on the cutting edge is a competitive requirement for all of us. I think that low tech is disappearing. Hi-tech seeps into every crack, into every corner, changing the face of our world. I’ve just come from an illuminating luncheon with some of the leading IT executives and companies in the world, and it’s very clear that there is an abundant opportunity here, tremendous opportunity – the internet of things and the internet of everything. Everything is moving very, very rapidly. Everything is becoming digital. And Israel is active in just about every field, just about every field. I can’t say every field, but in just about every field that I heard discussed in Davos and that I hear that you are discussing, Israel is there.
I recently met the head of an international company that has R&D operations around the world. His company presented a problem to all their offices. He said to me that only in Israel was he told that he wasn’t asking the right question.  And I think that he should been doing it in a different way. By the way, I get that every five minutes as Prime Minister, but these are very valuable insights. These are out of the box insights that make the difference; they give you the competitive edge.
So I think that for countries and companies alike, the ability to come and partake in this Israeli incubator in your specific field is something that will enhance your competitive advantage. I have no doubt about that, and many of you, as I said, are doing it, and as I learn from talking to you yesterday and today, you’re thinking of expanding it and competing for those minds and those talents.
But there are two areas that I want to draw your attention to in the vast scheme of things this is changing and it’s changing beyond belief everywhere – in health, in science and technology. We’re digitizing Israel – we’re doing a Digital Israel, running fast fiber throughout the country, and we can see the possibilities are endless, both in healthcare and in delivering classes and delivering quality of life that is unheard of, in closing social gaps between those who have and have not. Everybody must have. Everybody must have the ability to be there and we’re talking about, for example, the Arab youth of Israel or the Orthodox – getting them to this new world I think is important. It closes the gaps and it could happen as well in our region as a whole. But there are two areas that are specifically addressed in Israel that I draw your attention to.
The first is sustainability, sustainable development and Israel leads in questions water, food, renewable energy and many others. I’ll give you an example on water. We need water and there’s not enough water in the world, or it’s not distributed in the right way and sometimes even if it’s there, it’s not clean. Our population has increased tenfold and our rainfall is half of what it was when Israel was founded. But we don’t have a water problem. Why? Because we lead the world in re-using water. We’re the number one recycler of water, a little less than 80%. The next country is 25%. Whose cows produce the most milk? Don’t guess: it’s Israel. It’s a computerized cow. Every “moo” is computerized and we increased the productivity. And this is something that can be available to populations across the world. We do make it available. In food, in dairy products, in water, in energy – when you think about sustainability, think Israel.
And there’s another area that I specifically talked about an hour ago, which I think is important. All the limitless possibilities that you see on the internet are being challenged by one thing and that is the question of cyber security, or if you will, cyber insecurity and the question of the invasion of our privacy. Is the age of privacy over? The major engine of global economic growth is the internet. The internet has to be protected. You would not leave your bank account open or money on the table or your door open, but effectively unless we have that protection, everybody is exposed. There are no rules of the game and we enter chaos.  So Israel leads in the question cyber protection – without which the internet economy cannot move forward.
We believe that the hundreds of companies that have been established in Israel in the last few years – hundreds – in cyber security can be your partners. We know that the major cyber firms are already in Israel and they are discovering how true that is, but I think that every country and every company today has a vested interest to have the protection of privacy and cyber security. These are not always identical. There’s often conflict between the two, but it is something that we in Israel think that we can contribute to. I think that you should also know that we are making, as a government a massive investment in this area. We intend to be in the top three – I think we are in the top three in the question of cyber security and cyber protection. We believe that we should safeguard the individual. We think that individuals around the world, millions and millions of people, billions of people, should know that their accounts are inviolable, that their money is safe, that their privacy is assured. This is the world you want to see and Israel can help make that world a realization.
So I encourage you to come in and join us with this, and I think this will be good not only for you and not only for us, but also for peace. The investment in the growth of the Israeli economy is good for our society and it’s also good for our neighbors, whether they realize it or not. I believe that in the peace negotiations, advancing the economic peace alongside the political peace – one does not replace the other, but it could facilitate the other. I think this is a tremendous contribution to peace. I think it’s a way to also close gaps within Israel and between Israel and its neighbors. That may not be evident yet between us and our neighbors, but I think it will be evident in the future.
So I think this is an investment in peace, an investment in the economic peace assists the development of political peace. It could be of great benefit to all our neighbors, but especially to the Palestinians because we’ve had some beginnings of cooperation, including in the hi-tech field, between Israeli entrepreneurs and Palestinian entrepreneurs. I believe it could also be a force that would move the entire region forward, but of course the region, as you know, has other problems which we will discuss.
Israel has so much to offer the Middle East, to correct a great misperception. Israel is not what’s wrong with the Middle East; Israel is what’s right in the Middle East, and I think our relationship with our neighbors doesn’t have to be a zero sum game; there could be great gain for all.
So my message to you is very simple: the future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is a great seller of innovation. This is an invitation to the innovation nation. Israel is open for business; it’s open for your business. Please come and join us! Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Davos Speech

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Rouhani’s Davos Speech

Source: PMO, 1-23-14

יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today in Davos, made the following remarks:

“Rouhani is continuing with the Iranian show of deception.

At a time when Rouhani condemns the killing of innocents, dozens of innocents were recently executed in Iran.

At a time when Rouhani talks about a positive approach to technology, he prevents Iranians from freely surfing the Internet.

At a time when Rouhani is talking about the end of outside involvement in Syria, Iran is arming the Assad regime and directing Hezbollah to slaughter innocents in Syria.

At a time when Rouhani talks about peace with the countries of the Middle East, he refuses – even today – to recognize the existence of the State of Israel, and his regime daily calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

At a time when Rouhani claims that Iran is not interested in a nuclear project for military purposes, Iran continues to strengthen its centrifuges and heavy water reactor, and to arm itself with intercontinental missiles, the sole purpose of which is for nuclear weapons.

Rouhani has admitted that a decade ago, he deceived the West in order to advance the Iranian nuclear program. He is doing this today as well.

The goal of the Iranian ayatollahs’ regime, which is hiding behind Rouhani’s smiles, is to ease sanctions without conceding on their program to produce nuclear weapons.

Therefore, the international community must not go astray after this deception, and it must prevent Iran from attaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons.”

Israel Musings January 23, 2014: Harper spends remainder of Israel trip playing tourist and being honored

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent the remaining day and a half of his four-day Israel trip on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 21 and then Wednesday, Jan. 22 playing the tourist, taking in some of Israel’s holiest sites…READ MORE

Israel Musings January 22, 2014: Harper and Netanyahu hold joint cabinet meeting and press conference

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Israel Musings January 21, 2014: Canadian PM Harper pledges staunch support for Israel in historic Knesset speech

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Canadian PM Harper pledges staunch support for Israel in historic Knesset speech

By Bonnie K. Goodman

For the first time in history a Canadian Prime Minister has addressed the Israeli Knesset. On Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 Stephen Harper on his first trip to Israel became the first and only Canadian leader to have the honor of…READ MORE

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

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

Source: PMO, 1-20-14

יום שני י”ט שבט תשע”ד

Photo by GPO
- Translation -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Jerusalem.
Bienvenue a Jerusalem.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

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Full text of Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the Knesset on Monday, January 20, 2014. Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan on this trip.

Source: Globe and Mail, 1-20-14

Shalom.

And thank you for inviting me to visit this remarkable country, and especially for this opportunity to address the Knesset.

It is truly a great honour.

And if I may, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my wife Laureen and the entire Canadian delegation, let me begin by thanking the government and people of Israel for the warmth of your hospitality.

You have made us feel extremely welcome.

We have felt immediately at home.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies.

And, with your indulgence, I would like to offer a reflection upon what makes the relationship between Canada and Israel special and important because the relationship between us is very strong.

The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.

There has, for example, been a free trade agreement in place between Canada and Israel for many years, an agreement that has already proved its worth.

The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between our countries.

But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and broadening our mutual trade and investment goals.

As well, our military establishments share information and technology.

This has also been to our mutual benefit.

For example, during Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, our use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of Canadian soldiers.

All such connections are important, and build strong bridges between us.

However, to truly understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, one must look beyond trade and institutions to the personal ties of friendship and kinship.

Jews have been present in Canada for more than 250 years.

In generation after generation, by hard work and perseverance, Jewish immigrants, often starting with nothing, have prospered greatly.

Today, there are nearly 350,000 Canadians who share with you their heritage and their faith.

They are proud Canadians.

But having met literally thousands of members of this community, I can tell you this:

They are also immensely proud of what the people of Israel have accomplished here, of your courage in war, of your generosity in peace, and of the bloom that the desert has yielded, under your stewardship.

Laureen and I share that pride, the pride and the understanding that what has been achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust; the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.

Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so.

This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident.

On many occasions, Canadians have even gone so far as to bleed and die to defend the freedom of others in far-off lands.

To be clear, we have also periodically made terrible mistakes as in the refusal of our government in the 1930s to ease the plight of Jewish refugees but, as a country, at the turning points of history, Canada has consistently chosen, often to our great cost, to stand with others who oppose injustice, and to confront the dark forces of the world.

It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.

But, I would argue, support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative it is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own, long-term interests.

Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago, that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.

Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East, which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

These are not mere notions.

They are the things that, over time and against all odds, have proven to be the only ground in which human rights, political stability, and economic prosperity, may flourish.

These values are not proprietary; they do not belong to one nation or one people.

Nor are they a finite resource; on the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they grow.

Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.

And what threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture?

Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.

And so, either we stand up for our values and our interests, here, in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.

Ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them.

And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just is a universal one.

It applies no less to the Palestinian people, than it does to the people of Israel.

Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so too Canada has long-supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people.

And, I believe, we share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders… will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel.

As you, Prime Minister [Netanyahu], have said, when Palestinians make peace with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations — it will be the first.

Sadly, we have yet to reach that point.

But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian state, but Canada will be right behind you.

Ladies and gentlemen, support – even firm support – doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.

No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.

But our support does mean at least three things.

First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.

Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.

Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel.

But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.

And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

We all know about the old anti-Semitism.

It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps.

Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.

But, in much of the Western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.

On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.

Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.

But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism.

It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make  the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.

But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?

What else can we call it when, Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its human rights council?

Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding:

In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.

And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus:

If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again.

But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.

The truth, that Canada understands, is that many of the hostile forces Israel faces, are faced by all western nations.

And Israel faces them for many of the same reasons we face them.

You just happen to be a lot closer to them.

Of course, no nation is perfect.

But neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today.

“One must look beyond Israel’s borders to find the causes of the relentless oppression, poverty and violence in much of the region, of the heartbreaking suffering of Syrian refugees, of sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities, especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so many states.

So what are we to do?

Most importantly, we must deal with the world as we find it.

The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly and the forces of progress, often anaemically weak.

For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. “It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.

I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realise that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence.

Which brings me to the government of Iran.

Late last year, the world announced a new approach to diplomacy with the government in Tehran.

Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure that regime never obtains a nuclear weapon.

We therefore appreciate the earnest efforts of the five permanent members of the security council and Germany.

Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the merits of its words, but on the implementation and verification of its promised actions.

We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons.

But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions will remain fully in place.

And should our hopes not be realized, should the present agreement prove ephemeral Canada will be a strong voice for renewed sanctions.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought.

I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.

It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society a vibrant democracy a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.

You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.

In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.

And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.

My friends, you have been generous with your time and attention.

Once more, Laureen and I and our entire delegation thank you for your generous hospitality, and look forward to continuing our visit to your country.

Thank you for having us, and may peace be upon Israel.

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