Transcripts of Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC and Congress
May 24, 2011
My friends, To all our supporters in this great hall and to the millions of supporters across this great land, the people of Israel thank you. Thank you for your staunch commitment to Israel's security. Thank you for defending Israel's right to defend itself. Thank you for standing by Israel as it seeks a secure peace.
Now, I heard tonight from all the speakers something that you know - that Israel is America's indispensable ally. You understand that Israel and America stand shoulder to shoulder fighting common enemies, protecting common interests. You know that Israeli innovators help power computers, fight disease, conserve water, clean the planet. Your support for Israel flows from the heart.
You see, it's not just what Israel does. It's what Israel is. Now, let me explain that. Yesterday I had a great day. They let me out. Sara and I could actually go for a walk. And I have to congratulate the American security services. They're a little more generous than ours. So we walked along the Potomac and we got to visit Washington's majestic memorials. I read Jefferson's timeless words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." I read Lincoln's immortal address, "government of the people, for the people, by the people."
Now, let me tell you why these words resonate so powerfully with me and with all Israelis - because they're rooted in ideas first championed by our people, the Jewish people, the idea that all men are created in God's image, that no ruler is above the law, that everyone is entitled to justice. These are revolutionary Jewish ideas, and they were spoken thousands of years ago - when vast empires ruled the earth, vast slave empires ruled the world. And the Jews spoke these truths.
Israel is the cradle of our common civilization. It's the crucible of our common values. And the modern state of Israel was founded precisely on these eternal values. And this is why Israel's more than 1 million Muslims enjoy full democratic rights. This is why the only place in the Middle East where Christians are completely free to practice their faith is the democratic State of Israel. And this is why Israel, and only Israel, can be trusted to ensure the freedom for all faiths in our eternal capital, the united city of Jerusalem. My friends, Israel and America have drawn from these deep well springs of our common values. We forged an enduring friendship not merely between our governments, but between our peoples. Support for Israel doesn't divide America. It unites America. It unites the old and the young, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. And, yes, Joe Lieberman, it even unites independents. I want to take this opportunity to salute one of the great senators in my lifetime, a man who's given unbelievable service to his country, America, and has been unbelievably dedicated to Israel and the Jewish people. Thank you, Joe Lieberman.
You see, this broad support for Israel in the United States is a tremendous help and gives tremendous strength to my country. And since Harry Truman, Israel has looked to American presidents to stand by it as we meet the unfolding challenges of a changing world.
Yesterday President Obama spoke about his ironclad commitment to Israel's security. He rightly said that our security cooperation is unprecedented. He spoke of that commitment not just in front of AIPAC. He spoke about it in two speeches heard throughout the Arab world. And he has backed those words with deeds.
I know these are tough economic times. So I want to thank the president and Congress for providing Israel with vital assistance so that Israel can defend itself by itself. I want to thank you all for supporting the Iron Dome missile defense system. A few weeks ago, Hamas terrorists in Gaza fired eight rockets at our cities, at Ashkelon and Beer Sheva. Now, these rockets never reached their targets. Iron Dome intercepted them in midair. For the first time, a missile defense system worked in combat. That's a precedent in military history. And I want to say thank you, America.
America and Israel are cooperating in many other ways as well. We're cooperating in science, in technology, in trade, in investment. It's not only American companies that are investing in Israel. It's Israeli companies investing in America. In the last decade, Israeli companies have invested more than $50 billion in the United States. One of those companies is investing just down the road in Richmond. It's a company that is building a food factory. Now, here's what it means - more business, more jobs, and, yes, more hummus.
Well, it's not just food we're bringing to America. Take medicine. Israel is advancing cure for multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, cancer. We've developed mechanical means to make paraplegics walk again. We've placed a tiny diagnostic camera inside a pill. I have not swallowed it, but I understand it's quite effective. And you've just heard of this miraculous bandage developed by an Israeli company that has helped save Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' life. And I wish Gabby, a great friend of Israel, "Refuah Shlema", a happy, quick, speedy recovery.
Israel and America are also cooperating to end the world's worst addiction, the addiction to oil. This dependence fuels terrorism. It poisons the planet. So we've launched a 10-year program in Israel to kick the habit, to find a substitute for gasoline. And if we succeed, we can change the world. We can change history. My friends, the American people's support for Israel is reflected in my invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress tomorrow. I will talk about the great convulsion taking place in the Middle East, the risks and the opportunities. And I will talk about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. And I will also outline a vision for a secure Israeli-Palestinian peace. I intend to speak the unvarnished truth because now, more than ever, what we need is clarity.
Events in the region are opening people's eyes to a simple truth: The problems of the region are not rooted in Israel. The remarkable scenes we're witnessing in town squares across the Middle East and North Africa are occurring for a simple reason: People want freedom. They want progress. They want a better life.
For many of the peoples of the region, the 20th century skipped them by. And now 21st century technology is telling them what they missed out on. You remember that desperate food vendor in Tunis? Why did he set himself on fire? Not because of Israel. He set himself on fire because of decades of indignity, decades of intolerable corruption.
And the millions who poured into the streets of Tehran, Tunis, Cairo, Sanaa, Benghazi, Damascus, they're not thinking about Israel. They're thinking of freedom. They're yearning for opportunity. They're yearning for hope for themselves and for their children. So it's time to stop blaming Israel for all the region's problems.
Let me stress one thing. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a vital interest for us. It would be the realization of a powerful and eternal dream. But it is not a panacea for the endemic problems of the Middle East. It will not give women in some Arab countries the right to drive a car. It will not prevent churches from being bombed. It will not keep journalists out of jail.
What will change this? One word: Democracy - real, genuine democracy. And by democracy, I don't just mean elections. I mean freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, the rights for women, for gays, for minorities, for everyone. What the people of Israel want is for the people of the Middle East to have what you have in America, what we have in Israel - democracy. So it's time to recognize this basic truth. Israel is not what's wrong with the Middle East. Israel is what's right about the Middle East.
My friends, we want peace because we know the pain of terror and we know the agony of war. We want peace because we know the blessings peace could bring - what it could bring to us and to our Palestinian neighbors. But if we hope to advance peace with the Palestinians, then it's time that we admitted another truth. This conflict has raged for nearly a century because the Palestinians refuse to end it. They refuse to accept the Jewish state.
Now, this is what this conflict has always been about. There are many issues linked to this conflict that must be resolved between Israelis and Palestinians. We can, we must, resolve them. But I repeat: We can only make peace with the Palestinians if they're prepared to make peace with the Jewish state.
Tomorrow in Congress, I'll describe what a peace between a Palestinian state and the Jewish state could look like. But I want to assure you of one thing. It must leave Israel with security. And therefore, Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 lines. I'll talk about these and other aspects of peace tomorrow in Congress. But tonight I want to express Israel's gratitude for all you are doing to help strengthen Israel and the great alliance that Israel has with America. You helped maintain our qualitative military edge. You backed sanctions against Iran. You supported genuine peace. You opposed Hamas. And you've joined President Obama and me in denouncing Hamas and demanding that it release our captive soldier, Gilad Shalit.
That's another outrageous crime of Hamas. Just imagine keeping a young soldier locked in a dark dungeon for five years without even a single visit - not a single visit of the Red Cross. I think that the entire civilized community should join Israel and the United States and all of us in a simple demand from Hamas: Release Gilad Shalit.
My friends, I spent my high-school years in Philadelphia. I understand it's developed quite a bit since then. But during those years, when it was a sleepier town, I used to go visit the Liberty Bell. Now, as Prime Minister of Israel, I can walk down the street and see an exact replica of that bell in Jerusalem's Liberty Park. On both bells is the same inscription. It comes from the Bible, from the book of Leviticus , "U'kratem Dror BaAretz L'chol Yoshveha", "Proclaim liberty throughout the land." My dear friends, this is the essence of the great alliance between our two nations - two peoples bonded in liberty and seeking freedom and peace for all. That's what this alliance is all about. And you are part of it. You maintain it.
I thank you on behalf of the people of Israel and the government of Israel. Thank you for the American-Israel alliance. Thank you, AIPAC.
MAY 24, 2011
SPEAKER: ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Vice President Biden, Speaker Boehner, distinguished senators, members of the House, honored guests, I'm deeply moved by this warm welcome. And I'm deeply honored that you've given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time.
Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time that we were the new kids in town?
And I do see a lot of old friends here, and I see a lot of new friends of Israel here, as well -- Democrats and Republicans alike.
Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel.
We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism.
Congratulations, America. Congratulations, Mr. President. You got bin Laden. Good riddance.
In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America's unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.
My friends, you don't have to -- you don't need to do nation- building in Israel. We're already built.
You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it.
And you don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves.
NETANYAHU: You've been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you, President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel's security.
I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this.
Some of you have been telling me that your belief has been reaffirmed in recent months that support for Israel's security is a wise investment in our common future, for an epic battle is now under way in the Middle East between tyranny and freedom. A great convulsion is shaking the earth from the Khyber Pass to the Straits of Gibraltar. The tremors have shattered states. They've toppled governments. And we can all see that the ground is still shifting.
Now, this historic moment holds the promise of a new dawn of freedom and opportunity. There are millions of young people out there who are determined to change their future. We all look at them. They muster courage. They risk their lives.
They demand dignity. They desire liberty. These extraordinary scenes in Tunis and Cairo evoke those of Berlin and Prague in 1989. Yet, as we share their hopes...
You know, I take it as a badge of honor, and so should you, that in our free societies you can have protests. You can't have these protests in the farcical parliaments in Tehran or in Tripoli. This is real democracy.
So as we share the hopes of these young people throughout the Middle East and Iran that they'll be able to do what that young woman just did -- I think she's young; I couldn't see quite that far...
... we must also remember that those hopes could be snuffed out, as they were in Tehran in 1979.
You remember what happened there. The brief democratic spring in Tehran was cut short by a ferocious and unforgiving tyranny. And it's this same tyranny that smothered Lebanon's democratic Cedar Revolution and inflicted on that long-suffering country the Medieval rule of Hezbollah.
So today the Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads. And like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less traveled, the path of liberty.
No one knows what this path consists of better than you. Nobody.
This path of liberty is not paved by elections alone. It's paved when governments permit protests in town squares, when limits are placed on the powers of rulers, when judges are beholden to laws and not men, and when human rights cannot be crushed by tribal loyalties or mob rule.
Israel has always embraced this path in a Middle East that has long rejected it. In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different.
And this was seen...
There was a great English writer in the 19th century, George Eliot. It's a she. That was a pseudonym in those days.
George Eliot predicted over a century ago that once established the Jewish state -- here's what she said, "The Jewish state will shine like a bright star of freedom amid the despotisms of the East."
Well, she was right. We have a free press, independent courts, an open economy, rambunctious parliamentary debates.
Now, don't laugh.
Ah, you see, you think you're tough on another -- on one another here in Congress? Come spend a day in the Knesset. Be my guest.
Courageous Arab protesters are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies.
We're proud in Israel that over 1 million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades.
Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.
Now, I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of 1 percent are truly free and they're all citizens of Israel.
This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong with about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East.
Israel fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely. We long for the day when Israel will be one of many real democracies in the region -- in the Middle East.
Fifteen years ago, I stood at this very podium. By the way, it hasn't changed.
I stood here and I said that democracy must start to take root in the Arab world. Well, it's begun to take root. And this beginning holds the promise of a brilliant future of peace and prosperity. Because I believe that a Middle East that is genuinely democratic will be a Middle East truly at peace.
But while we hope for the best and while we work for the best, we must also recognize that powerful forces oppose this future.
They oppose modernity. They oppose democracy. They oppose peace.
Foremost among these forces is Iran. The tyranny in Tehran brutalizes its own people. It supports attacks against American troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It subjugates Lebanon and Gaza. It sponsors terror worldwide.
When I last stood here, I spoke of the consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out, the hinge of history may soon turn, for the greatest danger of all could soon be upon us: a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.
Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam.
Now, I have no doubt, I'm absolutely convinced that it will ultimately be defeated. I believe it will eventually succumb to the forces of freedom and progress. It depends on cloistering young minds for a given amount of years, and the process of opening up information will ultimately defeat this movement.
But like other fanaticisms that were doomed to fail, militant Islam could exact an horrific price from all of us before its eventual demise. A nuclear armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It would give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. It would make the nightmare of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger throughout the world.
I want you to understand what this means, because if we don't stop it, it's coming.
They could put a bomb anywhere. They could put it in a missile. They're working on missiles that could reach this city.
They could put it on a -- on a ship, inside a container. It could reach every port.
They could eventually put it in a suitcase or in a subway.
Now, the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads in the sand. Less than seven decades after 6 million Jews were murdered, Iran's leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people, while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state.
Leaders who spew such venom should be banned from every respectable forum on the planet.
Now, there's something that makes the outrage even greater. And you know what that is? It's the lack of outrage. Because in much of the international community the calls for our destruction are met with utter silence.
It's even worse, because there are many who rush to condemn Israel for defending itself against Iran's terror proxies.
Not you. Not America.
You've acted differently. You've condemned the Iranian regime for its genocidal aims. You've passed tough sanctions against Iran.
History will salute you, America.
President Obama has said that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The president successfully led the Security Council at the U.N. to adopt sanctions against Iran. You in Congress passed even tougher sanctions.
Now, these words, and these, are vitally important. Yet the ayatollah regime briefly suspended its nuclear weapons program only once, in 2003, when it feared the possibility of military action. In that same year, Moammar Gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapons program and for the same reason.
The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation.
And this is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message that America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
Now, as for Israel, if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously.
We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. When we say "Never again," we mean never again.
Israel always reserves -- Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.
My friends, while Israel will be ever-vigilant in its defense, we'll never give up our quest for peace. I guess we'll give it up when we achieve it.
Because we want peace. Because we need peace.
Now, we've achieved historic peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and these have held up for decades.
I remember what it was like before we had peace. I was nearly killed in a firefight inside the Suez Canal -- I mean that literally -- inside the Suez Canal. I was going down to the bottom with a 40- pound pack -- ammunition pack on my back, and somebody reached out to grab me. And they're still looking for the guy who did such a stupid thing.
I was nearly killed there.
And I remember battling terrorists along both banks of the Jordan.
Too many Israelis have lost loved ones, and I know their grief.
I lost my brother. So no one in Israel wants to return to those terrible days.
The peace with Egypt and Jordan has long served as an anchor of stability and peace in the heart of the Middle East. And this peace...
This peace should be bolstered by economic and political support to all those who remain committed to peace.
The peace agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan are vital, but they're not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians.
Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state.
I'm willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel it's my responsibility to lead my people to peace.
Now, this is not easy for me. It's not easy...
... because I recognize that in a genuine peace, we'll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland. And you have to understand this: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.
We're not the British in India. We're not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace.
No distortion of history -- and boy, am I reading a lot of distortions of history lately, old and new -- no distortion of history could deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.
But there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace...
... in which they'll be neither Israel's subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state.
They should enjoy a prosperous economy where their creativity and initiative can flourish.
Now, we've already seen the beginnings of what is possible. In the last two years, the Palestinians have begun to build a better life for themselves.
By the way, Prime Minister Fayyad has led this effort on their part and I -- I wish him a speedy recovery from his recent operation.
We've helped, on our side, we've helped the Palestinian economic growth by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable. The Palestinian economy is booming. It's growing by more than 10 percent a year. And Palestinian cities -- they look very different today than what they looked just few -- a few years ago. They have shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, banks. They even have e-businesses, but you can't see that when you visit them.
That's what they have.
It's a great change.
And all of this is happening without peace. So imagine what could happen with peace.
Peace would herald a new day for both our peoples, and it could also make the dream of a broader Arab-Israeli peace a realistic possibility.
So now here's the question -- you've got to ask it -- If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us?
Because all six Israeli prime ministers since the signing of the Oslo accords agreed to establish a Palestinian state, myself included. So why has peace not been achieved?
Because so far the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.
You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It's always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about.
In 1947 the U.N. voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said "Yes." The Palestinians said "No."
In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli prime ministers to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six-Day War.
They were simply unwilling to end the conflict.
And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And, worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy the Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees.
My friends, this must come to an end.
President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people -- and I told you it wasn't easy for me. I stood before my people, and I said, "I will accept a Palestinian state."
It's time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, "I will accept a Jewish state."
Those six words will change history. They'll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end, that they're not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it.
And those six words will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace.
With such a partner, the Palestinians -- or, rather, the Israeli people will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise; I will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise.
This compromise must reflect the dramatic demographic changes that have occurred since 1967.
The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv.
Now, these areas are densely populated, but they're geographically quite small. And under any realistic peace agreement these areas, as well as other places of critical strategic and national importance, will be (ph) incorporated into the final borders of Israel.
The status of the settlements will be decided only in negotiations. But we must also be honest. So I'm saying today something that should be said publicly by all those who are serious about peace: In any real peace agreement, in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel's borders.
Now, the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We'll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.
So I want to be very clear on this point: Israel will be generous on the size of a Palestinian state, but we'll be very firm on where we put the border with it.
This is an important principle; shouldn't be lost.
We recognize that a Palestinian state must be big enough to be viable, to be independent, to be prosperous.
All of you, and the president, too, have referred to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, just as you've been talking about a future Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people.
Well, Jews from around the world have a right to immigrate to the one and only Jewish state.
And Palestinians from around the world should have a right to immigrate, if they so choose, to a Palestinian state.
And here's what this means: It means that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.
You know, everybody knows this. It's time to say it. It's important. And as for Jerusalem, only a democratic Israel has protected the freedom of worship for all faiths in the city.
Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians and Muslims could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites, has been during Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem.
Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.
I know this is a difficult issue for Palestinians, but I believe that with creativity and with goodwill, a solution can be found. So this is the peace I plan to forge with a Palestinian partner committed to peace. But you know very well that in the Middle East the only peace that will hold is a peace you can defend. So peace must be anchored in security.
In recent years, Israel withdrew from South Lebanon and from Gaza. We thought we'd get peace. That's not what we got.
We got 12,000 rockets fired from those areas on our cities, on our children, by Hezbollah and Hamas.
The U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, they failed to prevent the smuggling of this weaponry. The European observers in Gaza, they evaporated overnight.
So if Israel simply walked out of the territories, the flow of weapons into a future Palestinian state would be unchecked. And missiles fired from it could reach virtually every home in Israel in less than a minute.
I want you to think about that, too. Imagine there's a siren going on now, and we have less than 60 seconds to find shelter from an incoming rocket.
Would you live that way? Do you think anybody can live that way?
Well, we're not going to live that way, either.
The truth is that Israel needs unique security arrangements, because of its unique size. It's one of the smallest countries in the world.
Mr. Vice President, I'll grant you this: It's bigger than Delaware.
It's even bigger than Rhode Island. But that's about it.
Israel on the 1967 lines would be half the width of the Washington Beltway.
Now, here's a bit of nostalgia. I came to Washington 30 years ago, as a young diplomat. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out: There is an America beyond the Beltway.
But Israel on the 1967 lines would be only nine miles wide. So much for strategic depth.
So it's therefore vital, absolutely vital, that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized.
And it's vital, absolutely vital, that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River.
Solid security arrangements on the ground are necessary not only to protect the peace, they're necessary to protect Israel in case the peace unravels. Because in our unstable region, no one can guarantee that our peace partners today will be there tomorrow.
And, my friends, when I say "Tomorrow," I don't mean some distant time in the future. I mean tomorrow.
Peace can only be achieved around the negotiating table. The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace.
It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end.
I appreciate the president's clear position on this issue. Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated.
But peace can only be negotiated with partners committed to peace, and Hamas is not a partner for peace.
Hamas -- Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction and to terrorism.
They have a charter. That charter not only calls for the obliteration of Israel, it says kill the Jews everywhere you find them.
Hamas' leader condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a holy warrior.
Now, again, I want to make this clear: Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority.
I believe we can fashion a brilliant future for our children.
But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of Al Qaida. That we will not do.
So I say to President Abbas, "Tear up your pact with Hamas, sit down and negotiate, make peace with the Jewish state. And if you do, I promise you this: Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as the new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so."
My friends, the momentous trials of the last century and the unfolding events of this century attest to the decisive role of the United States in defending peace and advancing freedom. Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All people who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation.
Among the most grateful nations is my nation, the people of Israel, who have fought for their liberty and survival against impossible odds in ancient and modern times alike.
I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state when I say to you, representatives of America, thank you.
Thank you. Thank you for your unwavering support for Israel. Thank you for ensuring that the flame of freedom burns bright throughout the world.
May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Hamas and Fatah Unified against Netanyahu's SpeechIyar 20, 5771, 24 May 11 11:23by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
(Israelnationalnews.com) Hamas and Fatah were united in their reactions to Netanyahu's speech in Congress, while Israeli reactions, with few exceptions, fell along party lines.
Saeb Erekat, a senior member of the Ramallah-Based Palestinian Authority and the senior negotiator during the period of talks with Israel, accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of distorting history. The Israeli leader told Congress that all of Judea and Samaria, including parts he would be willing to surrender for a "true peace," are part of the ancient Jewish homeland.
He also said that Israel's ancient ties to the land do not allow for charges that Jews are "occupying" Judea and Samaria.
In a recent speech by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, published and translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), he claimed that Palestinian history dates back 9,000 years, making Palestinians "the owners of history."
After Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech, which was warmly received by Congress, Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh reiterated the PA's opposition to Israel's demand for a military presence along the Jordan Valley and a de-militarized Palestinian Authority.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated that the speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) this week by "the Zionist Benjamin Netanyahu…makes the continuation of negotiations with the Zionist entity is wrong and pointless." %ad%
Nationalist leaders in Israel chastised the Prime Minister for stating that he is willing to surrender parts of Israel that he told Congress "is the land of our forefathers." The Likud party leader also told the special session of Congress, "In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo...
"No distortion of history can deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land."
Gershon Mesika, chairman of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council, charged that Prime Minister Netanyahu "waved the sword of expulsion over the heads of 100,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria" by declaring he would be willing to agree to a Palestinian Authority state with many Jewish communities outside of Israel's borders.
"Netanyahu surfed down the slippery slope that he created in his speech at Bar-Ilan University last year that recognized a future Palestinian Authority country," Mesika stated. "His tactic of holding out for more time does not justify promises to trade our homeland."
National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari said that judging by "the reactions of both houses of Congress, we can learn that if it were up to them, the Palestinians are looking for a country on the moon. Netanyahu should understand that even the Americans are more right-wing than he is. Netanyahu has become the Herzl of the Palestinians."
National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz said that this is "the first time that Netanyahu has publicly stated that the Likud platform has changed and that an Arab country will rise in the Land of Israel."
Several Kadima Knesset members chided Prime Minister Netanyahu for delivering "an election speech," which the New York Times noted had the tone of a State of the Union address.
His speech was a hit with his audience and generally was considered excellent in style. Kadima MK Otniel Schneller differed from his colleagues' criticism and said, "The Prime Minister's speech reflects a broad common denominator in Israeli society that seeks to promote the political process while maintaining the values and security interests of the country."