Statement by PM Netanyahu Following the Events in Cairo
Early this morning, at about 5:00 a.m., a complex rescue operation was
safely completed to free the staff of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. From
inside the Situation Room at the Foreign Ministry, I worked alongside the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense, the Head of the
Shabak, the Head of the Mossad, the IDF Chief of Staff and all of their
staffs. One overriding mission laid before us – to secure the welfare and
safety of Israel’s emmisaries. We worked together in a responsible manner
to ensure that this situation would end in the best possible manner.
Immediately at the beginning of the incident, I ordered that all the Embassy
staff and their families in Cairo be put on a plane and returned to Israel.
At the same time we worked together with Egypt and the American government
to assure that our remaining staff at the Embassy would be rescued without
I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States,
Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful
moment. He said, “I will do everything I can.” And so he did. He used
every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We
owe him a special measure of gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance
between Israel and the United States. This alliance between Israel and the
United States is especially important in these times of political storms and
upheavals in the Middle East.
I wish to cite also the intervention of the Egyptian Commandos which
prevented a tragedy. We maintained direct channels of communication
throughout the night with the Egyptian government. It was clear to all that
the defense of an Embassy, and particularly the Israeli Embassy, is the
obligation of any sovereign state.
I therefore also appreciate the words of the Egyptian Information Minister
who condemned the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Many world
leaders and Arab leaders joined him in this sentiment. I attach great
importance to this.
Israel will continue to adhere to the peace treaty with Egypt. We are
working together with the Egyptian government to quickly return our
Ambassador to Cairo. I wish to make sure that the necessary security
arrangements for him and for our entire staff will be effective and will
assure their necessary safety. At the same time, our diplomatic delegate
in Cairo will continue to represent Israel until the Ambassador’s return.
During this long night, we were required to make many difficult decisions.
I would like to share with you one conversation from this night. On the
line was Yonatan, the security officer of the Embassy. He and his men, six
in number, were trapped in the Embassy building. The mob entered the
building and entered the office. Only one door separated between the mob
and Yonatan and his friends. He sounded perfectly calm to me, and on the
other hand understood the situation in which he and his colleagues found
During the ongoing event, he requested from the security officer in the
Foreign Ministry one thing: If something happens to me, he said, my parents
should be notified face to face, and not by telephone. I got on the phone
line and I said to him, “Yonatan, be strong. I promise you that the State
of Israel will do everything in its power and will use all possible
resources in the world in order to rescue you and your friends unharmed and
whole from this situation.”
And thank God this morning they all landed in Israel. A short while ago I
spoke with Yonatan and his mother. They sounded wonderful.
I wish to say one more thing this evening to you, my fellow Israeli
The Middle East is now undergoing a political earthquake of historic
proportions. Perhaps this can be compared to what happened a century ago at
the end of the First World War with the establishment of a new world order.
In the face of this historic turmoil we must act coolly and with
responsibility. We must understand that these events are occurring as a
result of deep and strong political undercurrents. We in Israel have a
tendency to think that everything happens because of us or that we are
somehow at fault for the turbulence in our area. There are many external
and strong forces at work here. More than anything else, we must in these
times act to safeguard our security. This is the anchor of our existence,
especially in these turbulent times. We must work towards advancing our
national interests in the area at the appropriate time.
We will continue to keep the peace with Egypt. This is in the common
interest of both countries. We will work toward preventing a further
deterioration in our relationship with Turkey. We did not choose this
sequence of events. To the extent that the matter depends upon us, we shall
act to lower tensions and do everything possible to restore relations.
We shall continue to work towards peace with the Palestinians. To this end,
we must return as quickly as possible to the path of direct peace
negotiations. Only in this manner will we be able to advance and achieve a
peace agreement. Regarding this negotiation, I believe that many people
today in our nation and around the world who see what is happening in our
area will understand our justified stance in defending our security
interests in any future agreement.
I would like to thank again the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of
Defense, the security forces and above all our brave young men who were
trapped for many long hours in the embassy. We worked together as a cohesive
team in order to prevent a tragedy for the State of Israel and to return our
men home peacefully.
I wish a good week to all of the Nation of Israel.