Full Text Israel Political Brief December 17, 2014: PM Netanyahu’s Statement on the Removal of Hamas from the EU List of Terrorist Organizations — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement on the Removal of Hamas from the EU List of Terrorist Organizations

Source: PMO, 12-17-14

יום רביעי כ”ה כסלו תשע”ה
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement on the decision of the General Court of the European Union to remove Hamas from the European Union list of terrorist organizations:

“We are not satisfied with the European Union’s explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations is a ‘technical matter’. The burden of proof is on the European Union and we expect it to put Hamas back on the list forthwith given that it is understood by all that Hamas – a murderous terrorist organization, the covenant of which specifies the destruction of Israel as its goal – is an inseparable part of this list. We will continue to fight Hamas with strength and determination so that it never achieves this goal.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 7, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting on Attack in Northern Israel, Budget and Sukkot — Transcript

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

Source: PMO, 10-7-14 
יום שלישי י”ג תשרי תשע”ה

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

“I would like to express my appreciation to the IDF soldiers who foiled an attack in the north today. I would also like to send my best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded. We have proven that we respond strongly to any attempt to attack us be it in the south, the north or any other sector. We have also witnessed the threats that are gathering round us, threats that the entire world is aware of and some of which it is dealing with. These threats require us to invest considerable sums in security and in the communities close to the confrontation line. For this reason, I have asked that the tax benefits for these communities be extended; I have spoken about this with Finance Minister Yair Lapid and I think that the matter has been resolved.

I would like to wish all of you and all of Israel a Happy Sukkot. This is your opportunity to travel around the country on the highways, interchanges, bridges and rail lines that we are building in our country.”

Israel Musings September 30, 2014: Netanyahu in powerful UN address equates ISIS with Hamas, Iran greatest threat

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Netanyahu in powerful UN address equates ISIS with Hamas, Iran greatest threat

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promise to “refute all of the lies being directed at us” when he boarded his flight to New York on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, and when he delivered his address to…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to Jewish Federation Leaders in New York — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks to Jewish Federation Leaders in New York

Source: PMO, 9-30-14
יום שלישי ו’ תשרי תשע”ה

Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, in New York, met with Jewish federation leaders and made the following remarks:

“Every time I come to the UN I try to tell the truth as it is. But here’s a picture I didn’t show in the UN yesterday. This is an impending execution. But this isn’t ISIS, this is Hamas. And during the recent fighting in Gaza, right around the time that ISIS was doing its grisly deeds, Hamas executed dozens of Palestinians just to impose fear and force the population of Gaza into submission. It’s true there are some differences between Hamas and ISIS – for example ISIS beheads people and Hamas puts a bullet in the back of their heads. But to the victims, and the victims’ families, the horror is the same. The point I was trying to make yesterday and I’m making today is that we are faced with a world-wide network of militant Islamists, groups and regimes. It’s not that they have a common war-room. They have war-rooms against each other because all of them wish to dominate first the region in which they are in and then ultimately the entire world. But they all share this fanatic ideology; they all have not only unbridled ambitions but also savage methods. And the more they have the capability to realize their ambitions, the more they’ll unleash their pent-up aggression against our common civilizations.

This is the point that I think is most important – We all support the efforts led by President Obama to stop and defeat ISIS, there’s no question that that has to be done. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is, as I said yesterday and I’ll say it again, is to win the battle and lose the war. We have to stop ISIS, defeat ISIS, but we have to prevent Iran from getting the capability to produce nuclear weapons.”

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 29, 2014: Transcript of PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the 2014 UN General Assembly

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Transcript of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the 2014 UN General Assembly

Source: Haaretz, 9-29-14

 

Netanyahu holds up a photograph as he addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly.

Netanyahu holds up a photograph as he addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly, September 29, 2014. Photo by Reuters

Israel, General Debate, 69th Session

Source: UN, 9-29-14

29 Sep 2014 – Address by His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel at the general debate of the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, 24-30 September 2014)….VIEW VIDEO

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Thank you, Mr. President. Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel. I’ve come here to speak about the dangers we face and about the opportunities we seek. I’ve come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel pray for peace, but our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace are in danger because everywhere we look militant Islam is on the march. It’s not militants. It’s not Islam. It’s militant Islam. And typically its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one: Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds. No creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world.

You know the famous American saying, all politics is local? For the militant Islamists, all politics is global, because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world. Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, the cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas. To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it’s too late.

Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS, and yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.

ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control. Listen to ISIS’ self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master. The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West — by Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.

As Hamas’ charter makes clear, Hamas’ immediate goal is to destroy Israel, but Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists, and that’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered in 9/11, and that’s why its leaders condemn the United States for killing Osama bin Laden whom they praised as a holy warrior.

So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common all militant Islamists share in common. Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, Hezbollah in Lebanon, al-Nusra in Syria, the Mahdi army in Iraq, and the al-Qaida branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.

Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shiites, some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the seventh century, others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the ninth century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their battle for supremacy. But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever-expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance, where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice, convert or die. For them, anyone can be considered an infidel, including fellow Muslims.

Ladies and gentlemen, militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad, but so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago. The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith. They just disagree who among them will be the master of the master faith. That’s what they truly disagree about. And therefore, the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.

There is one place where that could soon happen — the Islamic State of Iran. For 35 years, Iran has relentlessly pursued the global mission which was set forth by its founding ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini, in these words. “We will export our revolution to the entire world until the cry ‘there is no god but Allah’ will echo throughout the world over.” And ever since, the regime’s brutal enforcers, Iran’s revolutionary guards, have done exactly that.

Listen to its current commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari. And he clearly stated his goal. He said “Our imam did not limit the Islamic revolution to this country, our duty is to prepare the way for an Islamic world government.”

Iran’s President Rouhani stood here last week and shed crocodile tears over what he called the globalization of terrorism. Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s revolutionary guards. He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone.

You know, to say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees. This is — this bemoaning by the Iranian president of the spread of terrorism has got to be one of history’s greatest displays of doubletalk.

Now, some argue that Iran’s global terror campaign, its subversion of countries throughout the Middle East and well beyond the Middle East, some argue that this is the work of the extremists. They say things are changing. They point to last year’s election in Iran. They claim that Iran’s smooth-talking president and foreign minister, they’ve changed not only the tone of Iran’s foreign policy but also its substance. They believe that Rouhani and Zarif (generally/genuinely ?) want to reconcile with the West, that they’ve abandoned the global mission of the Islamic Revolution. Really?

So let’s look at what Foreign Minister Zarif wrote in his book just a few years ago:

We have a fundamental problem with the West, and especially with America. This is because we are heirs to a global mission which is tied to our raison d’être, a global mission which is tied to our very reason for being.

And then Zarif asks a question — I think an interesting one. He says: How come Malaysia — he’s referring to an overwhelmingly Muslim country — how come Malaysia doesn’t have similar problems? And he answers: Because Malaysia is not trying to change the international order.

That’s your moderate. So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose and for one purpose only: to lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces and leave it with a capacity of thousands of refugees — of centrifuges, rather — to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power. And in the future, at the time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, in the world’s most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons. Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all. It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction.

I remember that last year, everyone here was rightly concerned about the chemical weapons in Syria, including the possibility that they would fall into the hands of terrorists. Well, that didn’t happen, and President Obama deserves great credit for leading the diplomatic effort to dismantle virtually all of Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do those things either, because here’s what will happen. Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charms and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. And it’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.

There’s only one responsible course of action to address this threat. Iran’s nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. (Applause.) Make no mistake: ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war. (Applause.) To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.

Ladies and gentlemen, the fight against militant Islam is indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it’s emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it’s set back in every place. That’s why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight, it’s your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow. For 50 days this past summer Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities. Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters day after day. You wouldn’t let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity, nor would you let terrorists dig dozens of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. (Applause.)

Yet Israel faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war because in an attempt to win the world sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools — not just schools; UN schools — private homes, mosques, even hospitals to store and fire rockets at Israel. As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and at the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and these fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians. We were not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualties.

And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, all this to enable Palestinian civilians to evaluate targeted areas. No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies. (Applause.)

Now, this concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night. And as their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel’s citizen army, the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls, they upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world. (Applause.) Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation but admiration, admiration from decent people everywhere. (Applause.)

Now, here is what Hamas did. Here is what Hamas did. Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest. And no less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by a France 24 crew during the recent conflict. It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this — hundreds of them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the crimes, the war crimes, committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated or spoken out against from this podium last week. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, as Israel’s children huddle in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer. Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles. (Applause.)

By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties — Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians — that’s a double war crime — Hamas is given a pass.

The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as a human shield. Use them again and again and again. And you know why? Because, sadly, it works. By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the UN Human Rights Council has thus become a terrorist rights council, and it will have repercussions — it probably already has — about the use of civilians as human shields. It’s not just our interests. It’s not just our values that are under attack. It’s your interests and your values.

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria, and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya and Iraq, yet nearly half — nearly half of the UN Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East; Israel, where issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by the — by independent courts, and where women, gays and minorities live in a genuinely free society.

The human rights — that’s an oxymoron, the human — UN Human Rights Council, but I’ll use it just the same. The council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of one of the world’s largest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews. We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. and that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism. It is now spreading in polite society where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel.

For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide. Today the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide — genocide. In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy civilian population to get out of harm’s way, or ensuring that they receive tons — tons of humanitarian aid each day even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us, or setting up a field hospital to aid their wounded?

Well, I suppose it’s the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews — Judenrein — can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing. In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people, but no more. Today, we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield — (applause) — we will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have a historic opportunity. After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together, we and they face many of the same dangers, and principally, this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world. Our challenge is to transform these common interests to create a productive partnership, one that would build a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East. Together, we can strengthen regional security, we can advance projects in water and agricultural, in transportation and health and energy in so many fields.

I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, many have long assumed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world. But these days, I think it may work the other way around, namely that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace. And therefore, to achieve that peace, we must look not only to Jerusalem and Ramallah but also to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere.

I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries — those that are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support. I’m ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel occupies a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. (Applause.) History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.

I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people, but it must be a genuine peace — one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements — rock solid security arrangements on the ground, because you see, Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our borders for which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel, and these sobering experiences heightens Israel’s security concerns (regarding ?) potential territorial concessions in the future.

Now, those security concerns are even greater today. Just look around you. The Middle East is in chaos, states are disintegrating, and militant Islamists are filling the void. Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range, a few miles, of 80 percent of our population.

Now think about that. The distance between the 1967 lines and the suburbs of Tel Aviv is like the distance between the UN building here and Times Square. Israel is a tiny country. That’s why in any peace agreement, which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise, I will always insist that Israel be able to defend itself by itself against any threat. (Applause.)

And yet despite everything that has happened, some still don’t take Israel’s security concerns seriously. But I do and I always will — (applause) — because as prime minister of Israel, I’m entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waiver in fulfilling that responsibility. (Applause.)

I believe that with a fresh approach from our neighbors, we can advance peace despite the difficulties we face. See, in Israel, we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made a desolate land flourish, and with very few natural resources, we’ve used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation, and peace, of course, would enable Israel to realize its full potential and to bring a promising future not only for our people, not only for the Palestinian people, but for many, many others in our region.

But the old template for peace must be updated. It must take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new Middle East. It presents new dangers but also new opportunities. Israel is prepared to work with Arab partners and the international community to confront those dangers and to seize those opportunities. Together, we must recognize the global threat of militant Islam, the primacy of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons capability and the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians. All this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth, and the truth must always be spoken, especially here in the United Nations. (Applause.)

Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power. (Speaks in Hebrew.) For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still until her justice shines bright and her salvation glows like a flaming torch.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us light a torch of truth and justice to safeguard our common future. Thank you. (Applause.)

(END)

Israel Political Brief September 29, 2014: Liveblog: PM Benjamin Netanyahu set to give ‘razor sharp’ rebuttal to Abbas during UN address

Israel Political Brief September 29, 2014: WATCH LIVE: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses UN General Assembly

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WATCH LIVE: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses UN General Assembly

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, September 29, at 12:00 pm EST/ 7:00 pm Israel time.

The prime minister is expected to discuss Iran, Palestinian demands of statehood and issue a sharp response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech.

Click below to watch his address live via UN Web TV….

If the live stream does not work, click here to watch on the UN website…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 28, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks Upon Leaving for the US Promises to Refute Abbas’ lies in UN Speech

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks Upon Leaving for the US

Source: PMO, 9-28-14
יום ראשון ד’ תשרי תשע”ה

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday, 28 September 2014), made the following remarks upon leaving for the US to address the UN General Assembly:

“In my address to the UN General Assembly, I will refute all of the lies being directed at us and I will tell the truth about our state and about the heroic soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting About Fulfilling Pledge to Find Murderers of Three Israeli Teens — Transcript

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

Source: PMO, 9-23-14
יום שלישי כ”ח אלול תשע”ד

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

“When we found the bodies of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal , I said that whoever perpetrated the kidnapping and murder of our boys would bear the consequences and added that we would not rest until we had reached the last of them wherever they were hiding. I also said that this was our first mission and that it would be carried out. This morning it was carried out .
We said from the outset that Hamas was responsible for the abduction and murder and in light of the proof we have accumulated Hamas admitted that it was behind this terrorist attack.

I would like to commend the outstanding intelligence work of the ISA. I would like to commend the ISA, the Israel Police Anti-Terror Unit and the IDF. On behalf of the people of Israel I salute you for your precise and important operation. We will continue strike at terrorism everywhere. A few days after the attack I said near Hebron, the city of the patriarchs, that we would pursue the enemy, find them and not return until they had been dealt with. This morning the long arm of Israeli justice did just this.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he had spoken earlier this morning with the parents of the three youths and continued, “With the advent of the New Year, nothing can assuage their pain and nothing can bring back their wonderful, dear boys. But I told them that justice has been done and that we had carried out the mission that we promised to them and all of Israel.”

The Prime Minister added: “Today, the Cabinet will discuss a proposal to invest an additional NIS 2 billion in the communities of the south .

The plan includes building an additional hospital in Be’er Sheva, paving roads, assisting small and intermediate businesses, and developing tourism enterprises in the south and around the country in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. These decisions are in addition to the decision we made on Sunday to add over NIS 1 billion for Sderot and the communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip .

I told the mayors and local council heads that I met with yesterday at the Eshkol Regional Council that the State of Israel was not making these unprecedented investments just for show. We are doing so with a two-fold goal – investing in and deepening our hold on all parts of the country but also as a message to those who seek to uproot us, that they will never succeed in doing so. We are all responsible for this.

I would like to wish all citizens of Israel a good and happy New Year .

I would also like to wish ministers a good and happy year. We are working together in order to ensure the future of the State of Israel and the people of Israel. May we all have a good, prosperous, safe and quiet year.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 31, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting about ending the Gaza War

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

Source: PMO, 8-31-14

יום ראשון ה’ אלול תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning (Sunday, 31 August 2014):

“First, I would like to commend our host, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Farjun and the mayors and regional council chairmen, our friends from the south. It was your leadership and patience that gave us much strength to lead this campaign with responsibility, sagacity and great determination, as well as with considerable vigor, in order to restore security to Israel’s citizens. This was, and remains, our supreme concern.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, our hand has been extended in peace to those of our neighbors who want peace, and we have always fought vigorously, and with strength, against those who wish to destroy us, while building up our state, our cities and our communities – this is what we have done this time as well. We struck Hamas very hard. The IDF and the ISA killed almost 1,000 terrorists, struck at the heads of the organizations, and struck at their network of tunnels and their terrorist high-rises. We foiled their rocket attacks, and their aggression from land, sea and air. We hit their command centers and delivered blows that Hamas has not experienced since it was founded. At the same time, Hamas withdrew from all of its demands for a ceasefire, with neither time constraints nor other conditions.

I hope that the quiet that has been restored will last for a long time. But we are ready for any scenario both in this sector and in others including – of course – the Golan Heights. We will continue in keeping with our Zionist heritage, to develop our communities and our cities. I use the word develop, not just rebuild, because we have already started to do that.

We will make three decisions. Our first decision will be to assist – with a NIS 1.5 billion five-year plan – Sderot and the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The intention is not only to rehabilitate agriculture and repair damage which has been done but also to assist industrial, economic and agricultural development, and of course the construction of additional security infrastructures. This is the first commitment and it will be realized today.

The second thing is that this month we will submit a similar package for the development of the cities and communities of the south. We are committed to them, we have always been committed to them. In recent years there has been accelerated development in the south; we want to strengthen it. The Zionist answer to those who seek our lives is not only to rebuff them and overcome them in any campaign but also to develop our state, in this case the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and in the south, and to develop the Negev as a whole.

The third thing that we will do today is to fill in the gaps. We will start to fill in the gaps that have been created in security. This reflects our understanding about the order of priorities in security is first and foremost. We have done very great things here but this requires us to make a redoubled effort to allow the IDF, ISA and the security arms to continue to efficiently protect the State of Israel.

In the end, we share Education Minister Shai Piron’s view regarding tomorrow’s opening of the school year as scheduled throughout the country. I know that Israel’s children, two million Israeli children and their families, who will be going to kindergarten and school tomorrow, have endured a summer that was not simple, and I know that there is also great excitement and anticipation ahead of the opening of the school year. On behalf of the ministers, I would like to wish all of the children, especially those entering first grade, that they should all have a good, successful and safe year.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu sums up Operation Protective Edge

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PM Netanyahu sums up Operation Protective Edge

Source: MFA, 8-27-14

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There is a realignment of forces in the Middle East based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists. I’d like to see if we can translate this understanding of our common challenges into cooperation and the achievement of peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 27 August 2014), at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, issued the following statement:

Upon the establishment of the ceasefire, I can say that there is a major military achievement here, as well as a major diplomatic achievement for the State of Israel. Hamas was hit hard and it did not receive even a single one of the conditions that it set for a ceasefire, not even one. As Prime Minister of Israel, I hold the supreme responsibility for the security of Israel’s citizens and this is what guided my colleagues – Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz – and I during each stage of Operation Protective Edge. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the cooperation and the joint work for the security of Israel’s citizens.

From the first moment we set a clear goal: The goal was to strike hard at Hamas and the terrorist organizations and in so doing bring prolonged quiet to all Israeli citizens. I can say that Hamas was indeed hit very hard. First of all, we destroyed the network of attack tunnels that it built over the years. I would like to make it clear that we introduced the ground force for this goal. When the mission was completed, when the IDF reported to us that this mission had been completed, we pulled the force back in order to deny Hamas the possibility of killing our soldiers or abducting them, goals that it very much aspired to.

We continued to attack from the air. Approximately 1,000 terrorists were killed, including senior terrorists, very senior terrorists from among its top command. We destroyed thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, rocket production facilities and other weapons, arsenals, command and control positions, hundreds of command positions, hundreds. We also foiled, of course, attempts by Hamas to attack us by land, sea and air. Above all, thanks to Iron Dome, we foiled hundreds of attempts by Hamas to kill very many Israeli civilians. This was achieved, inter alia, thanks to a decision I made as Prime Minister, in my previous term, to equip the State of Israel with thousands of interceptors which, of course, blocked the murderous aerial assault by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.

The blow that Hamas has now taken is unprecedented since it was founded, a very hard blow. I must say that it also took a diplomatic hit. See, Hamas set conditions at the outset for a ceasefire. We accepted the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire, already in the first days, unconditionally and without time constraints whereas Hamas set conditions. It demanded a seaport – it did not get one. It demanded an airport, it did not get one. It demanded the release of the Shalit prisoners, those who were released in the Shalit deal whom we returned to prison following the murder of the three youths, it did not get this. It demanded Qatari mediation, it did not get it. It demanded Turkish mediation, it did not get it. It did not receive any condition. It demanded further conditions. It demanded the rehabilitation of the institutions that we dissolved in Judea and Samaria, it did not get this. It demanded salaries and money from us, it didn’t get them. It did not receive any of the conditions that it set.

We agreed at the outset to one thing – to carry out the humanitarian rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, with supervisory mechanisms and oversight abilities in our hands. This is in order to prevent the entry of weapons or materials that could be used to produce weapons. We have always agreed to this but we did not agree to accept any of Hamas’s conditions and the fact is that this ceasefire was achieved without the conditions that it set.

Moreover, I think that Hamas is also isolated diplomatically. We received international legitimacy from the global community. First of all, we received 50 days for very strong action against the terrorist organizations. This was substantial. I think that we also instilled in the international community the fact that Hamas, ISIS and Al Qaida and other extremist Islamic terrorist organizations are members of the same family. We also instilled the understanding that the long-term goal is the demilitarization of Hamas and the terrorist organizations, the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

All of these are important achievements alongside the realignment of regional forces in the Middle East. The regional change of moderate forces in the Middle East is creating a possible diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel. I think that it contains within it new possibilities for our country. We will certainly try to advance these possibilities in a responsible and prudent manner as we have done up until now.

Will we achieve our goal for prolonged calm? I think it is still too early to say but I can say that the harsh blow that Hamas and the terrorist organizations have taken, as well as our ability, via border controls, to prevent their rearming increase the chances that this goal will be achieved.

I can say that Hamas was surprised by two major things. One, in recent days it was surprised by the strength of our response to the violation of the most recent ceasefire. It thought that we would give in in the end to its conditions – and we did not give in. It thought that it could wear us down. You remember that I told it that it would not wear us down but would instead be hit very hard. I would like to take this opportunity to say that if it resumes firing, we will not tolerate sporadic firing at any part of the State of Israel and how we have responded up until now – we will respond with even greater strength. We are prepared for any possibility.

The second thing that surprised Hamas, Israeli citizens, is your splendid unity. I must say that it simply did not correctly appreciate the unity and strength of the people, and it is a splendid unity. It is the unity of civilian volunteers who helped the heroic IDF soldiers by sending packages, going to every point in person, of the rescue and voluntary organizations such as Magen David Adom and the other organizations, of the kibbutz movement that hosted residents of the south, of the local council heads who also volunteered to do this, and of ordinary citizens who went from place to place including hospitals to help our wounded heroic soldiers.

Our marvelous soldiers – during our visit to an air force base today, the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff and I, I told air force personnel – air and ground crews – what I say to all IDF soldiers: The entire nation owes you its deep gratitude. Your stepping up, your heroism and your dedication, all of these were decisive in the campaign and made major contributions to our present diplomatic and military achievements.

One soldier told me, on one of my visits to the south, would that this unity which gives us so much strength as we go to fight the enemy, would that this unity could continue even after the fighting is over. And I say would that it could, amen, because this is a basic part of our national resilience.

And on behalf of all of you, on behalf of this unity, I would like to send my best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded soldiers. I visited them, not all of them, but as many as I could, and I was impressed by their strength of spirit. I was impressed by the public’s and their families’ great love for them. Everyone of them is dear to me just as every one of our fallen soldiers is dear to me. And their families, I know their loss and the depth of their pain and sorrow, to the families this evening I say the words that we read a few weeks ago in the haftarah  [from the prophet Isaiah (40:1)], ‘Comfort you, comfort you, My people.’ And comfort may be taken in the strong and united nation that stands here on it land, the Land of Israel, and which is determined to defend our state, the State of Israel, with your support, with your splendid unity. We acted just as we promised all through the operation – with level-headedness and responsibility, with foresight broad enough to ensure your security, citizens of Israel.

Following is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response, in English, to a question from the press:

Question: “If you could just elaborate on the diplomatic horizon for peace that you have mentioned earlier and within that vision, there the potential for the resumption of peace talks?”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I think that there is a realignment of forces in the Middle East. Everybody can see that. The realignment is based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists who are sweeping the region with a ring of fire. And many understand that this is a danger to them. As we understand, it’s a danger to us. And many certainly begin to view Israel less than the full, or an enemy than a potential ally in this common battle.

What I’d like to explore is to see if we can translate this understanding of our common challenges into cooperation in common opportunities, and yes including the pursuit and development and achievement of a peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors. This obviously cannot happen with the likes of Hamas, who are committed to our destruction. Everybody says you make peace with an enemy. That’s true. But you make peace only with an enemy who decides to go to peace. That’s the most important and fundamental distinction. An enemy who wants to destroy you is not a candidate for peace. An enemy who says I want to put down, I want to end the hostilities, I want to take a new beginning, make a new start, give a new future for our children and our grandchildren, well that’s somebody that we can make peace with. And I hope that we’ll achieve this.”

PM Netanyahu, DM Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz at press conference
  PM Netanyahu, DM Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz at press conference
  Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Excerpt from statement by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon:

“Hamas and the other terrorist organizations were dealt a heavy blow during the last 50 days. More than a thousand terrorists were killed, including senior members of the military wing. Terrorist infrastructures were destroyed. We attacked and destroyed weapons, launchers, rockets, homes of commanders, and command and control centers. We struck at the terrorists capabilities, including terrorist tunnels prepared over the course of years. We set Hamas and other terrorist organizations back many years.

Gaza does not look like it looked on the eve of the operation, and it is no surprise that the discourse in Gaza, and within Hamas, is one of anger and frustration. We are talking about a at least ten years of restoration and rehabilitation. When the dust clears over the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders will have to answer quite a few tough questions following the hard, unprecedented blow inflicted upon them by Israel.

I would like to emphasize, citizens of Israel – do not be impressed by the bragging of Hamas leaders, voiced just after leaving their underground bunkers, their hiding places within civilian structures – hospitals, schools and clinics – surrounded by civilians – women and children – whom they used as human shields.”

Israel Political Brief August 21, 2014: Netanyahu says Gaza op will continue, suggests return to peace talks

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Netanyahu says Gaza op will continue, suggests return to peace talks

Source: JTA, 8-21-14

In statements defending Israel’s conduct in its ongoing conflict in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “will look forward to restarting peace negotiations” with the Palestinians…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 21, 2014: IDF strikes kill three Hamas commanders

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IDF strikes kill three Hamas commanders

Source: JTA, 8-21-14

IDF strikes kill three Hamas commanders

Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip killed three senior Hamas commanders…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on Continuing Operation Protective Edge

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Statement by PM Netanyahu

Source: MFA, 8-20-14

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Operation Protective Edge has not ended, because this is a continuing campaign. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations has continued for many years. Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit very hard.id=”ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_ctl06_ctl00_RichImageField1__ControlWrapper_RichImageField” class=”ms-rtestate-field”>

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:

“First, I would like to personally turn to the IDF soldiers and commanders, to the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in Operation Protective Edge, to the wounded who are recovering in hospital, to the residents of communities close to the Gaza Strip, to the residents of the Negev, the greater Tel Aviv area, Jerusalem and the coastal plain, and to all citizens of the State of Israel.

I would like to commend you and to thank you for the steadfastness and extraordinary unity that the citizens and soldiers of Israel have shown during the past weeks. I want you to know that the ultimate responsibility for your security and peace is mine, as Prime Minister. I am concerned for the security and peace of all Israelis, both the sons that we have sent to the front and the families that are strong and determined in the home front.

Our goal is that the residents of Kerem Shalom, Sderot and the other communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv will be able to sleep quietly and that the children of Ofakim, Netivot, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva won’t have to run to the protected areas at school.

Along with my colleagues, especially Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who is currently attending a memorial ceremony for IDF soldiers, we are taking all measures to complete the campaign and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves: The restoration of quiet and security for you all. We are doing this in full cooperation, with sagacity, responsibility and determination, and thus shall we continue until the goal is achieved.

One consideration stands before me – the good of the State of Israel. And this consideration is the only one that guides my decision-making, as well as that of the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff, no other object, no harsh words from either the Right or the Left, and I condemn all harsh words, and no other interests, only the responsibility for the security and peace of all Israelis. Accordingly, I will continue to act with determination, responsibility and sagacity.

Operation Protective Edge has not ended, not even for a moment, because this is a continuing campaign and I am not speaking only about recent weeks. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations is long and has continued for many years – against Hezbollah, Al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, which is part of an Islamic terrorist network the newest member of which is a murderous gang, another terrorist organization, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and it has also attacked Lebanon.

In recent weeks we have hit Hamas very hard on the battlefield. All of the networks that it built in order to attack us have been foiled.

First of all, we prevented – via Iron Dome – attacks by thousands of rockets against our communities. We have killed hundreds of terrorists. We have destroyed thousands of rockets and launchers. We broke up the network of assault tunnels that Hamas built over the years in order to launch simultaneous attacks against our communities and we foiled all of its attempts to attack us from land, sea and air.

This is the harshest blow that Hamas has taken since it was founded. And I remind you that we have already dismantled its capabilities in Judea and Samaria and blocked its attempts to carry out a coup. We did all this before and during the operation. We have hit Hamas very hard. We are determined to continue the campaign by all means for as long as it takes. We will not stop until we have assured full security and a quiet life for the residents of the south and for all Israelis.

Hamas thinks that it can wear us down. It is mistaken. The Israeli people are strong. Instead of attrition, Hamas will be crushed – its infrastructures, terrorists and commanders.

Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit, and not just hit but hit very hard. And if Hamas does not understand this today, it will understand it tomorrow. And if not tomorrow then the day after tomorrow because in the Middle East, one needs not just military power but stamina and patience.

My grandfather came here in 1920, here to Jaffa. Several months after he came here, thugs burst into the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa and murdered Jews, in this area, including the well-known author Yosef Haim Brenner. This was almost 94 years ago.

Since then we have been fighting against terrorism – with considerable success. In this time we built our state, developed our cities, developed our economy and created a magnificent army.

Our spirit has not fallen, not even for a moment. On the contrary, it has grown, as has our unity, and we must continue to maintain our internal unity, as well as the courage and resilience of the nation and the home front.

All of these are vital components of our national strength. All of these are foundation stones as we fulfill the mission we have set for ourselves – restoring quiet and security, and I would like to add, in light of the very dramatic changes taking place in our region, not all of them negative, I also add achieving a new diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel.”

Following are remarks in English by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference:

I hope President Abbas plays a constructive role. He has an opportunity to do so.  I think he has to understand obviously that no one, and least of all Israel can accept the kind of terror attacks that are coming from Hamas. I think that were acting well within our rights, probably more rigorously than any, I would say. No other country has acted more rigorously than Israel in defending itself within legitimate means. And I expect President Abbas to do that.

I will look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror, to fulfilling the previous obligations that we have. And I think this is part and parcel of the larger picture that I’m talking about. We have to think carefully how we tie in the new circumstances to the advantage of peace and against terror.

Hamas is like ISIS. ISIS is like Hamas. They’re branches of the same tree. And I can say that the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of Isis. You saw this, the beheading of an American journalist, Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people. Well, we face the same savagery. The people who wantonly rocket our cities and want to conduct mass killings, and when they can they murder children, teenagers; they shoot them in the head, throw people from the sixth floor – their own people; and use their people as human shields.

Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas. They’re the enemies of peace; they’re the enemies of Israel; they’re the enemies of all civilized countries. I believe they’re the enemies of the Palestinians. And I’m not the only one who believes it.

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 17, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting Israel Not Deterred by Hamas’ Threats Will Fight Back Strikes

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PM Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting

Source: MFA, 8-17-14

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If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu
  PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Avi Ohayon

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday, 17 August 2014), made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“We are in the midst of a combined military and diplomatic campaign. From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: Insist on the security needs of the State of Israel. Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings. In the past month Hamas has taken a severe military blow. We destroyed its network of tunnels that it took years to dig. We intercepted the rockets that it had massed in order to carry out thousands of deadly strikes against the Israeli home front. And we foiled the terrorist attacks that it tried to perpetrate against Israeli civilians – by land, sea and air.

If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. As long as quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to take very harsh blows. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.

In the stormy and unstable Middle East in which we live, it is not enough that there be more strength, determination and patience are also necessary. Hamas knows that we are very strong but maybe it thinks that we do not have enough determination and patience, and here it is making a big mistake.

We are a strong and determined people. We have seen this in the amazing revelations of strength and resilience in the past weeks on the part of both our soldiers and our civilians. We will continue to be steadfast and united until we achieve the goals of the campaign – the restoration of quiet and security for all Israelis.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and National Security Council Chairman Yossi Cohen briefed ministers on ongoing developments in Operation Protective Edge and the contacts taking place in Cairo on a diplomatic settlement.

Israel Political Brief August 10, 2014: Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour cease-fire

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Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour cease-fire

Source: JTA, 8-10-14

Israel and Palestinian factions, including Hamas, agreed to a new 72-hour cease-fire…. READ MORE▸

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 10, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting promising Israel will not to negotiate under fire

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PM Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting

10 Aug 2014

Source: MFA, 8-10-14

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Operation Protective Edge will continue until its goal is met – the restoration of quiet for a long period.

Israel Cabinet meeting 

Israel Cabinet meeting

Copyright: GPO

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday, 10 August 2014), made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:”Operation Protective Edge is continuing. At no stage did we declare its conclusion. The operation will continue until its goal is met – the restoration of quiet for a long period. I said at the outset of, and throughout, the operation that it would take time and patience. Israel will not negotiate under fire and Israel will continue to take all action in order to change the current reality and bring quiet to all of its citizens. We will stand together, united and determined, until we complete the work.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 6, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu holds press conference in Operation Protective Edge

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PM Netanyahu holds press conference

06 Aug 2014
Source: MFA, 8-6-14

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Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza’s general demilitarization.

PM Netanyahu press conference

 

PM Netanyahu press conference

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement and answers to questions at his press conference for the foreign press on Wednesday evening, 6 August:

“The rectangle that you see in the center is the UNRWA’s Shahada al-Manar elementary school for boys.

That’s the thing that you see there in reddish color and you see right around that four mortars fires. Five mortars are fired. One mortar fired. One mortar fired. Right around that school. It’s very important to see that and to understand what kind of conditions our forces are facing from Gaza.

Palestinian terrorists fired 11 mortars from the vicinity of an UNRWA school in Zeitoun, Gaza

Here’s a terror tunnel near a school:

Tunnel entrance hidden in Gaza City neighborhood

You see the big building to the right of the arrows? That’s a school. You see civilian houses in a distance of a few meters, a mosque literally touching the school, civilian houses around it. This is where the terror tunnels are dug, and may I say that in many places the terror tunnels were dug from homes. From homes. From inside the homes. So, that is an example again of the use of civilian areas both to fire rockets at our civilians and to dig the terror tunnels for the death squads to reach our people, kidnap and kill them.

I expect, now that the members of the press are leaving Gaza, or some of them are leaving Gaza, and are no longer subjected to Hamas restrictions and intimidations, I expect we’ll see even more documentation of Hamas terrorists hiding behind the civilian population, exploiting civilian targets. I think it’s very important for the truth to come out.

The goal of Operation Protective Edge was and remains to protect Israeli civilians. That means to protect our people from roughly 3,500 rockets, three thousand five hundred rockets that Hamas and the other terrorist groups have fired on our cities, on our towns, on our civilians, on our children in the last month. The goal of this operation was to protect our people from the threat of terror tunnels built to send death squads into Israel, to commit terrorist atrocities against Israel’s civilians, to kidnap and to kill.

Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty, every single one. We do not target them; we do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas; our enemy are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. And we’ve taken extraordinary circumstances and measures to avoid civilian casualties. The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas – a tyrannical and fanatical terror group that relishes civilian casualties. They want civilian casualties. They use them as PR fodder. So it’s not that they don’t want them; they want them. And they pretty much say so. Indeed Hamas has adopted a strategy that abuses and sacrifices Gaza’s civilians. They use them as human shields; they endanger them and deliberately increase the death toll. They fire their rockets at Israel from schools, from hospitals, from mosques. You’ve just seen that. From urban neighborhoods, and right next to schools where journalists are staying. You can discover that for yourself.

Of course nearly everyone says that they support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we appreciate those who say this. But there are those who refuse to recognize or to let Israel exercise that right. They would allow Hamas to attack with impunity, because they say they’re firing from schools or from mosques or from hospitals and Israel should not take action against them. That’s obviously a mistake. It’s a moral mistake. It’s an operational mistake. Because that would validate and legitimize Hamas’s use of human shields, and it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere and a devastating effect to the free societies that are fighting terrorism.

If this were to happen, more and more civilians will die around the world, because this is a testing period now. Can a terrorist organization fire thousands of rockets at cities of a democracy? Can a terrorist organization embed itself in civilian areas? Can it dig terror tunnels from civilian areas? Can it do so with impunity because it counts on the victimized country to respond as it must, as any country would, and then be blamed for it? Can we accept a situation in which the terrorists would be exonerated and the victims accused?

This is the issue that stands not only before the international community today regarding Israel; it stands before the international community with a wave of radical terrorists that are now seizing vast cities, civilian populations and doing exactly the tactic that Hamas is doing. That’s exactly what ISIL is doing, what Hezbollah is doing, what Boko Haram is doing. What Hamas is doing is what is al-Qaeda is doing. And the test now is not merely the test for the international community’s attitude towards Israel – an embattled democracy using legitimate means against these double war crimes of targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians. The test is for the civilized world itself, how it is able to defend itself.

Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. Now I want you to know that at that time, the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal, which went into effect yesterday morning. That means that 90%, a full 90% of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now.

Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza’s general demilitarization. That is the sure way to guarantee that this conflict will not repeat itself. And I’m very glad that Secretary Kerry and others have put forward the need to demilitarize Gaza. This is a long-standing Palestinian obligation yet to be fulfilled. Setting anew this long-term goal is important for Israel, it’s important for the people of Gaza and for all of us who want to see an end to the violence and an end to the suffering.

Every civilian casualty is a tragedy. A tragedy of Hamas’s own working. I think the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel put it best when he said, “Hamas is engaging in child sacrifice. And this is something for which it must be held accountable. For the sake of all our children, it must not be allowed to get away with this.”

Question: “[Inaudible] I wanted to ask: You mentioned the Israeli [inaudible]. That was before the ground operation, before the tunnels [inaudible] and I wanted to ask, will you therefore, if Hamas had accepted the ceasefire at that stage, the tunnels would not have been dealt with and I wanted to ask therefore, people are asking, was it a strategic goal, was it the goal of this operation, was Israel kind of improvising, was there a strategic plan here or were you [inaudible].

And a second question if I may, we’ve seen since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, since the West Bank operations, since the Gaza operation, they are rioting, attacks [inaudible] violence in Jerusalem, riots in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and I just wondered if there is concern at the spread of the violence [inaudible].”

PM Netanyahu: “Thank you. We started dealing with the tunnels – first of all, we were going to deal with the threats posed from Gaza either by military means or by diplomatic means – one of the two or both. We began dealing with the first tunnel before the Egyptian initiative. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but we had information about an impending attack from one terror tunnel and we took action before we had the air attacks on our, before we had the air attacks on Gaza in response to their rocketing attacks. We actually dealt with one tunnel.

If we could have dealt with the rest of the tunnels through the Egyptian proposal, which had an immediate ceasefire as we have now, and both sides could raise the topics and specifically the issue of security would be released. That was mentioned there. When we said security, we meant obviously that we would bring up the question of the tunnels: could we deal with it through non-military means and the other threat against Israel – and that’s preferable. As it turned out, Hamas rejected this and therefore we had to deal with them in military means. So we addressed the other tunnels, in addition to the one we had already addressed with military means by doing the, by actually going in.

That first tunnel was struck from the air. We didn’t know that it achieved the result and it’s very hard to achieve that result from the air. You either achieve it by agreement or you achieve it by actually going in to the other side, finding the points of origin of the tunnel or a point of origin, identify the trajectory of the tunnel and then dismantling it, destroying it through various means. And that’s basically what we did. If we could have done it diplomatically, fine. If not, we did it militarily and the army just told us that they completed this activity and then we went out. We went in to deal with the tunnels; we went out after we finished dealing with the tunnels.

[Regarding the Jerusalem question] Well, obviously we’re concerned. We hope that everyone, everyone will work now to calm the situation. That has been our goal from the very beginning in Jerusalem, everywhere, in the Palestinian areas. We don’t need to see loss of life there anymore than we want to see it on the Gaza front. I want to make sure that – you mentioned the Temple Mount – so I want to make sure that everyone understands that Israel respects and will continue to respect the status quo on the Temple Mount. We know that there are arrangements there, including the traditional role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and we are not about to change it.”

CNN: “Prime Minister, [unclear] for CNN. First of all, the IDF has suffered the largest casualties yet in any Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We understand 61 soldiers killed, three civilians. We’ve seen more than 1,800 people killed in Gaza, 900 or almost 1,000 of which are civilians, estimated. Do you really feel that your actions, Israel’s actions were proportionate? And were you using the appropriate precision weapons even if Hamas is using them as human shields?”

PM Netanyahu: “Why don’t you ask the first question? Let me answer that, then you can ask the second question. Why don’t we do that? So first of all, the answer to both your questions is yes, I think it was justified, I think it was proportional and that doesn’t in any way take away from the deep regret for, we have for the loss of a single civilian. We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they have civilian casualties, as you’ve just seen.

Now, let’s imagine your country – it could be any country, could be the US, could be Britain, could be Germany, France, India, you name it. Let’s imagine your country attacked by 3,500 rockets. Your territory is infiltrated by death squads. What would you do? What would you demand that your government do to protect you and your family? You’d demand that and you’d be right because security, protecting the people, is the first obligation of any government. But what if the rockets are fired from civilian areas? And the tunnels come from schools, from mosques, from private houses where civilians live? Should you then not take action?

Do the terrorists have immunity because of the fear that some civilians will unfortunately get hurt?

Let me tell you what I think disproportionality is: It’s not acting to defend your people and giving the terrorists a license to kill. I think that’s disproportionate and that’s wrong.

Financial Times: “Thanks very much. Mr. Prime Minister, are you prepared to give Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority a leading role in the post-war order in Gaza? And if so, can you talk about that, specifics, including policing the borders?”

PM Netanyahu: “We have cooperated and are cooperating with the Palestinian Authority on matters that you raised. There are other matters as well, and the answer is that we are cooperating with them and are prepared to see a role for them.

Q: [Inaudible]

PM Netanyahu: “We’re dealing with that right now. I think it’s important in the reconstruction of Gaza, in assuring the humanitarian aid and also the security questions that arise, that we have these discussions and the cooperation with them. And in fact, the ceasefire was coordinated, among other things, with them. It came from Egypt, but they were aware of it and they were speaking to, for the factions, as you know.

As far as the humanitarian aid, since I mentioned it: You know, we’ve given 2,000, we’ve passed roughly 2,000 trucks of humanitarian aid during the last month or so in which this conflict raged. We even gave humanitarian aid – most of these trucks came during the fire. A lot of them came during the ceasefire, the humanitarian ceasefire that Hamas refused to recognize for its own people. It’s quite amazing. We have to do the ceasefire, the humanitarian ceasefire efforts when Hamas doesn’t do it so we even sometimes, many times actually, unilaterally called ceasefire humanitarian pauses, which they didn’t recognize, but we put in the trucks.

We opened a field hospital right on the Gaza passage, in the Erez Crossing on our side, and we called Palestinians who have a problem with hospitals that were being used by Hamas as terrorist sites, as command centers, as firing posts, and we said, okay, we’ll open a field hospital and we did on our side. And you know what Hamas did? It prevented and warned Palestinians not to go there. Well some of them straggled through somehow and we dealt with them. And we are now dealing with our people to address the fuel, throughout the conflict, fuel, electricity stoppages and so on.

So Israel is going all out on humanitarian effort, and we’re prepared to do more and we think more should be done. We just hope that Hamas will start caring for its people and stop preventing humanitarian aid for them, stop sacrificing them as human shields, stop shooting them when they protest because that’s what happens when people protest and they say to Hamas, “What have you done to us?” Well, they just execute them. Just as they prevent journalists from putting out the full truth and journalists, justifiably are concerned. I can understand that.

And Hamas, Hamas does incredible things, just incredible things. There is a report – it’s not my report, it’s the Journal of Palestinian Studies in 2012. Note the year. It’s a few years ago and they’ve since, they’ve done more things. Hamas officials, according to the Journal of Palestinian Studies, reported that at least 160 children had been killed digging the tunnels. There is something fundamentally wrong here. Hamas is sacrificing its people, sacrificing its children and it should not be allowed to get away with it. These are tragedies. The loss of a single child is a tragedy. The loss of mothers, women, families, is a tragedy. But this tragedy should be put squarely where the responsibility for it belongs. The responsibility for this tragedy belongs with Hamas. It’s a deliberate strategy.”

Washington Post: “Mr. Prime Minister, you mentioned Secretary Kerry’s comments supporting demilitarization of Gaza. I’m wondering if you also support what he said about the need to think bigger now, to use the Cairo talks as an opportunity to think more broadly about a two-state solution and if so, what will Israel do to move in that direction?”

PM Netanyahu: “First of all, I had a very good conversation with John, with Secretary Kerry today. We work very closely with him and with the US Administration, with President Obama, throughout this operation and before. And there are reports of the substance and the tone of our relationship that are distorted. They don’t capture the essence of the common values that bind our societies together and bind our governments together. And I appreciate the support that the United States has shown for Israel’s right to self-defense and the appropriation that I asked for, for an additional 225 million dollars of support for Iron Dome. I think these are all very important things for which the people of Israel are deeply grateful and I want to express that.

I think the Secretary’s statement on demilitarization as a strategic long-term goal is very important. I think he’s right that there are opportunities now, perhaps opportunities that we have not seen before with a realignment of important parties in the Middle East to be able to fashion a new reality, one more conducive to the end of violence, to the establishment of calm, a sustainable peace or at least a sustainable quiet which can lead to other things. That is yet to be seen, but that is a goal I think worthy of exploration and pursuit. That’s my goal.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 4, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu holds security discussion at IDF Southern Command

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu holds security discussion at IDF Southern Command

Source: MFA, 8-4-14

04 Aug 2014

This operation will end only when quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel for a lengthy period. We have no intention of attacking the residents of Gaza. In practice, it is Hamas that is attacking them and denying them humanitarian aid.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

(Communicated by Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday, 4 August 2014), made the following remarks at the conclusion of a discussion at IDF Southern Command headquarters, with the participation of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sammy Turgeman:

“The campaign in Gaza is continuing. What is about to conclude is the IDF action to deal with the tunnels but this operation will end only when quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel for a lengthy period. We struck a very severe blow at Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. We have no intention of attacking the residents of Gaza. In practice, it is Hamas that is attacking them and denying them humanitarian aid. I think that the international community needs to strongly condemn Hamas and also demand, just as we are demanding, that the rehabilitation of Gaza be linked to its demilitarization.

I would like to express special appreciation for the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff, GOC Southern Command, our heroic soldiers and commanders, and also the ISA, which has been assisting them. There has been very strong teamwork here the goal of which is to bring security to the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel.

I express deep appreciation to all of our soldiers for their fighting spirit under difficult conditions, in urban areas with tunnels. There are many stories of heroism here. I am impressed by the effort and by the operations in the field.

I would like to congratulate the commanders and soldiers on what they have achieved. I visited with wounded soldiers in Be’er Sheva today. I wish them a quick recovery; they have tremendous spirit. Along with the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff and all of Israel, I would like to again send my condolences to the families of the fallen.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 2, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Operation Protective Edge

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Statement by PM Netanyahu

02 Aug 2014

Source: MFA, 8-2-14

MFASummaryNew

At the start of the operation we promised that we would restore quiet for the citizens of Israel and we will continue to act until this goal is achieved. We are enlisting the international community to support this goal of linking the rehabilitation and development of Gaza to its demilitarization.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tonight (Saturday, 2 August 2014), made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:

Operation Protective Edge is continuing. The IDF is continuing to operate with full strength in order to complete the goals of the operation: The restoration of quiet and the restoration of security for a lengthy period for the citizens of Israel while inflicting significant damage on the terrorist infrastructures.

At the same time, our forces are now completing the work of striking at and neutralizing the terrorist tunnels in the Gaza Strip. Dozens of tunnels have been neutralized so far. We are striking at the strategic network that Hamas has invested such great effort in over the years. These tunnels would have enabled Hamas to kidnap and murder civilians and IDF soldiers by launching simultaneous attacks from the many tunnels that penetrate our territory.

So far the IDF has very significant achievements in the fighting. At the onset of the operation, our forces attacked and destroyed thousands of terrorist targets: Command centers, rocket arsenals and production facilities, launching areas, many hundreds of terrorists, etc.

Our soldiers are showing extraordinary heroism. Their bravery has been shown in the IDF’s very impressive and daring operations. This has been a complex operation, which is being carried out in urban areas, in tunnels, with new kinds of munitions, amidst considerable friction with a civilian population. I am proud of our soldiers and commanders who are working splendidly in this dangerous campaign. They are fighting with dedication, determination and a sense of mission that is without peer.

I share the pain of the bereaved families and I send them both my condolences and those of the nation. They sacrificed what is most dear to them. Their sons fell in order to defend our country and our home. My heart and the heart of the entire nation goes out to all of them. I talk to them and I know their pain.

I would like to express support to the family of 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was abducted yesterday. I understand the family; their words have touched my heart and I will speak with them later this evening. The State of Israel will continue to do its utmost to bring home its MIAs.

Citizens of Israel, the resilience that you are showing enables all of us to conduct the campaign sagaciously and responsibly in order to achieve the goals of the operation. I thank you for the unity, especially at this time.

Cooperation between me and the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff is tight and enables us to precisely plan and carry out the campaign. At the start of the operation we promised that we would restore quiet for the citizens of Israel and we will continue to act until this goal is achieved. This will take as much time as may be necessary; forces will be used accordingly.

US and European support of the need to demilitarize the terrorist organizations is an important achievement for the State of Israel. It will strengthen our demand to link the rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarization from rockets, tunnels, etc. We regret every civilian who is hit inadvertently.

We are enlisting the international community to support this goal of linking the rehabilitation and development of Gaza to its demilitarization but no less important – this may surprise many, but not us – is the unique link which has been forged with the states of the region. This as well is a very important asset for the State of Israel. With the cessation of the fighting and the conclusion of the campaign, this will open new possibilities for us.

At this time it is clear what is happening here. Hamas wants the residents of Gaza to suffer and be hurt and thinks that the world will blame Israel for their suffering. There are many people in the world who understand exactly what Hamas is, the same organization that, together with Qatar, assured US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon regarding a ceasefire. It misled both of them.

I welcome the clear and sharp statements by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, who placed the direct responsibility for violating the ceasefire on Hamas, and for President Obama’s remarks last night regarding Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets and tunnels. Similar voices have been heard from other important leaders around the world.

But, unfortunately, there are other voices and to them I say: Terrorism has no borders. Today, it threatens the State of Israel. Tomorrow, it will threaten your countries. We are doing what we are doing in the face of this criminal aggression by the terrorist organizations against our citizens and soldiers, but what would you do? Will you stand alongside Israel, a democratic and moral state which is acting to defend its citizens or will you continue to stand opposed and take a forgiving stand in the face of a murderous terrorist organization that attacks our people and is brutal toward its own?

Citizens of Israel, the IDF is acting and will continue to act until our mission is completed. After completing action the tunnels, the IDF will prepare for continued action, according to security needs and only according to security needs, until we achieve the goal of restoring quiet to you, citizens of Israel.”

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