The following is the text of an open letter to the citizens of Israel from Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu published on Saturday evening, ahead of the proposal
to resume the diplomatic process that was submitted to the cabinet on Sunday:
From time to time, prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go
against public opinion – when the matter is important for the country.
order to make decisions that are supported by the public, there is no need for
At the present time, it seems to me that it is very
important for the State of Israel to enter into a diplomatic process. This is
important both in order to exhaust the chances of ending the conflict with the
Palestinians and in order to establish Israel’s position in the complex
international reality around us.
The major changes in our region – in
Egypt, Syria and in Iran – not only place challenges before the State of Israel,
but they also create considerable opportunities for us.
reasons, I believe that it is important for the State of Israel to enter a
diplomatic process that will continue for at least nine months – in order to
check if it is possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians during this
But even with all of the importance that I ascribe to the
diplomatic process, I was not prepared to accept the Palestinians’ demands for
withdrawals and freezes as preconditions for entering
Neither was I prepared to accept their demand to release
Palestinian prisoners before the start of negotiations. I did agree to release
104 Palestinians in stages after the start of the negotiations and in accordance
with the circumstances of their progress.
This is an incomparably
difficult decision; it is painful for the bereaved families and it is painful
for the entire nation and it is also very painful for me.
with the incomparably important value of justice.
It is a clear injustice
when depraved people, even if most of them have sat in prison for over 20 years
as in this case, are released before they have finished serving their
The decision is difficult for me sevenfold because my family
and I personally know the price of bereavement stemming from terrorism. I know
the pain very well. I have lived with it every day for the past 37
The fact that previous Israeli governments have released more than
10,000 terrorists does not make it easier for me today, and did not make it
easier when I decided to bring back Gilad Schalit.
Gilad Schalit’s return
home entailed an incomparably difficult decision for me – releasing terrorists.
But I believed that the value of bringing children back home needed to overcome
People in positions of leadership need to choose between
complex choices and sometimes the necessary decision is especially difficult
when most of the public opposes it.
Thus I decided to end Operation
Pillar of Defense after the elimination of archterrorist Ahmed Jabari and after
the severe blows the IDF dealt to Hamas and the other terrorist
I made the decision to end the operation even though most
of the public supported continued action, which would have required entering the
Gaza Strip on the ground. As prime minister, I thought that the goal of
deterrence had been mostly achieved by the determined actions that we carried
Today, almost one year after the end of Operation Pillar of Defense,
we are witness to the quietest situation in the South in over a decade. Of
course, this quiet can fray at any minute, but my policy is clear on all fronts:
We will, as much as possible, foil threats against us in a timely manner. We
will react strongly to any attempt to harm our people.
In the next nine
months, we will consider whether there is a Palestinian element opposite us
that, like us, truly wants to end the conflict between us.
conclusion will be possible only under conditions that will ensure security for
Israel’s citizens and ensure our vital national interests.
If we succeed
in achieving such a peace agreement, I will submit it to a referendum. Such a
fateful decision cannot be made by a close vote in the Knesset.
citizen must be allowed to directly influence our future and our fate on such a
The best answer we can give to those same base murderers
that sought to defeat us through terrorism is that in the decades that they sat
in prison, we built a glorious country and turned it into one of the most
prosperous, advanced and strongest countries in the world.
I promise that
we will continue that way.
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