you for the opportunity to share ideas on mutual challenges and goals
and the ways to achieve them. This idea of a dialogue between NATO and
the Mediterranean countries represents an understanding and
re-assessment of the new nature of the challenges we all face and the
need for new alliances to challenge them.
From the Israeli perspective, this dialogue represents two important but different perspectives:
The first - the relationship between Israel and NATO. I want to say
clearly that we are natural partners and allies, as we share the same
values and interests: the values of democracy and freedom, the
willingness to defend our common way of life, the need to cope with
external threats and the aspiration for global security. Therefore it is
only natural that we come together, under the auspices of NATO, and
work together. Israel is keen to further develop its relations with
NATO, both in terms of the political and strategic dialogue at all
levels, as well as in the practical initiatives.
The second perspective is the fact that we meet here, members of
the Mediterranean Dialogue, to discuss mutual security needs and
cooperation between states in the region, some of them have no
diplomatic relations with Israel. This symbolizes new understandings of
the common challenge and gives hope for the future.
At first, we need to understand that there is a change in the
nature of global challenges. There are the old-fashioned threats coming
from states like Iran - a dangerous regime based on an extreme religious
ideology and speaks clearly about its vision of wiping a state off the
map, denies the Holocaust, works with radical elements in order to
undermine other regimes in the region and financing terrorist
organizations - while simultaneously tries to achieve nuclear weapons.
Make no mistake: This is the Iranian goal - this is the purpose of the
continuous enrichment program - in clear violation of the NPT and
Security Council resolutions. There is not, and there should not be any
dispute on this. I was pleased to hear your statement showing
determination to continue the pressure and sanctions in Iran, because
any hesitation now is a victory to the extremists over the camp of
moderates that we are all part of.
The new threats come also from terrorist groups which act within
weak states that have no capability to enforce their sovereignty -
Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. We need to
understand the nature of this problem, especially at the beginning of a
new process of peace that was launched in Annapolis.
In Annapolis we launched three different processes:
1. The bilateral process between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority, aimed to try and answer all issues revolving the conflict.
2. The process of actual changes on the ground -
a. the implementation of the Roadmap
- an obligation that both parties took upon themselves in Annapolis.
Israel expects the Palestinians to meet these obligations, to fight
terror, as we are ready to implement our part.
b. Direct support of the international community to the
capacity-building of the PA - in order to create a functioning and
3. The process with the Arab world - it is needed for the
legitimacy, support of normalization in stages, to show that we
understand the same challenges and threats.
I know that you are interested in the bilateral process, you want
to help. However, the decisions for a peace treaty need to be made by
both sides. Only the direct parties of this conflict can make decisions
about their own destinies. The two sides need to bridge a gap, to reach a
solution based on two states for two peoples, to make sure another
terror state will not be created.
Israel wants to end the conflict while understanding there will be
territorial concessions in order to create a Palestinian state. We
already dismantled settlements in Gaza and we are willing to do more in
the West Bank.
On the 12th of December we will hold the first negotiations
meeting, but as the Israeli chief negotiator I want to say that our
ability to bridge the gaps, to make compromises on the issue of borders,
directly relates to our security needs. And so the gap we need to
bridge is between the future understandings we will reach and the
situation on the ground.
One way to understand this is that the implementation of future
agreements will be subject to the implementation of the Roadmap. We can
not just throw the keys to the other side of the border. Gaza is an
example for that.
Here comes the role of the international community. Helping the
capacity-building is not a task of less importance; without it any
agreement can be left on the shelf, abused by extremists.
Keeping the distinction between moderates and extremists is not a
theoretical strategy, it is crucial. We are now in a process that is
expected to strengthen the capabilities of the Palestinian Authority -
so they would fight terror instead of Israel. However, one can not
exclude the possibility that we will need to discuss what can be the
role of NATO in supporting the need for a change, a real change, on the
I believe that it is our responsibility and aspiration to meet
these goals and to implement the vision of two states for two peoples,
living side by side in peace and security, but simultaneously we need to
work together in order to stop smuggling of weapons in Lebanon and
Gaza, and to fight terrorism wherever it arises.
There needs to be an understanding that peace requires not only a
political agreement between the parties - that is to be achieved only
through direct bilateral talks - but also through the assurances of its
implementation on the ground.
Israel's ability to reach an agreement based on substantial
territorial concessions directly relates to our need to make sure we do
not jeopardize our security and our future. Here, I believe, the
dialogue between Israel and NATO begins