ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS
PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Knesset Winter Session
Source: PMO, 10-12-15
At the outset, I would like to send my wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded and to encourage the security forces.
In the 1920s, Albert Londres, who is still considered one of the greatest journalists in France, visited the Land of Israel. In his book, The Wandering Jew Has Arrived, he described the repeated terrorist attacks by rioting Arabs against the Jewish inhabitants of the Land of Israel and against the first Jewish city, Tel Aviv. Londres mentions in particular that the city’s symbol contained the words from the Bible, “I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt”, but he added, and I quote, “From the very day that the first stone was laid, the Arab stance has been ‘I will destroy you and you will be destroyed'”.
When Londres visited Tel Aviv in 1929 it had several tens of thousands of residents. Today more than one million people live in the Greater Tel Aviv area. One hundred years of terror, one hundred years during which our enemies have tried to destroy the Zionist enterprise, and they have still not learned: Terror will not vanquish us. Time and again we are the ones who vanquish it. “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”
We will also vanquish this current wave of terror, through the determined action of our soldiers and police officers, by neutralizing the terrorists, as occurred today in Jerusalem, through the resourcefulness and courage of our citizens as events happen, through the mutual responsibility for one another that characterizes our people, especially when they are in danger, as the late Rabbi Nehemia Lavi demonstrated, when he, with supreme and extraordinary bravery, came to the aid of the Benita family, thereby saving the lives of Adel and her two small children.
We are working against these terrorists on all fronts. I instructed that there be massive reinforcement of forces. We added regiments in Judea and Samaria. We mobilized many companies of border patrol fighters to Jerusalem and all parts of the country. We are taking the initiative, entering neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, preventing the immunity of rioters wherever they are, destroying the homes of terrorists, working against inciters, setting up ambushes and conducting undercover operations, making arrests, advancing legislation to revoke the rights of murderers, and working to make the Islamic Movement illegal. We clarified the instructions for opening fire on firebombers and rock throwers, like those who took the lives of innocent civilians like the toddler, Adele Biton, or Jerusalem resident Alexander Levlovitz.
Members of Knesset, yesterday the Government approved legislation for minimum sentences for rock throwers and firebombers, and the imposition of fines on minors and their parents. I expect the support of the opposition parties for this emergency legislation on this important security issue, as well as for legislating the war on terror law, which will also be presented during this session. What guides us is the profound recognition that we are fighting a just fight.
There were terrorist attacks before the establishment of the country and after it, before the Six Day War and after the Six Day War, when the peace process was at its zenith and when the peace process was stopped. It must be understood once and for all: Terror does not result from frustration due to the lack of progress in the political process. Terror is the result of a desire to destroy us. It was the motivation for terrorism during the early days of Zionism and it is the motivation today as well.
After the beginning of the peace process in Oslo, during the mid-1990s, 1994 through 1996 and also in the early 2000s, more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered in suicide terror attacks and on buses that exploded. Suicide terror did not vanquish us then and the terror of knife attacks will not vanquish us now. What wins every time is the recognition that this is our home, this is our homeland. What wins is our will to live, which overcomes our enemies’ will to die. I tell you, enemies of Israel: You did not succeed and you will not succeed in destroying the State of Israel. There is no way to stop the Zionist enterprise.
Members of Knesset, this is not the first time our enemies have used specious propaganda regarding the Temple Mount in order to encourage riots. My late grandfather arrived in the Land of Israel in 1920, and that same year at the Nebi Musa celebrations in April, Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini stated that the Jews were planning a surprise, and I quote, “to take control of the Temple Mount and destroy the mosques”. This lie is repeated today, although I must admit that back then, in 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council at least included one iota of truth. Allow me to read from the booklet it published in English for tourists visiting the Temple Mount. “The fact that Haram el-Sharif stands where in the past Solomon’s temple stood is unimpeachable. This is also the place where, according to tradition, David built an altar to God.”
Even they, at least back then, could not deny the historic fact that the two temples built by the Jews – the First and Second Temples – stood on that location for a thousand years. And some people tell us today that the Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount. Apparently one can say anything because Husseini’s successors today arrogantly claim that the Jews have absolutely no connection to this place. They say the Jews dirty and defile the Temple Mount. They repeat over and over again the lie that we intend to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque or change the status quo at the Temple Mount. This is an absolute lie. The complete opposite is true: We are committed to preserving the status quo at the Temple Mount.
We stringently protect the holy places of all religions. And moreover, members of Knesset, if it were not for Israel, radical Islamic extremists would come here and they would destroy the holy places and historic heritage sites – at the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem – as they do across the entire Middle East. We are those who protect the holy places of all religions at the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem.
The distributors of this defamatory incitement, and I mention incitement because it is the source and it is explosive – explosive. This is an attempt to ignite a religious conflagration which none of us want. The President rightly said that we have no argument with Islam, but rather with the attempt of radicals to ignite a religious conflagration based on an absolute lie. This is very dangerous incitement, which unfortunately takes its toll in human lives. Its distributors include, first and foremost, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Regrettably, they do not educate their people for peace but rather to continue the conflict, each in their own way. They include anti-Semitic incitement in their textbooks, in the media and on social media.
Abu Mazen must renounce the incitement and defamatory statements against Jews and against Israel. He must strongly condemn the attacks, just as I condemned serious acts of terror carried out by Jews against Arabs. We are a law-abiding country and we will not allow any party, any side, to break the law. We will deal severely with anyone who lifts their hand against innocents, Jews and Arabs alike.
But there in another main party which incites all the time, which constantly spreads this great lie about the Temple Mount – and this party is the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. We will act against this source of incitement with all means. Yesterday, I asked that the legal infrastructure to declare them illegal be completed. There will be no immunity for those who incite and encourage terror.
Let it be clear, we want coexistence between Jewish and Arab citizens of the State of Israel. We are investing in the Arab sector, in Druze, in Circassians, in Bedouins, as governments before us did not, in tremendous amounts. This is a worldview. But unfortunately, in the boundaries of the State of Israel, it is not just the Islamic Movement which incites, and I think it is impossible to deal with this without saying these things.
The recent wave of murders has taken the lives of young parents, the late Naama and Eitam Henkin. They were slaughtered in front of their young children. Someone here, a member of this house, said, “The Henkins were settlers. You cannot treat them as if they were innocent civilians.” What does that mean? That they can be murdered? That it is permissible to murder Nehamia Lavi and Aharon Benita? And hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens? It was MK Ghattas who said this, but MK Zoabi did not limit herself to settlers. She justifies all acts of terrorism. She said, I must say with sadness, with concern, to a Hamas newspaper, just two days ago, “Actions by individuals is not enough; we need an entire intifada.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is unbelievable; it is simply unbelievable. A member of Knesset in Israel calls for wholesale terrorist attacks against the citizens of Israel. There is nothing more justified than initiating a criminal investigation against her. This is what should be done, period.
Members of Knesset are the first who must respect the law in the State of Israel. They cannot justify murder. They cannot call for murder. Whoever has done so or does so is not deserving of being a member of this house.
I appeal to the Israeli Arabs: You must see that Israel is the only place that is quiet, normal, in the entire area. You see what is happening to Muslims and Christians in the region, what happens to the countries that devolved into religious wars and civil wars. We will meet every challenge, but I call on you to eject the radicals among you, just as I call on the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel to do the same.
I appeal to the Israeli Arabs, citizens of this country, and I say: Will you follow a leadership which incites, which reaches absurd heights – the members of the communist Balad party, behind whom stands a trail of ISIS flags? A leadership which seeks to fragment the country? Or will you follow the path of coexistence, peace, loyalty to the country of which you are a part? Because you cannot have it both ways. You cannot have the best of both worlds, enjoying all the rights available in democratic Israel, which respects the rights of all its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, while at the same time undermining the country. I beseech you: Chose the right path, the path of truth, the path of coexistence. There is no other choice. We will meet any challenge, but this is important for you, for your children, for all of us – for all of us.
Members of Knesset, the wave of radical Islam is flooding the entire region. Just two days ago, nearly a hundred people were murdered in the heart of Ankara, Turkey, and the flames reach us here too. All our neighbors within a very wide radius are fighting the Islamist volcano. Hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered just beyond our borders. Millions of refugees are escaping the expanse of extremism. I assure you, they understand very well – just ask them – they understand very well to which depths they have been dragged by those same extremist Islamic radicals, which are composed of two camps: the radical Shiite axis, led by Iran, and the extremist Sunni axis, led by ISIS. They certainly are not partners for peace, but unfortunately Abu Mazen also runs time and again from peace negotiations. Many times I have called on Abu Mazen to sit with me – most recently in my speech at the UN – to try and advance the issues on the agenda, but he persists in refusing.
I know that he knows that I do not have any preconditions for entering negotiations for any peace arrangement, but he knows that in any peace arrangement, no matter who is in this house, he will eventually need to declare an end to the conflict, relinquish the right of return and recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He knows that he will have to give us, our people, what he demands for his own people. It is this refusal to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people in any borders which was and is the root of the conflict.
Distinguished colleagues, at this time what we must do is stand strong in the face of the radical Islamic proxies surrounding us. Iran is expanding its activities in Syria as we speak. Just today, thousands of Iranian soldiers arrived in Syria, not far from our northern border. ISIS is also established there and it is also established in the Sinai. Our first duty is to strengthen control over our borders. I instructed that a security fence be built along our eastern border, as we previously built a 220 kilometer-long security fence along our shared border with Egypt, as well as in the Golan. Work began there one month ago.
In addition to sealing our borders, we will prevent the establishment of terrorist bases near our borders. Anyone who endangers our security and threatens our sovereignty will bear the consequences. I made this clear to the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. During our meeting in Moscow, I stood up for our principles: Israel attacks whoever attacks it. We will not allow Iran to transfer deadly weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory, or at least we will do everything in our power to prevent it; and we will not allow Iran to open an additional terrorist front against us in the Golan.
In the face of the threats posed by Iran and radical Islam, we stand united with Egypt and Jordan, members of Knesset, and with many other Arab countries in the region. I choose my words carefully. Reality shifts rapidly. We reserve the right to act against anyone who threatens to destroy us. No international agreement will bind our hands.
I wish to tell you that despite the differences of opinion regarding the nuclear agreement, President Obama and I have full understanding regarding the need to oppose Iranian aggression and the need to prevent Iran from transferring weapons to its terrorist proxies. In the United States, both the supporters of the agreement and those opposed to it as a whole agree that Israel must be strengthened even more at this time in order to face the threats I described and others, and during my upcoming visit to Washington, I will discuss Israel’s security needs in the coming years, the coming decade, with the President.
Members of Knesset, security and safeguarding lives come first, but they are not the most important thing. Alongside the fight against terror and the other threats, we continue building our country and acting for the benefit of all the citizens of Israel. Soon we will present a budget which includes many reforms, including those to reduce the cost of living – of food, transportation, health, credit and many other areas.
We reduced the value added tax by 1%, the corporate tax rate by 1.5%. We will continue increasing the minimum wage. We will soon continue the process of producing natural gas. We will continue developing transportation arteries along the length and breadth of Israel. You must see this every day: The road to Jerusalem is expanding, the work on the light rail in Tel Aviv has begun, we are connecting the periphery to the center of the country. These are not just empty words; it is finally happening after half a century of talk.
The Negev and the Galilee are transforming. We are moving IDF units south to the Negev, to the “training camp city”. The bases we will evacuate – in Ziffrin, in Tel Hashomer – in these evacuated areas we will establish new residential neighborhoods. We will advance the plan for the train from Eilat to Kiryat Shmona. This is the vision: One uninterrupted line of transportation, a continuous multi-lane road and eventually also a rail line, a railway connection from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. We will open a new airport in Timna soon. We signed agreements with municipalities for the construction and development of tens of thousands of housing units in Rishon Le’Zion, Rosh Ha’Aiyn, Modi’in, Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Gat, and recently an historic agreement for 20,000 housing units in Beer Sheva. All the money earned from selling the land will be invested in the infrastructure of these cities.
My vision is clear: Within 12 years, half a million citizens will live in Beer Sheva. And this vision includes something else: Beer Sheva will become, is already becoming, a global cyber city. This is a tremendous revolution which is transforming the Negev and the country. Several years ago, from this podium, I promised that Israel would become a cyber world power.
Allow me to present you a single figure: In 2014, the State of Israel received 10% of global investments in cyber security. This is one hundredfold for our relative size, but that figure has changed. In 2015 we see that this percentage will increase to 20%. It doubled itself in one year. This is geometric growth. All the countries and companies around the world have noticed our technological capabilities, which are integrated – and this is because of the genius of our citizens but it is also because of the government’s investments in these areas.
This week the President of India is coming to Israel for an historic first visit. My friends, Indian Prime Minister Modi told me, “I need Israel. I need its technology and its knowledge.” This is what is happening in our relations with China and Japan as well. I just came from a meeting with the Vice President of Kenya, and he told me, “Most of the African countries greatly desire to renew their relations with Israel now.”
Just this month, I will meet with leaders from four continents. I know, members of the opposition, that you like to speak about Israel’s isolation in the world, but this is simply not true. We are expanding our relations with Arab countries in the region, with Asian countries, with African countries and with Latin American countries. I do not deny that we have problems with some of the Western European countries.
They are captive to an old line of reasoning, a line of reasoning that is outdated, i.e. that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of all conflict in the Middle East. Once, people would say conflict in the singular, just one conflict – and I think it is time that they suit themselves and their countries to the changing reality.
Despite the difficulties, faced with these challenges, Israel continues to march forward in developing its economy, in making the land bloom, in absorbing new immigrants in ever increasing numbers. Our hope is not the result of burying our heads in the sand, of creating a false reality, of ignoring the difficulties. Our hope, as stated in our national anthem, is the result of fortifying our strength as a free people in our land. Our response to one hundred years of terror is one hundred years of development, creation and prosperity.
We established a country whose accomplishments are unique on any scale. I am proud of our country, proud of its residents, proud of its soldiers and police officers, who are working night and day to safeguard our security and well-being. I am proud of you, citizens of Israel. One hundred years of terror did not succeed and will not succeed. Israel will remain here forever.