Full Text Israel Political Brief March 20, 2016: Vice President Joe Biden’s Speech to the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference

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Israel Political Brief March 20-22, 2016: 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference Schedule

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General Sessions

Source: AIPAC

Sunday Evening, March 20

Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
Watch live stream starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Monday Morning, March 21

Watch live stream starting at 8 a.m. ET.
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Democratic Presidential Candidate

Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
House Majority Leader

Steny Hoyer
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
House Democratic Whip

Isaac Herzog
Isaac Herzog
Chairman of Zionist Union and Leader of the Opposition
Israeli Knesset

Monday Evening, March 21

Watch live stream starting at 5 p.m. ET.
Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
Republican Presidential Candidate

John Kasich
John Kasich
Republican Presidential Candidate

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Republican Presidential Candidate

Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Tuesday Morning, March 22

Watch live stream starting at 8 a.m. ET.
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
(Address via Satellite)

Robert Menendez
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

 

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

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PM Netanyahu and Vice President Joe Biden in a joint statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PM Netanyahu at the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award Ceremony

Source: PMO, 11-9-15


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Syrian issue the Prime Minister said:

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

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

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

On economic-technological matters the Prime Minister said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: PMO, 11-9-15


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

President Obama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you very much, Mr. President.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 16, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu to visit US President Barack Obama at the White House on November 9

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

Source: WH, 9-16-15

President Obama on November 9, 2015 will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The President looks forward to discussing with the Prime Minister regional security issues, including implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to peacefully and verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and countering Tehran’s destabilizing activities. The President also looks forward to discussing Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the need for the genuine advancement of a two-state solution. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel as well as the unprecedented security cooperation, including our close consultations to further enhance Israel’s security.

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 1, 2015: PM Netanyahu’s Address at US Independence Day Celebrations at the US Ambassador’s Residence

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PM Netanyahu’s Address at US Independence Day Celebrations at the US Ambassador’s Residence

Source: PMO, 7-1-15

Sara and I are delighted to be with all of you. This is a great day because on the 4th of July, all Israelis unite with our American brothers and sisters. It’s our celebration too. That’s because the history of our two countries is remarkably intertwined. The Founding Fathers of America were inspired by the Bible, and specifically by the Book of the Exodus, by the dream of building freedom in a new Promised Land. And as you stand in the Chamber of the American Congress, you see right across you the image of one man – Moses, with a quote from the Bible.

And since the establishment of the United States, that’s two and a half centuries, the vision of justice and the vision of peace espoused by the Prophets of Israel served as a guiding light for Americans from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King to many others seeking to form a more perfect union.

But just as our heritage inspired America, America inspired us. If you read the Founding Fathers of Zionism, you see how powerful and inspirational the American Revolution was – the ideas of freedom and liberty. They reverberated everywhere for people seeking liberty, but they reverberated powerfully for the Zionist movement and the ideas of reestablishing our land, our promise, our justice here.

Zionism has always been about freedom, about national freedom, the Jewish people returning to our ancestral homeland to rebuild our one and only sovereign state. But it’s also been about personal freedom. We built the State of Israel on the same democratic foundations upon which the United States was built.

And what a remarkable foundation it’s proven to be.

The Middle East is plagued by tyranny. Majorities are oppressed. Minorities are persecuted. Women are subjugated. Gays are lynched. The press, if there is any, is muzzled.

Yet in this turbulent and violent Middle East, Israel stands out as a beacon of freedom and human rights, with unfailing constancy, an island of democracy in a sea of despotism.

The Middle East is imploding all around us. States that have existed for a century are disintegrating. The forces of militant Islam are rushing to fill the void, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS, the militant Shiites led by Iran.

Iran conducts a campaign of aggression in the region and terrorism worldwide. It seeks to build nuclear weapons to advance its mission to export the Islamic revolution, so they say, around the globe. For the mullahs that rule Tehran, Israel is the small Satan and America is the great Satan. They say, Dan, we are you and you are us. And you know something? On this, they are absolutely right. We stand with America. America stands with us.

Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon, Iran’s worldwide campaign of terrorism and aggression must be stopped. So too must the campaign of ISIS, whose savagery is now sweeping the Middle East. We ourselves have felt the reverberations of Islamist terrorism in the last few days. Today I visited the hospital of those Israelis wounded – remarkable heroism shown by a young woman and by a young man. And we grieve for the loss of a brilliant, brilliant young Malachi. We suffer those pains and we see that that terrorism is not only exploding within our own country. We see ISIS at the gates – across the border in the Golan, across the border in Egypt. We send our condolences to the government and people of Egypt for the fallen Egyptians slain by ISIS terror.

We must stand up to all the forces of militant Islam, those led by Iran, those led by ISIS. We should not strengthen one or the other. We should weaken both of them. And as we do this, we will continue our quest for a durable and secure peace with the Palestinians, mindful that we must not let militant Islam gain another foothold.

My friends,

The values we share are at the heart of the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. Dan, we are family. Let me translate. We are mishpucha. And we are partners.

I take this opportunity to once again express my appreciation to President Obama, the United States Congress and the people of America. I want to thank them for their continual support of the State of Israel. Across the length and breadth of the United States, Americans of all stripes stand with the Jewish state. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again tonight: Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel.

On this day that celebrates freedom both of us know this: Neither one of us can take life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness for granted. Americans and Israelis have paid a high price to protect these sacred principles. We are stronger when we face our great challenges together.

And today the bells of freedom ring across America. They ring loud in Israel too. May we always cherish our freedom. May we always cherish our friendship.

On behalf of all Israelis, I wish all Americans a happy 4th of July. God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 18, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address at the 2015 Genesis Prize Ceremony honoring Actor Michael Douglas

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Address by PM Netanyahu at the 2015 Genesis Prize Ceremony

Source: PMO, 6-18-15

Tonight we’re all here to honor the Genesis Laureate of 2015, Michael Douglas. And this morning Sara and I and our son Yair had the pleasure of hosting, welcoming Michael, his wife Catherine and his two children, Dylan and Carys. What a beautiful family.

I was always impressed with Michael and Catherine because they’re great actors, which means they’re great artists. And to borrow a phrase, which I did, from one of your father’s movies – you too cast a giant shadow over your profession and set a standard for all actors to follow.

In fact on the way over here, Michael and I were talking and I asked him: You remember that movie? You remember that movie in the jungle? You remember those movies. How can you forget them? They’re unforgettable, because you and Catherine are unforgettable actors.

There are two other unforgettable people who loom large in our people’s story and they’re my two close friends, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein.

You know, we always ask in Israel when we meet somebody, we say: So, what did you do in the army? Because it sort of tells you – I’m talking about politicians now – it sort of tells you what did you do before you started wearing masks, because politics always involves that to a certain extent.

Yuli and Natan before they came into politics, they were in prison in the Soviet Union. They fought for freedom. They came here and they deserve the prominence and respect that they have in Israel and around the world. I salute you both.

And I want to take this opportunity to thank Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Kahn for your dedication and for your commitment, for your generosity. And to you, Stan Polovets, the Chairman and CEO of the Genesis Prize. Thank you for everything you’re doing, Stan.

And thanks too to Len Blavatnik who participates in this project.

And thank you to all the members of the Selection and Prize Committee, thank you.

The Prime Minister’s Office, the Jewish Agency and the Genesis Prize Foundation have united around this important project, and if I had to summarize in one word what it is that we’re trying to foster, that word is pride – pride in the Jewish people, pride in the Jewish state. And there is much to be proud of, because the Jewish people are remarkable in so many ways. Not only because we brought the Book of Books, the idea of monotheism, the prophetic ideas of salvation and human rights and the equality of all people under God. But also because after about 1,500 years where we did all that in this land, we were dispersed to the far corners of the earth, which is not unique, it happened to many peoples, in fact it happened to a majority of the peoples in antiquity. They were dispersed, they were gone, they lost their identity and disappeared. This is actually the most common thing that happened to the peoples of the past.

The one thing that is unique about the Jewish people is that having been dispersed, they refused to disappear. And they kept saying year after year for two millennia, they kept saying: We’ll be back. It sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’ll be back. We’ll be back in the Jerusalem, back in the land of Zion, back in the Land of Israel, and this seemed an impossible dream. But we did achieve it. That return and the ingathering of the exiles, and this dawns on you on special occasions and I was once a soldier and we marched through the Judean desert, we just covered the whole thing, and it was a hot day and you wait to get to the end point in the evening and the end point was foothills of Masada.

Now, it’s hard to have a sense of elation when your muscles are strained, your feet are sore, you’re covered with sweat, and yet I remember in that night looking up to that mountain where the last remnants of Jewish resistance were defeated by the Romans in 73 CE. That’s almost 2,000 years ago, and we were demolished. I was standing exhausted in this place where our people were supposed to be exhausted, finished, dead, dispersed, gone, and I was standing there, a soldier in the army of Israel, the army of the Jewish state, and I look at that mountain top and I think of the Roman commander Silva and I said, I actually said this: Silva, we’re back! We came back.

When we came back, we climbed so many mountains, we crossed so many deserts, and we created a country like no other. It’s a country that though beleaguered has created these amazing things – technology, you got your cell phone? You have Israel in your palm. So many applications, so many innovations. You drink a glass of water, not only in Israel but in many countries now, you’re drinking the product of Israeli technology and number one in recycling. I was in China with President Xi and they said: We want to have your dairy industry. They drink a lot of milk in China. And I said: Well, that’s a very good choice because you know which cow produces more milk per cow than any other cow? You think it’s a Dutch cow or French cow? No, it’s a Jewish cow. It’s a computerized cow. Every moo is computerized. And the same is true with water. Hundreds of millions around the world are enjoying the products of Israeli innovation. That’s the old problem that we’ve solved with the new techniques.

But there’s a new problem that we’re solving, and that’s the problem with cyber security. You need it. You can’t have the geometric growth of the internet economy without having cyber protection.

And the other day, as I told Michael this morning, in fact last week the Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, visited my office and he says: Israel is number one, number one digital powerhouse in the world. I said: Eric, aren’t you exaggerating a bit? He said: No, I’ll be precise. In absolute measures that I make, you’re number two after Silicone Valley, after Cambridge, MAS and after Cambridge, England. Sorry, before Cambridge MAS, before Cambridge England. Per capita you’re way off the charts, and what you’re doing now in Israel is setting a growth engine for the next 50 years. So Israel is all that, and medicine. A lot of the drugs that people use and the medical applications originate here. So it’s not merely doing good things for us. It’s doing good things for humanity.

Israel is an oasis of technology, of innovation. It’s an oasis of freedom, an oasis of freedom and liberty and life in a region that appears to be a sea of darkness and despotism.

Democracies are tested under fire. And we’ve been tested from day one. But we maintain our values, we’ve built here a rumbustious democracy. Jay, you come to the Knesset for one day, it’ll give you material for a lifetime. This is a democracy where all, Jews and non-Jews alike are equal under the law, in the one and only Jewish state. Jews can come here and live here as free people and they can come here from any part of the world. All Jews can feel at home here. And as Prime Minister of Israel, I’m committed to strengthening the unity of the Jewish people, and I will continue to reject any attempt to divide the Jewish people and to de-legitimize any Jewish community. Everyone is welcome – Reform, Conservative, Orthodox alike. Everyone.

Of course, the greater irony is that Israel, this unbelievably vivid, lively democracy, is the most maligned free society on earth. In the UN Human Rights Council there are more resolutions on Israel – it’s the majority of the resolutions – more than North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Syria combined. And you know, when you face this criticism, this torrent of unfair criticism every day and every hour, it assumes the cache of self-evident truth. That’s what slander always tends to do. And under this attack, you can easily bow your head, but I want to tell you that the days when the Jewish people bow their heads, those days are over.

Since we founded the Jewish state, we resist. It’s not that the attacks on the Jews or their state have ceased with the founding of Israel. It’s that we have the capacity to resist. That’s new, and that’s something that evaded our people for centuries.

And Michael, your father understands this, you understand this, and as I discovered this morning, your son understands this. Like your father, you’ve turned your battles into action. You serve as a UN messenger of peace – that’s the good UN – and on the occasion of Israel’s 50th independence celebrations, you hosted a nationally broadcast television tribute to Israel. You know, our 70th anniversary is coming. I was in the 50th anniversary as prime minister. It may be possible that I’ll be there on the 70th. Why don’t you do it again? And earlier this year, you wrote very movingly in the Los Angeles Times about your son Dylan’s experience with anti-Semitism. This piece created an online sensation and it drew painful attention to a subject many would prefer to sweep under the rug. You publicly denounced anti-Israel groups that call for a boycott of the Jewish state. You correctly described the boycott movement as an ugly cancer. Ugly cancer. For there can be no tolerance for intolerance, for those who dehumanize and vilify the Jewish state. Mind you, we’re not perfect. We have our imperfections. Who doesn’t? But there’s a world of difference between pertinent, legitimate criticism and the kind of vilification that is addressed to Israel every day that is really meant to deny us our right to live as a free people in our land.

And rather than suppressing your Jewish identity, you chose to embrace it. But I think the most moving embrace is the decision to celebrate Dylan’s bar-mitzvah in Israel, and it demonstrates both your commitment to our heritage and to our land, to our country.

So Michael, I wish to applaud you for all your accomplishments, and the impact you will certainly have in your years ahead in fulfilling your role as a Genesis Laureate. I applaud you, Michael, for coming here to Jerusalem, our capital for 3,000 years where we are shaping our future while we remember our past. I applaud you – and I think this the most important thing – for setting an example to Jews everywhere to stand tall and stand proud. Be proud Jews.

Thank you all. Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 31, 2015: PM Netanyahu’s Condolences to the Biden Family on the death on Beau Biden

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PM Netanyahu’s Condolences to the Biden Family

Source: PMO, 5-31-15

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his statement at the end of his meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

“I would like to offer Israel’s sincere condolences to my good friend Vice President Joe Biden on the passing of his son Beau. Vice President Biden spoke many times to me about Beau over the years, we’ve known each other for many, many years. And in his all too short life, Beau Biden achieved a great deal, and gave so much. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the entire Biden family at this difficult time.”

Israel Musings April 25, 2015: Obama WH-Israel thaw continues on Yom Haatzmaut, but not towards Netanyahu

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Obama WH-Israel thaw continues on Yom Haatzmaut, but not towards Netanyahu

April 25, 2015

After Congressional Democrats warned President Barack Obama and the administration, their harsh rhetoric towards Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would cost the Democrats votes in the 2016 elections, Obama has been trying to placate and improve relations especially…

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 23, 2015: Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration

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Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration

Source: WH, 4-23-15 

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

7:29 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Ron, Mr. Ambassador, my name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel.

I was thinking as Ron was saying that he doesn’t know what it’s like in Catholic families — whether we argue as much as allegedly occurs in Jewish families.  Well, I settled all that.  Two of my three children married Jews.  (Laughter.)  And you want to see what happens then.  (Laughter.)

As a matter of fact, my daughter — I — the dream of every Irish-Catholic father is for his daughter to marry a Jewish surgeon.  (Laughter.)  And she did.

But I want you to know I think the only time on record, at least in the state of Delaware, in the oldest Catholic church in the state, the second oldest — 1842 — we signed the ketubah in the Catholic rectory.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke.  I think that’s a first.  We had a chuppah on the altar, handmade, magnificently, beautiful chuppah.  And we had a Catholic priest, Father Murphy, and a rabbi, and it was hard getting a rabbi, by the way.  (Laughter.)  I had to go up to Montgomery County to find one.  (Laughter.)  And the reason why — Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — and the reason he came is his mother loved me.  (Laughter.)  But — and my daughter asked me, she said, Daddy, what do you want played at the wedding?  I said, just one — maybe the concluding hymn could be “On Eagles’ Wings”.

And so the rabbi was a wonderful guy, literally presided over 75 percent of the wedding.  The vows were administered by the Catholic priest.  And as the wedding party was departing, as the bride and groom were departing down the aisle, they played the hora.  (Laughter.)  So I figured it out.  One way to end arguments is to marry.  (Laughter.)

Look, the fact of the matter is that 77 years [sic] ago, at midnight on May 14, 1948, against all odds, in the wake of searing tragedy, defiant in the face of overwhelming military numbers massed on its borders, the modern State of Israel was born.   (Applause.)

What you did next was no less than miraculous.  You were blessed with one of the greatest generations of founding fathers and mothers of any nation in the history of the world — Ben-Gurion, Meir, Begin, Sharon, Rabin, Peres.  They all fashioned Israel into a vibrant, vibrant democracy.

And in the process, you built one of the most innovative societies on Earth.  In the process, you defended your homeland and became the most powerful military in the entire region.  And all these years later, things have changed, but the danger still exists.  But the people of Israel still live in a dangerous neighborhood.  And just to be an Israeli — it still demands uncommon courage.

Much has changed, but two things have remained absolutely the same: the courage of your people and the commitment of mine.  (Applause.)

So today, we celebrate your independence and our friendship, which was born just 11 minutes after Israel’s founding.  And President Obama and I are proud to carry forward the unbroken line of American leaders –- Democrat and Republican —- who have honored America’s sacred promise to protect the homeland of the Jewish people.

It’s no secret that, like administrations before us, as the Ambassador said, we’ve had our differences.  I have been here for a long time, for eight Presidents.  I’ve witnessed disagreements between administrations.  It’s only natural for two democracies like ours.  As Ron said, we’re like family.  We have a lot to say to one another.  Sometimes we drive each other crazy.  But we love each other.  And we protect each other.   (Applause.)

And it’s hard to see with these lights, but I suspect I know many of you personally.  As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one.  We’d have to invent one because Ron is right, you protect our interests like we protect yours.  (Applause.)

So let’s get something straight.  In this moment of some disagreement occasionally between our governments, I want to set the record straight on one thing:  No President has ever done more to support Israel’s security than President Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

Just look at the facts.  Each time a rocket has rained down from Gaza, President Obama stands up before the world and defends Israel’s right to defend itself like any other nation.

Under President Obama, with the United States Congress, America has provided $20 billion in military assistance to Israel -– and cutting edge weaponry needed to maintain the qualitative advantage against any potential opponent.

You all know the stories of Iron Dome.  What you may not know is that next year, we will deliver to Israel the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter –- our finest -– making Israel the only country in the Middle East with a fifth-generation aircraft.  No other.  (Applause.)

And we continue to discuss, as the Israeli military here and the intelligence communities will tell you in Israel as well as here — we continue to discuss what more must be done in the near term and the long term to continue to strengthen Israel so she can maintain that edge.  (Applause.)

Our commitment to protect Israel’s security in my case and many of your case is not just political or national interest, it’s personal.  It’s personal for me and it’s personal for the President.

You’ve heard me say this many of my friends out there before, but it bears repeating on this day, it began at my father’s dinner table.  My father was a righteous Christian.  We assembled to eat, to have discussions — and occasionally eat.  My father talked about how he could not understand why there was a debate among Americans or why there was a debate among American Jews about whether or not we should have recognized Israel; why there would be any debate about why we hadn’t done more; why we hadn’t — that’s where I first learned about not bombing the railroad tracks.  I learned from my father about the concentration camps.  And the first thing I did with my children when each of them turned 15, I took them to Europe, flew them directly to Dachau, and made them spend a day there with me.  And I’ve done the same with my grandchildren.  My grandchild Finnegan as recently as just a month ago where we met with a 94-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, as well as Dachau.  He showed us the camp because he was proud — proud — to welcome the Vice President and his granddaughter.

All you have to do to understand is stand on the Golan and look down.  I remember the first time I did that as a young senator.  All you have to do is wander throughout Israel.  All you have to do is take that helicopter ride the entire length of the fence.  All you have to do is just look at the map.  All you had to is set foot at Yad Vashem -— and you understand.

I’ve had the great privilege of knowing every Israeli Prime Minister since Golda Meir and more than just casually.  And I’ve worked with many of you in this room for up to 40 years.  You know me.  You raised me.  You educated me.  And I know you.

So believe me when I tell you:  It’s not only personal to me, it’s personal to President Obama, as well.  The President was raised with memories of his great-uncle, who marched with Patton’s Army to liberate Jewish prisoners from the horrors of Buchenwald.  As a young man, he grew up learning about Israel from the stories of Leon Uris’ in “Exodus”; the Six-Day War; and Moshe Dayan, with his eye patch and his courage.  I remember sitting in front of Golda Meir’s desk as she flipped those maps up and down, chain-smoking, talking about the losses of the Six-Day War, sitting next to her military attaché at the time, a guy named Rabin.

But Barack, as a young senator — being 19 years younger than I am, he heard about it.  He read about it.  As senator, Barack Obama went to a small town in southern Israel to see with his own eyes the lives of the families who live under threat of rockets -– families that he has helped protect as Commander-in-Chief, under Iron Dome.

As President, he stood in Jerusalem, and declared to the whole world, “Those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.  So long as the United States of America is there, Israel will never be alone.”  (Applause.)  He means it.  He means it.  You know I mean it.  I’m telling you he means it.

That’s my President.  He understands the need for Israel to have the right and the capacity and the capability to defend itself.  At the same time, he says, “we have Israel’s back” — and you can count on it.

The same commitment to the survival and security of Israel is fundamental to our strategy for the entire Middle East.  And then we get into the controversial piece.  Iran.  Remember this is the President who made it for the first time in American history a declared policy of the United States to use all the instruments of our power to prevent -— not contain, prevent –- Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.  He stated that all options are on the table -— then he made sure of what did not exist before.  He made sure we spent the time and money and the research to develop the capacity required to act against their capacity to develop a weapon if ever needed.

Over the skepticism of many, we worked with the U.S. Congress, our European allies, and Russia, China, to put in place the toughest sanctions regime in modern history.

We also knew the cost of not negotiating.  Midway through the last administration, the U.S. government refused to directly engage.  It insisted at the same time that Iran dismantle its entire program.

The result?  By the time President Bush left office, Iran had dramatically advanced its movement toward ability to acquire a nuclear weapon.  So we’ve taken a different approach, combining unprecedented pressure with direct diplomacy to find an enduring solution.

Negotiations began.  And we’ve come a long way.  And you’ve all seen the parameters that were put forward.  It’s a framework, only a framework — not a final deal.  A great deal of work lies ahead to see if Iran will actually enshrine the commitments that went into that framework as part of a final deal.

If they do, each of Iran’s paths to a bomb would be meaningfully and verifiably blocked.  Iran would cut its enrichment capacity by two-thirds; shrink its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent.  Breakout time to create a weapon’s worth of bomb-grade material will go from two to three months, which it is today, to over a year.

The deal would ensure at least a one-year breakout cushion for a decade.  And for years after that, the breakout time would continue to be longer than it exists today.

We’ll prevent the Arak reactor from ever being a source of plutonium for nuclear weapons.  We will put in place the toughest transparency and verification requirements in history -— providing the best possible check against a secret path to the bomb.

This isn’t a grand bargain between the United States and Iran.  It’s a nuclear bargain between Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, the EU, America and Iran.  It’s based on hard-hitting, hard-headed, uncompromising assessments of what is required to protect ourselves, Israel, the region, and the world.

And if the final deal on the table that doesn’t meet the President’s requirements, we simply will not sign it.

A final deal must effectively cut off Iran’s pathways to the bomb.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must ensure a breakout timeline at least for one year for a decade.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must include phased sanctions relief, calibrated against Iran taking meaningful steps to constrain their program.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

A final deal must provide a verifiable assurance to the international community demands to ensure Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful going forward.  If it doesn’t, no deal.

And if Iran cheats at any time and goes for a nuclear weapon –- every option we have to respond today remains on the table.  And your military will tell you, and more.

I’ve been involved in arms control negotiations since I was a kid in the Senate at 30 years of age — every major SALT agreement, START agreement, and toward the end, I was deeply involved negotiating when Brezhnev was still around, leading a delegation of senators.  But just like arms control talks with the Soviet Union —- another regime we fundamentally disagreed with, another regime whose rhetoric was outrageous and unacceptable, another regime whose proxies were forcefully making trouble, and we forcefully countered around the world –- we negotiated to reduce the nuclear threat to prevent a nuclear war.  And it kept us safer.  That’s what we’re attempting to do today.

We also continue to agree with Israeli leaders going back decades –- from Rabin to Sharon, whose funeral I had the great honor of eulogizing –- that a two-state solution is essential to Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.   Consistent with our commitment to Israel’s security and survival, the United States stands ready to help Israel decide — if they decide — how to get there and if they want our help in getting there.

I’ll always remember what my friend and mentor, and Holocaust survivor who worked for me as my national security advisor before he became Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos once said.  He said, “the veneer of civilization is paper thin.  We are its guardians and can never rest.”

That’s why we must never retreat from fighting every scourge and source of anti-Semitism as we find it.  You see, in too many places where legitimate criticism crosses over into bigotry and anti-Semitism; where an explicitly anti-Semitic attack takes place at a kosher grocery store; assaults on religious Jews in the streets of major European capitals.  Some of you may remember how harshly I was criticized as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee over 15 years ago when I held hearings on anti-Semitism in Europe.  Emerson said, society is like a wave, the wave moves on, but the particles remain the same.  Wherever, in whatever country, whatever circumstance it rears its head, we have to stop it.

Enough is enough.   We have to fight it everywhere we find it.

I’ll conclude — and my friends kid me and I imagine Ron may, as well — telling you the story about my meeting with Golda Meir.  The reason I do it had a profound impact on me, one of the most consequential meetings I’ve ever had in my life.  I think I’ve met every major world leader in the last 36 or 37 years in the world, in a literal sense.

But I remember meeting for close to an hour with her.  She went through what happened in the Six-Day War, and the price that was paid.  And I just had come from Egypt.  They let me go to Egypt and go to the Suez Canal.  And I was saying to she and Rabin that I thought that they were getting ready to attack again.  And everyone including my military and Israeli military thought I was crazy.

I remember driving from Cairo all the way to out to the Suez.  And you could see these great plumes of dust and sand.  But none it seemed isolated.  It turns out it was maneuvers taking place in the desert.  And I was really worried.  And we went through, and she painted a bleak, bleak picture — scared the hell out of me, quite frankly, about the odds.

And all of a sudden she looked at and she said, would you like a photograph?  And I said, yes, ma’am.  And those double-blind doors opened up into that hallway — not hallway.  It looks like — it’s a foyer.  And we walked out, and the press was standing there.  We didn’t say anything.  We just stood side by side.  And she must have thought I looked worried.  And it’s an absolutely true story.  She didn’t look at me, she spoke to me.  She said, Senator, you look so worried.  I said, well, my God, Madam Prime Minister, and I turned to look at her.  I said, the picture you paint.  She said, oh, don’t worry.  We have — I thought she only said this to me.  She said, we have a secret weapon in our conflict with the Arabs.  You see, we have no place else to do.

I was criticized in the national press a couple weeks ago when I said that, in fact, every Jew in the world needs there to be an Israel.  And it was characterized by some of the conservative press as saying that I was implying Jews weren’t safe in America.  They don’t get it.  They don’t get it.  Israel, Israel is absolutely essential — absolutely essential — security of Jews around the world.  And that’s why you have never farmed out your security.  You’ve accepted all the help we could give.  The most admirable thing about you is you’ve never asked us to fight for you.  But I promise you, if you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you, in my view.  (Applause.)

The truth of the matter is we need you.  The world needs you.  Imagine what it would say about humanity and the future of the 21st century if Israel were not sustained, vibrant and free.

We’ll never stop working to ensure that Jews from around the world always have somewhere to go.  We’ll never stop working to make sure Israel has a qualitative edge.  And whomever the next President is — Republican or Democrat — it will be the same because the American people, the American people are committed.  The America people understand.

So I say happy birthday, Israel.  Happy Independence Day.  May God bless you and may God bless and protect the United States of America.  Thank you all so very much.  (Applause.)

END
7:52 P.M. EDT

Israel Musings April 12, 2015: Obama and Democrats’ Jewish voter problem over Iran deal, Israel and Netanyahu

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama and Democrats’ Jewish voter problem over Iran deal, Israel and Netanyahu

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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