[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:
The Road Map did not commit to establishing a sovereign Palestinian state in
Phase II instead: "Phase II starts after Palestinian elections and ends
with possible creation of an independent Palestinian state with provisional
borders in 2003."
Emphasis on "possible".
The Road Map provides for the "Creation of an independent Palestinian state
with provisional borders through a process of Israeli-Palestinian
engagement, launched by the international conference. As part of this
process, implementation of prior agreements, to enhance maximum territorial
contiguity, including further action on settlements in conjunction with
establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders. "
So we have a "process of Israeli-Palestinian engagement" that - if it worked
out - would create an independent state, but the Road Map itself terms this
only a "possibility".
Is Mr. Olmert's statement today more deterministic? "In the framework of
this dialogue, and in accordance with the Roadmap, you will be able to
establish an independent and viable Palestinian State, with territorial
contiguity in Judea and Samaria - a State with full sovereignty and defined
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Memorial Ceremony for David Ben-Gurion
November 27, 2006
The Honorable President,
Madam Speaker of the Knesset, Ms. Dalia Itzik,
The Ben-Gurion Family,
Three years ago, in my capacity as Vice Prime Minister for Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, I delivered a speech here, and quoted from David Ben-Gurion's
address at a 1949 Knesset debate on the Armistice Agreements, in which he
".when we were faced with the choice between the entire land of Israel
without a Jewish State, or a Jewish State without the entire land of
Israel - we chose a Jewish State without the entire land of Israel".
This historic choice made by Ben-Gurion at the conclusion of the War of
Independence was painful, but courageous, heart-wrenching, but sober.
Cherished and beloved parts of our homeland - the cradle of our history -
remained beyond the border, but a solid Jewish majority was guaranteed in
the State of Israel.
Time passed, Arab animosity and terrorism resulted in more war, and some 40
years ago, Israel was again faced with the difficult choice: many good
people advocated the vision of Greater Israel.
David Ben-Gurion, already a retired statesman, ruled that in exchange for
true peace, Israel must relinquish a vast majority of the territories
occupied in the Six Day War. Much has happened since then, facts were
established on the ground, agreements were signed, the international and
regional arena changed beyond recognition.
The bloody conflict with the Palestinians has not ended. Ben-Gurion's basic
diagnosis remained valid and continues to guide - with the necessary
amendments - the position of Israeli governments in our peace policy today.
Already at the time of Israel's birth, Ben-Gurion extended his hand in peace
to the Arab nations. His hand was rejected, but it remains extended. I
extend my hand in peace to our Palestinian neighbors, hoping that it will
not be rejected.
I wholeheartedly identify with the statements made by Ben-Gurion regarding
the duty of every government in Israel to strive for peace: "I would
consider it a great sin, not only towards our generation but towards future
generations as well, if we did not do everything in our power to reach a
mutual understanding with our Arab neighbors, and if future generations had
cause to blame the Government of Israel of missing an opportunity for
These are not easy times for the State and people of Israel. These days,
more than ever, it is natural for us to come to this place, the burial place
of the Father of our revived nation, to draw inspiration.
If I could seek Ben-Gurion's counsel today, I believe that he would have
advised me to make the statements which I intend to make to our Palestinian
You, the Palestinian people, in the south and east, in the Gaza Strip and
Judea and Samaria, stand, these very days, on the threshold of an historic
The terror, violence, murders and incessant attacks against the citizens of
Israel are liable to lead us closer to a new and painful wave of terrible
violence. The uncompromising radicalism of your terror organizations - the
Hamas, Jihad, the El-Aksa Martyrs' Brigade and other organizations - did not
bring you closer to attaining the goal which I am convinced many of you
share - the establishment of a Palestinian state, which will guarantee you a
future of prosperity and which will exist in good neighborly relations
side-by-side with the State of Israel.
On the verge of making decisions which could plunge us into an increasingly
escalating conflict, I come today, from here, near the tomb of David
Ben-Gurion, to suggest to you a different path - a path which offers a
chance for a different future, for you and for us.
We started it the day before yesterday. We embarked on this path - and I
hope that it will lead us forward towards the goal we all aspire to - peace,
tranquility and mutual trust. We are ready and willing to pursue this path,
and persevere until we reach the sought-after solution.
If a new Palestinian government is established - a government which will be
committed to the principles of the Quartet, implement the Roadmap and bring
about the release of Gilad Shalit, I will invite Abu-Mazen to meet with me
immediately, in order to conduct a real, open, genuine and serious dialogue
In the framework of this dialogue, and in accordance with the Roadmap, you
will be able to establish an independent and viable Palestinian State, with
territorial contiguity in Judea and Samaria - a State with full sovereignty
and defined borders.
In this framework, the borders of the State of Israel will be defined, in
accordance with President Bush's April 14th, 2004 letter to Prime Minister
These borders will be different from the territories currently under
I understand the importance which the Palestinian society attributes to the
issue of prisoners.
I hereby declare that when Gilad Shalit is released and returned to his
family, safe and sound, the Government of Israel will be willing to release
numerous Palestinian prisoners - including ones who were sentenced to
lengthy prison terms - in order to increase the trust between us and prove
that our hand is truly extended in genuine peace.
I said it before Gilad Shalit was abducted, and I have not changed my
I know that many Palestinian families yearn for the day when their loved
ones will return home. This day could be very close.
I believe that many of you are weary of the dreadful price which you pay as
a result of the violent extremism of the terror organizations prevailing in
I believe that many of you yearn for a new chapter which we can open
together in the bloody history of our relations.
The cessation of terrorism and violence will enable us to offer you a series
of steps, which will be taken in joint coordination, in order to facilitate
the improvement of the Palestinian population's quality of living, which was
severely affected as a result of our need to take defensive measures against
your terrorist actions.
We will significantly diminish the number of roadblocks, increase freedom of
movement in the territories, facilitate movement of people and goods in both
directions, improve the operation of the border crossings to the Gaza Strip,
and release Palestinian funds for the purpose of alleviating the
humanitarian hardship which many of you suffer.
We can assist you in formulating a plan for the economic rehabilitation of
the Gaza Strip and areas in Judea and Samaria.
We can assist you in the establishment of industrial zones - in cooperation
with the international community - to create places of employment and the
means of earning a decent living, and to relieve you of your ongoing
dependence on employment infrastructures in Israel.
We will seek the assistance of those neighboring Arab States which strive
for a peaceful solution to the conflict between us, including: the Kingdom
of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, in order to benefit from
their experience and receive backing for direct negotiations between us.
The voices emanating from those States regarding the need for recognition
and normalization of relations with the State of Israel - including, for
example, some parts in the Saudi peace initiative - are positive, and I
intend to invest efforts in order to advance the connection with those
States and strengthen their support of direct bilateral negotiations between
us and the Palestinians.
I have been following with great appreciation the serious efforts made by
those States to bring about a cessation of violence in the region, and I
respect their sincere desire to create a new atmosphere between us, so as to
facilitate a solution to the conflict.
The international circumstances which were created, specifically at this
time, allow you and us to take a courageous step, which involves the need to
make painful compromises and forgo those dreams which were part of our
national ethos for so many years, and to open a new chapter offering hope
for a better life for all of us.
We, the State of Israel, will agree to the evacuation of many territories
and communities which were established therein. This is extremely difficult
for us, akin to the Parting of the Red Sea, but we will bear it, in exchange
for true peace.
You must stop the terror, violence and efforts to harm Israeli citizens in
the south, center and north, recognize our right to live in peace and
security next to you, and relinquish your demand for the realization of the
right of return. It is a right goal, a natural goal, an attainable goal.
If you demonstrate the necessary determination and discipline, you will find
in us a ready partner. The State of Israel is a powerful State. Do not be
fooled by our internal differences, our political rivalries or the gloomy
atmosphere which we sometimes project.
In a violent battle, we will prevail, even if it is lengthy and even if it
claims many victims; even if it involves compromises on comfort or quality
of living, the State of Israel has proven its strength in the past and is
prepared for it today.
Do not put us to another test, which will involve many casualties and
destruction, and which will lead to total hardship and despair.
The past cannot be changed, and the victims of the conflict, from both sides
of the border, cannot be returned.
Dictates are futile and mutual accusations are nothing but useless word
games. Historic scores cannot be settled and scars cannot be obliterated.
All we can do today is prevent further tragedies and bequeath to the younger
generation a bright horizon and hope for a new life. Let us convert
animosity and the "honing of our swords" to mutual recognition, respect and
From here, from the edge of the cliff overlooking the ancient landscape of
the Tzin Creek - the site chosen by David Ben-Gurion as a final resting
place for him and his wife Paula - the State of Israel's call for peace is
heard clearly and decisively. May it echo and be answered positively this
May the memo