PM praises Ben Gurion's 'commitment to future'

At memorial Netanyahu refers to "willingness to take difficult decisions to ensure future"; in apparent reference to Iran, PM says much can be learned from Ben-Gurion’s decision to declare state against all odds.

Netanyahu at Ben Gurion memorial service 311 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Netanyahu at Ben Gurion memorial service 311
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seemed to have Iran very much on his mind Sunday when he praised David Ben-Gurion for his ability to take tough, fateful decisions in the face of long odds and conventional wisdom.
Netanyahu, speaking at a Sde Boker ceremony commemorating the 38th anniversary of the death of Israel’s first premier, said that during these tumultuous days much can be learned from Ben-Gurion’s legacy.
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“First and foremost we must learn from his commitment to Israel’s future, and his willingness to take the difficult decisions necessary to ensure that future,” Netanyahu said.
“There is no doubt that the moment of supreme test for Ben-Gurion was the moment of deciding on the establishment of the state.”
With former Mossad head Meir Dagan and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warning in recent days against an Israeli attack on Iran, Netanyahu reminded his listeners that Ben-Gurion’s decision to declare statehood in 1948 – something that seems like such a given today – was anything but a given back then.
“From within and outside, from inside the Yishuv and all over the world, there was enormous pressure on Ben- Gurion not to take this step,” Netanyahu said. “Everyone told him: This is not the time, not now.”
Drawing obvious parallels to those today counseling Israel not to take military action against Iran, Netanyahu said that among those who advised Ben-Gurion against statehood were “important statesmen and friends and faithful representatives of the Yishuv and of Zionism. They warned Ben- Gurion that the declaration would lead to an Arab armed invasion against the embryonic Jewish state, and a hard and difficult campaign.
“Ben-Gurion did not ignore these warnings,” Netanyahu said.
Then, perhaps hinting at his own current frame of mind, the prime minister added that Ben-Gurion “clearly understood that there would be a high price for his decision, but he believed there would be an even heavier price to pay for not making the decision.
“We are all here today because Ben-Gurion made the right decision at the right time. He considered and debated for a long time, but ultimately he was willing to make difficult decisions for the future of the nation.”
In an apparent allusion to disagreements within his own government about the proper course to follow regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that Ben-Gurion had difficulty passing the decision to declare a state in the Provisional Council at the time, and that the vote passed only 6-4.
“Imagine what would have happened had one vote moved from supporting the proposition to opposing it. If Ben-Gurion was not determined enough, if he had missed the moment, who knows what would have happened to our people and our country,” Netanyahu said.
“In this burial place of the great leader who declared the state and gave it the name ‘Israel,’ I want to believe that we will always act with discretion, courage and determination to make the right decisions to ensure our future and security,” he said.
During the speech, which officials in his office characterized as “important,” Netanyahu also related for the first time publicly to the parliamentary elections in Egypt, easily won by the Islamists.
“We hope that any government that will be established in Egypt will recognize the importance of peace with Israel, as both a value in itself and as a foundation of security and economic stability for the region,” he said.
Netanyahu said Israel was working hard to complete within a year the construction of the security fence along the 240-km. border with Egypt, both to keep illegal infiltrators from entering the country, and also to provide security against Sinai-based terrorist attacks like the one near Eilat in August that killed eight people.