Netanyahu: Peace and stopping Iran are our main goals

PM, Peres addresses foreign diplomats, dignitaries at annual Independence Day reception.

April 17, 2013 04:42
4 minute read.
Peres, Netanyahu greet heads of  foreign diplomatic missions

Peres, Netanyahu greet heads of foreign diplomatic missions. (photo credit: Courtesy The President's Residence)

The government’s three main goals are achieving peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution, stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and making Israel more tranquil, peaceful and secure, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the annual Independence Day reception for the foreign diplomatic corps and the heads of churches and other faiths hosted by President Shimon Peres at his official residence.

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Netanyahu discarded a prepared text and spoke extemporaneously, following the example of Peres who had spoken before him.

Both men began their address by expressing their condolences to US President Barack Obama, the American people and the families of those who lost their lives in the explosions at the Boston Marathon a day earlier and wishing the wounded a speedy recovery.

Peres voiced “solidarity and pain with the bereaved families,” saying “when it comes to something like this we are all one family.”

Netanyahu said Israel stood shoulder to shoulder with America not only as a friend but as a partner in the quest for freedom for all humanity.

Netanyahu said there were many things that he wanted to thank Peres for, but most of all for his eternal optimism, youth and curiosity.

The prime minister emphasized the importance of cables that ambassadors send to their home countries, saying that what isn’t in a cable doesn’t exist.

Because ambassadors are in a position to observe what is really going on, Netanyahu urged them to send cables that explained Israel’s fervent desire for peace.

There was no family in Israel that had not lost a relative or a friend in war, he said. “We know the sorrow of war and the anguish of battle,” he said. “We know that war affects not only our soldiers but our civilians. No one yearns more for peace.”

The prime minister explained that a two-state solution was not a new idea.

This is what was proposed in the United Nations Resolution on the partition of Palestine in 1947, long before there was any talk of a Palestinian state. David Ben-Gurion said yes to the UN resolution, but the Arab states said no. “We said yes then, and we say it now,” Netanyahu asserted.

But 65 years ago, when the Arabs could have had another Arab state, they chose instead to attack the fledgling State of Israel, and have continued with their persistent refusal to accept a Jewish state.

The two-state solution got to the core of the problem and resolved the problem, said Netanyahu, but it must be anchored in security for Israel.

“We have to be able to defend ourselves. This is a prerequisite for peace.” There have to be solid security arrangements, he insisted.

With regard to Iran, Netanyahu warned, as he has done in the past, that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Tehran would have dire consequences for world stability. “Tough sanctions and tough talk do not always do the job,” he said, as he entreated all the ambassadors to impress their governments with the dangers that lie in store for the world if Iran is permitted to continue with its nuclear program.

Peres also spoke of the dangers of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands. He pointed to North Korea as an example.

It was difficult for nations to maintain security today, because armies could not fight terrorists, he said. Terrorism was not an extension of politics, he said, because there were many terrorist organizations, and they had no policy. They are divisive.

Peres said that Israel seeks peace and if it turns to arms, “it is only to defend ourselves.”

Israel was divided on what strategies to employ when fighting terrorism, but was united in opposing it, the president said.

The divisiveness generated by terrorist organizations also extended to the Palestinians, Peres said. There were huge differences between Hamas in Gaza and the PLO in the West Bank, he said. Even if Israel wanted to establish policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians it couldn’t, because the Palestinians were divided, he said.

He congratulated Netanyahu for having achieved a unified position supporting two states for two nations with regard to Israel’s dealing with the Palestinians. It was much more difficult before, when Israel was ideologically divided, the president said, adding that a two-state solution was preferable to one state for two peoples where one was making life impossible for the other.

“Better to be good neighbors than bad citizens in the same country,” he said.

To those who were wary of peace with the Palestinians, Peres commented: “If you have to make peace – do it with your enemy.”

He received many goodwill messages from world leaders over the past few days.

Among the most notable were those from Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis.

Obama referred to his recent visit to Israel and recalled that 65 years ago, America was the first nation to recognize Israel as an independent state, 11 minutes after the state was proclaimed.

Putin said he was satisfied with the friendly character of Russian-Israeli relations and that he was convinced that further cooperation could be developed in diplomatic, trade, scientific-technical, humanitarian and other fields.

The pope assured Peres that the president and Israel were in his prayers.

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