Full Text Israel Political Brief September 30, 2016: PM Netanyahu’s Eulogy at the Funeral for Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Eulogy at the Funeral for Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres

Source: PMO, 9-30-16


PM Netanyahu at the Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres
Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at the funeral for Israel’s ninth President, Shimon Peres, delivered the following eulogy:

“You have come from near and far to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, to pay last respects to Shimon Peres, one of the founders of the state, one of the greatest leaders of our nation, a venerable leader, the remarkable Shimon Peres.
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[Transcribed from the English]

I want to thank you all for coming today.

That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon, is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace, his love of Israel.

The people of Israel deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon and the state to which he dedicated his life.

Shimon lived a life of purpose. He soared to incredible heights. He swept so many with his vison and his hope. He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world.

Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy, as does the world.
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My friends,

Shimon Peres not only led a long life, but a meaningful life.

He played an active role as a senior partner in the national rebirth of the Jewish people.

He belonged to the generation that emerged from bondage to liberty, that struck roots in our ancient homeland, and wielded the Sword of David in its defense.

Shimon made a monumental contribution to guaranteeing our capacity to defend ourselves for generations.

And for that he will have the gratitude of generations.

At the same time, he made every effort throughout his adult life to achieve peace with our neighbors.

It is no secret that Shimon and I were political rivals, but over time we became friends, close friends.

In one of our many late night meetings at the President’s House, late at night, I asked him, “Tell me, Shimon, throughout your long career, who were the Israeli leaders you most revered?”

Before he managed to answer me, I said, “The first one is clear. You studied at the feet of Ben-Gurion.”

For indeed, as a young man, Shimon saw how Ben-Gurion forged our freedom and shouldered the responsibility for building Israel and securing its destiny.

But in the same conversation, he also talked about Rabin, Begin, and other leaders with genuine appreciation for their unique contributions to our state.

He then surprised me somewhat when he also mentioned one other person – Moshe Dayan.

Shimon talked about Dayan’s valor on the battlefield and his originality, and one other characteristic.

“Moshe never cared what anybody thought about him,” Shimon told me.

“Dayan completely ignored political considerations. He was what he wanted to be.”

Shimon appreciated these qualities, but he also knew one other truth – that if you want to realize the things you believe in, your diplomatic, economic and social goals, you can’t really disconnect from politics.

And therefore, in the 50 years that he served in Knesset and in government, Shimon lived in that inherent tension between statesmanship and politics.

He soared on the wings of vision but he knew that the runway passes through the rocky field of politics.

He was able to do all that—to be pummeled, to fall and get back on his feet time after time—thanks to his passion for activism and ideals.

I first encountered that passion, here, on this very hill 40 years ago.

Two days after the bold rescue operation in Entebbe in which my brother gave his life, Yoni’s funeral was held here.

As defense minister, together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon approved that operation.

At the funeral, he delivered a deeply stirring eulogy, which I will never forget.

It was the first time I ever met him.

My late parents, my brother, and I were profoundly moved by what he said about Yoni, about the Operation, about the bond with our forefathers, and about the pride of our nation.

From that point on, a special bond was formed between us.

Shimon and I disagreed about many things, but those disagreements never overshadowed our many warm and thoughtful discussions.

Our friendship deepened with each meeting.

Yet we never glossed over our differences of opinion.

In one of our nearly night-long discussions, we addressed a fundamental question: From Israel’s perspective, what is paramount—security or peace?

Shimon enthusiastically replied, “Bibi, peace is the true security. If there will be peace, there will be security.”

And I responded to him, “Shimon, in the Middle East, security is essential for achieving peace and for maintaining it.”

The debate intensified.

We went back and forth for hours, flinging arguments at one another.

He came from the left, I came from the right.

I came from the right, and he came back from the left.

And in the end – like two worn-out prizefighters – we put down our gloves.

I saw in his eyes, and I think he saw in mine, that our principles stemmed from deep-seeded beliefs and a commitment to the cause – ensuring Israel’s future.

PM Netanyahu at the Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres
Photo by Amos Ben Gershom, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture

My friends, do you know what surprising conclusion I reached with the passage of time?

We were both right.

In a turbulent Middle East in which only the strong survive, peace will not be achieved other than by permanently preserving our power.

But power is not an end in itself.

It’s a means to an end.

That goal is to ensure our national existence and co-existence.

To promote progress, prosperity and peace – for us, for the nations of the region, and for our Palestinian neighbors.

Distinguished guests,

Shimon also reached the conclusion that no one camp has a monopoly on truth.

The day after his swearing in as Israel’s 9th president, he attended the official memorial ceremony for Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whom I regard as one of my spiritual mentors.

Addressing the ceremony, Shimon said, “History bestowed on the two major streams of Zionism – the Labor movement and the Jabotinsky movement – the task of building the Zionist enterprise. The many gaps between these two camps have narrowed on many issues. The adherents of these streams are today partners in political parties and in the leadership of the state – something that was inconceivable in the distant past.”

“It seems,” Shimon concluded, “that King Solomon was right. Two are better than one.”

At the end of his speech, I approached him, shook his hand and warmly thanked him for his unifying message.

Nine years later, two months ago, my wife and I came to honor Shimon at the opening of the “Peres Center for Innovation.”

Nano and medical technology, neuroscience and computer engineering, satellites and robotics—all were on prominent display.

Shimon radiated pride. I don’t think I had ever seen him that happy.

It was the realization of one of his dreams.

He put a pair of 3-D glasses over his eyes – the same eyes from which his corneas have been donated for the benefit of the next generation.

Nothing could be more symbolic.

Shimon always looked to the future. He believed, as we believe, in progress, in science and technology.

They have the power to strengthen our security as well as to lay the future foundations for peace.

If we nurture these capabilities and act resolutely against the enemies of progress, modernity will triumph over barbarism, good will win out over evil, and light will defeat darkness.

Shimon, my friend, you said that one of the few times you shed a tear was when you heard the tragic news of the death of my brother Yoni in Entebbe.

You cried then, Shimon. And today, I weep for you.

I loved you. We all love you.

Be at peace, Shimon, dear friend, great leader.

We will cherish your memory in the heart of our nation and – I can confidently say – in the heart of all nations.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 26, 2014: President Shimon Peres Addresses the United States Congress and Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

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President Peres Addresses the United States Congress & Receives the Congressional Gold Medal

Source: MFA, 6-26-14

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​President Peres: “Terror knows no borders and obeys no rules.  Terrorists act globally and should be fought globally. We must fight not only the acts of terrorism but also the roots of terrorism.”
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President Shimon Peres addressing the US Congress

  President Shimon Peres addressing the US Congress

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

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(Communicated by the Office of the President)

Leaders and Members of Congress,

I am humbled to stand here today in this Rotunda, in this great Pantheon of Democracy, the Congress of the United States.

Here, you give expression to the unbreakable spirit of the American people. It was first expressed 237 years ago when your forefathers signed a document whose words will echo for all time. “Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those words resonate with as much meaning today, as they did when America’s first patriots wrote them. They have inspired generations of Americans to dream of a better America. And they have inspired peoples across the globe to dream for a better world.

Many people call me a dreamer. I suppose that’s why I have always felt at home here in America. America that was given the privilege to carry the dreams of humanity. My own first dream was to be a shepherd on a kibbutz. This dream came true. At dawn, I watched the sheep in order not to lose one. At night, I watched the stars in order not to miss one.

The dreams of a young shepherd were interrupted by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s George Washington, who called me to serve the Jewish state at birth. I was 24 years old. yet Ben-Gurion entrusted me with heavy responsibilities. He made me Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He charged me with securing our young nation’s ability to defend itself. I worked hard. I had little time to study. I didn’t know a word of English.

After our War of Independence, Ben-Gurion suggested I go the United States to learn English. “Study the American dream.” He told me. So I did.

I learned that America is not a land for the idle. It is a home for the daring. The American dream is about hard work, pioneering spirit, can-do attitude. I learned that the two great bodies that sit under this iconic marble dome – the Senate and the House of Representatives – offered a tiny Israel, struggling for life, an unbelievable and unbreakable friendship.

You helped Israel out of its loneliness. You helped Israel overcome our small size in a tough neighborhood. You helped us maintain a resilient democracy, to become strong enough to take risks for peace. Whether through military assistance and security cooperation or through diplomatic and moral support, you sent us a clear message: That we are not alone.

On behalf of all the people of Israel, I want to thank my friend and Israel’s friend, President Barack Obama, for standing by our side with an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

I want to thank each and every one of you, the American Congress, for your unwavering, bipartisan and generous support. Thank you for helping us weather so many storms, And for giving us confidence to face the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges we face are considerable. Together, we must fight terrorism, advance peace, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Like President Obama, Israel hopes that the issue of Iran will be resolved peacefully. And like President Obama, we believe that Iran should be judged by actions not words.

The artificial structures in the Middle East built by the previous empires are falling apart. At the same time, the rules governing the world are being rewritten. Security and prosperity are no longer mainly national issues. National economies are dependent on the global economy. National security is increasingly dependent on fighting global terrorism. And national security is now increasingly dependent on fighting global terrorism.

Amidst all the chaoss in the Middle East, it is easy to sink into despair. But I have seen too much in my life to lose hope. I have seen Israel defy the odds, time and again. I have seen Israel defeat superior enemies on the battlefield and send soldiers to rescue hostages thousands of miles from home.

Israel has shown it can defend itself against those who sought our destruction. Israel did and will do, everything in our power to bring home our three kidnapped boys – Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal. I met with their parents. They asked me to speak here on their behalf. To make your voices heard all over the world to help bring our boys home. To sound a call across the world against terror. Let’s raise our voices together against terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have seen the genius of Israelis make our poor Middle Eastern land bloom and turn Israel into a global center of technology. I learned that hi-tech can quench the world’s thirst for water and heal the planet. We increased yields without increasing land. As the grandson of a Rabbi burnt alive with his community by the Nazis in a synagogue in Belarus in 1942 –  I know that even the darkest hour cannot prevent a new dawn from arriving.

My friends,

Today and together, we must tackle the two monumental challenges we face: Terrorism and poverty.

Terror knows no borders and obeys no rules. It kills hundreds of thousands, and turns millions into refugees. We see it in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Gaza and elsewhere. Terrorists act globally. Therefore, they should be fought globally. We must fight not only the acts of terrorism but the roots of terrorism. Not just by military means. But by drying up their financial resources. By sanctioning their suppliers of arms. By delegitimizing their actions. By weaving a modern regional net that can catch terrorists and protect the innocent populations.

Arabs are not Israel’s enemies. The terrorists are the enemies of both of us. Terrorists spread danger over the entire region. The region must come together to stop them. The time is ripe to do so.

Religions can play a meaningful role in restoring tolerance and hope. Religion can never permit terrorists to hijack faith and perpetrate violence in the name of heaven. We need more voices like Pope Francis. We need rabbis, priests and imams to preach respect for God in heaven and life on earth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is our duty to offer the young generation a vision more compelling more promising for the future.  The population of the Middle East grew 5 times over in the last 50 years. Its economy did not.
Poverty soared. An era of science replaced the era of land. We experience it daily. Israel has little land, even less water and no oil. But we became a start-up nation through hi-tech and hard work. I learned that the turmoil of today can provide a new hope for tomorrow. And my dream today is that the Middle East will become a start-up region. To make that happen, leaders in the region must do their share to open their societies.

Because without free thinking there is no new thinking. And without openness there are no discoveries. Global companies should play a role helping the region become up to date and prepare for tomorrow. Two thirds of the Middle East population is under 25. For some, that is a cause for concern. For me, it’s a source of hope. For business, it’s a great opportunity for investment both economically and socially. Global companies are aware that young people want a different future.

They want free expression and self-expression. They want equal rights, including the equal right to be different.

Our two countries – Israel and America – also have a unique contribution to offer. We’re not the same size but we share the same values and the same dreams. Our dreams keep us young. Our values keep us true.

What Israel already learned from experience, we want to share with our neighbors. In my decades of having the privilege of serving Israel. I saw her become a thriving democracy. A diverse society. A leading defense force. And a cutting edge scientific community.

Together we can help put the region on a more promising course. Through initiatives in health, education, agriculture, water, and science. I hope to dedicate myself to this work in the years ahead.

As for America, it remains indispensable. America is the greatest power in the world today. And the only great power in history that never tried to become an Empire. You became great not by taking but by giving. America is a force for good. A force for progress. A force for peace. The world is fortunate that America continues to lead it. 60 years ago, America looked to the moon to discover a distant land. Today, the United States is leading a major scientific effort to reveal the secrets of the mind. We are partners in this effort. May I say that in my judgment, there may be more to discover in the brain than on the moon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

America and Israel should continue to work together to advance peace. Wars can be waged alone. Peace calls for a collective effort. Israel went through 7 wars and attained 2 peace agreements. With Egypt – the largest Arab country. And Jordan – our longest shared border. I hope that we will be able to renew peace talks with the Palestinians soon. Israel does not intend to rule over other people. It stands against our values and heritage. Israel is committed to Tikkun Olam, bettering the world, and making peace with its neighbors.

President Abbas is clearly a partner for peace. He spoke bravely in Saudi Arabia, in Arabic, against the kidnappings, against terror, and for peace. But you cannot put fire and water in the same glass. Hamas is clearly not a partner for peace. Hamas fires rockets at our civilians. They oppose peace and support terror. Finding a way forward is hard. But we must not lose hope. There is no better solution than two states for two peoples. A Jewish state – Israel. And an Arab state – Palestine.

Peace between Israel and Palestine can forge a broader regional peace. A bridge should be built to enable an Israeli peace initiative to meet the Arab peace initiative. I have lived long enough to see the impossible become possible. To skeptics, I can say: Believe me. Peace is the most possible impossibility.

In one month, I will end my term as Israel’s ninth President. But I will never give up on the struggle to achieve peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I leave you today with one piece of advice. It is the advice of a boy who dreamed on a kibbutz who never imagined where his blessed life would take him. When Theodore Herzl said: “If you will it, it is no dream.” He was right. Looking back on the life of Israel, our dreams proved – not to be too big – but too small.

Because Israel achieved much more than I could have ever imagined. So I ask only one thing of you, the United States of America, this mighty nation of dreamers. Don’t dream small. You are great. Dream big.  And work to will those dreams into a new reality. For you and all humanity. God bless you all. And God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres

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Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at a Dinner Honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres

Source: WH, 6-25-14 

Washington, DC
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
As Delivered 

Good evening everyone—erev tov.  And, thank you so much, Ron, Rhoda, for this lovely evening.  It’s a true honor, Ron, to be asked to celebrate one of Israel’s greatest sons and a walking global treasure, my friend President Shimon Peres.

Over the years, Mr. President, you have been many things—a dreamer, a state-builder, a founding father, a prime minister, a peacemaker.  Your life has been the life of the state of Israel. You all sometimes hear him called an “elder statesman,” but I know every one of us in this room would kill to have the energy that you have (Laughter),  You’ve won the world’s admiration and most of its medals, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, tomorrow, the Congressional Gold Medal—together, America’s highest civilian honors.  And you didn’t just win the Nobel Peace Prize, you earned it, and you earn it every single day.  So thank you, Mr. President, for your tireless efforts to make this world a better place—for your tireless commitment to the state of Israel and tikkun olam.

President Peres and I became friends after we met in 2009 in New York, and he invited me to Israel later that year to speak at the incredible conference that he convenes.  And since then, I’ve been extremely privileged to meet with him many times and to benefit not only from his extraordinary wisdom but also from his unbelievable kindness.  On more than one occasion, when from very far away, he sensed that perhaps I was having a bit of a rough patch, he would call or write or find some other special way of letting me know that he was there, and that I was in his thoughts.  What a wonderful man.  Thank you.

Someone once asked Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, how it is that you become mayor of a city in Israel—and he said, first, you build the city (Laughter).  So, if someone asks President Peres how he came to lead the state of Israel, well—first, you build the state of Israel.  And that is just what you have done, more than any other man alive.  And, that makes him a great gift to all of us—the last of Israel’s founding lions.

From the moment that President Truman made the United States the very first country to recognize the Jewish state, 11 minutes after Shimon’s great mentor David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in Tel Aviv, the relationship between our two proud democracies has grown like a mighty oak.  As President Obama reaffirmed when he met with President Peres today, the United States’ commitment to the peace and security of Israel is unbreakable and unshakable.  Our peoples share a friendship that’s rooted in our common values:  liberty, democracy, human rights, and human dignity. You can see it in this room tonight, where we’ve all gathered—leaders and citizens from across America’s political spectrum, united in our love and support for Israel.  And so much of that, too, is because of the personal efforts—over a lifetime—of Shimon Peres.

Now, everyone here knows that he’s eminently quotable.  He’s the inventor of the “Peres-ism” (Laughter).   I’m sure all of you have your favorites. There’s the one that every campaign manager should know, and I quote, he actually said it today, “Polls are like perfume—nice to smell, dangerous to swallow” (Laughter). Especially apt in this room.  But the one that most stays with me is pretty simple.  He said, “There are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people.”

Shimon Peres is someone who believes that despair is a sin and service is a duty.  And, serve is what you have done your entire life—from your early days on the kibbutz, making the desert bloom, and throughout your decades of dedication to Israel.  That’s the spirit in which Shimon Peres has worked with every American president since John F. Kennedy.  That’s how he’s earned admirers the world over.  And that’s why he remains so committed to advancing the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, including through his meeting with President Abbas and Pope Francis at the Vatican this month.

Mr. President, you set an example for us all.  And so, we too will stay true to the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  Because ultimately, the only path out of this tragic conflict is a secure, democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state (Applause).

Tonight as well, all of our hearts are hurting for the three Israeli students who were kidnapped in the West Bank, one of whom, as you all know, is also an American.  President Obama and all of us in the U.S. government are deeply concerned.  We have offered every assistance, and, as parents—in my case of a sixteen year old boy—we all feel this very personally.  So, we pray for their safe return and for the strength for their families through this agonizing vigil.  And, continued cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians is also critical—both to ensure that the search succeeds and to prevent the situation in the West Bank from further destabilizing.

One might argue that these are difficult days.  But there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people—and President Peres reminds us never to count ourselves among them.  What counts is working to bend history in the direction of hope.

So, in the book that I know as Psalms, and that many of you know as Tehillim, Moses beseeches the Lord, quote, “establish thou the works of our hands upon us.”  Many of us were raised on that prayer, though some of you learned it in the original.  And I hear in it not only a cry to heaven, but a call to action here on earth.  That’s a call you have answered, Mr. President, every day of your life.  And, we are all inspired by the work to which you have put your able hands.  This room is full of people deeply moved by your service, your courage, and your determination to pursue progress, security, and peace.

So, tonight, we celebrate the next chapter in the life of Shimon Peres.  We join you in recommitting ourselves to the cause of peace.  And, together, we ask for that ancient blessing:  Establish thou the works of our hands, oh Lord.  On behalf of President Obama and all of your friends here in the United States, we wish you, like Moses, “Ad meyah v’essreem!”  May you live to 120! (Laughter) Thank you.

Israel Political Brief June 25, 2014: President Shimon Peres meets with President Barack Obama at the White House Oval Office

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President Peres meets with President Obama

Source: MFA, 6-25-14

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“I thank you for your friendship to the State of Israel and the Jewish people – under your leadership our strategic relations have reached new heights.”
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President Peres meets with President Obama

  President Peres meets with President Obama

Copyright: GPO/Kobi Gideon

 

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 10, 2014: US President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Presidential Election in Israel

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Statement by the President on the Presidential Election in Israel

Source: WH, 6-10-14 

The people of the United States join me in offering Reuven Rivlin congratulations on his election as the next President of the State of Israel.

Over more than six decades, the United States and Israel have developed a unique relationship based on shared democratic values, our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our partnership in scientific research and innovative technology.  President-elect Rivlin has a long and dedicated record of public service and we look forward to continued strong ties, to the benefit of both our nations, under Mr. Rivlin’s presidency.

As President Shimon Peres nears the end of his term, he can look back on a remarkable legacy of courage, conviction, and compassion.  He has dedicated his extraordinary life to the cause of peace, and I look forward to welcoming him in Washington later this month where he will receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

Israel Political Brief May 5, 2014: Netanyahu, Peres offer video welcomes for Independence Day

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Netanyahu, Peres offer video welcomes for Independence Day

Source: JTA, 5-5-14

Israel ushered in Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut, on Monday night, at the close of Memorial Day, with a national ceremony on Mount Herzl….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 28, 2014: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

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Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

Source: Arutz Sheva, 4-28-14

In the official ceremony at Yad Vashem, six torches will be lit by six Holocaust survivors, followed by the reciting of the “Kel Maleh Rachamim” prayer, which is recited for the deceased, and the recitation of the Kaddish for the six million….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 27, 2014: Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

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Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-27-14

Following the sirens, President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority’s Jerusalem museum….READ MORE

Israel Musings January 22, 2014: Harper and Netanyahu hold joint cabinet meeting and press conference

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ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Israel Musings January 13, 2013: World, Israeli leaders react to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s death

ISRAEL MUSINGS

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After over a week of where his health rapidly deteriorated, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-2006) died at age 85 Saturday afternoon 2 p.m. Israel time on Jan. 11, 2014 eight years after entering a coma from…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 1, 2014: Knesset asks President Shimon Peres to intercede for Jonathan Pollard

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Knesset asks Peres to intercede for Pollard

Source: JTA, 1-1-14

A petition signed by 106 Knesset members calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, held in a U.S. prison for over 28 years for spying for Israel, was presented to Israeli President Shimon Peres….READ MORE

Israel Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

ISRAEL MUSINGS

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Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 18, 2013: France backs Israel’s position on Iran nuclear weapons deal

ISRAEL MUSINGS

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France backs Israel’s position on Iran nuclear weapons deal

By Bonnie K. Goodman

French President Francois Hollande landed in Israel on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 on a three-day visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres where the main topic of conversation was the Iran nuclear weapons talks and…READ MORE

Israel Musings November 2, 2013: Netanyahu urges pressure on Iran during Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary ceremony

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Netanyahu urges pressure on Iran during Yom Kippur War 40th anniversary ceremony

November 2, 2013

Iran took center stage at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon all spoke at…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 Political Brief September 15, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Discusses Syria Arms Deal at Yom Kippur War 40th Anniversary Ceremony

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Netanyahu: Efforts to disarm Syria, stop nuclear Iran will be judged by results

Source: Haaratz, 9-15-13

In address at memorial marking 40 years since Yom Kippur War, Netanyahu also says Syria deal must yield ‘complete destruction’ of chemical weapons arsenal.

Yom Kippur war 2

President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister MosheYa’alon at a ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. Photo by Noam Moshkovitz

Noam Moshkovitz

President Shimon Peres speaking at a memorial marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. Photo by Noam Moshkovitz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel hoped a U.S.-Russian deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons would result in the “complete destruction” of the arsenal, and urged the international community to apply the same efforts to destroying Iran’s nuclear program.

“We hope the understandings reached between the United States and Russia regarding the Syrian chemical weapons will yield results,” he said in a speech at a memorial ceremony for Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War….READ MORE

Israel Brief September 9, 2013: IDF Seminar Marks 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur War

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

IDF Seminar Marks 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur War

Source: Arutz Sheva, 9-9-13

A seminar was held today (Monday) to mark the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The event, which was hosted by the Military Colleges at the Palmachim base was attended by President Shimon Peres, Minister of Defense Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon….READ MORE

Israel Musings August 4, 2013: Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

80413_Peres_Granddaughter_Clinton_Netanyahu_Birthday

 

SLIDE SHOW
Israeli President Shimon Peres officially turned 90 on August 2, 2013, and the United States Congress intends to honor the occasion by introducing legislation to award him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Last year President Barack Obama awarded Peres…..READ MORE

Israel Musings August 4, 2013: President Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Shimon Peres turns 90, US Congress considers Congressional Gold Medal honor (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

80413_Peres_Granddaughter_Clinton_Netanyahu_Birthday

Israeli President Shimon Peres officially turned 90 on August 2, 2013, and the United States Congress intends to honor the occasion by introducing legislation to award him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Last year President Barack Obama awarded Peres the…READ MORE
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