Netanyahu at Ben Gurion memorial service 311.
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seemed to have Iran very much on his mind
Sunday when he praised David Ben-Gurion for his ability to take tough, fateful
decisions in the face of long odds and conventional wisdom.
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speaking at a Sde Boker ceremony commemorating the 38th anniversary of the death
of Israel’s first premier, said that during these tumultuous days much can be
learned from Ben-Gurion’s legacy.
“First and foremost we must learn from
his commitment to Israel’s future, and his willingness to take the difficult
decisions necessary to ensure that future,” Netanyahu said.
“There is no
doubt that the moment of supreme test for Ben-Gurion was the moment of deciding
on the establishment of the state.”
With former Mossad head Meir Dagan
and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warning in recent days against an Israeli
attack on Iran, Netanyahu reminded his listeners that Ben-Gurion’s decision to
declare statehood in 1948 – something that seems like such a given today – was
anything but a given back then.
“From within and outside, from inside the
Yishuv and all over the world, there was enormous pressure on Ben- Gurion not to
take this step,” Netanyahu said. “Everyone told him: This is not the time, not
Drawing obvious parallels to those today counseling Israel not to
take military action against Iran, Netanyahu said that among those who advised
Ben-Gurion against statehood were “important statesmen and friends and faithful
representatives of the Yishuv and of Zionism. They warned Ben- Gurion that the
declaration would lead to an Arab armed invasion against the embryonic Jewish
state, and a hard and difficult campaign.
“Ben-Gurion did not ignore
these warnings,” Netanyahu said.
Then, perhaps hinting at his own current
frame of mind, the prime minister added that Ben-Gurion “clearly understood that
there would be a high price for his decision, but he believed there would be an
even heavier price to pay for not making the decision.
“We are all here
today because Ben-Gurion made the right decision at the right time. He
considered and debated for a long time, but ultimately he was willing to make
difficult decisions for the future of the nation.”
In an apparent
allusion to disagreements within his own government about the proper course to
follow regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that Ben-Gurion had difficulty passing the
decision to declare a state in the Provisional Council at the time, and that the
vote passed only 6-4.
“Imagine what would have happened had one vote
moved from supporting the proposition to opposing it. If Ben-Gurion was not
determined enough, if he had missed the moment, who knows what would have
happened to our people and our country,” Netanyahu said.
“In this burial
place of the great leader who declared the state and gave it the name ‘Israel,’
I want to believe that we will always act with discretion, courage and
determination to make the right decisions to ensure our future and security,” he
During the speech, which officials in his office characterized as
“important,” Netanyahu also related for the first time publicly to the
parliamentary elections in Egypt, easily won by the Islamists.
that any government that will be established in Egypt will recognize the
importance of peace with Israel, as both a value in itself and as a foundation
of security and economic stability for the region,” he said.
said Israel was working hard to complete within a year the construction of the
security fence along the 240-km. border with Egypt, both to keep illegal
infiltrators from entering the country, and also to provide security against
Sinai-based terrorist attacks like the one near Eilat in August that killed