Last updated on June 17, 2022
I would encourage you to read this unofficial transcript that I wrote today—an impassioned plea from Prime Minister Netanyahu for peace that should stir the hearts of all Christians and Jews.
Ladies and gentlemen, in
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After all, it was here in 1975, the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life and our ancient Biblical homeland, it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism.
And it’s here, year after year, that
You might say that’s the past.
And then he said, remember, that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.
I came here to speak the truth.
The truth is ‑‑
The truth is that
The truth is, that I want peace.
The truth is, that in the
The truth is, that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties.
The truth is, that so far, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate.
Great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber. Hundreds of millions have been lifting out of poverty. Countless more are poised to follow and the remarkable thing is, so far, this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully.
Not to build, but to destroy. That malignancy is militant Islam.
>> Since 9/11, militant Islam has slaughtered countless other innocence. In
That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty. And no one would benefit more than
Leaders must see reality as it is. Not as it ought to be.
Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times, if you want to slow it down, they argue,
International troops will do the job.
We actually left territory.
We didn’t freeze settlements in
We uprooted them.
We did exactly what the theory says.
Go back to the 1967 borders.
Dismantle the settlements.
And I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this.
We uprooted thousands of people from their homes.
We pulled children out of their schools and their kindergartens.
We bulldozed synagogues.
We even moved loved ones from their graves.
And then having done all of that, we gave the keys of
Now, the theory says, it should all work out.
And President Abbas and the Palestinian authority now could build the peaceful state in
You can remember that the entire world applauded, they applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship, as a bold act of peace.
But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace.
We got war.
Which through its proxy, Hamas, promptly kicked out the Palestinian authority.
The Palestinian authority collapsed, in a day, in one day.
President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams.
Hopes, dreams, and 10,000 missiles, and rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from where else.
Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities, so you might understand that, given all of this, Israelis rightly ask, what’s to prevent this from happening again in the
See, most of our major cities in the South of the country are within a few dozen kilometres from
But in the centre of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred metres or at most a few kilometres away from the edge of the
So I want to ask you, would any of you, would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families?
Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens?
Israelis remember the bitter lessons of
They irresponsibly advise
You read what these people say and it’s as if nothing happened.
Just keep repeating the same advice, the same formulas, as though none of this happened.
And these critics continue to press
They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen.
They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out.
Or at the very least, jam a bar between its gaping jaws, so in the face of the labels and the Libels, heed advice.
Better a bad press than a eulogy, and better a press that extends beyond breakfast and recognizes
I believe in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed.
But they will not be addressed without negotiations, and the needs are many, because
Without Judea and
I’ll put it for you in perspective, because you’re all in the city.
That’s about 2/3 the length of
It’s the distance between Battery Park and
And don’t forget, that the people who live in Brooklyn and
So how do you protect such a tiny country?
Surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by
Obviously, you can’t defend it within that narrow space alone.
It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure indefensible boundaries.
And to defend itself,
I explained this to President Abbas.
He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements.
None of these states claim that they are not sovereign countries.
And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed.
Take the issue of airspace.
To fly across
Our major international airport is a few kilometres away from the
Without peace, would our planes become targets for anti‑aircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state?
And how will we stop the smuggling into the
It’s not merely the West Bank, it’s the
How can we prevent the smuggling into these mountains?
From those missiles that could be fired on our cities?
I bring up these problems because they are not theoretical problems.
They are very real.
And for Israelis, they are life and death matters.
All of these potential cracks in
Because if you leave it afterwards, they won’t be sealed.
And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.
The Palestinians should first make peace with
But I also want to tell you this.
After such a peace agreement is signed,
We will be the first.
>> And there is one more thing.
Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier (name) captive for five years.
They haven’t given him even one Red Cross visit.
He’s in a dungeon and darkness against all natural norms.
He’s the grandson of (name) who escaped the Holocaust by coming in the 1930s as a boy to the
He’s the son of every Israeli family.
Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release.
If you want ‑‑
>> If you want to pass a resolution about the
>> Ladies and gentlemen, last year in
This is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago.
Don’t you think it’s about time the Palestinians did the same.
The Jewish State of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than one million Arab citizens of
I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for the Palestinian officials made clear the other day, in fact, I think they made it right here in
They will be Jew‑free, Heathen run.
That’s ethnic cleansing.
There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death.
And, you know which laws this evokes?
We just don’t want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state.
>> We want to give up ‑‑
>> We want them to give up the fantasy of flooding
President Abbas just stood here and he said that the core of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict is the settlements.
Well, that’s odd.
Our conflict has been raging for ‑‑ was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the
So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then I guess that the settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv,
Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said
He didn’t say from 1967, he said from 1948.
I hope somebody will bother to ask him that question.
Because it illustrates a simple truth.
The core of the conflict is not the settlements.
The settlements are a result of the conflict.
>> The settlements have to be ‑‑ it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of the negotiations but the core of the conflict has always been, and unfortunately remains, the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state within any border.
I think it’s time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized.
From Lord Balfour and Lord George in 1917 to President Truman in 1948 to President Obama just two days ago,
>> President Abbas, stop walking around this issue.
Recognize the Jewish state and make peace with us.
In such a genuine peace,
We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of
They should live in a
But they should be ready, like us, for compromise.
And we will know that they are ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking
I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem.
That’s like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London.
You know why we’re called Jews?
Because we come from
In my office in
It’s a Cygnet ring of a judicial official from the time of the Bible.
The seal was found right next to the Western Wall.
It dates back 2,700 years to the time of King Hezekiah.
Now, there is a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew.
His name was Netanyahu.
That’s my last name.
My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob, who was also known as
Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria, 4,000 years ago, and there has been a continuing Jewish presence in the land ever since.
And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back.
The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions.
Once again ‑‑
>> You applaud but there was no response.
President Abbas, why don’t you join me?
We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations.
Let’s just get on with it.
Let’s negotiate peace.
>> I spent years defending
I spent decades defending
President Abbas, you’ve dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause, must this conflict continue for generations?
Or will we enable our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it.
That’s what we should aim for.
That’s what I believe we can achieve.
In 2 1/2 years we met in
Even though my door has always been open to you.
If you wish, I’ll come to Ramallah.
Actually, I have a better suggestion.
We both just ‑‑ have just flown thousands of miles to
Now we’re in the same city.
We’re in the same building.
So let’s meet here today, in the United Nations.
>> Who is there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations? And I suggest we talk openly and honestly, let’s listen to one another.
I’ll tell you my needs and concerns.
You tell me yours.
And with God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace.
>> There is an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand.
The same is true of peace.
I cannot make peace alone.
I cannot make peace without you.
President Abbas, I extend my hand, the hand of
I hope that you will grasp that hand.
We’re both the sons of Abraham.
My people call him Abraham.
You people call him Abraham.
We share the same patriarch.
We dwell in the same land.
Our destinies are intertwined.
Let us realize the vision of Isaiah, the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
Let that light be the light of peace.