Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acknowledged for the first time on Thursday
that he will deliver a speech to a joint session of the US Congress at the end
of May in which he will lay out the principles of his government’s diplomatic
and security policies.
“Next month I will have the opportunity to present
the principles of our diplomatic and security polices during my visit to the
US,” Netanyahu said at a pre-Pessah Likud gathering in Tel Aviv.
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received an invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress from my
friend Speaker of the House John Boehner, and I greatly appreciate this opportunity. It symbolizes the strong alliance between
the American people, the American Congress and the American administration with
Israel and the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to go to Washington
on May 22, and is expected to address Congress two days later.
Netanyahu’s aides have been saying that he would deliver a major policy address,
likely to Congress, but this was never confirmed by the prime minister
On Monday, at a luncheon in Jerusalem with EU ambassadors, the
prime minister said he had not decided when to deliver the speech, or what to
say in it.
Netanyahu’s announcement comes two days after US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton said that President Barack Obama would soon be delivering
an address on the Middle East and North Africa.
It is not clear whether
Obama or Netanyahu will deliver his speech first.
Netanyahu recalled that
he addressed a joint session of Congress 15 years ago, when he was prime
minister the first time around.
“I said then that the biggest threat to
world peace and to Israel is Iran’s efforts to gain nuclear weapons. There were
some then who raised an eyebrow, but I don’t think there is anyone who is doing
that today,” he said. “Unfortunately, that threat has only gotten bigger since
then, and I will speak about it and the big changes taking place in our
Netanyahu said he would also speak about the way he believes it
will be possible to reach peace with the Palestinians.
“Not peace on
paper,” he said. “Not a peace of ceremonies, but a real peace that will last and
ensure our security and future.”
Netanyahu said the pillars of such a
peace would be Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the
Jewish people, and genuine security arrangements on the ground needed not only
to secure the peace, but also to defend Israel in the eventuality that the peace
“We need to prepare in light of the tempest taking place around
us,” the prime minister said. “I will stand firm on these principles in spite of
a not-insignificant amount of pressure, because they are necessary for our
Earlier in the day, at a meeting with the IDF General Staff,
Netanyahu alluded to the upcoming holiday and the phrase in the Hagadda saying
that in every generation there are those who rise up to destroy the Jewish
“What has changed is not that in every generation there are still
enemies who are trying to destroy us, but that in this generation we have the
means to repel these attacks, and the means are the IDF, its soldiers and
commanders who are represented here – to repel these attacks,” he
Netanyahu said that despite the tremendous challenges the country
faced, it would be able to overcome them because of the strength of the Jewish
Netanyahu taped a similar two-minute Pessah message that was
uploaded onto YouTube. He said the Pessah story taught that there was no
existence without freedom.
“In essence we learned that lesson through our
years of exile. We were not a free people, so they attacked us and destroyed us.
Only when we succeeded to come to the Promised Land, only then did we succeed
again in ensuring our future and we gathered our unique national strength to
defend ourselves,” he said.