The way it should have been...
Honored guests, citizens of Israel, Peace has always been our people’s most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace.
We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. They made a cold peace, which is really not much more than a permanent ceasefire. The same situation exists with Jordan. We have been unable until now to forge a true and lasting peace with our neighbors because what is essential is that we make peace with our Father in Heaven. Only then, will we find the peace that has eluded us until now.
I took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of Israel. I pledged to establish a national unity government – and I did. I believed and I still believe that unity was essential for us now more than ever as we face three immense challenges – the Iranian threat, the economic crisis, and the attempt by the United States to deny us our sovereignty as a nation.
The Iranian threat looms large before us, as was further demonstrated yesterday. The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this issue with President Obama during my recent visit to Washington, and I will raise it again in my meetings next week with European leaders. For years, I have been working tirelessly to forge an international alliance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, even should we have to confront this threat alone, we will rise to the occasion. The G-d of Israel is our Strength, our Shield and our Protector. We depend upon Him alone for our salvation and our success.
Confronting a global economic crisis, the government acted swiftly to stabilize Israel’s economy. We passed a two-year budget in the government – and the Knesset will soon approve it. And the third challenge, so exceedingly important, is the ongoing and increasing involvement of the United States in dictating terms to Israel as if she were not a sovereign nation in her own right. I also spoke about this with President Obama, and I fully expect him to think twice before making any more threats about cutting aid or restricting access to ammunition and parts, while they continue to supply our enemies. To this end, I met with President Mubarak in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan, to elicit the support of these leaders in scaling down the amount of aid and supplies being directed to this region by the US, until it can be eliminated in its entirety.
I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: “Let us meet. Let us speak of self-interest and cooperation to our mutual benefit. I am ready to meet with you at any time. I am willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place- including Jerusalem. I call on the Arab countries to cooperate with us in our just efforts to rid the Middle East of the ravages of Western culture and influence by freezing the Americans out of the region. We must become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the West for our needs. We must cut the strings that bind us to their good will and advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a political peace, but an important element to achieving it. Together, we can undertake projects to overcome the scarcities of our region, like water desalination or to maximize its advantages, like developing solar energy, or laying gas and petroleum lines, and transportation links between Asia, Africa and Europe. The economic success of the Gulf States has impressed us all and it has impressed me. I call on the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world to come and invest here and to assist us in spurring the economy.
Together, with Israel in the lead, we can develop industrial areas that will generate thousands of jobs and create the greatest tourist draw the modern world has ever seen. The rebuilt Beit Hamikdash will attract millions of visitors eager to walk in the footsteps of history – in Hebron, in Beit El and in Shechem, around the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee at Teverya and in Tsfat.
There is an enormous potential for archeological tourism and spiritual renaissance, if we can only learn to cooperate and to develop it. I turn to you, our ‘Palestinian’ neighbors, currently led by the ‘Palestinian’ Authority, and I say: pack your bags and pick your city. You will be given a deadline by which you must leave this place for good. We own this land by the grace of the Sovereign of the Universe and our covenant with Him forbids us to share it with you, for what are by now very obvious reasons.
Like America who recently said they will not be bound by any previous agreement made between Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush over what the world calls “West Bank Settlements,” Israel no longer feels obligated by its international commitments and expects all parties to act in their own national self-interests in accordance with the dictates of their Creator. We want to live with you in peace, as good neighbors. We want our children and your children to never again experience war: that parents, brothers and sisters will never again know the agony of losing loved ones in battle; that our children will be able to dream of a better future and realize that dream; and that together we will invest our energies in plowshares and pruning hooks, not swords and spears, but we are also realistic and we understand that only the Sovereign of the World can bring that day into reality.
I know the face of war. I have experienced battle. I lost close friends. I lost a brother. I have seen the pain of bereaved families. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. If we, the people of Israel will humble ourselves and pray, searching our hearts and souls and doing sincere and complete teshuva by correcting all our errors until this day, there is no limit to the development and prosperity we can achieve for ourselves and for the world – in the economy, agriculture, trade, tourism and education - most importantly, in providing our youth a better world in which to live, a world in which the abundance of Heaven flows out from the rebuilt Temple of G-d, where the Name of G-d is exalted and praised by the Leviim, where those who approach in purity and holiness can bring their offerings, empowering and uplifting their souls. We can all experience a life of meaning and purpose---a life full of tranquility, creativity, opportunity and hope.
If the advantages of re-establishing the Holy Temple are so evident, we must ask ourselves why this great national mitzvah remains so long unfulfilled, even as our hands remain outstretched to Heaven? Why has this been neglected for more than sixty years? In order to bring an end to this deplorable situation, we must give an honest and forthright answer to the question: What is the root of our failure to act?
In his speech to the generation that left Egypt, the tribal leader of Shevet Yehudah, Calev ben Yefuneh, said about the Jewish national home “We can surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it.”
Today, I will speak about the immense challenge of conquering and taking possession of this land. Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality, to the truth. And the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and remains, our refusal to recognize the full rights of the Jewish people to our historic homeland. In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing.
The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders. Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence. The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the six-day war, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria. Fortunately, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of enmity. The signing of peace treaties have brought about only an end to overt hostilities, but not an end to the conflict. However, this is not the case with the ‘Palestinians.’ The closer we get to an agreement with them, the further they retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end the conflict. It is high time that we dealt with these usurpers and interlopers in the same way that we dealt with the seven nations of Canaan.
Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the ‘Palestinians’. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles. We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement. We tried a partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal. In 2000 and again last year, Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the conflict, and twice our offers were rejected. We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted tens of settlements and evicted thousands of Israelis from their homes, and in response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children. The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the ‘Palestinians,’ or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality.
In addition to this, Hamas in the south, like Hezbollah in the north, repeatedly proclaims their commitment to “liberate” the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Beersheba, Acre and Haifa. Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, ‘Palestinian’ moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.
Achieving peace will require courage and candor. We, the People of Israel, must arise and say: “Enough of this conflict. We claim this land in the Name of the Creator Who granted it to our forefathers and to us, and we are prepared to live in it in accordance with the dictates of our Holy Torah.” I am yearning for that moment, for when our leaders say those words to our people and to the people of the world, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be.
Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Israeli recognition of the terms of the covenant which we forged with the Creator at Har Sinai. To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear understanding that the ‘Palestinian’ problem will be resolved according to the Torah model. For it is clear that any demand for allowing the ‘Palestinians’ to remain within Israel undermines Israel’s continued existence as the state of the Jewish people and prevents the fulfillment of her unique destiny.
The ‘Palestinian’ refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, but this is the responsibility of the nations of the world who drove our ancestors out of our land, bringing about a situation where usurpers and interlopers came in unopposed and took what rightfully belonged to us. Tiny Israel successfully absorbed tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries. Therefore, justice and logic demand that the ‘Palestinian’ refugee problem be solved outside Israel’s borders. On this point, there is a broad national consensus. I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved.
So far I have spoken about the need for ‘Palestinians’ to recognize our rights, because where this land is concerned the ‘Palestinians’ have no rights. Allow me to say that the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived, are not alien to us. This is the land of our forefathers.
The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. True, for 2000 years the Jewish people suffered expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, and massacres which culminated in a Holocaust - a suffering which has no parallel in human history. There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occurred. This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need to re-learn the lessons learned in the midbar---that ayn od milvado and His arm is not too short or too weak, if we will but do our part and then trust Him completely.
But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged. As Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence: “The Jewish people arose in the land of Israel and it was here that its spiritual, religious and political character was shaped. Here they attained their sovereignty, and here they bequeathed to the world their national and cultural treasures, and the most eternal of books.”
But we must also tell the truth in its entirety: within this homeland lives a large ‘Palestinian’ community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them. We do not want to continue to support and provide for them as they continue to reproduce and then educate their children to murder Jews.
In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two such diverse peoples can not live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. The Palestinians will forever threaten the security or survival of Israel. Therefore, the only real solution is separation. As our revered Rabbi Meir Kahane, ztz”l, Hy”d once said so eloquently, “They must go!”
I have come tonight to give expression to that reality, and to the principles of peace and security which we learn from our Torah sages. These are the principles that guide our policy. This policy must not take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize that the nations will always oppose us and so we must be prepared to stand our ground bravely and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.
I have already stressed the first principle – recognition. ‘Palestinians’ must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is: depopulation. The territory currently under ‘Palestinian’ control must be returned to Israel and voluntarily depopulated of ‘Palestinians’ with ironclad security provisions for Israel. Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza. We don’t want Kassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion airport. We want peace.
In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that ‘Palestinians’ will not be able to import missiles into our territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel.
It is impossible to expect us to agree to the principle of a ‘Palestinian’ state. We must assure that this state never comes into being. On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must have our national needs addressed.
Therefore, today we inform our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the national destiny of Israel: Clear commitments that the territory currently controlled by the ‘Palestinians’ will be depopulated of Arabs and the relinquishment of all future claims to this land for succeeding generations. Furthermore, what occurs in Gaza today will also no longer be tolerated. We cannot accept anything less.
I told President Obama when I was in Washington that if we could agree on the substance, then the terminology would not pose a problem. And here is the substance that I now state clearly: If we receive this guarantee regarding depopulation and Israel’s national needs, and if the Palestinians agree to go without resistance, then we will be ready to let them live and leave in peace.
Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with religious freedom for all Jews and G-d fearers who abandon other false faiths. In the meantime, we have no intention of stopping new settlements or of limiting natural growth in existing settlements. But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere. The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace. Rather, they are an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public. Unity among us is essential and will help us achieve reconciliation with the Holy One, Blessed be He.
That reconciliation must already begin by altering existing realities. I believe that a strong, reformed Rabbanut will strengthen the people’s connection to Torah. There is no national goal more important at this time than re-connecting the people to their G-d given laws and heritage.
Above all else, the Israeli people must decide between the path of the yetzer hatov and the path of the yetzer hara. The renewed Sanhedrin will have to establish the rule of Torah law over all of Eretz Israel. Israel will no longer sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction. Hamas, who will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents, his family and his people, will be the first to go. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy and safe and to seeing that he is the last Jew ever held captive.
With the ‘Palestinian’ leadership and their people exiled far from Eretz Israel, with the active participation and agreement of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a breakthrough to peace. Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible. Over the past 61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed wonders. Our microchips are powering the world’s computers. Our medicines are treating diseases once considered incurable. Our drip irrigation is bringing arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. I advise our neighbors to respond positively to our call – a just peace is within our reach.
I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the ‘Palestinian’ leadership, let us begin a new/old path together, on the path of Yehoshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh, King David and Shmuel HaNavi.. Let us realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2700 years ago said: Awaken, awaken, put on your strength, O Zion; put on the garments of your beauty, Jerusalem the Holy City, for no longer shall the uncircumcised or the unclean continue to enter you." With God’s help, we will know no more war. We will know true peace, the peace that comes only from Above.
(See the original here.)