Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis addressed the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis vowed on Sunday that Israel will never withdraw from any area of its ancient homeland, and that the “failed formula of land for peace” must come to an end.
“The whole world should realize that whenever Israel withdraws from land, the peace was withdrawn as well,” Akunis said at The Jerusalem Post’s Annual Conference in New York.
“As we have seen time and time again, every withdrawal Israel made in an attempt for peace – all the Israeli citizens got back in return was terror, violence and war.”
Paying tribute to US President Donald Trump for transferring the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Akunis said the American leader’s recent actions were in “complete accordance” with his world view.
Minsiter of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis speaks at the 8th annual Jerusalem Post Conference, New York
“We must start thinking outside the box and find new, creative solutions to create peace,” said Akunis.
“The initiative to start a process based on economic peace is excellent and we can dramatically improve Israeli and Palestinian lives as well. Unfortunately, the Palestinians always refuse and say no to any initiative, just like they did in the last 100 years.”
Akunis, who told conference-goers of his disbelief as the American flag was raised above the Jerusalem embassy in May 2018, drew parallels between that moment and US president Harry Truman’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1948.
“Just recently, the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said what should have been obvious forever: that Israel has the right to retain parts of Judea and Samaria,” said Akunis. “I heard Jason Greenblatt say it as well, one or two hours ago.”
Akunis, who has headed the Science Ministry since August 2015, cited the many countries who wish to make alliances with Israel based on its “enormous” human capital.
“Many of the world’s most significant ideas, developments and inventions, which benefit the whole world, were born in our small country,” the minister said.
He highlighted more than 25 delegations, many led by science ministers, who traveled to Jerusalem, also in May 2018, to attend the first international ministerial-level conference on science policy.
Last month, Akunis announced that the Israel Space Agency would contribute NIS 20 million ($5.6m.) toward Beresheet 2, a second SpaceIL-led mission to land an Israeli spacecraft on the moon – double the NIS 10m. ($2.8m.) contribution made to the first, ill-fated Beresheet project.
“Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and I believe that Israel must remain at the forefront of innovation, hi-tech and scientific discovery, as we continue to remain a strong player in the region and eternal allies with the United States,” he said.
Balad chairman MK Dr. Mtanes Shihadeh responded angrily to Akunis's speech, stating that his comments constituted "apartheid."
"I suggest that Minister Akunis reviews UN resolutions on the Golan Heights, because he apparently forgot that the world is not only made up of the Israeli government and the Trump administration," Shihadeh wrote on Twitter.
"However, there are many countries and a broad international community that recognize the right of the Palestinian people and oppose the 'deal of the century,' the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the annexation of the Golan Heights and the occupation."
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