Israel can succeed! We can succeed in every field - in building a prosperous economy, in developing advanced technology, in fostering excellence in education, in creating a strong society, in combating crime and violence and in so much more.
Some of these efforts are already underway. The free market reforms we implemented filled the state coffers with billions of shekels that can now be directed toward helping those who are truly needy. With courageous leaders who can make tough decisions and implement fundamental reforms, we can finish the job.
But first and foremost, we need a government that knows how to neutralize the serious threats that confront us. The primary objective for our national defense has been and remains to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. This is an objective that I reiterated at the start of the current Knesset's session, and for many years my colleagues and I have emphasized in the clearest terms its paramount importance.
But the countdown to a nuclear Iran continues and time is running out. With what little time remains, we must redouble our efforts to influence world leaders and international public opinion to act with determination against Iran, including through much tougher and more painful economic sanctions.
Of course, we must be prepared to practice what we preach. That is why I intend, during this session, to bring for a second and third reading a bill that will prevent any indirect Israeli investment in Iran - similar to the bills that I have supported in leading American states. We must use all means - economic and others - to ensure that an Iranian nuclear threat does not materialize.
As I have said time and again, when it comes to this existential issue, there is no opposition and no coalition. All of us are united in our desire to thwart the Iranian threat. That is why we have difficulty understanding why the government is using one hand to repel the Iranian nuclear threat while using the other to bring the Iranian terror threat closer.
ON THE one hand, the government wants to fight the nuclear tentacle of the Iranian octopus; on the other hand its diplomatic plan opens the door to other tentacles of that same octopus. The hasty unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon created the first Iranian base in the north, from which the Iranian proxy Hizbullah threatens Haifa and the Galilee.
The unilateral withdrawal from Gaza created a second Iranian base in the South - Hamastan - from which Iranian financed terror groups attack Sderot, Ashkelon and the western Negev. As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that this threat is spreading ever wider, reaching more and more parts of the country, including yesterday's rocketing near Netivot.
And now the government plans a further withdrawal in Judea and Samaria, a move that will inevitably create in the center of the country a third Iranian base that will threaten Jerusalem and the entire coastal plain. These three tentacles of the Iranian Octopus will thus envelop Israel from every side! I would like to believe that the government is truly convinced that its plan will bring peace, but in fact it will bring the opposite result.
According to the government's plan, Israel will withdraw to the 1967 lines, hand over half of Jerusalem to the Palestinians and relinquish Israeli control over the holy sites in the city. Let there be no confusion - this is the plan. All attempts to disguise it are futile.
If the plan sounds familiar, it should. This is the exact plan offered by the Barak government at Camp David in 2000. As the saying goes, it's the same lady and she didn't even bother to change her dress. And what will be the results? First: Israel leaves, Hamas enters. Without an Israeli military presence, Hamas will again easily overcome the Palestinian Authority, just as it did after the Gaza disengagement.
Second, handing over half of Jerusalem to Hamas will make life unbearable in the city's other half. How will people live in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods - Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Zeev, Ramot, the Jewish Quarter in the Old City - when Hamas controls the houses across the street? These communities will turn into Jewish enclaves in a Hamas sea.
Their inhabitants will abandon them, and the Old City's vital center will be emptied of Jews once again. Third, giving away Judea and Samaria will give Hamas and other Islamic extremists control over the territories dominating the coastal plain. From there, they will be able to fire missiles directly at Israel's dense urban centers, Ben Gurion Airport, and Tel Aviv itself.
Just ask the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon, and as of yesterday, Netivot. Ask the residents of Nahariya, Haifa and the Galilee. This is not how you make peace. This is how you strengthen terror and bring it nearer.
Before the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Mr. Olmert said: "After the initial increase, there will be a significant reduction in terror. there will be industrial parks." And Mr. Olmert continued: "We will take the necessary steps to ensure that the Philadelphi Corridor will not turn into a weapons smuggling pipeline that will endanger Israel."
On the day of the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, before three soldiers were kidnapped on Har Dov and thousands of missiles were fired on our towns and cities, Mr. Barak said: "Who would dare fire on our soldiers or communities?" "Who will try to harm us after we leave Lebanon? They will have no opportunity, reason, or excuse."
How many times is it possible to repeat the same blunder, to proceed with the same blindness! With the same blindness that led to a security collapse north and south, the government is now preparing the next withdrawal that will bring about an even greater collapse - and this time in the center of the country where most of our citizens live.
The government concedes everything in advance. It erodes Israel's positions in any future negotiation - and gets nothing in return. This is not how you negotiate! This is not how you make peace! But the government contends that by offering these far reaching concessions, it is strengthening the moderates and weakening the extremists. The opposite is true.
When the government agrees in advance to withdraw from all the territories, the terrorists need only increase their pressure on us so that we will leave sooner. In doing so, the government's policy strengthens terror.
And what about the claim that relinquishing Israeli control over the holy sites will bring about an end to the conflict? On the contrary. This will increase the scope and intensity of conflict to unprecedented levels. As long as Israel remains sovereign over the holy sites, it maintains peace and tranquility there and guarantees freedom of worship for the three religions.
And how does Israel maintain this quiet? Every Friday during the Temple Mount prayers, the peace is protected by Israel's police, army and security services. But if we remove our forces, terrorists from around the world, including al-Qaida, will flock to Jerusalem. We would be giving our greatest enemies the most explosive square mile in the world: The Temple Mount which overlooks the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Al Aksa Mosque.
It is not difficult to imagine what they could do after we leave, and the chain reaction their actions could trigger. Such a concession will not bring about an end to the conflict but its perpetuation. And who knows where that could lead!
INSTEAD OF the government's blind policy, Israel needs a different policy, one that is based on an accurate assessment of reality. We want to forge a genuine peace - a peace that can be made only with a genuine partner and which will be based on the following principles:
1. Defensible borders and not the indefensible 1967 lines - the Jordan River will be Israel's eastern border.
2. A united Jerusalem, not a divided one.
3. Israeli sovereignty over the holy sites, safeguarding the freedom of worship for all religions, and not the transfer of control over these sites to Islamic extremists.
4. Cooperation with Jordan and Egypt over final status questions.
5. Complete dismantling of all terror infrastructure.
6. Resolution of the refugee issue by dismantling the refugee camps and rehabilitating their inhabitants - and not by bringing even a single refugee into Israel.
Real peace will come when a Palestinian leader arises who is ready and able to lead his people to peace - just as Anwar Sadat did when he made peace with Prime Minister Menachem Begin and King Hussein did when he made peace with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Indeed, Prime Minister Olmert quoted Menachem Begin who made peace with Sadat. But there is one problem. Abbas is no Sadat. Perhaps he is a partner for talking, but he is no partner for doing.
There is no one in Israel who does not want peace. We have proved this time and again. Likud led governments and all Israeli governments have sought peace. But today the burden of proof is on the Palestinians, not on Israel. Today we must insist on keeping our security in the IDF's hands. Our destiny must remain in our hands and in our hands alone.
In the meantime, we can and should encourage Palestinian economic development in Judea and Samaria - and by that I mean economic development for the Palestinian population and not for lining the pockets of a corrupt Palestinian bureaucracy. Most Israeli citizens know that this is the right way forward. Some of the coalition members know this as well. They heard the Vice-Premier say yesterday that in Annapolis, the division of Jerusalem will be discussed.
I ask you, my friends in Shas and Israel Beiteinu: What are you doing there? What are you doing in this government? Do you really agree with a policy that would have Hamas rule over neighborhoods in Jerusalem? Do you really agree with a policy that would have them sitting on the hilltops overlooking Kfar Saba, Ra'anana and Tel Aviv? You are not preventing the danger by sitting in the government. On the contrary, you are giving legitimacy to a dangerous initiative and allowing it to happen.
No one has the moral right to frivolously and irresponsibly concede the most precious assets of the Jewish nation. "The shofar blows on the Temple Mount." For two thousand years generations of Jews prayed for our return to this sacred site, and now they are going to concede it?!
In an emotional moment 40 years ago, General Motta Gur said, "The Temple Mount is in our hands." Well, it must stay in our hands, and so too must all of Jerusalem! After two thousand years, after the devastation of the Holocaust, we returned and built our country, we liberated our ancient capital while sacrificing the best of our sons.
Throughout this historic process, we drew great strength from a firm belief in the justice of our cause. If the government has stopped believing in the justice of our cause, if it is weary of standing up to our enemies - it must do one thing: go to the people and set a date for elections.
If you are tired, step aside. There are those who will carry the burden. There are those who will restore faith and hope to the nation.