peretz addresses labor.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The following is a summary of Amir Peretz's January 23, 2005 policy address before the Herzliya conference
I am sorry to say that over the years we have been able to recognize strategic dangers, but we have always implemented tactical maneuvers which were clearly not part of a comprehensive solution.
My aim is to offer the Israeli public a moral road map which will include a political chapter and an economic-social chapter. These chapters are intertwined, as peace cannot exist without social justice, and social justice cannot be attained without peace.
The first premise includes two invaluable standards for the continuing existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation: morals and demographics.
The second premise includes a primary round: peace agreements prove that political agreements can be attained, and when a nation chooses peace it can hardly go back to the way of war.
Syria and Lebanon are inherently two different issues which are mutually influential. On our part, we will fight against any evidence of terrorism, in the northern border as well. We must not allow a state of anarchy to develop in our neighboring countries.
The Palestinian conflict nourishes the conflict with the whole Arab world, and so dealing with the Palestinian conflict must remain as a primary priority. We have not learned to make courageous decisions in the right time.
I hear the voices that say: "Excuse us, we were wrong - now we are ready for compromises." And I ask - who will be held accountable for the high price we've paid for the illusion of the "complete Israel"? Who will be held accountable for the illegal acts committed over the years? The seeds were sown then! Cultivating the settlements at the expense of developing cities and neighborhoods was a price we paid as well.
I believed in the solution of two states for two peoples even when I was the head of the Sderot municipality, and I said that a Palestinian state is not only an Israeli interest, at a time when the Labor Party was only debating the issue.
The second round: Gulf States can play a positive role in backing the right processes if they begin to take place. The change of situation in Iraq allows us to turn to Iran - we must not take the case lightly and we must be involved as much as possible in the decisions taken by the global community. We must do everything in our power since this is an issue which poses a danger for the free world and not only Israel. There is an internal consensus on this fact.
The third premise is an understanding that leadership must bring us to a situation where policy structures reality, and not the other way around.
Several conclusions regarding the Disengagement:
The Disengagement was a unilateral move that was successful like the unilateral action we took in Lebanon. In both cases we moved back to the recognized borders of 1967, and so we received national support and arrived to internal political agreement. The fate of Gaza and Lebanon cannot be equated to Judea and Samaria.
Within the political chapter, the Labor Party wants to reach a permanent status agreement by the end of the decade based on the following: the road to peace is through negotiations with both sides, as well as through Israeli cooperation with the international community against terrorism. The building of the security fence will be concluded immediately - based on the accepted criteria of the defense and judicial factions. The Road Map must include new elements, and we must make sure that large settlement blocs remain part of Israel.
Jerusalem will continue to be the eternal and exclusive capital of Israel, within borders that will maintain a Jewish majority and security, a Jewish character and international recognition. We must ask ourselves - is it possible for us to continue paying social security to 230,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem and its surroundings? Do we wish to annex them as citizens while they see themselves as Palestinians? A few years ago they were registered in the Jerusalem voting books, and in a few days they will be registered in the Palestinian ones.
Most of our public is moving towards peace and reconciliation while the Palestinians are moving in the opposite direction while the Hamas is getting stronger.
If the Hamas gains an unchangeable influence, we will not agree to continue negotiations with such an organization which calls for the destruction of Israel, but we will not agree to a political stalemate either. In this case we will move towards a physical and security separation which will allow us to live our lives, retain the large settlement blocs and give up large parts of Judea and Samaria. Our aspiration for peace does not depend on a partner. They need to know that we are fighting because we are being fought, not because we want territorial rights. Every citizen of Judea and Samaria will be aptly compensated - we will not relinquish them to economic and political insecurity. Whoever wants to rebuild their home will receive complete support. The Labor government will not hesitate to dismantle and evacuate settlements, but will do so out of concern.
This is the ethical and moral road map in which the political and social aspects feed off each other
The poverty report that was published today is not a natural disaster or a beating of fate. The demise of Israel into moral and ethical disgrace did not save our economic market - $10 billion in US guarantees, the situation in Iraq, the Disengagement and other factors helped save the Israeli market.
I see the social gap as a strategic threat to existence in Israel. Under the Labor government there will be no starving children, there will be no elderly people searching for food in garbage cans, there will be no middle class that is about to fall beneath the poverty line. We will undertake educational reform, we will raise the minimum wage to $1000 and we will announce the independence of workers. We will draft a pension law for every citizen and we will fight against the closeness of wealth and power.
There will be no new taxes placed, including an inheritance tax. There is enough money in our budget and we will simply alter our priorities. The more we work for change, the economy and society will blossom and our nation will be able to withstand social tests and the test of peace.