Israel Musings December 14, 2013: Netanyahu and Kerry meet about peace talks in Jerusalem snow wonderland

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Netanyahu & Kerry meet about peace talks in Jerusalem snow wonderland

By Bonnie K. Goodman

For the second time in a week and the ninth time since March 2013 United States Secretary of State John Kerry met in Israel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a very unusually snowy Friday morning, Dec. 13, 2013…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 8, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address to the Saban Forum

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PM Netanyahu’s Address to the Saban Forum

Source: PMO, 12-8-13

יום ראשון ה’ טבת תשע”ד

Photo by GPO

– Transcription

I am pleased to be joining you today, even if I’m doing it by remote Seatellite.
I remember the Willard Hotel when I came to Washington the first time in 1982, so this is – 30 years or more have passed and we know how the world has changed, but throughout that I think there’s been this strong U.S.–Israel relationship that taken on these complex issues that we face, and Haim, I want to express to you my personal appreciation for the fact that you are sponsoring the forum to address this complexity.

And it is legion, because the Middle East is undergoing great turmoil, great violence, great instability.
But in this turbulence, the special bond between Israel and the United States is the crucial anchor of stability. I didn’t say just a crucial anchor; I think it is the crucial anchor, and I want to thank President Obama for his commitment to our strong alliance. He has repeatedly said that Israel must have the right to defend itself, by itself against all threats. I think that’s a very important statement.
It will follow us 360 degrees.
And on President Obama’s watch, defense, security and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel – this cooperation has reached new heights.

I want you to know that we can have different perspectives. I understand that the United States is a global power with global responsibilities. And President Obama understands that the Jewish state is a beleaguered democracy in a hostile region, threatened like no other country on earth. And though we have the different perspectives of a superpower and a regional power, most of the time and on most things, if not the major things, we see eye-to-eye because we share common values, because we’re anchored in deeply democratic societies, because there is a special bond between the people of Israel and the people of the United States of America. Sometimes we differ because we have these different perspectives. But we always share our views honestly, sincerely and respectfully. That’s what good friends do, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.

Since President Obama’s historic visit to Israel, we have often spoken at length about the pressing issues of our times. I don’t know if there are any other two leaders in the world today who speak more frequently and more openly on such crucial matters. This communication serves both our countries well.

I also want to take this opportunity to praise Secretary John Kerry for his tireless efforts for peace. Tireless. I mean, this man doesn’t sleep. I spend so much time speaking or meeting with John Kerry that some of my cabinet colleagues are starting to get jealous. They complain that I only have time for him. Well John, you have my thanks and the thanks of the people of Israel for your dedication and your commitment to peace.

A moment ago I mentioned that the Middle East is going through unprecedented volatility, violence and instability. Out of all this uncertainty, one thing has become absolutely clear: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the source of the region’s problems. Today, for all but a few diehards, that reality has finally debunked that myth. The tragedy in Syria, the terrorism in Iraq, the nuclear weapons program in Iran, the instability in North Africa, the Shi’ite-Sunni conflict, the scourge of violent Islamic radicalism – none of these is rooted in our dispute with the Palestinians.

This is not to say that peace with the Palestinians is not important. It’s vital – first and foremost for Israel and the Palestinians. Achieving a genuine and enduring peace between us is a strategic goal of the State of Israel and of my government. I’ve made hard decisions to further peace negotiations. I’m willing to make even harder decisions to achieve peace.

I hope President Abbas also is willing to do so because peace can only be and must be a two-way street. I am ready for a historic compromise that ends the conflict between us once and for all. My willingness to make peace flies in the face of a second persistent myth – that peace has eluded us because Israel is not willing to demonstrate the necessary flexibility. That is not true. Under successive governments, Israel has demonstrated the flexibility and the willingness to make painful concessions. These will require discussing the issues of territory and settlements.

But the core of this conflict has never been borders and settlements. It is about one thing: The persistent refusal to accept the Jewish State in any border. The real key to peace is Palestinian recognition of the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination in this part of the world. This conflict didn’t begin because we denied the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own. We agreed to that in 1937 in the Zionist Movement’s response to the Peel Commission’s partition proposal. The Palestinians refused. We agreed to that again when we accepted the UN partition proposal in 1947 for a Jewish state next to a Palestinian state. The Palestinians again refused.

And in the 20 years since the Oslo accords, every time we’ve offered a
historic peace with a Palestinian state next to a Jewish state, the Palestinians still refused. Six successive Israeli Prime Ministers, myself included, have been ready for a historic compromise with the Palestinians. But it was never enough. Because all the Israeli proposals, all the Israeli concessions, were based on one premise: That the conflict would be over, that it would end and that there would be no further Palestinian national claims on the Jewish state. No right of return. No irredentist claims. No residual claims of any kind. And that the Palestinians have so far been unwilling to give.

So the question shouldn’t be, why does Israel make this demand? The question should be: why do the Palestinians consistently refuse to accept it? After all, we recognize that in peace there will be a nation-state for the Palestinian people. And surely we are entitled to expect them to do the same: to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people.

And my friends, we’ve only been around here for 4,000 years – well, a little less, 3,700 years. We have to have the Palestinians come to grips with the fact that there is going to be a Jewish state, a Jewish nation-state here next to their state. It’s not too much to ask. It’s the minimal requirement for peace.

But it’s not the only requirement, because I don’t delude myself. I think that any kind of peace we’ll have is likely, initially at least, to be a cold peace. And it must withstand the forces of terrorism and the ravaging forces of radicalism and all the forces backed by Iran and others that will try to unravel the peace. And therefore any agreement that we make must enable us to protect the peace or conversely to protect Israel in case the peace unravels. That often happens in our region. So there must be iron-clad security arrangements to protect the peace, arrangements that allow Israel to defend itself by itself against any possible threats. And those security arrangements must be based on Israel’s own forces. There is no substitute for that.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our best efforts to reach Palestinian-Israeli peace will come to nothing if Iran succeeds in building atomic bombs. A nuclear-armed Iran would give even greater backing to the radical and terrorist elements in the region. It would undermine the chances of arriving at a negotiated peace. I would say it would undermine those peace agreements that we have already reached with two of our neighbors.
Just three days ago Iran’s representative to the U.N. reiterated the regime’s refusal to even recognize Israel. This came a fortnight after the ruler of Iran referred to Israel as a “rabid dog” and to us as not worthy of being called human. He said we were doomed to “failure and annihilation”. And earlier in November, Khamenei called Israel “an illegitimate and bastard regime”. So the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons makes these remarks more than a simple matter of “sticks and stones”. People tend to discount rhetoric from rogue regimes, from radical regimes.

They said, well, it’s just talk, but talk has consequences. We’ve learned that in history, especially when the regime that makes these statements is actually building the capability to carry it out.
This same regime supplies its terrorist proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with thousands of rockets, rockets that are aimed at Israeli civilians, rockets that are precision-guided munitions that are increasingly lethal and deadly. This is a regime committed to our destruction. And I believe there must be an unequivocal demand alongside the negotiations in Geneva for a change in Iranian policy. This must be part and parcel of the negotiations. In other words, I’m saying that what is required is not merely a shift and a diminution of Iran’s capability and elimination of its capability to produce nuclear weapons, but also a demand to change its genocidal policy.

That is the minimal thing that the international community must do when it’s negotiating with Iran.

And as you all know, it’s not just about Israel. Iran continues to
trample the rights of its own people, to participate in the mass slaughter in Syria, to engage in terrorism across five continents and to destabilize regimes throughout the Middle East.

I don’t think I can overstate, I don’t think any of us can overstate the Iranian danger. So for the peace and security of the world, Iran must not be allowed to maintain the capability to produce nuclear weapons – not today and not tomorrow. The world must not allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear weapons state with the option to cross that threshold at a time of its choosing. Therefore, unlike the recent interim deal, any final deal must bring about the termination of Iran’s military nuclear capability.

I have expressed my concern since before Geneva that the sanctions would begin to unravel. I heard today that Iran’s president said that in fact the situation in Iran economically is already markedly improved since the accords were announced. They haven’t even been put in place yet. So steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of the sanctions. Because ultimately, the sanctions remain an essential element of the international effort to compel Iran to dismantle its nuclear military infrastructure: to take apart the centrifuges; to tear down the heavy water reactor; to eliminate the current stockpiles of enriched uranium; to cease the development of ballistic missiles and the work on weaponization, which by the way the Geneva agreement does not address.

None of these things that Iran insists it must have – none of them is necessary for a peaceful nuclear program.

So while Israel is prepared to do what is necessary to defend itself, we share President Obama’s preference to see Iran’s nuclear weapons program end through diplomacy. But for diplomacy to succeed, it must be coupled with powerful sanctions and a credible military threat.

Now let me repeat that: A diplomatic solution is better than a military option. But a military option is necessary for diplomacy to succeed, as are powerful sanctions.

We all agree that after a couple of years of tough sanctions, Iran finally began to negotiate seriously. Because of the pressure, what seemed impossible yesterday became possible today. We should not assume that more and tougher sanctions won’t lead to a better deal. What seems impossible today could become possible tomorrow.

My friends,

Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability is the
paramount challenge of our generation because a nuclear-armed Iran would literally change the course of history.

It would threaten the peace and security of us all by arming the world’s most dangerous regime with the world’s most dangerous weapons. I think we’ve learned from history that regimes with unlimited appetites act out their fantasies and their made ideologies when they think they have the weapons of mass death or at least incalculable power.

That’s what usually happens. Such power in the hands of such regimes unleashes the worst ambitions. It’s not that they don’t have diplomats – they do. They have diplomats, some of them even wear ties. They might speak English and they might make PowerPoint presentations where in the past they just spoke English and they spoke reasonably well. But when the powers behind the throne, the power on the throne is committed to a radical ideology and pursues it and talks about it again and again and again, then I say: Beware. We’ve learned in our experience, the experience of the Jewish people, to take seriously those who speak about our annihilation, and we will do and I will do what is necessary to protect the Jewish state and the future of the Jewish people.

Our best efforts, mine and those of President Obama, have yet to achieve the desired results. The jury is still out. Iran is perilously close to crossing the nuclear threshold. History will judge all of us on whether we succeed or not in rising to meet this greatest of all challenges.

President Obama and others have called the United States the “indispensable nation”. I agree. I believe though that in meeting this supreme challenge, Israel and the United States form the indispensable alliance. We will continue to work together to strengthen that indispensable alliance for the sake of peace, security and our common future.

Thank you all and good luck.

Israel Musings December 3, 2013: Netanyahu meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, discusses Iran, peace talks

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, discusses Iran, peace talks

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally had an audience with new Pope Francis on Monday morning, Dec. 2, 2013 at the Vatican while Netanyahu is on an official trip to Italy. At the 25-minute meeting Netanyahu and the Pope…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 18, 2013: Netanyahu, Hollande Make Landmark Speeches in Knesset

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Netanyahu, Hollande Make Landmark Speeches in Knesset

Source: Arutz 7, 11-18-13

PM demands Abbas visit Knesset, publicly recognize Israel as a Jewish state; Hollande supports French Jews – and “dual”Jerusalem….READ MORE

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

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

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

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 10, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

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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 November 10, 2013: Netanyahu, Cabinet Ministers fire back at Kerry for third intifada threat

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Netanyahu, Cabinet Ministers fire back at Kerry for third intifada threat

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Secretary of State John Kerry angered Israeli leadership with what were perceived as threats in a joint Israeli-Palestinian television interview on Thursday evening, Nov. 7, 2013 on the consequences Israel will face if they do not reach…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 1, 2013: Kerry to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem as peace talks reach impasse

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Kerry to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem as peace talks reach impasse

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet again for the second time in two weeks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu according to a State Department announcement made on Thursday Oct. 31, 2013. Kerry will make a trip…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 27, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Iran’s Nuclear Capability and the Peace Talks

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

Source: PMO, 10-27-13

יום ראשון כ”ג חשון תשע”ד

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

“Iran is willing to give up on enriching uranium to 20% and therefore a discussion on this issue is unimportant. The importance of the issue became superfluous in the wake of the technological improvements that allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5% to 90% in a number of weeks. Pressure on Iran should be increased because it is continuing enrichment even as it negotiates.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu added:

“We want to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In this agreement, we will insist on the vital interests of the State of Israel, first of all security, of course, and including our ability to continue defending our eastern border. We ascribe importance to the unity of Jerusalem and, of course, to the cancellation of the right of return. Regarding the issue of the Jewish state that comes up from time to time, we are not looking for the Palestinians to ratify our identity, our heritage and our connection to this land – this is not the problem from our point-of-view. We are demanding from them that at the end of the negotiations, they will renounce all their claims, including national claims, and that they recognize the national rights of the Jewish people in the State of Israel, and [recognizing] Israel as our national state is an integral part of their recognition that there are no national demands and no national rights in the State of Israel. These views were presented very clearly in my talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and in other forums.”

Israel Musings October 26, 2013: Netanyahu, Kerry meet in Rome over Iran and peace talks

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Netanyahu, Kerry meet in Rome over Iran and peace talks (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States Secretary of State John Kerry met in Rome on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 to discuss Iran’s nuclear weapons talks and the progress of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as well…READ MORE

Israel Musings October 15, 2013: PM Netanyahu kicks-off Knesset winter session with focus on Iran and peace talks

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Netanyahu kicks-off Knesset winter session with focus on Iran and peace talks (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Israeli Knesset returned for the winter session on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, with a ceremony that included speeches by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich from the Labor Party…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 15, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Winter Knesset Session

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PM Netanyahu’s Statement at the Opening of the Winter Knesset Session

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset during the opening of the winter session, on October 14, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset during the opening of the winter session, on October 14, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Source: PMO, 10-15-13

יום שני י’ חשון תשע”ד

– Translation –

First, I am sure that the members of Knesset and all of Israel’s citizens join me in sending condolences to the family of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of blessed memory, and his many followers, as we mark seven days since his passing. Rabbi Ovadia was one of a long line of Jewish scholars who devoted their lives to studying the Torah and adapting halachah to the ever-changing needs of the people of Israel. Many of us, and I too, were moved to see how he continued to labor over the scriptures until the very end, even when his health deteriorated, knowing that he was making his contribution to the eternal heritage of the people of Israel.

Members of Knesset, during the summer break, three dramatic international developments took place in our region – in Iran, Syria and Egypt.

First, Iran. For years, we have been successful in creating a broad international front against Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons. Under our advocacy and thanks to the efforts of the United States and many other countries, harsh economic sanctions were imposed on Iran. Due to this pressure, Iran’s economy is currently very close to its breaking point. But we must admit that despite the pressure, the regime in Tehran has not relinquished its goal to develop nuclear weapons. But it has done something: it has changed its tactic to achieve this goal. It is now willing to make insignificant changes to its nuclear program, changes which would leave it with the ability to develop nuclear weapons, in return for easing up the sanctions, which could bring about a collapse of the entire sanctions regime.

Now, due to its systematic violations of the Security Council’s resolutions, Iran can rapidly enrich uranium from a low 3.5% to 90%, which is the enrichment level required to create fissile material for nuclear weapons. Therefore, Iran is willing to give up enrichment to the mid-level 20%, which it no longer needs, for a significant ease in the sanctions. This is to say that Iran is willing to give very little and to receive very much, if not everything.

My friends, there is no reason to allow this Iranian move to be successful. There is no reason why we should back down from Security Council resolutions which require Iran to suspend its enrichment capabilities and its heavy water project in Arak, which, by the way, has only one purpose – nuclear weapons, not civilian energy. Anyway, why does Iran need nuclear civilian energy when it has so much oil, so much gas, for generations to come.

It would be a historic mistake to ease up the pressure at this time, a moment before the sanctions achieve their objective. Now, more than ever, we cannot let up and we must continue the pressure. We must remember that international pressure is what brought about the internal shift in Iran, it is what caused Iran to offer any concessions at all, it brought them to the negotiating table, and it is what could lead them to actually abandon their military nuclear program.

I will tell you one more thing: Despite common conceptions, easing up the pressure will not strengthen the trend of moderation in Iran. On the contrary, it will actually strengthen the unyielding perception of the real leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and will be taken as a significant victory on his behalf. I believe that many around the world understand that nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran does not threaten Israel only.

Mr. President, you were right when you said that Iran continues, unobstructed, to develop intercontinental missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, which is the sole purpose of these missiles, they have no other objective. These missiles can reach any part of the Middle East, Europe, the United States and other parts of the world. The entire region would be under grave danger as would global peace. However, there is no doubt that nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran would be aimed at us first. The Iranians openly declare that to be their intention, and that is why Israel will not allow Iran, who has made our annihilation its mission, to obtain nuclear weapons.
With regards to Syria, for many years we said that a rogue regime which has unconventional weapons could purposefully use it one day. We also said that a combination of economic pressure together with a credible military threat could bring such a regime to surrender these weapons.

My friends, both of these things have happened in Syria. The regime in Damascus used chemical weapons against its citizens, and due to an American military threat, was forced into accepting measures to destroy these weapons. This procedure of dismantling the chemical weapons in Syria is important, positive and vital, but only if it is done to its fullest extent. Therefore it is important that any country that can help with this, does whatever it can on this matter, as will Israel.

But I want to ask you something: What would the international response be if Syria would propose disposing of 20% of its chemical weapons and keep all other capabilities? That is exactly what Iran’s offer is. Just as we must ensure that Syria does not deceive the international community and that it completely dismantles its chemical weapons, we cannot allow Iran to continue its military nuclear program and leave it with nuclear breakout capabilities. At the same time, we will continue our policy which prevents Syria from transferring dangerous weapons to Hezbollah.

With respect to Egypt, we attribute great importance to our peace with it. Our peace with Egypt is an anchor of stability in the heart of the Middle East. Nobody knows as well as we do how important any anchor of stability is. The peace between us is based, first and foremost, on solid security arrangements and on international understandings, understandings that must be maintained at all costs.

The events that have been unfolding in our region prove that the radical Islam’s assumption of power is not inevitable nor irreversible. Two years ago, the start of the “Arab Spring” brought about a sense of euphoria. I did not share it, and some of you, or even many of you, also had your doubts, but on the other hand, there was a concern that the victory of radical Islam was inevitable.

Gentlemen, it is not inevitable, because many of the peoples in the region have a deep desire to shake off the radical power of Iran, of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaida and their proxies. I think that this is an important development and I would go as far as saying, a development with historic significance.

For the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, a growing understanding is taking root in the Arab world, and it is not always said softly. This understanding, that Israel is not the enemy of Arabs and that we have a united front on many issues, might advance new possibilities in our region. I also hope that it might help the peace process between us and the Palestinians, which I will discuss shortly.

But I can say that at this point in time, many countries in the region look to us with hope, because they sense the consistency and decisiveness of our positions and our willingness to act to defend ourselves if necessary. Today, many understand that it is good that we did not get swept up in that Arab Spring euphoria, and that we were smart enough to lead the State of Israel outside the regional turmoil responsibly and with discretion.

My friends, my job is to see the reality as it is, certainly the reality of the region. The citizens of Israel and their safety is constantly before my eyes, and it is my responsibility to ensure that they can continue their routine lives of calm and prosperity in this stormy region.

Besides the turbulence and trouble we must deal with, every now and again, we also have moments of pleasure and national pride. A few weeks ago, an Israeli company was sold to Google for a billion dollars, and today another sale was announced of another company being sold to Facebook for hundreds of millions. Despite the unfortunate reports of impending dismissals, we must remember that Israel’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the Western world.

Although we are opening the winter session today, I remind you that we are still benefitting from summer savings time. The citizens of Israel appreciate the fact that facing the worst turbulence in our region since the establishment of the State of Israel, our security situation has improved in the last few years, and despite a global economic crisis, Israel’s economy continues to grow. I promise the citizens of Israel: we will continue to improve the quality of life, we will continue to work to lower the cost of living so that we all may live with economic welfare and be proud of our country. We are required to adopt a clear-headed responsible policy on internal matters, which we were also told to do by the President and the Speaker of the House, and rightly so.

We have several missions ahead of us during this winter session: to bring about a change in the system of government, which will strengthen governance; to pass a referendum law, so that the people of Israel can make the decision on any peace agreement; and to distribute the burden more fairly, without siccing one population on another, and maintaining unity among the people. I intend to hold discussions with the heads of the coalition parties to enable passing these laws, and yes, I also intend to get support, as much as possible, from members of the opposition, in part at least.

But before all this, I see before me matters of defense and border security. Our decisive security policy has been reflected in many anti-terrorism missions, not all of which are reported, and in the Pillar of Defense Operation. This policy is proving itself, and the present calm, the most quiet we have not had here for over a decade, is proof of that. However, Members of Knesset, we take the recent terrorist acts in Judea and Samaria very seriously, and we are acting swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In regards to securing our borders, we have completely stopped the illegal immigration. In the last six months we have had no border infiltrators, zero. Israel is in fact the only Western country to have completely succeeded in stopping illegal infiltration of its borders, which was threatening the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel. First 3,000 came, then 6,000 every month. Multiply that by 12 and you have 80,000 per year. You all know the meaning of this. It would pose a threat to the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and this is an important achievement.
We will continue to work to return the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who crossed the border before we completed the border fence in the south. I am aware of the suffering of the citizens of the South, southern Tel Aviv and other places in Israel. I was in Eilat before the fence was built, and in other places, and I spoke to the local people who cried – there is no other word. I promise you that just as we stopped the border infiltrations we will also make sure we remove those who came in before we put a stop to it. One must also understand that the fence was not the only thing that stopped the infiltration, but also economic legislation, intensive international activity, holding facilities and others. If need be, we will present new legislation that will conform to the ruling of the High Court of Justice, and that will ensure one thing – complete control over our borders.

Meanwhile, we will continue the economic development of the State of Israel, including developing new and important markets, headed by China. I was there on a visit that started cooperation on a very high level with the Chinese Government. Ministers go there and my economic adviser, Prof. Eugene Kandel, was there now. We are moving forward because we only need a tiny slice of a vast market to fulfill the growth needs of the State of Israel, and we need growth for the welfare of our citizens and also for our security needs. Many countries appreciate how Israel functions economically, many of these countries’ economies are far less successful.

But we are doing another thing, and you probably see it, Members of Knesset. We will continue to create new ways to bring the center of Israel closer to the periphery and the periphery, closer to the center. We will do this by continuing to invest in roads, bridges, overpasses and railways. We are determined to break out of the area spanning between Hadera and Gedera, and we have already brought this message to other regions of the country. Largely thanks to Government investments, the Negev is becoming alive, but, my friends, the big leap forward is still ahead of us.

The fastest growing part of global economy grows in relation to the internet. It is not linear growth, it is growing at a remarkable pace and the internet requires protection – from individual hackers, organizations, countries. The State of Israel is a great power in that field. When we established the National Cyber Bureau two years ago, I said that we would be among the five cyber superpowers in the world. Members of Knesset, I am telling you that we are there, and we are not number five. I doubt if we are as low as number four on the list.
We know that when we decided to move IDF bases to the south, we decided to realize that decision that we had discussed, to finance it. We are giving to Beer Sheva, the university, the train station there, we are bringing the intelligence units, IDF’s elite units and the defense system, the Cyber Bureau, everything will be there. Next to the university, with an industrial park, and Beer Sheva and its suburbs will become a globally leading cyber metropolitan. Mark my words. Leading cyber companies in Israel and the world are already moving to Beer Sheva and many others are on their way. This is my vision – basing the development of the Negev on Governmental infrastructural support and on business. Combining these two things is key, otherwise it remains a dream.

This is our way to turn the vision into reality. This is already affecting all the communities and towns I visited yesterday and many others – Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot, Dimona, Yerucham – they will all benefit from this. The Arab villages too, everyone will benefit from it. The railway to Eilat will no longer be a vision for the distant future, but an executable project. On Shabbat, I read the Haftarah from the book of Isaiah. It reads: “Clear ye in the wilderness… make plain in the desert a highway…” We are doing just that in practice. The journey from Tel Aviv to Eilat will take only two and a half hours. That will be a transportation revolution, the scope of which has never occurred in Israel’s history.

And in the other direction, in the North, the medical school which we opened in Tsfat was a welcome addition to the entire Galilee. So are the highways and overpasses we are building and the railroad tracks we are laying in the north. An advanced bio-technology center is being built near Tsfat, which will give a significant push to the northern part of Israel and all its residents. My vision is to abolish the periphery and have an Israel that is connected from Metula to Eilat and have the development towns finally become developed towns.

Members of Knesset, we share another goal – to achieve peace with our Palestinian neighbors. We all want genuine peace, stable and safe and not an agreement that will fall apart as soon as it is signed. This peace is based on two foundations: security and mutual recognition.

In the area of security, it is becoming clear how important our assertion that under any agreement Israel must be able to defend itself by itself against any threat, and that it will not lean of foreign forces. And mutual recognition – how can it be that while the Palestinians demand that Israel recognize the Palestinian nation state, they refuse to recognize the Jewish nation state? The Jewish people has been around for almost 4,000 years. And why should a people like ours not deserve the have the right to our own nation state in our historic homeland recognized? Why is it so difficult to accept this simple historical fact?

My friends, the question is not why we raise this basic demand, but why our Palestinian neighbors insist decisively and consistently not to recognize such a logical demand? I do not raise this demand because we need our national identity ratified, but so that the Palestinians withdraw from all of their national demands of us, and a genuine agreement requires the end of all demands, including their national demands from the State of Israel. Recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people means completely abandoning the “right of return” and ending any other national demands over the land and sovereignty of the State of Israel. This is a crucial component for a genuine reconciliation and stable and durable peace.

I understand that the Palestinian Authority’s official media broadcasts that Palestine spans from Metula to Eilat and that an agreement with Israel will be signed without recognizing the nation state of the Jewish people. As I have said before on another subject: The first part is not true, and the second part will never happen.”

Members of Knesset, we are making a genuine effort, I want you all to know that. We are making a genuine effort to end the conflict between us and the Palestinians. I do not delude myself that it will be easy, but I am determined to try. But as I try, I will not give up on our national interests in order to get a favorable headline in a newspaper, or to receive accolades from the international community. These are temporary, but we must guard our vital interests forever, and so we shall.

Facing the tremendous tumults in our world, I tell you, Members of Knesset, that the State of Israel continues to be a great success story. More than ever, I am convinced that we will overcome all of the challenges that I mentioned: we will strengthen our national resilience, we will build our country, we will develop our economy and bring success, security and peace to the people in Zion.

Israel Musings October 10, 2013: PM Netanyahu refuses early Palestinian prisoners release after rise in attacks

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Netanyahu refuses early Palestinian prisoners release after rise in attacks (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused on Oct. 9, 2013 to release the second set of Palestinian prisoners before the scheduled date of Oct. 29, 2013 according to the peace talk’s preconditions; both the United States and Palestinians…READ MORE

Israel Musings October 10, 2013: Netanyahu names peace roadblocks in Bar-Ilan University speech

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Netanyahu names peace roadblocks in Bar-Ilan University speech (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a major address at Bar-Ilan University at the Israel Towards 2020 Conference at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies earlier in the week on Sunday evening, Oct. 6, 2013 aimed at identifying…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 6, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Israel Towards 2020 Conference at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies Bar-Ilan University

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Israel Towards 2020 Conference at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

Source: PMO, 10-6-13

יום ראשון ב’ חשון תשע”ד

Netanyahu speaking at Bar-Ilan University. Sunday, October 6, 2013.

Netanyahu speaking at Bar-Ilan University. Sunday, October 6, 2013. Photo by Amos ben Gershon / La’am

Translation

I recently read a hundred-page book by a wonderful American historian who passed away nearly 50 years ago. His name was Will Durant and he wrote many books. He wrote an eleven volume history of civilization, but at the end of his life, he wrote a hundred-page book, The Lessons of History. You should read it. Every line is carved from the stone of truth, and I will give you the bad news and the good news. The bad news is that when you finish reading this book, you understand that in history, greater numbers rule. They matter. But here is the good news. On page 17, if I am not mistaken, he mentions that there may be exceptions to this rule and that through the unification of a cultural force, that’s what he called it, the odds could be overcome. He gives the State of Israel as an example of such an exception. I think that we have proven in the 65 years of Israel’s existence that we are exceptional, but we must continue to be so, also by preserving our spiritual foundations. Two weeks ago, archaeologists found a gold medallion near the Western Wall. The archaeologists dated it to the beginning of the seventh century and there is a menorah on the medallion – our national symbol. On one side, a Torah scroll and on the other a shofar. The entire Torah on one medallion and of course, this was after 2,000 years of Jewish existence in the Land of Israel. This existence has lasted for nearly 4,000 years. Apparently there is something special about this exception of ours, in our unique combination of our past heritage and the way that we look to the future with our full force and talents and I would even say genius. There is no doubt that this university is part of our national and international effort to preserve our heritage and of course combine it with the future.

I thank you for your invitation to speak here, on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Begin-Sadat Center. Many things have happened to us during those years. On the political front, we signed a peace agreement with Jordan. During all that time, exactly 20 years, we have been conducting negotiations with the Palestinians, trying to achieve a peace agreement, and despite ups and downs during these two decades, we managed to maintain the peace accords with Egypt. This is not insignificant. However, without a doubt, the most significant developments in the Middle East during this entire period are those of the past few years, and they overshadow all the rest when taking a broad view. Two of these developments include the historic unrest taking place in the Arab world – unrest that is at its height and far from over if such a thing can actually end; and of course Iran’s ongoing efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Iran’s goal is to take over the entire Middle East and beyond, and to destroy the State of Israel. This is not speculation; this is their goal.

Israel and the United States agree that Iran must be prevented from arming itself with nuclear weapons. Just days ago, the Iranian president said at the UN that Iran is only interested in civilian nuclear power. That’s what he said.

I do not believe him, but anyone interested in examining his statement should ask the Iranian regime one simple question – if you only want peaceful nuclear energy, why do you insist on centrifuges to enrich uranium and on plutonium reactors? Neither of these things is necessary to produce peaceful nuclear energy. There is no need for them; however they are the essential components for producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. This must be understood – they are not needed at all for peaceful purposes. Seventeen countries, including some of the leading countries in the world – Canada, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Indonesia with a quarter of a million people – and many others produce nuclear energy without centrifuges, without plutonium reactors.

Only someone who wants to produce fissile material for nuclear bombs insists on these components – not only insists, but is willing to inflict great suffering on his people because this insistence involves sanctions and dictates by the Security Council. Why do they do this? Perhaps they are lacking energy resources? They have gas and oil. I mention natural gas on purpose because it is immediately available for industry and for everything else. The have so many resources that they can provide for the needs of considerable areas of the world for many years with what they have, certainly for the needs of their own country. Therefore, the international community should take the following position vis-à-vis Iran – we are ready to reach a diplomatic resolution, but only one that dismantles Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons. In other words, no centrifuges or enriched uranium, no plutonium reactor. As long as Iran does not dismantle its centrifuges and plutonium reactors, the sanctions must not be eased at all. On the contrary, they should be increased. The truth is simple, it is clear, it cuts like a razor through the fog they are trying to create. If their intentions are peaceful, they will agree. If they are not peaceful, they will not agree. But perhaps the formula should be put simply as follows: they dismantle, they receive; they don’t dismantle, they don’t receive. And this is a difficult struggle because it is human nature to hope, to believe, to try – we are willing to try but not to conduct an open experiment without criteria and certainly not without a realistic and clear-sighted view.

Parallel with the attempt to stop Iran’s nuclear armament and preserve the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, we are interested in bringing the conflict with the Palestinians to an end. Achieving a genuine and secure peace, with real security and not just on paper but on the ground – for us, our children, our grandchildren – this is the greatest wish of all citizens of Israel. In order to bring about an end to the conflict, the root of the conflict must be understood.
I bring this up because, in my opinion, in all the discussions regarding the conflict with the Palestinians, at least one thing has been achieved and that is that whoever believed that it was the core of the conflict in the Middle East – well, now it is difficult to say such a thing without sounding absurd. It is not the core of the conflict – not what is happening in Libya or Tunisia or Algeria or Egypt or Yemen or Syria or Iraq and so on and so forth. But for years they told us that the core of the conflict in the Middle East was the Palestinian matter and… how shall I put this? That sacred cow is one of the victims of the Arab revolution.

However, there is a second sacred cow in equal measure. When people are asked what the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is – since if you want to provide a solution or fix a certain problem, first you must correctly diagnose the illness. Well, when asked what the root of the conflict is, people usually have an answer at the ready: the occupation, the territories, the settlements and so on – it is all the same. Israel “taking control of the territories”, the area of Judea and Samaria after the Six Day War, the settlements – this is what sustains the conflict, this is what created the conflict for the most part. And I ask, is it really?

In my opinion, if one must choose a process by which the conflict started in actual fact, I would set the date at 1921 on the day on which the Palestinian Arabs attacked the immigration hostel in Jaffa.

Many Jews were killed in this attack, including the well-known writer Y.H. Brenner. This attack was directed against Jewish immigration. My grandfather arrived in Jaffa, at that same hostel, the year before, as did many others. Clearly this attack was not about territory or settlements; it was against Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel. Later there were more attacks: In 1929, the ancient Jewish community in Hebron was brutally slaughtered. It had existed there nearly uninterrupted for close to 4,000 years. After that, there were attacks in ’36, in ’39 – what they called unrest. These were repeated and methodical attacks against the Jewish community in Israel. Later on there was the Partition Plan of 1947, wherein it was proposed that there be an Arab state – they didn’t say Palestinian state, but rather Arab state – and a Jewish state. The Jews agreed, the Arabs refused. Because the matter was not at that time, nor is it today, the question of a Palestinian state, but rather was and remains, unfortunately, the Jewish state. And even before 1967, for 19 years, they had us in a chokehold; there was a stranglehold around us with the sole goal of uprooting us, of extinguishing our lives. What was that about? There were no territories then either. There was no occupation, unless Tel Aviv is occupied and Jaffa is occupied. There were no settlements for 46 years, from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century. We were excoriated by the Arab public unrelated to settlements, unrelated to what is presented as the historic heart of the struggle. I say these things because I can – well, so it ended there, but later everything changed. Later on, events developed as they developed. We withdrew from Gaza, every last centimeter. We uprooted communities and the attacks against us continued – approximately 10,000 missiles were fired at us from Gazan territory, from territories from which we withdrew. And when we ask those who launch the missiles and those who stand behind them: why do you fire at Jews? They say: in order to free Palestine. And what is Palestine? Judea and Samaria? No. Of course, they are part of it, but they say: Beer Sheva and Ashkelon, Majdal and Acre and Jaffa. Fine, those who say such things belong to Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but the more moderate elements in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority – it is true that they do not engage in terror and this is an important distinction. They do not engage in terror, but when they are asked to say: Well, do you recognize? Not in Judea and Samaria, not in the West Bank, but are you ready finally to recognize the Jewish state? They answer: We are prepared to recognize the Israeli people; we are ready to recognize Israel. I say, that is not the question I am asking: are you prepared to recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people? And the answer so far has been no. Why not?

During my speech here four years ago, I said that the solution is a demilitarized Palestinian state. The reason for demilitarization is clear to everyone in light of our experience – true and ongoing demilitarization with very clear security arrangements and no international forces. But a Jewish state – recognize the Jewish state. Why are you not willing to recognize the Jewish state? We are willing to recognize your nation state, and that is at great cost – it involves territories, our ancestral lands, which is not insignificant. And I say this as well – this is a very difficult thing. But you need to make a series of concessions too and the first concession is to give up your dream of the right of return. We will not be satisfied with recognition of the Israeli people or of some kind of binational state which will later be flooded by refugees. This is the nation state of the Jewish people. If they want, Jews immigrate to this country. Palestinian Arabs, if they want, will go there. Recognize the Jewish state. As long as you refuse to do so, there will never be peace. Recognize our right to live here in our own sovereign state, our nation state – only then will peace be possible.

I emphasize this here – this is an essential condition. There are other conditions important for concluding the negotiations – not for conducting negotiations, but for concluding them, but I mention this because the political process with the Palestinians involves resolving complicated problems. It will be deemed successful only if it is built on the foundations of truth, the truth of the present and historic truth and unfortunately, the truth that is under constant attack from our enemies and opponents. They try to undermine the ancient connection of our people with the Land of Israel and obfuscate the basic facts of the conflict between us and the Palestinians in the 20th century.

For example, several days ago, I heard Iran’s representative half-heartedly comment on the Nazi crimes – it is difficult for them to say Holocaust – but immediately he added vigorously that one shouldn’t allow the Zionists to take advantage of the Nazi crimes, i.e. the Holocaust, in order to harm the Palestinians. Iran’s representatives repeat time and again the familiar trope that the Holocaust occurred without any connection to the Palestinian question and only later the Zionist leaders came along and made use of the Holocaust to repress the Palestinians. Well, what are the facts? The undisputed leader of the Palestinian national movement in the first half of the 20th century was Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. The Mufti was the living sprit behind those same attacks I described, from 1921 in Jaffa through the Second World War. All this is known, but here are some facts about the Mufti’s activities that are less well known:
On November 28, 1941, the Mufti flew to Berlin and met with Hitler. He expressed to Hitler his readiness to cooperate with Germany in any way. And he did so – both by recruiting Muslim fighters to join the ranks of the S.S. in the Balkans and by broadcasting propaganda for the Nazis.

Here is a typical example of the propaganda broadcast by the Mufti in 1942. I quote, “If England is defeated and its allies overwhelmed, it will provide a final solution to the Jewish question, which in our mind is the greatest danger”. Between 1942 and 1944, he worked from his base in Berlin and tried to prevent Jews from being saved – in Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia – countries which, despite being enslaved to Hitler, allowed the Jews to escape to the Land of Israel and other places. The Mufti protested to the Nazis that they hadn’t provided enough resources to prevent the escape of the refugee Jews from the Balkans. In his testimony at the Nuremberg Trials on August 6, 1947, the German commander Wilhelm Melchers said, “The Mufti made his protests known everywhere, in the Bureau of the Foreign Minister and the State Minister and in other headquarters of the S.S.” On May 13, 1943, for example, the Mufti submitted a letter to the Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop in which he objected to the understandings Germany made which allowed for the deportation of 4,000 Jewish children from Bulgaria. He asked to see, “everyone,” and I quote, “everyone wiped out”.

Eichmann’s deputy, Dieter Wisliceny, provided the following chilling testimony at Nuremberg: “The Mufti played a role in the decision to destroy the Jews of Europe. The importance of his role cannot be ignored. The Mufti repeatedly proposed to the authorities with whom he was in contact, first and foremost Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, to destroy the European Jews. He saw in that an appropriate solution to the Palestinian question”. Wisliceny even provided hearsay evidence that the Mufti was directly involved in the Final Solution. “The Mufti was one of the initiators of the methodical destruction of the Jews of Europe and was a partner and consultant to Eichmann and Hitler on how to execute the plan. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and constantly pushed him to speed up the destruction. With my own ears,” he said, “I heard him say that he visited the gas chambers of Auschwitz anonymously in the company of Eichmann”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As opposed to the things being said by Iran’s representatives and others, the Zionist leaders did not use the Holocaust to destroy the Palestinian national movement. On the contrary, the most senior Palestinian leader at the time, the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini preached and acted to implement the Holocaust in order to destroy the Zionist movement. It almost worked. European Jewry was indeed wiped out, in part because of the Mufti’s efforts, but Zionism was not wiped out and the State of Israel was established.
I mention these things here because these roots, this poisonous tumor, must be uprooted. The Mufti is still an admired figure in the Palestinian national movement. Go look at websites, go to schools, look at schoolbooks. This is the tumor that must be removed, this is the root of the conflict, this is what keeps it alive and the root of the conflict was and remains that which has been repeated for over 90 years – the profound objection by the hard core of Palestinians to the right of the Jewish people to its own country in the Land of Israel. In order for the current process to be significant, in order for it to have a real chance for success, it is essential that we finally hear from the Palestinian leadership that it recognizes the right of the Jewish people to its own country, the State of Israel. I very much hope that it will happen so that we can move toward a real resolution of the conflict.

There are many other subjects that we will of course have to resolve during the negotiations. First and foremost, there must be a real and sustainable solution to Israel’s security needs in the unstable and dangerous region in which live, because even if we do achieve this recognition, after years of incitement that still continues, we have no assurance that this recognition will filter down into all levels of Palestinian society and that is why we need very solid security arrangements, so that we will be able to defend the peace and defend ourselves if the peace is violated. This is a realistic and responsible approach, one that is ready to move forward but not blindly.

This reminds me of another issue. I think an essential condition for reaching a genuine resolution clearly was and remains the reversal of the refusal to recognize the right of the Jews to a nation state of their own in the land of their ancestors and this too is the most important key to resolving the conflict, recognition of this right.
I believe in the power of the people of Israel and I believe in the power of the State of Israel. What we have accomplished over the last 65 years is indeed wondrous. Today we mark 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. In the ensuing 40 years, the population of Israel has increased two-and-a-half fold. Israel’s GNP has increased 25 times. That is like taking 25 economies of the State of Israel and placing them side by side. We can mark achievements in all fields – in immigrant absorption, immigration, technology, freeing up the economy, developing the Negev and the Galilee, in the cyber city we are building in Beer Sheva, in the biotech city which will be established now in Safed, which is rising before our very eyes.
These are tremendous things. We did not wait for our neighbors in order to develop our country. We continue to do so. There is a connection between the two things – as long as we continue to grow our power, as long as we fortify our country, as long as we build our economy, as long as we strengthen our society, as long as we are strong – there is a chance that this change will also occur among our neighbors. We cannot give up on this – it is essential for safeguarding our future and ensuring our safety.

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

Israel Musings October 4, 2013: Netanyahu meets with Obama over Iran nuclear weapons and peace talks

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu meets with Obama over Iran nuclear weapons and peace talks (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As part of a week-long diplomatic mission to the United States on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, where they primarily discussed Iran’s…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

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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.

Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu & President Barack Obama’s Remarks at White House Meeting over Iran’s Nuclear Weapons and Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

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President Obama Meets with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: WH, 10-1-13

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 30, 2013.President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 30, 2013.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today President Obama held a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

President Obama commended the Prime Minister for entering into good-faith negotiations with the Palestinian Authority with the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security

“Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have assigned outstanding negotiators,” President Obama said. “They have been engaging in serious conversations. And our goal continues to be to help facilitate — not dictate, but facilitate — the kinds of genuine negotiations that will result in two states living side-by-side in peace and security.”

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria and the possibility of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles; their shared commitment to a constructive relationship with Egypt; and their agreement that Iran must not acquire a nuclear weapon.

President Obama said that because of sanctions put in place over the past several years, the Islamic Republic of Iran Iranians may be prepared to negotiate in order to reach a diplomatic resolution to the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

“We have to see if, in fact, they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions,” President Obama said. “And anything that we do will require the highest standards of verification in order for us to provide the sort of sanctions relief that I think they are looking for.”

So we will be in close consultation with Israel and our other friends and allies in the region during this process, and our hope is that we can resolve this diplomatically. But as President of the United States, I’ve said before and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America.

“In all of this, our unshakeable bond with the Israeli people is stronger than ever,” President Obama said.

Our commitment to Israel’s security is stronger than ever. And we are very much looking forward to continuing to work with our friends in Israel to make sure that the U.S. security interests are met, Israel’s security interests are met, but hopefully that we can also bring about greater peace and greater stability in a region that has been racked with violence and tensions for far too long.

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel After Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 9-30-13 

Oval Office
12:39 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it’s a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu back to the Oval Office.  I think I’ve had the pleasure of hosting him more often than just about any other world leader, and hopefully this will provide just some small measure of repayment for the wonderful visit that I had in Israel this spring.  And I want to thank him and his family and his entire team for the tremendous hospitality that we had when we were there.
The Prime Minister and I were just talking about the fact these are hectic times, and nowhere is that more true, obviously, than in the Middle East.  And so we had an opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion about a range of issues.
I commended him for entering into good-faith negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in discussing how we can resolve what has been, obviously, one of the biggest challenges for a very long time in the region.  And both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have assigned outstanding negotiators.  They have been engaging in serious conversations.  And our goal continues to be to help facilitate — not dictate, but facilitate — the kinds of genuine negotiations that will result in two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
And we have a limited amount of time to achieve that goal, and I appreciate the Prime Minister’s courage in being willing to step forward on behalf of that goal.
We had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Syria.  Obviously, we have a broad set of strategic concerns in Syria.  We are both pleased that there is the possibility of finally getting chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria.  But I think we both share a deep concern that we have to be able to verify and enforce what has now been agreed to at the United Nations.  Chemical weapons inside of Syria obviously have threatened Syrian civilians, but over the long term also pose a threat to Israel.  And we want to make sure that we get those indiscriminate, horrible weapons out of there.
And so we are consulting with the international community on these issues, and I shared with the Prime Minister our belief that we have to move with speed and dispatch in actually making sure that the agreement that was arrived at in the United Nations is followed through on.
In addition, we have the larger question of how to deal with the civil war that’s taking place in Syria.  And given Israel’s significant interest in the spillover effects of activities there, we will be consulting very closely with them.
We had an opportunity to discuss Egypt, and I shared with him what I said at the United Nations just a week ago, which is that we continue to have concerns about what has happened in Egypt, but we also are committed to a constructive relationship with Egypt, in part because of the important role that the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israeli peace serve not only for the stability and security of both those countries, but also for security in the region and U.S. security.
So we will continue to work with the Egyptian government, although urging them and pushing them in a direction that is more inclusive and that meets the basic goals of those who originally sought for more freedom and more democracy in that country.
And we had an opportunity, obviously, to discuss Iran.  Both the Prime Minister and I agree, since I came into office, that it is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon.  That is important for American security; it is important for Israeli security; it’s important for world security, because we do not want to trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.  And given the statements and actions from the Iranian regime in the past — the threats against Israel, the acts against Israel — it is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient, that we have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they are meeting their international obligations fully, and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon.
What I also shared with the Prime Minister is that, because of the extraordinary sanctions that we have been able to put in place over the last several years, the Iranians are now prepared, it appears, to negotiate.  We have to test diplomacy.  We have to see if, in fact, they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions.  And we in good faith will approach them, indicating that it is our preference to resolve these issues diplomatically.
But we enter into these negotiations very clear-eyed.  They will not be easy.  And anything that we do will require the highest standards of verification in order for us to provide the sort of sanctions relief that I think they are looking for.
So we will be in close consultation with Israel and our other friends and allies in the region during this process, and our hope is that we can resolve this diplomatically.  But as President of the United States, I’ve said before and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America.
In all of this, our unshakeable bond with the Israeli people is stronger than ever.  Our commitment to Israel’s security is stronger than ever.  And we are very much looking forward to continuing to work with our friends in Israel to make sure that the U.S. security interests are met, Israel’s security interests are met, but hopefully that we can also bring about greater peace and greater stability in a region that has been racked with violence and tensions for far too long.
And I appreciate the Prime Minister’s views.  He is always candid, and we’re always able to have not only a good working relationship at the prime ministerial level, but also because of the outstanding work that our staffs do.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, welcome.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, thank you for welcoming me and my delegation on what I know is a very busy day for you in Washington today.
There are many things on your plate, but I know that you know and the American people know that there is no better ally — more reliable, more stable, more democratic — other than Israel in a very raw, dangerous place.  So I welcome the opportunity that we’re having to discuss how we work closely together to address the enormous challenges that face both of us.  And I think of those, the most important challenge is preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
I appreciate deeply the fact that you have made clear that you remain committed to this goal.  I also appreciate the statement you made that Iran’s conciliatory words have to be matched by real actions — transparent, verifiable, meaningful actions.
Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction.  So for Israel, the ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its military nuclear program.  We have a saying in Hebrew, we call it mivchan hatotza’a — you would say it in English, what’s the bottom line?  And the bottom line, again, is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program.
In this regard, I want to express my appreciation to you for the enormous work that’s been done to have a sanctions regime in place to thwart Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  I believe that it’s the combination of a credible military threat
and the pressure of those sanctions that has brought Iran to the negotiating table.
I also believe that if diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place.  And I think that they should not be lessened until there is verifiable success.  And, in fact, it is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened.  It’s the combination, I believe, that has guided your policy and our policy so far, that is good credible military threat and strong sanctions I think is still the only formula that can get a peaceful resolution of this problem.
Mr. President, we discussed many of these, but I want to use this opportunity to thank you, Secretary of State Kerry and others in your administration for helping to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  I remain committed to that peace.  And I hope that our efforts — our common efforts — would lead to a secure and lasting peace.
We know that for peace to endure, it must be based on Israel’s capacity to defend itself, by itself.  And I hope that we can achieve an historic transformation that will give a better future for us and our Palestinian neighbors, and, who knows, one day with our other neighbors as well.
So I want to thank you again for your hospitality, for your efforts, and it’s very, very good to see you again.
Q    Mr. President, are you resigned to a government shutdown at this point?  And given how close we are to the midnight deadline, have you had any conversations with Speaker Boehner over the past few days?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I am not at all resigned.  And I’ll have a chance to obviously speak more to this.  I’m going to have a Cabinet meeting this afternoon and may have some further thoughts for the press as the day goes on.  But the bottom line is that the Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it, that allows us then to negotiate a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues, but that ensures that we’re not shutting down the government and we’re not shutting down the economy at a time when a lot of families out there are just getting some traction and digging themselves out of the hole that we’ve had as a consequence of the financial crisis.
I’ve said before, Congress has two responsibilities:  Pass a budget, pay the bills.  And I am not only open to but eager to have negotiations around a long-term budget that makes sure that we’re investing in middle-class families, helping the economy grow, giving people who are working hard a leg up, and greater security and stability and deals with some of our long-term challenges in terms of debt and deficits.
But the only way to do that is for everybody to sit down in good faith without threatening to harm women and veterans and children with a government shutdown, and certainly we can’t have any kind of meaningful negotiations under the cloud of potential default, the first in U.S. history.
There’s not a world leader, if you took a poll, who would say that it would be responsible or consistent with America’s leadership in the world for us not to pay our bills.  We are the foundation of the world economy and the world financial system.  And our currency is the reserve currency of the world.  We don’t mess with that.  And we certainly don’t allow domestic policy differences on issues that are unrelated to the budget to endanger not only our economy but the world economy.  So I suspect that I will speaking to the leaders today, tomorrow, and the next day.
But there’s a pretty straightforward solution to this.  If you set aside the short-term politics and you look at the long term here, what it simply requires is everybody to act responsibly and do what’s right for the American people.
All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.
 END
12:54 P.M. EDT

Israel Political Brief September 10, 2013: Palestinian official: Kerry guaranteed 1967 lines for peace talks

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Palestinian official: Kerry guaranteed 1967 lines for peace talks

Source: JTA, 9-10-13

A senior Palestinian official said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “guaranteed in writing” that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would start with the 1967 lines….READ MORE

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