Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:59 am Post subject: We will never return to a situation where we are unable to d
|We will never return to a situation where we are unable to defend ourselves and our state
PM Netanyahu's Speech to the Opening Session of the Knesset, Winter 2009
"The Right to Self-Defense"
The right to sustain a Jewish state and the right to self-defense are two
foundations of our people's existence. These two rights are intertwined.
Without a state of our own, we would be unable to defend ourselves and,
without the ability to defend ourselves, we could not maintain our state.
These basic rights of the Jewish people are under constant attack - an
attack which has grown even more intense since the Second Lebanon War and
Operation Cast Lead. Our primary task must be to thwart this attack.
On January 12, 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the United Nations General
Assembly appointed a committee to investigate what it called "violations of
international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the
occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people." Pay attention to
the wording: the "occupying Power, Israel". Such language was used after we
withdrew from every inch of Gaza! This distorted report, written by this
biased committee, undermines the very essence of Israel's right to
self-defense. This report encourages terror and endangers peace.
I want to be very clear here: Israel will not take any risks for peace if it
is not able to defend itself.
This report brands Israel's leaders and IDF commanders and soldiers as war
criminals. But the truth is exactly the opposite: Israel's leaders and
soldiers are the ones who defend the citizens of Israel against war
And they are indeed war criminals. Hamas has openly declared its goal to
destroy us. According to the UN Charter, issuing a call to commit genocide
constitutes a war crime - war crime number one. Hamas fired thousands of
missiles on our civilians - war crime number two. They hid behind
Palestinian civilians, exploiting them as human shields - war crime number
three. And after kidnapping Gilad Shalit, they have held him in captivity
for over three years without allowing the Red Cross to visit him - in
defiance of the Geneva Convention - war crime number four.
Despite this: "The IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a
combat zone than any other Army in the history of warfare." These are not
my words; they belong to the former Commander of British Forces in
Afghanistan. And every objective observer knows that this to be true.
Israel does not claim that the rules of war don't apply to us. On the
contrary: not only does the IDF uphold them, but they do so more than any
other army in the world. There are those today who would prosecute Israel's
leaders and IDF soldiers who have done nothing but fight a just war using
just means against blatant war criminals; we are witnessing a complete
reversal of justice and truth.
We will not tolerate a situation in which Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi
Livni - who mobilized soldiers to protect our cities and our people- are
called to stand trial in The Hague. We will not tolerate a situation where
IDF commanders and soldiers, after defending the citizens of Israel, with
dignity and heroism, against a cruel and nefarious enemy, are denounced as
The Government of Israel, the Knesset and the citizens of Israel all
categorically reject this absurdity! We are in complete agreement over this
crucial matter. It concerns our ability and right to defend ourselves,
something that touches the very root of our existence and connects to the
tumultuous journey that our people have travelled throughout history.
The first and most terrible upheaval for the Jewish people was the reversal
from a proud people who fought for its freedom in ancient times, to a
downtrodden, stateless and helpless people in exile. In ancient times, our
people were prepared to fight to the bitter end for their freedom and
existence under courageous leaders like Joshua and Gideon, Saul and David,
Judah the Maccabee and Bar Kochba.
Even when they were not victorious, the Jews were always respected by other
nations as a people determined to defend their freedom and homeland. But
the dynamism of Jewish resistance began to fade when we lost our
independence and our land. For almost 2,000 years of exile, the Jews lived
as a defenseless nation, entirely at the mercy of others.
We know the result: the fall from a deep pit into an even deeper pit, from
tragedy to tragedy - until our very existence was put at risk.
The second great reversal in the history of our nation took place with the
establishment of the State of Israel. In the period leading up to the
establishment of the state, the Jews rediscovered their ability to defend
themselves: From the Shomer, Haganah, Irgun, Lehi and the Palmach, to the
creation of the IDF, the Jewish people rediscovered their ability to defend
And so I pledge: We will never return to a situation where we are unable to
defend ourselves and our state.
Over the past few months, I've drawn attention to the fact that the refusal
of the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state lies at the root of the
ongoing conflict between us. For 62 years, the Palestinians have said 'no'
to a Jewish state. I call upon our Palestinian neighbors - say 'yes' to the
Make peace with the nation-state of the Jewish people, a state which is the
national home of the Jewish people, while guaranteeing full rights for all
its non-Jewish citizens.
I know that this is a not a simple thing for the Palestinian leadership. It
requires real courage. But I call on the leaders of the Palestinian
Authority to tell their people the truth, because we cannot achieve peace
unless Israel is accepted as a Jewish state.
It is also time for other Arab leaders in the region to tell their people
the truth, explicitly and in public: The Jewish state is not the enemy of
Islam; Israel is a peace-seeking country with which they should make peace.
But if the road to peace with the Palestinians was easy, we would have
achieved peace long ago.
It would have been achieved by a long line of Israeli prime ministers dating
back to the start of the peace process. They were ready to make generous
concessions for peace, but the Palestinian leadership rejected them time
after time. Just last year, senior officials of the previous Israeli
government offered extensive and far-reaching concessions to the
Palestinians. They held countless discussions and meetings, and set up an
large number of negotiating teams - all of which came to nothing.
Why? Because the Palestinian leadership was not prepared to declare an end
to the conflict and to their claims, and to unequivocally recognize the
Jewish state once and for all - something that is necessary for peace.
We want peace. We hope that the Palestinian Authority leadership will be a
genuine partner for peace. And, we are prepared to work hard for peace.
During the first six months of my government, we forged a national consensus
on the principles for peace, as expressed in my speech at Bar-Ilan
a. Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state;
b. Resolution of the refugee problem outside the borders of the State of
c. The effective and recognized demilitarization of the Palestinian state;
d. An end to all further claims against Israel.
We have also taken action - of a scope not seen for years - to improve
conditions for our Palestinian neighbors in Judea and Samaria. We have
dismantled roadblocks, eliminated checkpoints and removed barriers. We have
facilitated free movement, encouraged trade and extended the operating hours
of the Allenby Bridge Terminal.
We are not just talking. We are acting.
We have contributed to the impressive expansion of the Palestinian economy.
I believe that, given time, prosperity can only reinforce peace by
strengthening the moderates and weakening the extremists.
But there can be no substitute for the courage that is required of
Palestinian leaders who must recognize the Jewish state. This recognition
will penetrate the hearts of an Israeli public that seeks peace - and this
has always been, and will remain, the real key to peace. I have already
said that I will not impose any pre-conditions to peace talks with the
Palestinians, and we continue working with President Obama and his
administration to ensure that our joint efforts will lead to resuming talks
as soon as possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of Knesset,
I know that many Israelis have stopped believing in peace. They have seen
sixteen years of talks with the Palestinians not bring about peace. They
have also seen that unilateral withdrawal, an alternative to talks, does not
bring peace either. Contrary to the promises, the unilateral withdrawal
brought thousands of missiles down on our communities. Again, contrary to
what was promised, it did not increase international support for our right
to defend ourselves, but actually eroded support for that right.
They promised us that their vision and their path would bring peace. But
that only brought war. In spite of this, I say: We must not lose hope.
We strive for peace, soberly and realistically. We are working to promote
the prosperity of our neighbors because it is vital to creating an
atmosphere of peace.
We stand united around the values that unite our people. A united people
can achieve peace more easily. We are taking practical measures to bring
prosperity to our neighbors. And finally, we are addressing the real root
of the conflict between us and the Palestinians. This is the only way that
peace will be achieved.
But until peace is achieved, we cannot forestall the development of the
State of Israel.
We have to strengthen our economy and improve our children's education now.
We have to make our streets safe now, and we have to narrow the social gaps
between the periphery and the center now. We have been working on these
problems since this government was formed.
The passage of a biennial budget and steps taken to curb spending have
already helped to stabilize the Israeli economy. And so there is a distinct
possibility that Israel will emerge from the international financial crisis
quicker than most of the developed world.
The State of Israel must have the necessary resources to meet the great
challenges of the coming decade. Defense needs have increased, as have
basic education, higher education and science. To meet these needs, we have
to accelerate growth.
And to accelerate growth, we have to remove obstacles to competition and
mobility. The State of Israel has been in gridlock for many years.
There's enormous congestion on the coastal strip between Gedera and Hadera.
There's an enormous bureaucratic logjam facing anyone who tries to buy an
apartment, register an asset or obtain a building permit.
There's an enormous traffic jam when you reach Wadi Ara, and have to crawl
for hours on old-fashioned roads.
And so, we are working vigorously to remove these obstacles.
The change we are bringing will have three pillars: making land available,
building a network of fast roads and trains, and revolutionizing the
Planning and Construction Committees.
First, making land available: We passed the Israel Land Administration Law
during the last Knesset session. There will be no real danger of losing
control over national land when the reform is complete because 89% will
still be owned by the public.
Releasing land for private construction will reduce land costs which are an
major factor in high apartment prices in sought-after areas. Finally,
almost every family in Israel will be able to own their most valuable
asset - an apartment or home - and will finally be free of the suffocating
Second, we will submit a bill during this Knesset session to simplify and
shorten the endless procedures of the Planning and Construction Committees.
Israelis go through seven degrees of hell to get building permits today -
committee after committee, license after license, "macher" after "macher".
Corruption and ineptitude rule, as young couples, discharged soldiers and
students are crushed by the rising prices of apartments. Contractors
complain about their inability to build a simple house in Israel, not to
mention a factory. This is going to end.
Our plan will simplify the process to obtain a building permit and make them
transparent. All Planning and Construction Committee meetings will be
filmed and broadcasted live on the internet. The public will see, with its
own eyes, that reforms won't be just for individuals, wheeler-and-dealers,
or personal friends. This reform will benefit all Israelis.
Third, public transportation: I'll be visiting the Galilee tomorrow, among
other things, to promote highway construction that will connect the North
to the center of the country. The Yokneam Interchange will become what I
call the "Northern Fork".
And we will extend Highway 6 northward from Yokneam to Nahariya and
north-eastwards to Kiryat Shmona. Over the next few months, the government
will approve national transportation plans for both the Negev and the
This is the real way to connect the periphery to the center and to connect
the center to the periphery. The traffic of Israelis from the center to the
north and the south is important for our society, for our economy and for
In the field of education, the government is working to give our children
all the necessary tools to succeed in a competitive world and, equally
important, to teach our children the eternal values of the Jewish people.
While exposing our children to the world, we will also teach them Bible,
Jewish history, Zionist history, Hebrew literature, Hebrew poetry and Hebrew
The time has come!
Our government will fight crime and keep criminals away from society.
During this upcoming session, we will be submitting legislation to stiffen
prison sentences in Israel. And we will pass new laws to combat the plague
of alcohol and prevent it from being sold to our youth and children.
This is the thrust of my government's agenda for this next Knesset session.
But our top priority will remain security and addressing threats to the
State of Israel - the most serious of which is Iran's attempts to arm itself
with nuclear weapons.
Indeed, the true face of Iranian despotism has been exposed during the past
This is a regime that oppresses its people, threatens its neighbors,
conducts acts of terrorism, calls for the destruction of Israel and
constructs concealed plants to manufacture nuclear weapons. President Obama
and the US Government recently reiterated their commitment to prevent Iran
from obtaining such weapons.
At our last meeting in New York, President Obama told me that an Iran
equipped with a nuclear weapon would pose a danger to the entire world, not
just to Israel. All responsible members of the international community must
come together and make clear to the Iranian regime that they will not accept
its program to develop weapons of mass destruction.
My Friends, Members of Knesset,
Today, at the start of the Knesset's winter session, I want to tell you and
everyone in Israel:
If there is one thing that will let us be successful in meeting these
challenges, it is the recognition of the State of Israel as the only home of
the Jewish people.
Only in Israel can the Jewish people live as a free people, defend
themselves and guarantee their own future.
We Jews have no other country, and we do not we want another country - just
the State of Israel, as a Jewish and democratic state living in peace with
With G-d's help, we will work to bring security, prosperity and peace to
Israel. With G-d's help, it will endure forever.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
JUDEA & SAMARIA are clear and unquestionably JEWISH!
MiddleEast Political Expressions