Israel Musings November 12, 2013: Netanyahu focuses on Iran and peace talks in JFNA General Assembly address

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Netanyahu focuses on Iran and peace talks in JFNA General Assembly address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly on Sunday evening, Nov. 10, 2013 in Jerusalem where he continued to warn against a deal with Iran that does not completely dismantle…READ MORE
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Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

Source: PMO, 11-10-13

יום ראשון ז’ כסלו תשע”ד

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers an address to the Jewish Federation of North America's General Assembly, Jerusalem, Nov. 10, 2013; Netanyahu spoke of the proposed Iran nuclear weapons deal and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

AG for JFNA

Transcription

Thank you Michael, and thank you all. He was subtle, wasn’t he? Well, wait until you hear me.
I want to start with the most important thing: the most important thing is to assure the security and the future of the Jewish state, the one and only Jewish State of Israel. For decades we have been struggling mightily against a regime that calls for our destruction and it pursues nuclear weapons in order to achieve our destruction. Other’s destruction too, but first ours. It is a vital interest for other countries – the United States, the Europeans, many others, the Arabs, in my opinion the Chinese and the Russians as well – but for us it’s a matter of our existence. And the international community has placed demands on Iran to cease and desist the building of capabilities to produce atomic bombs that will threaten us and threaten the peace of the world. They put together a sanctions regime that has brought Iran to its knees, crippling sanctions. The purpose of those sanctions was to get Iran to dismantle – dismantle – its nuclear enrichment capabilities, which are used for atomic bombs and its heavy water plutonium reactor, which is used for atomic bombs.

This is what the sanctions are for. They’re not for preventing civilian nuclear energy or medical isotopes. I suppose Iran is building those ICBMs in order to launch medical isotopes to the Iranian patients orbiting the Earth. It is to prevent fissile material – that’s the material that you put inside an atomic bomb – that’s what those sanctions were about. To dismantle the centrifuge installations, underground military installations, centrifuge halls, and the plutonium reactor.

Now there’s a deal. Why the Iranians came to deal is obvious: because the sanctions are biting, biting their economy, crippling that regime. So they came to the table because they have to. And what is being offered now, and I’m continuously updated in detail. I know whereof I speak. What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity. Not one centrifuge is dismantled. Not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low enriched uranium and they can take these centrifuges, which are not dismantled, in the halls, underground, which are not dismantled – using advanced centrifuges that they’ve already installed, some of them, that are not dismantled – and they can rush within a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, that’s all, and create at the time of their choosing, the fissile material for a bomb.

Iran does not give up anything of that. It makes a minor concession that is meaningless in today’s technology and in their current capacities. In other words, none of the demands of the Security Council resolutions, which the P5+1 powers passed are met. None of them! But what is given to them is the beginning of the rollback of sanctions. This means that the sanctions that took years to put in place are beginning to rollback with several billions of dollars of assets that are freed up; the automotive industry contracts that is central to Iran’s economy freed up; petrochemical industry freed up; matters that involved gold and even petroleum revenues freed up some.

There are people here who deal in the marketplace. The price of anything is determined by future expectations. The pressure on Iran today is based on future expectations. That’s the pressure that’s built up in Iran. That’s the pressure in the international community. But when you start letting up sanctions, rolling back sanctions, you are signaling in Iran that it’s reversed. For the first time, you go down. And people understand it’s over.

This is the deal that is proposed now. Iran does not roll back its nuclear weapons-making capacities at all, but the P5+1 are rolling back sanctions. That’s a bad deal. It’s a dangerous deal because it keeps Iran as a nuclear threshold nation and it may very well bring about a situation where the sanctions are dissolved or collapsed. It’s a bad and dangerous deal that deals with the thing that affects our survival. And when it comes to the question of Jewish survival and the survival of the Jewish state, I will not be silenced, ever. Not on my watch.

When the Jewish people were silent on matters relating to our survival, you know what happened. This is different. We are the Jewish state. We are charged with defending ourselves and we are charged with speaking up. And it is time now to speak up – all of us. All of us have to stand up now and be counted.
I can think of nothing that is as important and as crucial. We shall continue to work with the rest of the world, and it’s good that we have now a few days because this is not only in the interest of Israel; this is in the interest of the entire world. Yes, we speak up, but I think there are other nations in this region and perhaps beyond who can now unite and say: we do not want a nuclear Iran and we stand together to make sure that Iran dismantles its enrichment capacities, its heavy water plutonium reactor, all the things that they need to make nuclear weapons. They’re not entitled to it and it is possible right now, given the precariousness and vulnerability of the Iranian economy, to press forward the demand for Iran to dismantle its nuclear bomb-making capacity. That’s what I expect from every one of you, and I know it’s achievable. And it’s important.

I know that there have been many times that we have stood together. You have stood together with us. I have to stand more comfortably. Well, I have a list of all the people who are here and I want to acknowledge all of you, my dear friends. First of all, my friend of many, many decades, Michael Siegal. Michael, you’re a true champion of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
And Dede Feinberg and Jerry Silverman and Michael & Susie Gelman and Ronny Douek and recently elected Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, doing a great job. Well, one mayor deserves another, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, welcome.
Well now, I know something about Philadelphia. It’s the City of Brotherly Love. We’re all brothers and sisters here in a common cause, so welcome back to Jerusalem all of you.

Every five years, the Jewish Federations convene the General Assembly here in Israel. Well, that’s a fact. You’ve come here in good times, and you’ve come here in difficult times. You have come here when we have have faced violence and terrorism. You kept on coming and so I am very glad to welcome you here. And you demonstrate by doing this to the entire world that there is a vibrant, united Jewish world, and that is exemplified first by the tremendous bond between Israel and the Jewish communities of the United States and Canada. You are our partners. You are our brothers and sisters, and we are one big Jewish family. And like all families, we have to face challenges together. That’s what families do.

I mentioned Iran, and I mentioned those ICBMs. What is Iran targeting when it’s building those ICBMs? Not us. They already have rockets to reach us and missiles. They need those ICBMs to reach North America. It’ll take them a few years – not many by the way. And they could be nuclear tipped ICBMs. That’s the plan coming to a theater near you. Do you want that? I don’t hear you. Well, do something about it. We are. This is the greatest threat. I began with it, I continue with it. Iran must end enrichment at all levels, because they don’t need it. They must take out from their territory all the fissile material. They must stop the construction of the heavy water reactor in Arak. And Iran must dismantle the considerable military nuclear infrastructure, including the underground facilities and the advanced centrifuges.

It’s not my position. This has been the position of the international community. I stress it again. So here’s what you see over time: what you see is as you go from 2005, 2004, Iran is steadily building its nuclear weapons capability and the international community is steadily diminishing and reducing its demands. It’s almost a perfect scissor’s movement. That’s the bad news. The good news is that parallel to the increase in Iranian capabilities, just to give you an idea, they had I think in 2005 around 170 centrifuges. You know how many they have today? About 18,000. That’s not 100% increase – it’s a hundred fold increase. This in the face of all international resolutions. That’s not surprising because this is a regime that, in the face of all international resolutions, murders tens of thousands of innocent people, including children, in Syria. It participates, its keeps Assad going. There is no Assad regime; there’s an Iranian-propped Assad regime. It’s a regime that practices terror as we speak on five continents; a regime that supplies Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah with endless rockets to fire on Israeli civilians; a regime that remains committed to our destruction and subverts just about every single country in the Middle East, and let me tell you, beyond the Middle East. It’s a regime that tries to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and sends its killers either directly or through its proxy, Hezbollah, to Bangkok, to Nigeria, to Bulgaria, everywhere. This regime cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. It’s a historically pivot.

So the good news is that the international community did do something powerful and the powerful thing was to get those sanctions that followed Iran’s building of its capabilities and now, when Iran is on the ropes, now when Iran has to come to negotiate, now when Iran understands that if they don’t make a real compromise, they’ll get more sanctions – now you let it out? Now you say, well, if we don’t acquiesce to their demands, they’ll continue? They can’t continue because their economy will collapse. And even if they do, they’ll maintain their capabilities now? I always said that the combination of crippling sanctions and a military option – that has the power to stop Iran and everything I see tells me that. I think it’s important to have steady nerves and a firm purpose and stop this program. We can do it.

In any case, you know that the idea of the Jewish state and the purpose of the Jewish state is to enable Jews to defend themselves. This is something that we could not do before we had the Jewish state. But we can do it now and we shall always, always defend ourselves and defend our state.

I heard the learned commentaries of experts who explained to us that Israel cannot defend itself. They must know something I don’t know. This is our purpose. This is our goal. This is our way of assuring our destiny. And we have not come nearly four millennia in our odyssey over time, from the time that Abraham set foot in this country to the present, to have the likes of the ayatollahs threaten our life. We will always defend ourselves and our state.

We also want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I am ready for a historic compromise. We need to end this conflict once and for all, and to end it, there’s a simple principle. That principle is: two nation-states, two states for two peoples. Not one state for one people, the Palestinians, and then another state for two peoples. No. Two states for two peoples, which means that if the Palestinians expect us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, they must recognize the Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Now, you’ve got to ask yourself a simple question: not why am I raising this obvious, simple, basic demand; but why have they persisted in refusing to accept it? Why? Why do they refuse to accept the simple principle of a Jewish state? Now, I’m not asking it for them to affirm our identity. I don’t need that. I know our history, believe me; I know our attachment to this land; I know our own nationhood. I’m asking it because I want them to give up any demands, any national demands, any claims on the Jewish state. That’s what peace is about. It’s not to make a Palestinian state from which they continue the conflict to try to dissolve the Jewish state, either through the “right of return” or through irredentist claims on our territory in the Negev and the Galilee or anywhere else. It’s to finally come to grips with something they have refused to come to grips with for close to a century – that the Jewish state is here by right, that is has a right to be here. And they must recognize that right and teach their children to recognize that right and to accept it.

I think this conflict began in 1921. My grandfather came here in 1920 in Jaffa, got off the boat to a little boat and then in a dinghy came to Jaffa port; went from there to the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa. In 1921, a mob attacked this immigration house because the Palestinian Arabs were opposed to any Jewish immigration at all. This was followed in 1929 by the massacre of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. Horrible, disembowelment of children, beheading of babies, horrible. And that was followed by system attacks on the Jewish community from 1936 to 1939. And that was followed by systemic efforts by the Palestinian leadership, led by the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, during the war years in Berlin with Hitler to advocate the Final Solution. Don’t expel the Jews, he said, destroy them. And that was followed finally after the tragedy that befell our people, with a declaration and a resolution by the United Nations for two states – a Jewish state. They didn’t say a Palestinian state, by the way. They said an Arab state, but that’s all right. We accepted and they refused. And then from 1947 until 1967, system attacks on us, an attempt to snuff out the life of the Jewish state by three Arab countries and several Arab armies in May of 1967 that we foiled in the great victory of the Six Day War.

So from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century – 46 years – there were systemic attacks on the very nature of a Jewish state. Not on settlements – there weren’t any. Not on our presence in the territories – we weren’t there. What was this conflict about? Not on the absence of a Palestinian state. They rejected it; we accepted it. This conflict was not about settlements, about territories, even though these issues will have to be resolved. It wasn’t even about a Palestinian state. It was and still is about the Jewish state. They have to recognize the Jewish state.

And you know, afterwards, when we left Gaza, every square inch of it, and they kept on firing rockets at us, and we asked them: why are you firing rockets at us? Is it to liberate Judea and Samaria, the West Bank? They said, yeah, sure, but that too. We said, what do you mean, that too? They said, well, it’s to liberate Palestine – Ashkelon (they call it Majda), Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Jaffa. So that’s the bad guys, the guys who are lobbing the rockets on us. What about the other part of Palestinian society, those who don’t engage in terror (and it’s good they don’t engage in terror)? I ask them, so will you recognize the Jewish state? We recognize the Israeli people, we recognize the State of Israel. No, no, no, that’s not what I asked. Will you recognize the state of the Jewish people? You have a state. Palestinians can go there if they choose. We have a state. Jews can come here – a Jewish state – if they choose. Do you recognize that? No. Do you recognize that you won’t have any national claims wherever the border is drawn? No answer.

This conflict is about the Jewish state. Have I made that point, you think, subtly enough? You get it. Alright. So now let’s ask the second question. Because, you know, since 1921 until today it’s almost a century of unremitting incitement and an education of hatred. Now, I don’t mean in Hamas or Islamic Jihad. I mean in the Palestinian Authority: textbooks, schools, kindergartens. I showed John Kerry a teacher teaching young kids – four year olds, five year olds. What will you be? Shaheedim, martyrs (that’s suicide bombers)? And what will you struggle for? Palestine? What is Palestine? From Kiryat Shmona to Umm-Rash-Rash (that’s Eilat). From the river to the sea.

That’s what they teach. In their textbooks, Israel disappears. It completely disappears. In their state-controlled media – what a wonderful term – in their state-controlled media, they control everything. That’s what they put forward. We had a wonderful initiative that President Peres and I put forward to bring the Barcelona team, the soccer team, to Israel to play with the Palestinians and then to play with Israel, combined Jewish-Arab games in Israel. In the Palestinian territory, they played in Hebron. When they came to President Peres a day later, there was a song in Hebrew, in Arabic, we talked of peace, we talked of two states for two peoples, we had an exhibition game – Jewish children, Arab children from Israel… that was Israel. A day earlier – I found out that a day later but a day earlier in Hebron, in the soccer stadium, the Palestinian football federations, an official arm and an official spokesman and he said to the Barca team: welcome to Palestine. Palestine is from the river to the sea, from Lebanon to the Red Sea, from Eilat to Rosh Hanikra, the Arab name for Rosh Hanikra.

There is a century of this. The minimum thing that we can demand, aside from demanding the end of incitement, but to get a deal is that the official position of the Palestinian leadership recognize the Jewish state. That’s a minimum, but I don’t delude myself. This will be a long process. But it must begin with that. Otherwise, what are we saying? That this plan to dissolve Israel in stages will continue? Of course not. But we also have to recognize that it may not take root. It may not. We have at best a cold peace. I hope for a warm one. By the way, a cold peace is better than a hot war. But a warm peace is better than a cold peace. I hope for a warm peace, beginning with that recognition of the Jewish state and the abandonment of the “right of return” and all those other fantasies that are still harbored in Palestinian culture.

But we have to know that even if the Palestinian leadership puts an end to 90 years of rejection, and even if they recognize the Jewish state, we know that in this volatile and violent region, that can be reversed. We know that in our region, there can be no durable peace that is not based on security. A peace agreement that is not based on absolute, robust security arrangements for Israel, by Israel, will not stand the test of time. We want a peace that endures. We need a peace based on security. That’s the other fundament. We need security to defend the peace. But we also need security to defend Israel in case the peace unravels. And in our region, peace has a tendency to unravel now and then, if you haven’t watched around us. You have.

Now for this genuine peace of a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, for this peace I am willing to make difficult decisions. I am willing to be both creative and flexible. But I cannot compromise and will not compromise on the safety and security of the one and only Jewish state. And the Palestinians, of course, will have to compromise too. They’ll have to compromise and accept the legitimacy and necessity of robust security arrangements that ensure that Israel’s security border does not begin four miles from Ben-Gurion airport and a few hundred meters from this hall.

You know, Israel is the most challenged country on Earth. There is no other country, no other power, that is challenged for its very survival as we are, and we are one of the smallest countries on Earth. We need to have very robust security arrangements, and these are the two essential foundations for a secure peace – mutual recognition of two nation-states and robust security arrangements. This is what we need – we need many other things, believe me, many other things. For example, we have this minor attachment – well, I’m joking – we have this small… no, we have this huge, historic attachment to our capital, Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It’s always been our capital; it always will be our undivided capital.
But I don’t want to do the negotiations here. I do want to say that I hope that this current round of talks will lead to peace. I hope the other side, like me, is ready to make tough decisions for peace. I stood at Bar Ilan University – it’s a religious university – and I expressed my willingness to recognize a Palestinian nation-state alongside their recognition of a Jewish nation-state. That wasn’t easy. In my previous government, I agreed to an unprecedented freeze on construction in the settlements. Believe me, that wasn’t easy. But there is something even harder, maybe the toughest decision I made. I agreed to the release of terrorist prisoners. They served 20 years. They killed a lot of people. I’ve made difficult choices to try to advance the peace, but it must be a two way street. It cannot be that the Palestinians are forever pampered by the international community; that their incitement goes by without a tick; that their refusal to recognize a Jewish state goes by without a bat of an eyelash; that their inefficacy in fighting terrorism is accepted or lionized as a great capacity. It’s time that the international community, certainly the serious members of the international community, understand this is a two-way street because peace is not a one-way street and it won’t be. To stick, it’s going to be very tough, not only for Israel. Everybody says that. It’s going to be very tough for the Palestinian leadership. It must be, otherwise it’s not a genuine peace. And we don’t want a fake peace. We’ve had enough.

So the question is, will they rise up to it? I don’t know. It’s in their interest. I hope that they stand up, not only for themselves – and I think they would if they accepted what I’m saying, but they would ensure a future for their children and for their grandchildren and for future generations. But they must be able to give the Beir Zeit speech. They must be able to give the Beir Zeit speech. A Palestinian leader must do what Anwar Sadat did. He said, it’s over, it’s gone. No more war. No more bloodshed. But he was speaking for Egypt. A Palestinian leader must stand and say, I accept the Jewish state. That’s a simple litmus test of seriousness.

We have another kind of peace that we have to foster and continuously promote – it’s our internal peace. We call it shalom bayit, peace in our house. That’s always guided me as Prime Minister. I always said I have to keep the peace of the Jewish people. I am the Prime Minister of Israel, Israel is the Jewish state. I have to worry about the inclusion of Jews from every part of the Jewish world.

The Kotel is in Israel, but the Kotel belongs to all the Jewish people. And I have been working with you – not merely for you, with you – because I think we have to consult together and reach solutions together. I asked Natan Sharansky, a great Jewish leader, to bring the Jewish people a solution, to bring me a solution, and I think he has. I asked my Cabinet Secretary, Avichai Mandelblit, a very able, very able public servant, to help along with that. We have now a solution; it reflects my desire to have a solution for all of you, by all of you, with all of you. And I am convinced that we can soon have this solution in place.

We have also been working closely to have young Jews from North America and from around the world, come to Israel. When I was Prime Minister the first time – this is my third term. In my first term, people came to me, Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman, came to me with a revolutionary idea of having Taglit. They said they’re putting up the money, but they said, you know, there’s one small factor: you have to put up money too. And when we spoke about it with the Cabinet and with others, they said, what? Israel will pay money? You remember this, Natan. Israel will pay money to bring American kids here? And I said, yeah, it’s our future, and yes, we’re going to do it. And we’ll put our money where our mouth is. And we did 15, 16 years ago. And we’ve done it since. It’s been a tremendous success – Taglit, Masa, Hefzibah. We’re committed to this.

Now, as you know, we have a new initiative, a broad and deep initiative to unite the Jewish people, to initiate programs to help reach the inner cords of identity of the Jewish people around the world. We know we’re challenged by the internet age. We know that it fragments people. We cannot change that; we don’t intend to change that; we don’t intend to go against the internet. We intend to use the internet. We’re not going to go into horse and buggies. We understand it’s a new age. In fact, Israel is leading technologically this tremendous development. But we also know it challenges our unity. We also know that the forces of assimilation and intermarriage are there. We also read these recent polls. We understand: we have a challenge. You understand, together, that we have a challenge. And we have sponsored this initiative to work together, think this through together, and then put forward programs to help solidify the core of the conviction and identity that is so central to securing our future.
When I think of the challenges that the Jewish people have undergone, challenges that no nation has undergone, no people have undergone, and we’ve been able to overcome them over nearly 4,000 years – challenges to our physical survival, challenges to our spiritual survival and cohesion. I know that we have that inner strength to guarantee the Jewish future. I know it and you know it; and together we’re going to achieve exactly that – to defend and secure the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state. I say that here in our eternal capital, Jerusalem, and I know, I know that you stand with me.

Thank you very much, all of you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Israel Musings October 4, 2013: Israeli PM Netanyahu, the voice of reason on Iran in UN General Assembly speech

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Israeli PM Netanyahu, the voice of reason on Iran in UN General Assembly speech (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage as the concluding world leader to speak at the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Oct. 1, 2013 to warn the world against the threat Iran still holds…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 1, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s United Nations General Assembly Speech Warning about Iran’s Charm Offensive, Nuclear Weapons & Diplomacy

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Transcript of Netanyahu’s UN General Assembly speech

Focusing on Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli prime minister strikes defiant tone: ‘If Israel is forced to stand alone, it will;’ says Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state to achieve peace.

Source: Haaretz, 10-1-13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Thank you, Mr. President.

I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the state of Israel. We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have journeyed through time. We’ve overcome the greatest of adversities.

And we re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.

Now, the Jewish people’s odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope, always remain vigilant. Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it.

Today our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction. But I want you to know, that wasn’t always the case. Some 2,500 years ago the great Persian king Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. That’s a Persian decree. And thus began an historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.

But in 1979 a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that friendship. As it was busy crushing the Iranian people’s hope for democracy, it always led wild chants of “death of the Jews.”

Now, since that time, presidents of Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, other hard-liners. But they’ve all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgiving regime, that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known as the supreme leader, first Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khamenei.

President Rohani, like the presidents who came before him, is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. See, nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.

So what made him acceptable? Well, Rohani headed Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989 through 2003. During that time Iran’s henchmen gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85 people at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19 American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

Are we to believe that Rohani, the national security adviser of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks?

Of course he did, just as 30 years ago Iran’s security chiefs knew about the bombings in Beirut that killed 241 American Marines and 58 French paratroopers.

Rohani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the — the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smoke screen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.

Now I know: Rohani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rohani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes — the wool over the eyes of the international community.

Well, like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rohani’s words, but we must focus on Iran’s actions. And it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction, between Rohani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling. Rohani stood at this very podium last week and praised Iranian democracy — Iranian democracies. But the regime that he represents executes political dissidents by the hundreds and jails them by the thousands.

Rohani spoke of, quote, “the human tragedy in Syria.” Yet, Iran directly participates in Assad’s murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Syria. And that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.

Rohani condemned the, quote, “violent scourge of terrorism.” Yet, in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 cities in five continents.

Rohani denounces, quote, “attempts to change the regional balance through proxies.” Yet, Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and many other Middle Eastern countries.

Rohani promises, quote, “constructive engagement with other countries.” Yet, two years ago, Iranian agents tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, D.C. And just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the American embassy in Tel Aviv. Some constructive engagement.

I wish I could be moved by Rohani’s invitation to join his wave — a world against violence and extremism. Yet, the only waves Iran has generated in the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed in the region and across the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rohani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rohani’s soothing rhetoric.

Last Friday Rohani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran — this is a quote — Iran has never chosen deceit and secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy. Well, in 2002 Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility in Natanz. And then in 2009 Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom.

Rohani tells us not to worry. He assures us that all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Any of you believe that? If you believe that, here’s a few questions you might want to ask. Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?

Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy? Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy?

And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads? You don’t build ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away; you build them for one purpose, to carry nuclear warheads. And Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city in three or four years.

Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program; Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Last year alone, Iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3 1/2 percent, doubled it stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium and added thousands of new centrifuges, including advanced centrifuges. It also continued work on the heavy water reactor in Iraq; that’s in order to have another route to the bomb, a plutonium path. And since Rohani’s election — and I stress this — this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated.

Ladies and gentlemen, underground nuclear facilities, heavy water reactors, advanced centrifuges, ICMBs. See, it’s not that it’s hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program; it’s hard to find evidence that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program.

Last year when I spoke here at the UN I drew a red line. Now, Iran has been very careful not to cross that line but Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it.

Yet Iran faces one big problem, and that problem can be summed up in one word: sanctions. I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat. And that policy today is bearing fruit. Thanks to the efforts of many countries, many represented here, and under the leadership of the United States, tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy.

Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has plummeted. Banks are hard-pressed to transfer money. So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed.

That’s why Rohani got elected in the first place. That’s why he launched his charm offensive. He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted; I guarantee you that. But he doesn’t want to give up Iranians’ nuclear – Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return.

Now here’s a strategy to achieve this. First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time it chooses to do so.

You know why Rohani thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse. It’s a ploy. Why does Rohani think he – thinks he can get away with it? Because – because he’s gotten away with it before, because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past.

He even brags about this. Here’s what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and I quote: “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Isfahan facility is an indispensable part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. That’s where uranium ore called yellowcake is converted into an enrichable form. Rohani boasted, and I quote, “By creating a calm environment – a calm environment – we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.” He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again.

You see, Rohani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too. And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this. And that reason is called North Korea. Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief.

In 2005 North Korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people. Here’s what the New York Times editorial had to say about it, quote: “For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare, a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program. Very few could envision a successful outcome, and yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty’s safeguards and admit international inspectors.”

And finally, “diplomacy, it seems, does work after all. Ladies and gentlemen, a year later, North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device.”

Yet, as dangerous as a nuclear-armed North Korea is, it pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have a choke hold on the world’s main energy supplies. It would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger. A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn’t be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas.

Now, I know that some in the international community think I’m exaggerating this threat. Sure, they know that Iran’s regime leads these chants, “death to America, death to Israel,” that it pledges to wipe Israel off the map. But they think that this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic consumption. Have these people learned nothing from history? The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds.

That’s the central lesson of the 20th century. And we cannot forget it. The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not.

Iran’s fanaticism is not bluster. It’s real. The fanatic regime must never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons. I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today.

And this raises the question, can diplomacy stop this threat? Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.

President Obama rightly said that Iran’s conciliatory words must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action. And to be meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require Iran to do four things. First, cease all uranium enrichment. This is called for by several Security Council resolutions. Second, remove from Iran’s territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium. Third, dismantle the infrastructure for nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility at Qom and the advanced centrifuges in Natanz.

And, four, stop all work at the heavy water reactor in Iraq aimed at the production of plutonium. These steps would put an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and eliminate its breakout capability.

There are those who would readily agreed to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rohani said in his speech to Iran’s supreme cultural revolution — Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005. I quote. This is what he said:

“A county that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons.” Precisely. This is why Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.

So here is what the international community must do: First, keep up the sanctions. If Iran advances its nuclear weapons program during negotiations, strengthen the sanctions.

Second, don’t agree to a partial deal. A partial deal would lift international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange for cosmetic concessions that will take only weeks for Iran to reverse.

Third, lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program. My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program peacefully, don’t let up the pressure. Keep it up.

We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed, but when it comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance. Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously advised, “trust but verify.” When it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, here’s my advice: Distrust, dismantle and verify.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.

I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.

The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.

Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future. And Israel’s — continues to seek an historic compromise with our Palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all. We want peace based on security and mutual recognition, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. I remain committed to achieving an historic reconciliation and building a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Now, I have no illusions about how difficult this will be to achieve. Twenty years ago, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians began. Six Israeli prime ministers, myself included, have not succeeded at achieving peace with the Palestinians. My predecessors were prepared to make painful concessions. So am I. But so far the Palestinian leaders haven’t been prepared to offer the painful concessions they must make in order to end the conflict.

For peace to be achieved, the Palestinians must finally recognize the Jewish state, and Israel’s security needs must be met.

I am prepared to make an historic compromise for genuine and enduring peace, but I will never compromise on the security of my people and of my country, the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, one cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe. They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them waving clubs, screaming “Death to the Jews.”

My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself, and he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him senseless, they left him for dead, and before he passed out, covered in his own blood, he said to himself “What a disgrace, what a disgrace. The descendants of the Macabees lie in the mud powerless to defend themselves.”

He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the Jewish homeland and help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here today as Israel’s prime minister because my grandfather kept that promise.

And so many other Israelis have a similar story, a parent or a grandparent who fled every conceivable oppression and came to Israel to start a new life in our ancient homeland. Together we’ve transformed a bludgeoned Jewish people, left for dead, into a vibrant, thriving nation, a defending itself with the courage of modern Maccabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future.

In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized. As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again.

[Repeates paragraph in Hebrew.]

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again.

Israel Musings September 29, 2013: Netanyahu condemns Iranian President’s UN speech

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Netanyahu condemns Iranian President’s UN speech (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the West against a rapprochement with Iran and denounced Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 called it “a cynical speech full…Continue

Israel Political Brief August 23, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu to address UN in September

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Source: JTA, 8-23-13

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will address the United Nations General Assembly next month in New York….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 29, 2012: UN General Assembly approves Palestine status as non-member observer state

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U.N. General Assembly approves Palestine status

Source: JTA, 11-29-12

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Screen shot of the board at the United Nations General Assembly showing the 138-9 vote officially upgrading Palestine to nonmember observer state, Nov. 29, 2012.  (Fox News)

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Screen shot of the board at the United Nations General Assembly showing the 138-9 vote officially upgrading Palestine to nonmember observer state, Nov. 29, 2012. (Fox News)

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade Palestine to a non-member observer state.

The vote Thursday was 138 to 9, with 41 countries abstaining. The Palestinians had been expected to win the vote handily, which is largely symbolic….READ MORE

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 27, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York

Source: PMO, 9-27-12

Photo by GPO

-Transcription-

Thank you very much Mr. President.
It’s a pleasure to see the General Assembly presided by the Ambassador from Israel, and it’s good to see all of you, distinguished delegates.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear.
Throughout our history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destruction. It’s their ideologies that have been discarded by history.
The people of Israel live on. We say in Hebrew Am Yisrael Chai, and the Jewish state will live forever.
The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. Even after most of our people were exiled from it, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel throughout the ages. The masses of our people never gave up the dreamed of returning to our ancient homeland.
Defying the laws of history, we did just that. We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.
We will never be uprooted again.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Every year, for over three millennia, we have come together on this day of reflection and atonement. We take stock of our past. We pray for our future. We remember the sorrows of our persecution; we remember the great travails of our dispersion; we mourn the extermination of a third of our people, six million, in the Holocaust.
But at the end of Yom Kippur, we celebrate.
We celebrate the rebirth of Israel. We celebrate the heroism of our young men and women who have defended our people with the indomitable courage of Joshua, David, and the Maccabees of old. We celebrate the marvel of the flourishing modern Jewish state.
In Israel, we walk the same paths tread by our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we blaze new trails in science, technology, medicine, agriculture.
In Israel, the past and the future find common ground.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in many other countries. For today, a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval.
The forces of modernity seek a bright future in which the rights of all are protected, in which an ever-expanding digital library is available in the palm of every child, in which every life is sacred.
The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.
These forces clash around the globe, but nowhere more starkly than in the Middle East.
Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens:  men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians – all are equal before the law.

Israel is also making the world a better place: our scientists win Nobel Prizes. Our know-how is in every cell-phone and computer that you’re using. We prevent hunger by irrigating arid lands in Africa and Asia.
Recently, I was deeply moved when I visited Technion, one of our technological institutes in Haifa, and I saw a man paralyzed from the waist down climb up a flight of stairs, quite easily, with the aid of an Israeli invention.
And Israel’s exceptional creativity is matched by our people’s remarkable compassion. When disaster strikes anywhere in the world – in Haiti, Japan, India, Turkey Indonesia and elsewhere – Israeli doctors are among the first on the scene, performing life-saving surgeries.

In the past year, I lost both my father and my father-in-law. In the same hospital wards where they were treated, Israeli doctors were treating Palestinian Arabs. In fact, every year, thousands of Arabs from the Palestinian territories and Arabs from throughout the Middle East come to Israel to be treated in Israeli hospitals by Israeli doctors.
I know you’re not going to hear that from speakers around this podium, but that’s the truth. It’s important that you are aware of this truth.
It’s because Israel cherishes life, that Israel cherishes peace and seeks peace.

We seek to preserve our historic ties and our historic peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. We seek to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians.

President Abbas just spoke here.
I say to him and I say to you:
We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood.
We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State.
Israel wants to see a Middle East of progress and peace. We want to see the three great religions that sprang forth from our region – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – coexist in peace and in mutual respect.

Yet the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, they oppose this.
They seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.
Militant Islam has many branches – from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to Al Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe.
But despite their differences, they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance. That intolerance is directed first at their fellow Muslims, and then to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular people, anyone who doesn’t submit to their unforgiving creed.
They want to drag humanity back to an age of unquestioning dogma and unrelenting conflict.
I am sure of one thing. Ultimately they will fail. Ultimately, light will penetrate the darkness.
We’ve seen that happen before.
Some five hundred years ago, the printing press helped pry a cloistered Europe out of a dark age. Eventually, ignorance gave way to enlightenment.
So too, a cloistered Middle East will eventually yield to the irresistible power of freedom and technology. When this happens, our region will be guided not by fanaticism and conspiracy, but by reason and curiosity.

I think the relevant question is this: it’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated. It’s how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated.
We’ve seen that happen before too.
Some 70 years ago, the world saw another fanatic ideology bent on world conquest. It went down in flames. But not before it took millions of people with it. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end they triumphed, but at an horrific cost.
My friends, we cannot let that happen again.
At stake is not merely the future of my own country. At stake is the future of the world. Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.
To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda.
It makes no difference whether these lethal weapons are in the hands of the world’s most dangerous terrorist regime or the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization. They’re both fired by the same hatred; they’re both driven by the same lust for violence.
Just look at what the Iranian regime has done up till now, without nuclear weapons.
In 2009, they brutally put down mass protests for democracy in their own country. Today, their henchmen are participating in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, including thousands of children, directly participating in this murder.
They abetted the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and continue to do so in Afghanistan. Before that, Iranian proxies killed hundreds of American troops in Beirut and in Saudi Arabia. They’ve turned Lebanon and Gaza into terror strongholds, embedding nearly 100,000 missiles and rockets in civilian areas. Thousands of these rockets and missiles have already been fired at Israeli communities by their terrorist proxies.
In the last year, they’ve spread their international terror networks to two dozen countries across five continents – from India and Thailand to Kenya and Bulgaria. They’ve even plotted to blow up a restaurant a few blocks from the White House in order to kill a diplomat.
And of course, Iran’s rulers repeatedly deny the Holocaust and call for Israel’s destruction almost on a daily basis, as they did again this week from the United Nations.

So I ask you, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons. Imagine their long range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, their terror networks armed with atomic bombs.
Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America? Who would be safe anywhere?

There are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union.
That’s a very dangerous assumption.
Militant Jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet suicide bombers. Yet Iran produces hordes of them.
Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival.
But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.

There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Prof. Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the Ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.
Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth.
That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.
Just listen to Ayatollah Rafsanjani who said, I quote:  “The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything, however it would only harm the Islamic world.”
Rafsanjani said: “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
Not irrational…
And that’s coming from one of the so-called moderates of Iran.

Shockingly, some people have begun to peddle the absurd notion that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually stabilize the Middle East.
Yeah, right…
That’s like saying a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda would usher in an era of universal peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’ve been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years.
I spoke about it in my first term in office as Prime Minister, and then I spoke about it when I left office. I spoke about it when it was fashionable, and I spoke about it when it wasn’t fashionable.
I speak about it now because the hour is getting late, very late. I speak about it now because the Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take time out for anyone or for anything. I speak about it now because when it comes to the survival of my country, it’s not only my right to speak; it’s my duty to speak. And I believe that this is the duty of every responsible leader who wants to preserve world peace.
For nearly a decade, the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy.
That hasn’t worked.
Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.

For over seven years, the international community has tried sanctions with Iran. Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date.
I want to thank the governments represented here that have joined in this effort. It’s had an effect. Oil exports have been curbed and the Iranian economy has been hit hard.
It’s had an effect on the economy, but we must face the truth. Sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program either.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, during the last year alone, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges in its underground nuclear facility in Qom.
At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war.
Look at NATO’s charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all.  NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.
President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades.
In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression.

If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930s, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression and World War II might have been avoided.
In 1990, if Saddam Hussein had been clearly told that his conquest of Kuwait would cross a red line, the first Gulf War might have been avoided.
Clear red lines have also worked with Iran.
Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the Straits of Hormouz. The United States drew a clear red line and Iran backed off.
Red lines could be drawn in different parts of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But to be credible, a red line must be drawn first and foremost in one vital part of their program: on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium. Now let me explain why:
Basically, any bomb consists of explosive material and a mechanism to ignite it.
The simplest example is gunpowder and a fuse. That is, you light the fuse and set off the gunpowder.
In the case of Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon, the gunpowder is enriched uranium. The fuse is a nuclear detonator.
For Iran, amassing enough enriched uranium is far more difficult than producing the nuclear fuse.
For a country like Iran, it takes many, many years to enrich uranium for a bomb. That requires thousands of centrifuges spinning in tandem in very big industrial plants. Those Iranian plants are visible and they’re still vulnerable.
In contrast, Iran could produce the nuclear detonator – the fuse – in a lot less time, maybe under a year, maybe only a few months.
The detonator can be made in a small workshop the size of a classroom. It may be very difficult to find and target that workshop, especially in Iran. That’s a country that’s bigger than France, Germany, Italy and Britain combined.
The same is true for the small facility in which they could assemble a warhead or a nuclear device that could be placed in a container ship. Chances are you won’t find that facility either.
So in fact the only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb.
So, how much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it?
Let me show you. I brought a diagram for you. Here’s the diagram.

**************

This is a bomb; this is a fuse.
In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages.
The first stage: they have to enrich enough of low enriched uranium.
The second stage: they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium.
And the third stage and final stage: they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.
Where’s Iran? Iran’s completed the first stage. It took them many years, but they completed it and they’re 70% of the way there.
Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.
From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.

*****************

Ladies and Gentlemen,
What I told you now is not based on secret information. It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online.
So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn?

The red line should be drawn right here
…………..

Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.
Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
Each day, that point is getting closer. That’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency.
Some who claim that even if Iran completes the enrichment process, even if it crosses that red line that I just drew, our intelligence agencies will know when and where Iran will make the fuse, assemble the bomb, and prepare the warhead.
Look, no one appreciates our intelligence agencies more than the Prime Minister of Israel. All these leading intelligence agencies are superb, including ours. They’ve foiled many attacks. They’ve saved many lives.
But they are not foolproof.
For over two years, our intelligence agencies didn’t know that Iran was building a huge nuclear enrichment plant under a mountain.
Do we want to risk the security of the world on the assumption that we would find in time a small workshop in a country half the size of Europe?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb.
The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.
I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down.
This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.

Two days ago, from this podium, President Obama reiterated that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained.
I very much appreciate the President’s position as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This goal unites the people of Israel.  It unites Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.
What I have said today will help ensure that this common goal is achieved.
Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue, and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition.
The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years.  They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength.
At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights.
We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.
We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace.
These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind.
Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization.

Thank you.

Israel Political Brief December 16, 2011: President Barack Obama to Reform Jews at Union’s General Assembly: Don’t let anyone challenge my Israel bona fides

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Obama to Reform Jews: Don’t let anyone challenge my Israel bona fides

Source: JTA, 12-16-11

President Obama told a gathering of Reform Jewry not to let anyone challenge his record of support for Israel, which he said was “unprecedented.”

“No U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours — none,” he said in an address Friday afternoon to more than 5,000 people at the biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.”

The crowd at a hotel in the Maryland suburbs outside of Washington gave him a standing ovation.

 

“Even though it is a few hours early, I’d like to wish all of you Shabbat shalom,” Obama opened. “I want to give a shout-out, NFTY I understand is in the house,” he went on, earning a raucous cheer from the National Federation of Temple Youth.

After a brief d’var Torah — “It never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion,” Obama said — the president listed several areas of close cooperation with Israel and the Jewish community, including missile defense and Iran sanctions. Of the sanctions, he said they were the “hardest hitting” ever. He repeated his pledge that he would take “no options” off the table when it comes to forcing Iran to back down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Obama peppered his speech with Jewish references, joking about his daughter Malia’s eagerness to attend bar and bat mitzvahs. His speech was based on the story of Joseph’s declaration “Hineni” — “Here I am” — to his father, Jacob.

To repeated applause, Obama ran through his domestic policy achievements on health care, and women’s and gay rights, among others.

Republicans have scored Obama for his at-times tense relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over the peace process. Obama said he was still dedicated to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace but did not allude at all to his differences with Israel over settlement building in the West Bank.

The Republican National Committee on Friday published data showing Obama vulnerable to losses among Jewish voters in key states, particularly Florida.

“The truth is, America’s security interests are intertwined with Israel’s, and when President Obama does a disservice to Israel, he does a disservice to our country as well,” RNC chairman Reince Preibus said in an Op-Ed in the conservative Human Events magazine.

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 16, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism — Transcript

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism

Source: WH, 12-16-11
Gaylord Hotel
National Harbor, Maryland

2:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Please, please have a seat.  You’re making me blush.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Eric, for that extraordinary introduction and for your many years of leadership in the Reform movement.  And even though it is a few hours early, I’d like to wish all of you Shabbat shalom.  (Applause.)

Now, there are a lot of familiar faces in the house:  David Saperstein.  (Applause.)  Alan Solow, Rick Jacobs.  (Applause.)  Howard Kohr.

I want to welcome Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.  (Applause.)  The cooperation between our militaries has never been stronger, and I want to thank Ehud for his leadership and his lifelong commitment to Israel’s security and the quest for a just and lasting peace.  (Applause.)

I also want to recognize Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who’s with us here today.  (Applause.)

And finally, I want to give a shout-out to NFTY, I understand is in the house.  (Applause.)  Young people are going to lead the way, and they’re leading the way.  (Applause.)  There you go.  I’m fired up just listening to them.  (Laughter and applause.)

I am honored to be here because of the proud history and tradition of the Union for Reform Judaism, representing more than 900 congregations, around 1.5 million American Jews.

I want to congratulate all of you on the golden anniversary of the Religious Action Center.  (Applause.)   As Eric mentioned, When President Kennedy spoke to leaders from the RAC in 1961, I was three months old, so my memory is a bit hazy.  (Laughter.)  But I am very familiar with the work that you’ve done ever since, and so is the rest of America.

And that’s because you helped draft the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  (Applause.)  You helped to liberate Soviet Jews.  (Applause.)  You have made a difference on so many of the defining issues of the last half-century.  And without these efforts, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.  So thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  You have brought to life your faith and your values, and the world is a better place for it.

Now, since my daughter Malia has reached the age where it seems like there’s always a Bar or Bat Mitzvah — (laughter) — every weekend, and there is quite a bit of negotiations around the skirts that she wears at these Bat Mitzvahs — (laughter) — do you guys have these conversations as well?  (Laughter.)  All right.  I just wanted to be clear it wasn’t just me.  (Laughter.) What time you get home.

As a consequence, she’s become the family expert on Jewish tradition.  (Laughter.)  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it’s that it never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion.  It doesn’t hurt.  (Laughter and applause.)

So this week — (applause) — congregations around the world will retell the story of Joseph.  (Applause.)  As any fan of Broadway musicals will tell you — (laughter) — there is a lot going on in this reading.  (Laughter.)  But many scholars have focused on a single word that Joseph uses when he replies to his father Jacob.

In Hebrew, that word is “hineni.”  It translates — (applause) — it translates to “Here I am.”  Hineni.  It’s the same word Abraham uses to reply to God before the binding of Isaac.  It’s the same word Moses uses when God summons him from the burning bush.  Hineni.  The text is telling us that while Joseph does not know what lies ahead, he is ready to answer the call.

In this case, “hineni” leads Joseph to Egypt.  It sets in motion a story of enslavement and exodus that would come to inspire leaders like Martin Luther King as they sought freedom.  It’s a story of persecution and perseverance that has repeated itself from Inquisition-era Spain to Tsarist Russia to Hitler’s Germany.

And in that often-tragic history, this place, America, stands out.  (Applause.)  Now, we can’t whitewash the past.  Like so many ethnic groups, Jews faced prejudice, and sometimes violence, as they sought their piece of the American Dream.  But here, Jews finally found a place where their faith was protected; where hard work and responsibility paid off; where no matter who you were or where you came from, you could make it if you tried.  Here in America, you really could build a better life for your children.

I know how much that story means to many of you, because I know how much that story means to me.  My father was from Kenya; my mother was from Kansas –- not places with a large Jewish community.  (Laughter.)  But when my Jewish friends tell me about their ancestors, I feel a connection.  I know what it’s like to think, “Only in America is my story even possible.”  (Applause.)

Now — I have to interrupt.  My friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz just got in the house.  (Applause.)  Now, the Jewish community has always understood that the dream we share is about more than just doing well for yourself.  From the moment our country was founded, American Jews have helped make our union more perfect.  Your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, they remembered what it was like to be a stranger, and as a result treated strangers with compassion.  They pursued tikkun olam, the hard work of repairing the world.  (Applause.)

They fought bigotry because they had experienced bigotry.  They fought for freedom of religion because they understood what it meant to be persecuted for your religious beliefs.  Our country is a better place because they did.  The same values that bring you here today led Justice Brandeis to fight for an America that protects the least of these.  (Applause.)  Those same values led Jewish leaders to found RAC 50 years ago.  (Applause.)  They led Abraham Joshua Heschel to pray with his feet and march with Dr. King.  (Applause.)  And over the last three years, they have brought us together on the most important issues of our time.

When we began this journey, we knew we would have to take on powerful special interests.  We would have to take on a Washington culture where doing what’s politically convenient is often valued above doing what’s right; where the focus is too often on the next election instead of the next generation.  (Applause.)

And so time and time again, we’ve been reminded that change is never easy.  And a number of the rabbis who are here today, when I see them, they’d been saying a prayer.  They noticed my hair is grayer.  (Laughter.)  But we didn’t quit.  You didn’t quit.  And today, we’re beginning to see what change looks like.

And Eric mentioned what change looks like.  Change is the very first bill I signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which says in this country an equal day’s work gets an equal day’s pay.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is finally doing something about our addiction to oil and raising fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years.  That’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  (Applause.)  And it’s good for our environment.

Change is confirming two Supreme Court justices who will defend our rights, including our First Amendment rights surrounding religion — happen to be two women, by the way.  That’s also a good thing.  (Applause.)

Change is repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so that in the first time in history, you don’t have to hide who you love to serve the country that you love.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is working with the Reform movement, and other faith-based groups, to reform the federal faith-based initiatives, improving the way we partner with organizations that serve people in need.  Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying, reform that will finally ensure that in the United States of America, nobody goes bankrupt just because they get sick.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

Change is the 2.5 million young people — maybe some of those NFTY folks who have already — (applause) — who have health insurance on their parents’ plans because of Affordable Care Act.  That’s change.  (Applause.)

It’s making family planning more accessible to millions of Americans.  (Applause.)  It’s insurance companies not being able to charge you more just because you’re a woman, or deny you coverage if you have breast cancer.  (Applause.)

Change is committing to real, persistent education reform, because every child in America deserves access to a good school and to higher education — every child.  (Applause.)

And change is keeping one of the first promises I made in 2008:  After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is ending this month and our troops are coming home.  (Applause.)

That’s what change is.  And none of this would have happened without you.  That’s the kind of change we’ll keep fighting for in the months and years ahead.

And just last night, you took another step towards the change we need and voted for a set of principles of economic justice in a time of fiscal crisis.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you for your courage.  That statement could not have come at a more important time.  For as you put it, we’re at a crossroads in American history.  Last Tuesday, I gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, where I described that crossroads.  And I laid out a vision of our country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  (Applause.)  And these are not Democratic values or Republican values; they’re not Christian values or Jewish values or Hindu or Muslim values — they’re shared values, and we have to reclaim them.  We have to restore them to a central place in America’s political life.  (Applause.)

I said it last week, I’ll say it again:  This is not just a political debate.  This is a moral debate.  This is an ethical debate.  It’s a values debate.  It’s the defining issue of our time.  It is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.  (Applause.)  And for those of us who remember parents or grandparents or great-grandparents who had to fight to get in the middle class, but they understood that the American Dream was available to them because we were all in it together — that’s what this is about.  (Applause.)  And last night, you reaffirmed the moral dimension of this debate.  (Applause.)

We have to decide who we are as a country.  Is this a place where everyone is left to fend for themselves?  The most powerful can play by their own rules?  Or do we come together to make sure that working people can earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to college, buy their own home, have a secure health care and a secure retirement?  That is the story that almost all of us here share, in one way or another.  This is a room full of folks who come from immigrants, and remember what it was like to scratch and claw and work.  You haven’t forgotten.  You know what it’s like to see those in your own family struggle.

Well, we have to apply those same values to the American family.  We’re not a country that says, you’re on your own.  When we see neighbors who can’t find work or pay for college or get the health care they need, we answer the call — we say, “Here I am.”  And we will do our part.  (Applause.)

That’s what you affirmed last night.  But more importantly, it’s what you affirm every day with your words and your actions.  And I promise you that as you pray with your feet, I will be right there with you every step of the way.  (Applause.)  I’ll be fighting to create jobs, and give small businesses a chance to succeed.  I’ll be fighting to invest in education and technology.  I will fight to strengthen programs like Medicare and Social Security.  (Applause.)  I will fight to put more money in the pockets of working families.  I won’t be afraid to ask the most well-off among us -– Americans like me –- to pay our fair share, to make sure that everybody has got a shot.  I will fight alongside you every inch of the way.  (Applause.)

And as all of you know, standing up for our values at home is only part of our work.  Around the world, we stand up for values that are universal — including the right of all people to live in peace and security and dignity.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve worked on the international stage to promote the rights of women — (applause) — to promote strategies to alleviate poverty — (applause) — to promote the dignity of all people, including gays and lesbians — (applause) — and people with disabilities — (applause) — to promote human rights and democracy.  And that’s why, as President, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel.  (Applause.)  I have not wavered and will not waver.  That is our shared vision.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that many of you share my frustration sometimes, in terms of the state of the peace process.  There’s so much work to do.  But here’s what I know –- there’s no question about how lasting peace will be achieved.  Peace can’t be imposed from the outside.  Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.  (Applause.)

And the fact that peace is hard can’t deter us from trying.  Because now more than ever, it’s clear that a just and lasting peace is in the long-term interests of Israel.  It is in the long-term interests of the Palestinian people.  It is in the interest of the region.  It is the interest of the United States, and it is in the interest of the world.  And I am not going to stop in pursuit of that vision.  It is the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

Now, that vision begins with a strong and secure State of Israel.  (Applause.)  And the special bonds between our nations are ones that all Americans hold dear because they’re bonds forged by common interests and shared values.  They’re bonds that transcend partisan politics — or at least they should.  (Applause.)

We stand with Israel as a Jewish democratic state because we know that Israel is born of firmly held values that we, as Americans, share:  a culture committed to justice, a land that welcomes the weary, a people devoted to tikkun olam.  (Applause.)

So America’s commitment — America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.  It is unshakeable.  (Applause.)

I said it in September at the United Nations.  I said it when I stood amid the homes in Sderot that had been struck by missiles:  No nation can tolerate terror.  And no nation can accept rockets targeting innocent men, women and children.  No nation can yield to suicide bombers.  (Applause.)

And as Ehud has said, it is hard to remember a time when the United States has given stronger support to Israel on its security.  In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours.  None.  Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.  It is a fact.  (Applause.)

I’m proud that even in these difficult times we’ve fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history.  I’m proud that we helped Israel develop a missile defense system that’s already protecting civilians from rocket attacks.  (Applause.)

Another grave concern -– and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world -– is Iran’s nuclear program.  And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear:  We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced.  We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it.  And we’re going to keep up the pressure.  (Applause.)  And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table.  We have been clear.

We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most.  In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely.  (Applause.)  Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze. (Applause.)

On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel.  And we will continue to do so.  (Applause.)  That’s what friends and allies do for each other.  So don’t let anybody else tell a different story.  We have been there, and we will continue to be there.  Those are the facts.  (Applause.)

And when I look back on the last few years, I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made, and I’m proud of what we’ve done together.  But today isn’t about resting on our laurels.  As your tradition teaches, we’re not obligated to finish the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.  (Applause.)

We’ve got to keep going.  So today we look forward to the world not just as it is but as it could be.  And when we do, the truth is clear:  Our union is not yet perfect.  Our world is still in desperate need of repair.  And each of us still hears that call.

And the question is, how we will respond?  In this moment, every American, of every faith, every background has the opportunity to stand up and say:  Here I am.  Hineni.  Here I am.  I am ready to keep alive our country’s promise.  I am ready to speak up for our values at home and abroad.  I am ready to do what needs to be done.  The work may not be finished in a day, in a year, in a term, in a lifetime, but I’m ready to do my part.  (Applause.)

And I believe that with tradition as our guide, we will seize that opportunity.  And in the face of daunting odds, we will make the choices that are hard but are right.  That’s how we’ve overcome tougher times before.  That’s how we will overcome the challenges that we face today.  And together, we will rewrite the next chapter in America’s story and prove that our best days are still to come.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
3:08 P.M. EST

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 23, 2011: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the UN / United Nations Full Text Transcript Excerpts

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Remarks by Israeli PM Netanyahu to the U.N. General Assembly


Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City, New York

Remarks by Israeli PM Netanyahu to the U.N. General Assembly

MR. : Theassembly will now hear a statement by His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the State of Israel.

I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the state of Israel.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMINNETANYAHU: Thank you. Thank you.

MR. : Iinvite him to address the General Assembly.

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU:Thank you, Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israelhas extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago.On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. Iextend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship forneighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey,with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia,with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it tothe other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we wantto forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran,with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extendmy hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, inIsrael our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, and innovatorsapply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers,enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the imageof Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in ourancient biblical homeland — it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that thehistoric peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it wasdenounced! And it’s here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled outfor condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all thenations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assemblyresolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunatepart of the U.N. institution. It’s the theater of the absurd. It doesn’tonly cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles:Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraqheaded the U.N. Committee on Disarmament. You might say: That’s thepast. Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today,  Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. Thismeans, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrustedwith guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thingup.

So here in the U.N.,automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets rises in the west. But they can also decide — they have decided — that the Western Wall inJerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the GeneralAssembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointedIsrael’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi ofLubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you tobe offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there aremany honorable men and women, many capable and decent people, serving their nations here — But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll beserving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in thedarkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the lightof truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long hasbeen a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, Ididn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. The truth is — the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth isthat I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, butespecially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. Thetruth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but onlythrough direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far thePalestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peacewith a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. Andthe truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when Ifirst came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West.Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries ofslumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless moreare poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumentalhistoric shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growingbetween East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not toliberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militantIslam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews,Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11thit killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smolderingruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving.But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words ofthe president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was anAmerican conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.

Since 9/11, militantIslamists slaughtered countless other innocents — in London and Madrid, inBaghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. Ibelieve that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism willarm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying todo.

Can you imagine that man whoranted here yesterday — can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? Theinternational community must stop Iran before it’s too late. If Iran is notstopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Springcould soon become an Iranian winter.

That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabshave taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one wouldbenefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. Butas the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish stateon wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be.We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers ofthe present.

And the world around Israelis definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken overLebanon and Gaza. It’s determined to tear apart the peace treaties betweenIsrael and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It’s poisoned many Arab mindsagainst Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not thepolicies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

Now, some argue that thespread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times — if you want toslow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to maketerritorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes likethis: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will bestrengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don’t worry about the peskydetails of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will dothe job.

These people say to meconstantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know,there’s only one problem with that theory. We’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked.In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of thePalestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched aterror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmertafterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn’teven respond to it.

But Israel did more than justmake sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn’t calm the Islamicstorm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the stormcloser and made it stronger.

Hezbollah and Hamas firedthousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated.See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat theradicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say thatinternational troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and EUBAM in Gaza didn’t stopthe radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping forpeace.

We didn’t freeze thesettlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Getout, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don’t think peopleremember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people fromtheir homes. We pulled children out of — out of their schools and theirkindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even — we even moved loved onesfrom their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza toPresident Abbas.

Now the theory says it shouldall work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could builda peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded.They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a boldact of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, wedidn’t get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamaspromptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authoritycollapsed in a day — in one day.

President Abbas just said onthis podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams.Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, notto mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai,from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles havealready rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given allthis, Israelis rightly ask: What’s to prevent this from happening again in theWest Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are withina few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, oppositethe West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometersaway from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Wouldany of you — would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to yourfamilies? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israelis are prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re notprepared to have another Gaza there. And that’s why we need to have realsecurity arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate withus.

Israelis remember the bitterlessons of Gaza. Many of Israel’s critics ignore them. They irresponsiblyadvise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. Your read what thesepeople say and it’s as if nothing happened — just repeating the same advice,the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue topress Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel’ssecurity. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile ofmilitant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us whoinsist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, orat the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labelsand the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a goodeulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extendsbeyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in seriouspeace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, butthey will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many,because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the WestBank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you inperspective, because you’re all in the city. That’s about two-thirds the lengthof Manhattan. It’s the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University.And don’t forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey areconsiderably nicer than some of Israel’s neighbors.

So how do you — how do youprotect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction andarmed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can’t defend it from within thatnarrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that’s exactlywhy Security Council Resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all theterritories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal fromterritories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israelmust therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in criticalstrategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to PresidentAbbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country,it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops inJapan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has hadan an air base in Cyprus. France has forces inthree independent African nations. None of these states claim that they’re notsovereign countries.

And there are many othervital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of airspace.Again, Israel’s small dimensions create huge security problems. America can becrossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes threeminutes. So is Israel’s tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to aPalestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major internationalairport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will ourplanes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacentPalestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It’snot merely the West Bank, it’s the West Bank mountains. It just dominates thecoastal plain where most of Israel’s population sits below. How could weprevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could befired on our cities?

I bring up these problemsbecause they’re not theoretical problems. They’re very real. And for Israelis,they’re life-and- death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’ssecurity have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state isdeclared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won’t besealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should firstmake peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell youthis. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the lastcountry to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations.We will be the first.

And there’s one more thing.Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalitcaptive for five years.

They haven’t given even oneRed Cross visit. He’s held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all internationalnorms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson ofZvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming to the — in the 1930s as a boyto the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Everynation represented here should demand his immediate release. If youwant to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’sthe resolution you should pass.

Ladies and gentlemen, lastyear in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S.Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinianstate recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this isthe body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don’t you thinkit’s about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israelwill always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than 1million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about afuture Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day– in fact, I think they made it right here in New York — they said thePalestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew-free — Judenrein.That’s ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the sellingof land to Jews punishable by death. That’s racism. And you know which lawsthis evokes.

Israel has no intentionwhatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don’t wantthe Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. We want to give up — we want them to give up the fantasy offlooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

President Abbas just stoodhere, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is thesettlements. Well, that’s odd. Our conflict has been raging for — was raging fornearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the WestBank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the — I guess thatthe settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva.Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has beenoccupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because itillustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements.The settlements are a result of the conflict..

The settlements have to be –it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course ofnegotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunatelyremains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in anyborder.

I think it’s time that thePalestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader hasrecognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewishstate.

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In sucha genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believethat the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor itssubjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should beready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they’re ready forcompromise and for peace when they start taking Israel’s security requirementsseriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancienthomeland.

I often hear them accuseIsrael of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of AmericanizingWashington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called”Jews”? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem,there’s a — there’s an ancient seal. It’s a signet ring of a Jewish officialfrom the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall,and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there’s aname of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name wasNetanyahu. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousandyears earlier to Benjamin — Binyamin — the son of Jacob, who was also knownas Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria4,000 years ago, and there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in the land eversince.

And for those Jews who wereexiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews inSpain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms;Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. Theynever stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next yearin Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.

As the prime minister ofIsrael, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughoutthe lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never gave up hope ofrestoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, Icontinue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I’ve workedhard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for directnegotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlineda vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn’t respond. Iremoved hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement inthe Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinianeconomy. But again — no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezingnew buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did thatbefore, ever. Once again — you applaud, but there was noresponse. No response.

In the last few weeks,American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There werethings in those ideas about borders that I didn’t like. There were things thereabout the Jewish state that I’m sure the Palestinians didn’t like.

But with all my reservations,I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don’tyou join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just geton with it. Let’s negotiate peace.

I spent years defendingIsrael on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court ofpublic opinion. President Abbas, you’ve dedicated your life to advancing thePalestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we be able our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how wefound a way to end it? That’s what we should aim for, and that’s what I believewe can achieve.

In two and a half years, wemet in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. Ifyou wish, I’ll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We’veboth just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city.We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations. Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinelywant peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peacenegotiations?

And I suggest we talk openlyand honestly. Let’s listen to one another. Let’s do as we say in the MiddleEast: Let’s talk “doogri”. That means straightforward. I’ll tellyou my needs and concerns. You’ll tell me yours. And with God’s help, we’llfind the common ground of peace.

There’s an old Arab sayingthat you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. Icannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, Iextend my hand — the hand of Israel — in peace. I hope that you will graspthat hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Yourpeople call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the sameland. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah –(Isaiah 9:1in Hebrew) — “The people who walk in darkness will see a greatlight.” Let that light be the light of peace.

Netanyahu at the UN: Let’s Make Peace Today, Here at the UN!

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-23-11

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations only minutes after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for Recognition of a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders. Abbas’ speech received thunderous applause.

Netanyahu took the floor, and quickly made one thing clear. “I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth.”

Netanyahu began by saying that, “Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago.” The Prime Minister went on to offer a hand in peace to Turkey, “with respect,” to Egypt and Jordan with “hope of renewed friendship”, and even mentioned the people of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Libya, Tunisia and Iran. Netanyahu then paused before saying, “But most especially I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.”

Netanyahu spoke a moment about Israel and the great contributions made by the people of Israel to the international community in science, medicine and art. He then said,
“I know this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall.”

He added, “It is here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation, more often than all the nations of the world combined! Twenty-one out of the twenty-seven General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. This is unfortunate… it is the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain, but it often casts villains in leading roles…. Hizbuillah controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over a body entrusted to guard world security. You couldn’t make these things up!”

He spoke candidly saying, “So here in the UN’s automatic majority, you can decide anything… that the sun rises in the west. It can be decided that Jerusalem, Israel’s holiest place is occupied Palestinian territory. But even here the truth can break through sometimes.”

Netanyahu then told a story of words imparted to him by the Lubavitch Rebbe in 1984 upon Netanyahu’s appointment as delegate to the United Nations. “The Rebbe said to me… you will be serving in a house of many lies. but remember that even in the darkest place, the light of one single candle can be seen far and wide. so i hope this light will be seen even for two minutes in a hall that for too long as been a dark one for my people.”

Netanyahu told the Assembly: “The truth is Israel wants peace. The truth is I want peace… the truth is, we cannot achieve peace through resolutions. The truth is Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the truth is the Palestinians want a state without peace.”

The Prime Minister spoke in length regarding the threat of militant Islam and the tragic consequences it has imposed on Western Society. He spoke of 9/11, reminding the Assembly what the President of Iran had said only hours before from the same podium, accusing the Americans for conspiring 9/11. Netanyahu looked at the audience and said: “Some of you walked out. All of you should have.”

He reminded those present of the attacks carried out in the name of militant Islam, the bombings in Madrid, Mumbai, London, and the constant terror imposed on the Israeli people. He spoke on the dangers of these powers should they acquire nuclear abilities, as Iran is attempting to do.” If Iran is not stopped, the Arab spring will soon be an Iranian winter.”

“To many people, the solution sounds simple… leave the territories and there will be peace. There’s only one problem… we’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked.”

“In 2000 we made the Palestinians a peace offer meeting virtually all of their demands. They rejected it. They then launched an initiative of terror claiming 1000 Israeli lives… We did more than make offers. We left territories. We left Lebanon in 2000, we left every square inch of Gaza in 2005… and this did not calm the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought it closer and made it stronger. Hizbullah and Hamas sent thousands of rockets from the territories we vacated… see, when we left Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat the radicals, they were devoured by the radicals.

… we left Gaza hoping for peace. we didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza. we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says, we got out.

I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We pulled thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of their kindergartens, we bulldozed synagogues, we even moved loved ones from their graves… and then having done all that we gave the keys of Gaza to president Abbas.

The theory says it should all work out… and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship, a bold act of peace.

But we did not get peace, we got war. We got Iran. Which through its proxy Hamas, promptly kicked put the Palestinian Authority which collapsed in ONE day, in a day.
President Abbas just said Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams, yes, hopes and dreams and ten thousand missiles and grad rockets supplied by Iran. Not to mention the river of lethal weapons flowing into Gaza from Libya and Syria through the Sinai.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that given all this, Israelis ask, what’s to prevent this happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our cities in the south of Israel are within 2 kilometers from Gaza, but in the center of the country, our cities are a few hundred meters away from the edge of the West Bank.

So i want to ask you, would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re not prepped to have another Gaza there. Which is why we need to have real security…”

Hitting back at the critics of Israel, Netanyahu said: “There are those who want to cast the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist we erect a barrier to keep the crocodile out.. or at the very least jam an iron bar between its jaws.”

He added, “But better a bad press than a good eulogy.”

After contrasting the size of Israel with the size of Manhattan, Netanyahu asked the Assembly members what they would do in his situation.

In response to the critics who claim that Israel is “judaizing Jerusalem,” he stated, “That’s like saying that in the US you are Americanizing Washington of Anglo-izing London. You know why we’re called Jews? Because we come from Judea!”

After explaining why Israel cannot make peace without the Palestinians recognition of a Jewish state, he called upon President Abbas to meet with him to discuss peace today in New York.

“In two and a half years we met in Jerusalem only once though my door has been open to you. If you want, I will go to Ramallah, or better yet, we both flew thousands of miles to come here, to New York. We’re in the same city. We’re in the same building!

Let’s meet here today, in the United Nations. What’s to stop us? Let’s listen to one another… let’s talk “dogri.” [straight up.]

I’ll tell you my needs, you’ll tell me yours, and with God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace… I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you.

President Abbas, I extend my hand, the hand of Israel in peace. I hope you will grasp that hand… we are both sons of Abraham, we share the same patriarch, we share the same land, and our histories are intertwined.”

Israel Political Brief September 23, 2011: Excerpts from Mahmoud Abbas & PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speeches at the UN (United Nations) on Israel & Palestinian Statehood Request

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Abbas: ‘Palestine Is Waiting to Be Born’; Netanyahu: ‘Israel Wants Peace’

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-23-11

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas submitted a formal request for U.N. membership Friday, saying negotiations with Israel had repeatedly broken down without results.

Abbas urged the Security Council to vote for full membership, and he called on countries that hadn’t done so already to recognize the state of Palestine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to speak soon. Watch the U.N. General Assembly speeches live here:

Abbas said Palestinians are seeking a greater and more effective role in the United Nations to obtain legitimate national rights for the Palestinian people, as defined by U.N. resolutions of international legitimacy.

He held up a copy of the application to loud cheers in the U.N. chamber.

The Israeli government isn’t committing to the terms of the negotiations based on international law and continues to build settlements in Palestinian territories, Abbas said.

“This policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-State solution upon which there is an international consensus, and here I caution aloud: This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence,” he said, according to translators.

Negotiations will be meaningless as long as Israel advances its occupation in order to alter its borders, he said.

He ended his speech by saying “Palestine is waiting to be born.”

Read the text of Abbas’ remarks as prepared for delivery here.

Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.N. General Assembly later in the afternoon, saying Israel wants peace despite its reputation among some in the United Nations.

“In Israel, our hope for peace never wanes,” Netanyahu said, but “we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions but through negotiations between the two parties.”

He said the Palestinians don’t want negotiations.

As for settlements, Netanyahu said that in Gaza, the Israelis uprooted thousands of people from their homes, took children out of schools, leveled synagogues and unburied some graves.

“But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace. We got war,” he said. And Israel is called upon to make increasing concessions without ensuring its security.

“The Palestinians should make peace with Israel and then get their state,” said Netanyahu.

The U.N. website did not have the text of Netanyahu’s remarks. Statements are supplied by the country of origin.

The Obama administration has promised to veto the Palestinian request for membership if the U.N. Security Council takes it up, saying it would circumvent the peace process with Israel.

 

Israel Political Brief September 23, 2011: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Speech at the UN / United Nations Full Text Transcript Excerpts

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Abbas: Israel is Occupying Power Guilty of Apartheid

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-23-11

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took the stage at the United Nations General Assembly, minutes after he submitted an official request to General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon for full membership for “Palestine” to the body of the United Nations.

To thunderous applause, Abbas called for a Palestinian state with the “Full borders of June 4, 1967” to be inducted as a full member of the United Nations. Telling the General Assembly that it is time for a “Palestinian Spring,” one theme consistently repeated itself: Israelis are merely an occupying power.

Highlights from Abbas’ speech:

“The Occupying Power continues to intensify, building settlements on the future state of Palestine.”

“Colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people… all the brutality and.. oppression [by the Israelis] …this is a primary cause of the failure of the peace process.”

“[Israelis continue] the systematic confiscation of Palestinian lands and the construction of thousands of new settlements in areas in the West Bank particularly in the Arab part of Jerusalem…”

“The racist wall [is] eating up vast parts of our land, creating seperated islands… destroying families and communiteis… destroying family lives of thousands….”

“[The Israelis] multi prong policy of ethnic cleansing is pushing Palestinian refugees away from their ancestral homeland.”
abbas un
“The occupying power also does excavations that threaten our holy places.”

“[The Israelis] besiege the Holy City with a ring of settlements and an annexation wall intended to separate the holy city from its people.”

“The occupying power continues to impose a strict blockade on the Gaza strip and target Palestinian citizens with air-strikes.”

“Because we believe in peace and because of our convictions and because we have the courage to make difficult decisions… we have decided to take the path of some justice… we agreed to establish the state of Palestine on only 22% of the state of Palestine…”

“Criminal actions of armed civilian militias.. have intensified with frequent attacks against our people targeting schools, universities, mosques, fields, crops, and trees.
Today they killed one Palestinian… despite our repeated warnings, the occupying Israelis have not tried to stop these acts, we hold them fully responsible for crimes of the settlers.”

“Every move [toward peace] was shattered on the rocks of the expansion of the Israeli settlement projects.”

“The goal of the Palestinian people is a realization … for an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, with all the land of the West Bank including the Gaza strip, and all of East Jerusalem.”

Abbas described the Palestinians as “Defenseless people only with their dreams, courage and hope.. against bullets, bombs and bulldozers.”

“When we bring our plight here…. it is obvious we are not taking unilateral steps, our intention is not to de-legitimize israel, only the settlement activities and apartheid policies.
We hope all nations in world stand with us on this regard.”

Abbas also stated that while the Palestinians have their “arms open wide” and have made every attempt at peace, they are willing to sit down “today” at the negotiation table with only a few pre-conditions, which include:

1. The release of “prisoners of freedom” and Palestinians in Israeli prisons without delay.
2. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and its people adhere to the denouncement of violence, rejecting of terrorism in all its forms, especially “State terrorism.”
3. The right to “peacefully protest”Israel’s apartheid policies.

The dramatic speech ended with: “It is very simple. Either there are those who believe we are unnecessary, an unnecessary people… or people who believe we a missing state that needs to be established.”

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians Formally Statehood Recognition from the UN / United Nations

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

 

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: PALESTINIANS FORMALLY REQUEST STATEHOOD RECOGNITION FROM THE UN / UNITED NATIONS

Palestinians Formally Request U.N. Membership: Resisting American pressure, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority formally requested full United Nations membership on Friday as a path toward statehood, rejecting arguments by the United States and Israel that it was not a substitute for direct negotiations for peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Abbas handed a letter requesting the membership to Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, before delivering his speech at the annual General Assembly. Mr. Ban was submitting the request to the Security Council…. – NYT, 9-23-11

 

  • Abbas stakes Palestinian claim to state at U.N.: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations on Friday to recognize a state for his people, even though Israel still occupies its territory and the United States has vowed to veto the move.
    “We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking,” Abbas said in a speech setting out his case to the U.N. General Assembly, which greeted him with a standing ovation…. – Reuters, 9-23-11
  • Palestinian leader asks UN to recognize state: The Palestinian president on Friday formally asked the United Nations to recognize a state of Palestine, defying U.S. and Israeli opposition. The application risks a threatened American veto, and sidesteps nearly two decades of troubled negotiations…. – AP, 9-23-11
  • Palestinians Set to Submit Bid for Membership to the United Nations: Abbas is scheduled to speak around noon ET Friday. Three speakers later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also slated to address the U.N. General Assembly…. – PBS Newshour, 9-23-11
  • Abbas asks for statehood: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally applied for statehood recognition at the United Nations.
    Abbas handed his application to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday morning, shortly ahead of his planned speech to the General Assembly.
    The request will to the Security Council, where it requires a nine-vote majority to pass. However, any of the five permanent Security Council nations can veto it, and the United States has vowed to exercise its veto.
    In that case, Abbas has said, he will take his case to the General Assembly, where he will ask for enhanced status…. – JTA, 9-23-11
  • Abbas Already Presented Official Request to UN: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has already presentedpalestinian poster the official request for full membership of the United Nations body to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon.
    The request was presented just moments before Abbas is scheduled to take the floor and address the General Assembly, requesting full membership for “Palestine.”
    Thousands are gathered in the streets of the Palestinian territories, watching the speech on enormous screens, and waving Palestinian flags. In Ramallah, one man dressed as Yassar Arafat walked around the town to strengthen the “national spirit.”… – Virtual Jerusalem, 9-23-11

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama Addresses the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood — Obama Meets with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu Deserves ‘Badge of honor’

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

IN FOCUS: UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN BID FOR STATEHOOD

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N. – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them, on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.” — President Barack Obama Speaking at the UN

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood (Transcript) WH, 9-21-11

Full Text September 21, 2011: Statements by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as They Began their Meeting at the UN General Assembly (Transcript) WH, 9-21-11

Obama: No short cut to peace in Middle East: President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that there could be no short cut to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as he sought to head off a looming diplomatic crisis for the Middle East and U.S. policy there…. – AP, 9-21-11

    • Obama seeks to save Mideast policy from U.N. debacle: Addressing world leaders at the opening of a U.N. General Assembly session, Obama — whose earlier peace initiatives accomplished little — put the onus on the two sides to break a yearlong impasse and get back to the negotiating table…. – Reuters, 9-21-11

“I want to thank you Mr. President for standing with Israel and supporting peace. We both agree that Palestinians and Israelis should sit down and negotiate. … This is the only way to get a stable and durable peace.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“The bonds between the U.S. and Israel are unbreakable. Peace cannot be imposed on the parties. It’s going to have to be negotiated. … The ultimate goal of all of us is two states side-by-side living in peace.” — President Barack Obama

    • Netanyahu to Obama: ‘Badge of honor’ on Palestinians: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama today that his opposition to United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood is “a badge of honor.”
      Obama met with Netanyahu after speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, where he urged members not to recognize a new Palestinian state so that the Palestinians and Israelis could work out difficult issues…. – USA Today, 9-21-11
    • “Standing Your Ground (On Israel) Is A Badge of Honor”: Before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning at the UN, President Obama said that “the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable.”
      The president, who has publicly clashed with Netanyahu in the past, delivered a message at the UN today that contained little to rankle the conservative Israeli leader, given their mutual opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood before any peace treaty has been worked out…. – ABC News, 9-21-11
    • Benjamin Netanyahu: President Obama deserves ‘badge of honor’: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Barack Obama’s efforts to dissuade Palestinian leaders from pushing for a United Nations vote on statehood, calling Obama’s actions a “badge of honor” for the president. … – Politico, 9-21-11
    • Netanyahu tells Obama Palestinian UN bid doomed: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that direct negotiation was the only way to achieve a stable Middle East peace and the Palestinian effort to secure UN recognition of statehood “will not succeed.”…. – Ynetnews, 9-21-11
    • Obama, at U.N., Explains Rationale for Opposing Palestinian Statehood Bid: President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood through the Security Council on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
      “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Mr. Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
      Instead, Mr. Obama said, the international community should continue to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable “final status” issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979: the borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes in Israel, and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capital…. – NYT, 9-21-11
    • Obama urges U.N. to stay out of Israel-Palestinian conflict: President Obama urged world leaders Wednesday morning to stay out of the conflict over Palestinian statehood as American diplomats pushed to delay a vote on the question during this week’s general assembly of the United Nations.
      Speaking to the full assembly, Obama argued that the two sides will never live in peace unless they work it out themselves.
      Obama was scheduled to meet privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately after his morning address, and then to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late in the afternoon…. – LAT, 9-21-11
    • Obama: No ‘Shortcut’ to Peace Between Israelis, Palestinians: AP President Obama speaks during the 66th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Sept. 21. President Obama said Wednesday there is no “shortcut” to Middle East peace, as he urged the Palestinians to abandon their push for a state…. – Fox News, 9-21-11
    • Obama U.N. speech: ‘No shortcut’ to Mideast peace: President Barack Obama told a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday that Mideast peace “will not come through statements and resolutions” by the world body, arguing against a proposed resolution calling for U.N. recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state.
      “I am convinced that there is no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” he told the UN General Assembly. “Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians — not us — who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.”… – Politico, 9-21-11
    • Obama Says ‘No Shortcut’ to Palestinian Statehood: President Barack Obama appealed to a United Nations General Assembly packed with supporters of Palestinian statehood to hold off UN recognition until the Palestinians and Israelis can work out a peace deal…. – WSJ, 9-21-11
    • Obama Confronts Palestinian Bid for Statehood at UN: ‘Peace Is Hard’: In a last-ditch attempt to prevent a showdown with the Palestinian territorities over their bid for statehood at the United Nations later this week, President Obama argued his case for a two-state Middle East solution before the General Assembly today…. – ABC News, 9-21-11

“Once again it’s been proven to all the doubters, President Obama is an ally and friend of Israel. The Obama administration gives backing to Israel’s security in a wide, all-encompassing and unprecedented manner.” — Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a statement

    • Ehud Barak: Obama’s speech again proves that he is a true ally: Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday responded to US President Barack Obama’s speech at the UN General Assembly, saying the address was proof of the strong relationship between the American leader and Israel…. – Jerusalem Post, 9-21-11
    • Barak: Obama Speech Proves His Friendship with Israel: Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Atzmaut) responded to United States President Barack Obama’s United Nations General Assembly address on Wednesday, saying the speech was proof of the strong relationship between the American leader and Israel.
      Barak expressed hope that Obama’s speech and developments at the UN would lead to to the resumption of talks with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority…. – Israel National News, 9-21-11

“I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands.” — Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

    • Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman praises Obama’s UN General Assembly speech: FM states that he does not resort to ‘threats’ against the Palestinians in light of their UN statehood bid; Opposition leader Livni says Obama correct to demand negotiations, emphasizing that UN speeches will not ‘change a thing’…. – Ha’aretz, 9-21-11

“Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters. Let us begin negotiations and adopt a precise timetable.” — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France

  • France Breaks With Obama on Palestinian Statehood Issue: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France broke sharply on Wednesday with the effort by the Obama administration and some Europeans to quash the effort by the Palestinians for recognition here, instead calling for enhancing their status in the General Assembly to that of an observer state.
    The French leader, speaking from the famous green marble podium of the General Assembly barely an hour after President Obama, also said it was time to change the formula in trying to negotiate an Arab-Israeli peace, taking an indirect swipe at the United States by saying the efforts so far were a complete failure…. – NYT, 9-21-11
  • Obama stands firm against Palestinian statehood plan: U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected Palestinian plans to seek UN blessing for statehood and urged a return to peace talks with Israel as he tried to head off a looming diplomatic disaster.
    Addressing the UN General Assembly, Obama — whose earlier peace efforts accomplished little — insisted Middle East peace “will not come through statements and resolutions” at the world body and put the onus on the two sides to break a yearlong impasse.
    “There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work,” Obama told an annual gathering of world leaders.
    Grappling with economic woes and low poll numbers at home and growing doubts about his leadership abroad, Obama is wading into Middle East diplomacy at a critical juncture for his presidency and America’s credibility around the globe…. – National Post, 9-21-11
  • Palestinians rally in West Bank while others clash with Israeli soldiers nearby: Palestinians take part in a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron September 21. Flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of major West Bank cities on Wednesday to rally behind President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations…. – MSNBC, 9-21-11
  • Baby girl injured during violent clashes in W. Bank: Demonstrators burn tires, throw stones at security forces; IDF uses new non-lethal sonic crowd dispersal weapon; injured man treated on scene. Clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank…. – Jerusalem Post, 9-21-11

Full Text September 21, 2011: Statements by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as They Began their Meeting at the UN General Assembly

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Statements by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as They Began their Meeting at the UN General Assembly

Source: Israel PMO, 9-21-11

President Obama:  As I just said in the speech that I gave before the UN General Assembly, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is unbreakable.  Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that today our security cooperation is stronger than it has ever been.  I’m  looking forward to a good discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the events not only here in the United Nations, but also of the developments that have been taking place in the region.

As I just indicated, peace cannot be imposed on the parties.  It’s going to have to be negotiated.  One-sided declarations in the United Nations will achieve neither statehood nor self-determination for the Palestinians, but

Israelis and Palestinians sitting down together and working through these very difficult issues that have kept the parties apart for decades now…  the ultimate goal of all of us, which is two states, side by side, living in peace and security.  Recent events in the region remind us of how fragile peace can be and why the pursuit of Middle East peace is more urgent than ever.  I think we need to pursue that peace, and know that the Prime Minister recognizes that America’s commitment to Israel will never waiver and that our pursuit of a just and lasting peace is one that is, not only compatible, but we think puts Israel’s security at the forefront.

So, it is a great pleasure to have the Prime Minister here.  I want to thank him for his efforts…

PM Netanyahu:  I want to thank you, Mr. President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations.  We both agree this is the only way to achieve peace.  We both agree that Palestinians and the Israelis should sit down together and negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition and security.  I think this is the only way to get to a stable and durable peace.  You’ve also made it clear that the Palestinians deserve a state, but it’s a state that has to make that peace with Israel, and therefore their attempt to shortcut this process, not negotiate peace – that attempt to get state membership in the United Nations will not succeed.  I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state in the international community, but they’re not prepared yet to give peace to Israel in return.

And my hope is that there will be other leaders in the world, as part of the UN, who will meet your call, Mr. President, and oppose this effort to shortcut peace negotiations – in fact to avoid them – because I think that avoiding these negotiations is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for peace.  I know that these leaders are under enormous pressure and I know that they are also in this house which has, from personal experience I can tell you, automatic majorities against Israel, but I think that standing your ground, taking this position of principle, which is also, I think, the right position to achieve peace – I think this is a badge of honor and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor, and also to express my hope that others will follow your example, Mr. President.  So I want to thank you.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו והנשיא אובמה בפתח פגישתם באו”ם (תרגום מאנגלית):

הנשיא אובמה: כפי שאמרתי כרגע בנאומי בפני עצרת הכללית באו”ם, הקשרים בין ארצות הברית לבין ישראל הם בלתי שבירים, והתחייבותה של ארצות הברית לביטחונה של ישראל בלתי שבירה אף היא. אכן, אני סבור שאפשר לומר שכיום שיתוף הפעולה הביטחוני בינינו איתן מתמיד. אני מצפה לשיחה טובה עם ראש הממשלה נתניהו לא רק לגבי האירועים שמתרחשים כאן בעצרת האו”ם, אלא גם לגבי ההתפתחויות האזוריות.

כפי שציינתי, אי אפשר לכפות שלום על הצדדים. חייבים לנהל משא ומתן. הצהרות חד-צדדיות באו”ם לא ישיגו מעמד של מדינה ולא הגדרה עצמית לפלסטינים. ישראלים ופלסטינים חייבים לשבת ולעבוד ביחד כדי לדון בנושאים הקשים הללו שמפרידים בין הצדדים במשך עשורים רבים. זוהי המטרה המשותפת של כולנו – שתי מדינות, זו לצד זו, החיות בשלום וביטחון אחת עם השנייה. אירועים שהתרחשו באזור לאחרונה ממחישים לנו עד כמה השלום יכול להיות שברירי ומדוע החתירה לשלום במזרח התיכון חשובה היום יותר מאי פעם. עלינו לחתור לשלום הזה. אני יודע שראש הממשלה מודע לכך שמחויבותה של ארצות הברית לישראל בלתי ניתנת לערעור וששאיפתנו לשלום צודק ובר קיימא איננה רק נכונה, אלא גם מציבה את ביטחונה של ישראל בעדיפות העליונה.

לכן, עונג רב לי לארח את ראש הממשלה כאן. ברצוני להודות לו על מאמציו.

רה”מ נתניהו: ברצוני להודות לך, אדוני הנשיא, על תמיכתך בישראל ועל תמיכתך בשלום שיושג דרך משא ומתן ישיר. שנינו מסכימים שזוהי הדרך היחידה להשיג שלום. אנחנו מסכימים שעל הפלסטינים והישראלים לשבת יחד ולנהל משא ומתן על הסכם של הכרה הדדית וביטחון. בעיניי, זוהי הדרך היחידה להשיג שלום יציב ובר קיימא. הבהרת גם שהפלסטינים זכאים למדינה, אבל על המדינה הזו לעשות שלום עם ישראל, ולכן הניסיון שלהם לקצר התהליך ולא לנהל משא ומתן, הניסיון לזכות בחברות מדינית באו”ם לא יצליח. לדעתי, הפלסטינים רוצים להשיג מדינה בקהילה הבינלאומית, אולם הם אינם מוכנים להעניק לישראל שלום בתמורה.

לכן תקוותי שיהיו מנהיגים אחרים בעולם, כחלק מהאו”ם, שיענו לקריאתך, אדוני הנשיא, ויתנגדו למאמץ זה לקצר את תהליך המשא ומתן לשלום – למעשה להתחמק ממנו. בעיניי, הימנעות ממשא ומתן מזיקה לישראל, מזיקה לפלסטינים ומזיקה לשלום. אני מבין שהמנהיגים הללו נמצאים תחת לחץ כבד ואני מבין שהם גם נמצאים בבית הזה, שמניסיוני האישי אוכל לומר שקיים כאן רוב אוטומטי נגד ישראל. אבל בעיניי עמדתך האיתנה, עמדתך העקרונית – שהיא גם לדעתי העמדה הנכונה כדי להשיג שלום – היא אות של כבוד. ברצוני להודות לך על כך שאתה ענוד אות כבוד זה. ברצוני גם להביע את תקוותי

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood (Transcript)

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

IN FOCUS: UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN BID FOR STATEHOOD

  • Obama, at U.N., Explains Rationale for Opposing Palestinian Statehood Bid: President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood through the Security Council on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
    “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Mr. Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
    Instead, Mr. Obama said, the international community should continue to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable “final status” issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979: the borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes in Israel, and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capital…. – NYT, 9-21-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly

United Nations
New York, New York

10:12 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations — the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.

War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilizations. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused not just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes.

No American did more to pursue this objective than President Franklin Roosevelt. He knew that a victory in war was not enough. As he said at one of the very first meetings on the founding of the United Nations, “We have got to make, not merely peace, but a peace that will last.”

The men and women who built this institution understood that peace is more than just the absence of war. A lasting peace — for nations and for individuals — depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom. It depends on struggle and sacrifice, on compromise, and on a sense of common humanity.

One delegate to the San Francisco Conference that led to the creation of the United Nations put it well: “Many people,” she said, “have talked as if all that has to be done to get peace was to say loudly and frequently that we loved peace and we hated war. Now we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we cannot avoid having war brought upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world.”

The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.

I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place — Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization — remained at large. Today, we’ve set a new direction.

At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq — for its government and for its security forces, for its people and for their aspirations.

As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.

So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.

Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.

So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women — must be our guide.

And in that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.

Think about it: One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt. But the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination. And last summer, as a new flag went up in Juba, former soldiers laid down their arms, men and women wept with joy, and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future that they will shape.

One year ago, the people of Côte D’Ivoire approached a landmark election. And when the incumbent lost, and refused to respect the results, the world refused to look the other way. U.N. peacekeepers were harassed, but they did not leave their posts. The Security Council, led by the United States and Nigeria and France, came together to support the will of the people. And Côte D’Ivoire is now governed by the man who was elected to lead.

One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but he ignited a movement. In a face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word, “freedom.” The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. And now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy that they deserve.

One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.

One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world’s longest-serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of the revolution and said, “Our words are free now.” It’s a feeling you can’t explain. Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

In the months that followed, the will of the coalition proved unbreakable, and the will of the Libyan people could not be denied. Forty-two years of tyranny was ended in six months. From Tripoli to Misurata to Benghazi — today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.

This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.

So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper — “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” — is closer at hand.

But let us remember: Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.

In Iran, we’ve seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people. As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?

Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.

Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.

In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.

We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.

Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.

Now, I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.

Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied. That’s the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That’s the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties.

We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state.

But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.

Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

That is the truth — each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.

This body — founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person — must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live lives of peace and security and dignity and opportunity. And we will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and each other’s fears. That is the project to which America is committed. There are no shortcuts. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.

Now, even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize — we must also remind ourselves — that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease. These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace and together we’re called upon to confront them.

To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers. Next March, a summit in Seoul will advance our efforts to lock down all of them. The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will cut our deployed arsenals to the lowest level in half a century, and our nations are pursuing talks on how to achieve even deeper reductions. America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them.

And so we have begun to move in the right direction. And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them.

The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful. It has not met its obligations and it rejects offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power. North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.

To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we’ve made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty. It’s an extraordinary achievement. And yet, three years ago, we were confronted with the worst financial crisis in eight decades. And that crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year — our fates are interconnected. In a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.

And today, we confront the challenges that have followed on the heels of that crisis. Around the world recovery is still fragile. Markets remain volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling just to get by. We acted together to avert a depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I’ve announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, at the same time as I’m committed to substantially reducing our deficits over time.

We stand with our European allies as they reshape their institutions and address their own fiscal challenges. For other countries, leaders face a different challenge as they shift their economy towards more self-reliance, boosting domestic demand while slowing inflation. So we will work with emerging economies that have rebounded strongly, so that rising standards of living create new markets that promote global growth. That’s what our commitment to prosperity demands.

To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men and women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demand.

To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger — whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease.

This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge. And today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the HWO’s [sic] goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.

To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.

And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.

And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down the economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.

I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations — to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living.

It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this — to bind our fates together, to help us recognize ourselves in each other — because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people.

And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.

Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END
10:47 A.M. EDT

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama in Speech to UN: Consider Israel’s security

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Obama to UN: Consider Israel’s security

Source: JTA, 9-21-11

President Obama appealed to the United Nations to recognize Israel’s security concerns in considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day,” Obama said in his address Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly plenary.

Obama repeated his administration’s calls on the Palestinians not to use the United Nations as a vehicle for achieving statehood, and called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to talks based on the parameters he outlined May.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” he said.

“Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than 8 million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, fresh memories of knowing that 6 million people were killed simply because of who they are,” he said.

“Those are facts. They cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

Obama also called for U.N. Security Council sanctions on Syria. Unlike his references to insurgencies in Bahrain and Yemen, he did not repeat his earlier calls for a democratic transition in Damascus, a sign that his administration has given up on trying to broker a transition with Syria’s current ruler.

Israel Brief September 20, 2011: Columbia University Never Invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Dinner

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Columbia U Never Invited Ahmadinejad to Dinner

Source: JTA, Virtual Jerusalem, 9-20-11

Columbia University clarified that a Fox News report suggesting that Columbia’s president was involved in an event next week for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was false.

An Israeli group, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv, had sent a letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger condemning his alleged involvement with the event, saying the university could be liable to legal repercussions. JTA reported the sending of that letter.

The erroneous Fox News report was based on a story in the Columbia student newspaper that reported that members of Columbia’s International Relations Council and Association were invited via e-mail to a private meal Sept. 21 with Ahmadinejad. Some 15 students will attend the dinner, which is still tentative, according to the Columbia Spectator. The dinner is not a Columbia event.

Ahmadinejad is coming to New York to participate in the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly next week. His controversial address at Columbia in 2007 embroiled the campus in a debate over freedom of speech and academic freedom.

When Bollinger hosted Ahmadinejad at the university in 2007, he drew much criticism, even after he introduced the Iranian leader with a scathing rebuke of Iran’s human rights record.

Via jta.org

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