Translation: Transcript of PM Netanyahu's address to the Knesset 15 October
[Translation by IMRA from transcript on the Knesset website]
Mr. Chairman, the many honorable here, especially President Shimon Peres. We
met a few days ago and you called for holding clean elections, free of
slander and incitement and it would certainly add respect to this house, the
people sitting in it and Israeli democracy in its entirety.
My friends, the members of the Knesset, I would like to hold the elections
on Tuesday, the eleventh of Shvat January 22, 2013. That is to say, in less
than 100 days the People of Israel will decide who will lead it. Who will
lead it facing the biggest security challenges we have seen since the
establishment the State. Who will lead it facing the worst economic crisis
the world has known in 80 years.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is appropriate that a prime minister seeking
to renew his mandate from the public should give an account of his
activities and the activities of his government in the key areas of our
And thus, with your permission, I would like to present a concise report on
the state of the nation four years ago and the state of the nation today.
Four years ago we received an economy in crisis with negative growth. In the
first quarter of 2009, growth was minus 3%, to be precise - minus 3.2%.
Unemployment soared and crossed the line of 9% on the way up.
The economic crisis facing the world threatened to bring down the economy of
Israel and bring mass unemployment as was the case in Central Europe.
Four years ago, thousands of missiles and rockets fell in the south.
Two years earlier, thousands of missiles and rockets fell on the residents
of the north. The home front was completely exposed and there were no
effective preparations against the growing threat of missiles and rockets.
At the border with Egypt there was a growing phenomenon of infiltration.
There was no fence, the border was completely open to terrorists, completely
open to smugglers. Completely open to a flow of infiltrators that just grew
and grew and threatened to flood the cities of Israel. Entire neighborhoods
in the cities of Israel: Eilat, Arad, Tel - Aviv began to be flooded with
these illegal infiltrators from Eritrea and other countries in Africa.
Anyone with eyes in his head would have to understand then that there was a
real threat to the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but
nothing effective was done then.
With regard to the issue that threatens us more than anything, as the
president now rightly said, the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons - four
years ago this topic was almost not on the agenda and there was no real
international economic pressure. No economic pressure and no political
pressure of effective sanctions on Iran.
That was the situation when we got the leadership of the country.
What is the situation today?
First of all, we restored security to the citizens of Israel.
We adopted an aggressive policy. We restored the deterrence. But I want to
say we did it with discretion and responsibility, but first we eliminated
the policy of restraint, because this policy always - always - leads to
escalation and ultimately leads to war.
Instead, we have introduced a policy of aggressive response to fire and
preventive attacks- - foiling attacks. The result was a sharp decline in the
number of missiles and rockets in relation to the previous government and a
significant decrease in terror attacks against Israeli citizens.
We purchased and operated many Iron Dome systems. But here I want – and also
praise - I know, it's a difficult practice for Knesset members - I want to
say a good word to Knesset member Amir Peretz that as the Defense Minister
believed from the start in this project, and we expanded it, budgeted it and
also acted to implement it on an operational level as quickly as possible.
I remember I was in a meeting with the Czech Prime Minister and I received
the report from the military secretary of the first interception of Iron
Dome and I told him: This is an important moment in Israel's ability, I
think also in the ability of the democratic states to defend themselves
against this new threat.
Likewise we greatly improved our preparedness to defend the home front with
alarms, protection, the integration of all the systems, both the local
systems of local government and all the government departments. Today we are
in a completely different place with regard to the defense of the home
front. However, I tell you: there is still much to do and in the coming
years and we will continue this improvement.
We also established the National Cyber Headquarters. I remember we talked
about it when I described it to you a year ago. This Headquarters is
developing new capabilities to defend Israel's home front in cyberspace.
Such a headquarters, of course did not exist before.
Now in 2009, members of the Knesset, shortly after I headed the government,
I decided - I tell you, I decided despite much opposition - to establish the
Sinai border security fence. We budgeted billions of shekels for it and
today more than 90% of this fence is built – and it does the job in a
situation where before it every month thousands of infiltrators reached
How many crossed the border this month? 23 infiltrators. That’s less than
1%. But they also did not reach the cities of Israel, that’s because of the
legislation we have done here in the Knesset, and I thank the members of the
Knesset who supported it, and thanks to the detention facilities we
established on the Sinai border, not one, not one made it through and
entered into Israeli cities. That is, we stopped the infiltrators. Not only
the infiltrators, many terror attacks were stopped from Sinai, as we foresaw
there would be a problem there. We also stopped this. And now we are working
to return those who are here to their home countries.
And now on Iran. Anyone who disparages the threat that a nuclear Iran
constitutes to the State of Israel is not worthy to lead the State of Israel
for even one day -
I see this danger with open eyes. And therefore we - Mr. Chairman - and
members of the Knesset, so we raised the Iranian threat and put it at the
center of the world agenda. This is what we did the last four years. And
today, the sanctions imposed on Iran are unprecedented, sanctions that
severely harm the Iranian economy.
And now we also can act against Iran and its proxies, an ability that we did
not have in the past.
These are the major changes we made in defense through aggressive and
And now here's what we did in the economy.
I told you earlier, what the state of the economy was when the government
was formed - negative growth and rising unemployment. Well, what is the
The responsible policy we led brought about a change in the trend. Despite
the difficult and ongoing global crisis - and the crisis is not over.
Each of the last four years we have had among the highest growth in the
West. I do not know if we're in first place or just after the first place,
but the economy grew faster than nearly all the world's economies.
Mr. Chairman, Members of Knesset, four years ago I promised the citizens of
Israel two key promises - to reinforce security, and strengthen the economy.
We promised – and we delivered.
And here is another promise that we made. Four years ago I stood here at the
swearing in of the Government and I said that I would do everything I can to
return Gilad Shalit safe and sound to his family.
Exactly a year ago this week it was exciting to see how all of Israel, all
of Israel, was united around Gilad's return home safely. We saw on this
occasion the enormous power of the People of Israel when it is united.
Along with all of this activity and the ongoing attempt to reach peace with
our neighbors and our willingness to take steps to get this peace – that
until now received no response - these measures were not answered - but
there is one thing, there is one thing we have not done, and I'll tell you
what it is.
We did not engage in any unnecessary wars.
I'll tell you more than that. We did not have any wars for the seven years
I served as prime minister on two fronts.
This term and my first term as prime minister, there was no war and there
was a significant decrease in the level of terrorism.
We were not trigger-happy. We had a firm hand on the trigger. There was no
war, because we did not broadcast weakness, we conveyed a sense of power and
strength that is the key to peace.
It is the supreme duty of every head of government to protect the country
and its citizens.
Gentlemen, if there is something I'm proud of most it is the fact that in
the seven years I was privileged to serve as Prime Minister of Israel I
fulfilled this obligation and kept the security of Israel and its citizens.
Dear citizens of Israel, I wish that in three months you give me the right
to continue to lead Israel along with my colleagues to maintain the
strength, act for its prosperity and ensure the future security and peace.
Thank you very much