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
Netanyahu discarded a prepared text and spoke
extemporaneously, following the example of Peres who had spoken before
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
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
Netanyahu said there were many things that he wanted to thank
Peres for, but most of all for his eternal optimism, youth and
The prime minister emphasized the importance of cables that
ambassadors send to their home countries, saying that what isn’t in a cable
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
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
“We have to be able to defend ourselves. This is a
prerequisite for peace.” There have to be solid security arrangements, he
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.”
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.
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.
to be good neighbors than bad citizens in the same country,” he said.
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
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.