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Sunday, June 14, 2009
[Verbal gymnastics or sacrificed intellectual honesty?] PM Netanyahu's 14.6.09 Speech at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

Was Binyamin Netanyahu correct when he warned in the past that if a
sovereign Palestinian state were established that it would be impossible to
enforce security restrictions and limitations on it?
Was right 59% Wrong 28% Other replies 13%

(Maagar Mohot Survey telephone poll of a representative sample of 503 adult
Israel Jews on 10-11 June 2009.)

"If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitirization and Israel's
security needs...then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach
a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the
Jewish state."
So proclaimed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this evening.

Hands down Binyamin Netanyahu made his most eloquent and straightforward
speech to date back on May 12, 2002 when he explained to the Likud's
Central Committee why Israel must oppose the creation of a sovereign
Palestinian state.

Netanyahu warned that if a sovereign Palestinian state were established that
it would be impossible to enforce security restrictions and limitations on
it and that once created, .the sovereign Palestinian state would continue
to exist even though it defied the terms of the agreement under which it was
established.

If anything, developments since 2002 - including a series of failed
internationally backed security arrangements and numerous instances when the
harsh reality of security-related violations were essentially ignored
because recognizing them didn't serve the agenda of various countries - have
only served to vindicate Netanyahu's stand.

So while the talking heads on TV may actually think that it is possible to
come up with a set of durable guarantees, Netanyahu knows damn well that
this is a sham.

Netanyahu tonight said Palestinian "state".

He didn't say "sovereign state."

He didn't say "independent state."

Granted, technically speaking he could back into claiming that what he meant
was an "autonomous state" - after reaching the logical conclusion that the
absolutely only possible "state" that could truly be guaranteed to be a
"demilitarized Palestinian state" would be a "demilitarized autonomous
Palestinian state" = demilitarized Palestinian autonomy.

So did Netanyahu knowingly sacrificed his intellectual honesty tonight or
did he engage in verbal gymnastics?]

PM Netanyahu's 14.6.09 Speech at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan
University

www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/PMSpeaks/speechbarilan140609.htm

Honored guests,

Citizens of Israel.

Peace has always been our people's most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the
world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and
our prayers conclude with the word peace.

We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of
peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.

Two and half months ago, I took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of
Israel. I pledged to establish a national unity government - and I did. I
believed and I still believe that unity was essential for us now more than
ever as we face three immense challenges - the Iranian threat, the economic
crisis, and the advancement of peace.

The Iranian threat looms large before us, as was further demonstrated
yesterday. The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the
entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear
weapons. I discussed this issue with President Obama during my recent visit
to Washington, and I will raise it again in my meetings next week with
European leaders. For years, I have been working tirelessly to forge an
international alliance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Confronting a global economic crisis, the government acted swiftly to
stabilize Israel's economy. We passed a two year budget in the government -
and the Knesset will soon approve it.

And the third challenge, so exceedingly important, is the advancement of
peace. I also spoke about this with President Obama, and I fully support the
idea of a regional peace that he is leading.

I share the President's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in
our region. To this end, I met with President Mubarak in Egypt, and King
Abdullah in Jordan, to elicit the support of these leaders in expanding the
circle of peace in our region.

I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: "Let us meet. Let us speak of
peace and let us make peace. I am ready to meet with you at any time. I am
willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place- including
Jerusalem.

I call on the Arab countries to cooperate with the Palestinians and with us
to advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a
political peace, but an important element to achieving it. Together, we can
undertake projects to overcome the scarcities of our region, like water
desalination or to maximize its advantages, like developing solar energy, or
laying gas and petroleum lines, and transportation links between Asia,
Africa and Europe.

The economic success of the Gulf States has impressed us all and it has
impressed me. I call on the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world to come
and invest here and to assist the Palestinians - and us - in spurring the
economy.

Together, we can develop industrial areas that will generate thousands of
jobs and create tourist sites that will attract millions of visitors eager
to walk in the footsteps of history - in Nazareth and in Bethlehem, around
the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of
Galilee and the baptismal site of the Jordan.

There is an enormous potential for archeological tourism, if we can only
learn to cooperate and to develop it.

I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors, led by the Palestinian Authority,
and I say: Let's begin
negotiations immediately without preconditions.

Israel is obligated by its international commitments and expects all parties
to keep their commitments.

We want to live with you in peace, as good neighbors. We want our children
and your children to never again experience war: that parents, brothers and
sisters will never again know the agony of losing loved ones in battle; that
our children will be able to dream of a better future and realize that
dream; and that together we will invest our energies in plowshares and
pruning hooks, not swords and spears.

I know the face of war. I have experienced battle. I lost close friends, I
lost a brother. I have seen the pain of bereaved families. I do not want
war. No one in Israel wants war.

If we join hands and work together for peace, there is no limit to the
development and prosperity we can achieve for our two peoples - in the
economy, agriculture, trade, tourism and education - most importantly, in
providing our youth a better world in which to live, a life full of
tranquility, creativity, opportunity and hope.

If the advantages of peace are so evident, we must ask ourselves why peace
remains so remote, even as our hand remains outstretched to peace? Why has
this conflict continued for more than sixty years?

In order to bring an end to the conflict, we must give an honest and
forthright answer to the question: What is the root of the conflict?

In his speech to the first Zionist Conference in Basel, the founder of the
Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl, said about the Jewish national home "This
idea is so big that we must speak of it only in the simplest terms." Today,
I will speak about the immense challenge of peace in the simplest words
possible.

Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality,
to the truth. And the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and
remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state
of their own, in their historic homeland.

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish
state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The
Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing.

The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.

Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our
presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence.

The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive
attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel's independence, continued with
the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the
six-day war, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State
of Israel.

All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier
ever set foot in Judea and Samaria .

Fortunately, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of enmity. The signing of
peace treaties have brought about an end to their claims against Israel, an
end to the conflict. But to our regret, this is not the case with the
Palestinians. The closer we get to an agreement with them, the further they
retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end
the conflict.

Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to
peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every
withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and
thousands of missiles.

We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement. We tried a
partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal. In 2000 and again last year,
Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the
conflict, and twice our offers were rejected.

We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted tens of
settlements and evicted thousands of Israelis from their homes, and in
response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children.

The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the
Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test
of reality.

In addition to this, Hamas in the south, like Hezbollah in the north,
repeatedly proclaims their commitment to "liberate" the Israeli cities of
Ashkelon, Beersheba, Acre and Haifa.

Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret,
Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is
the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.

Achieving peace will require courage and candor from both sides, and not
only from the Israeli side.

The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: "Enough of this conflict. We
recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this
land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace."

I am yearning for that moment, for when Palestinian leaders say those words
to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving
all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be.

Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public,
binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation
state of the Jewish people.

To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear
understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside
Israel's borders. For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian
refugees within Israel undermines Israel's continued existence as the state
of the Jewish people.

The Palestinian refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, as we
ourselves proved in a similar situation. Tiny Israel successfully absorbed
tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in
Arab countries.

Therefore, justice and logic demand that the Palestinian refugee problem be
solved outside Israel's borders. On this point, there is a broad national
consensus. I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this
humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved.

So far I have spoken about the need for Palestinians to recognize our
rights. In am moment, I will speak openly about our need to recognize their
rights.

But let me first say that the connection between the Jewish people and the
Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3500 years. Judea and Samaria, the
places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and
Jeremiah lived, are not alien to us. This is the land of our forefathers.

The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not
derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. True, for 2000
years the Jewish people suffered expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, and
massacres which culminated in a Holocaust - a suffering which has no
parallel in human history.

There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of
Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of
Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have
occurred.

This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a
sovereign power of self-defense.

But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel,
arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this
is where our identity was forged.

As Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed in Israel's
Declaration of Independence: "The Jewish people arose in the land of Israel
and it was here that its spiritual, religious and political character was
shaped. Here they attained their sovereignty, and here they bequeathed to
the world their national and cultural treasures, and the most eternal of
books."

But we must also tell the truth in its entirety: within this homeland lives
a large Palestinian community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not
want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our
culture on them.

In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely,
side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its
own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security
or survival of the other.

These two realities - our connection to the land of Israel, and the
Palestinian population living within it - have created deep divisions in
Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than
divides us.

I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles
of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli
society. These are the principles that guide our policy.

This policy must take into account the international situation that has
recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time
stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.

I have already stressed the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must
clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish
people. The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under
Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions
for Israel.

Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed
Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base
against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza.

We don't want Kassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or
missiles on Ben-Gurion airport. We want peace.

In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able
to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their
airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. On
this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel.

It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a
Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized.

On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our
security needs addressed.

Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by
the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear
commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by
the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without
control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent
weapons smuggling into the territory - real monitoring, and not what occurs
in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge
military pacts.

Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another
Hamastan. And that we cannot accept.

I told President Obama when I was in Washington that if we could agree on
the substance, then the terminology would not pose a problem.

And here is the substance that I now state clearly:

If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitirization and Israel's
security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the
Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a
solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish
state.

Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of
the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible
borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with
continued religious freedom for all faiths.

The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace
agreement. In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements
or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements.

But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow
mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere. The
settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace.
Rather, they are an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering
and Zionist public.

Unity among us is essential and will help us achieve reconciliation with our
neighbors. That reconciliation must already begin by altering existing
realities. I believe that a strong Palestinian economy will strengthen
peace.

If the Palestinians turn toward peace - in fighting terror, in strengthening
governance and the rule of law, in educating their children for peace and in
stopping incitement against Israel - we will do our part in making every
effort to facilitate freedom of movement and access, and to enable them to
develop their economy. All of this will help us advance a peace treaty
between us.

Above all else, the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and
the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule
of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating
table with terrorists who seek their destruction.

Hamas will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad
Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents,
his family and his people. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy
and safe.

With a Palestinian leadership committed to peace, with the active
participation of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and
the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a
breakthrough to peace.

Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible. Over the past
61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed
wonders.

Our microchips are powering the world's computers. Our medicines are
treating diseases once considered incurable. Our drip irrigation is bringing
arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are
expanding the boundaries of human knowledge.

If only our neighbors would respond to our call - peace too will be in our
reach.

I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the Palestinian leadership,
let us continue together on the path of Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat,
Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let us realize the vision of the prophet
Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2700 years ago said: "nations shall not lift up
sword against nation, and they shall learn war no more."

With God's help, we will know no more war. We will know peace.

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