Today I stand before you tall and proud because I represent the world's one
and only Jewish state. A state built in the Jewish people's ancient homeland,
with its eternal capital Jerusalem as its beating heart.
We are a nation with deep roots in the past and bright hopes for the future.
We are a nation that values idealism, but acts with pragmatism. Israel is a
nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always extend its hand
Peace is a central value of Israeli society. The bible calls on us:
שלום ורדפהו - "seek peace and pursue it."
Peace fills our art and poetry. It is taught in our schools. It has been the
goal of the Israeli people and every Israeli leader since Israel was
re-established 64 years ago.
Declaration of Independence states, "We extend our hand to all neighbouring
states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and
appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help..."
This week was the 35th anniversary of President
Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem. In a speech just before that
visit, President Sadat famously stood in the Egyptian parliament in Cairo and
stated that he would go "to the ends of the earth" to make peace with Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Menachem Begin, welcomed President Sadat
to Israel, and paved the way for peace. This morning Prime Minister Netanyahu
stood at the Menachem Begin Center and said this about the resolution that you
are about to vote on: "Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian
state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The
Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end
the conflict with Israel once and for all.
None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them
appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly
today and that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is
through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through U.N.
resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national
interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance
peace, it pushes it backwards.
As for the rights of Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for
those people gathered in the General Assembly today, no decision by the U.N. can
break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of
The people of Israel wait for a Palestinian leader that is willing to follow
in the path of President Sadat. The world waits for President Abbas to speak the
truth that peace can only be achieved through negotiations by recognizing Israel
as a Jewish State. It waits for him to tell them that peace must also address
Israel's security needs and end the conflict once and for all.
For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he
prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions, rather than travel to
Jerusalem for genuine dialogue, any hope of peace will be out of reach.
Israel has always extended its hand for peace and will always extend its hand
for peace. When we faced an Arab leader who wanted peace, we made peace. That
was the case with Egypt. That was the case with Jordan. Time and again, we have
sought peace with the Palestinians. Time and again, we have been met by
rejection of our offers, denial of our rights, and terrorism targeting our
President Abbas described today’s proceedings as "historic". But the only
thing historic about his speech is how much it ignored history.
The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United
Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish
state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples.
Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us
rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the "Jews into the sea".
The truth is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was ruled by Jordan,
and Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The Arab states did not lift a finger to create a
Palestinian state. Instead they sought Israel’s destruction, and were joined by
newly formed Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The truth is that at Camp David in 2000, and again at Annapolis in 2008,
Israeli leaders made far-reaching offers for peace. Those offers were met by
rejection, evasion, and even terrorism.
The truth is that to advance peace, in 2005 Israel dismantled entire
communities and uprooted thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip.
And rather than use this opportunity to build a peaceful future, the
Palestinians turned Gaza into an Iranian terror base, from which thousands of
rockets were fired into Israeli cities. As we were reminded just last week, the
area has been turned into a launching pad for rockets into Israeli cities, a
haven for global terrorists, and an ammunition dump for Iranian weapons.
Time after time, the Palestinian leadership refused to accept
responsibility. They refused to make the tough decisions for peace.
Israel remains committed to peace, but we will not establish another Iranian
terror base in the heart of our country. We need a peace that will ensure a
secure future for Israel.
Three months ago, Israel's Prime
Minister stood in this very hall and extended his hand in peace to President
Abbas. He reiterated that his goal was to create a solution of two-states
for two-peoples - where a demilitarized Palestinian state will recognize Israel
as a Jewish state.
That's right. Two states for two peoples.
In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase "two states for
two peoples" this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase "two
states for two peoples". Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized
that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.
They have never been willing to accept what this very body recognized 65
years ago. Israel is the Jewish state.
In fact, today you asked the world to recognize a Palestinian state, but you
still refuse to recognize the Jewish state.
Not only do you not recognize the Jewish state, you are also trying to erase
Jewish history. This year, you even tried to erase the connection between the
Jewish people and Jerusalem. You said that Jews were trying to alter the
historic character of Jerusalem. You said that we are trying to "Judaize
President Abbas, the truth is that Jerusalem had a Jewish character long
before most cities in the world had any character! Three
thousand years ago King David ruled from Jerusalem and Jews have lived in
Jerusalem ever since.
President Abbas, instead of revising history, it is time that you started
making history by making peace with Israel.
This resolution will not advance peace. This resolution will not change the
situation on the ground. It will not change the fact that the Palestinian
Authority has no control over Gaza. That is forty percent of the population he
claims to represent!
President Abbas, you can't even visit nearly half the territory of the state
you claim to represent. That territory is controlled by Hamas, an
internationally recognized terrorist organization that rains missiles on
Israel’s civilians. This is the same Hamas that fired
more than 1,300 rockets into the heart of Israel’s major cities this
This resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority, which
clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood.
This resolution will not enable the Palestinians Authority to join
international treaties, organizations, or conferences as a state.
This resolution cannot serve as an acceptable terms of reference for peace
negotiations with Israel. Because this resolution says nothing about Israel's
security needs. It does not call on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the
Jewish State. It does not demand an end of conflict and a termination of all
Let me tell you what this resolution does do.
This resolution violates a fundamental binding commitment. This is a
commitment that many of the states here today were themselves witness to. It was
a commitment that all outstanding issues in the peace process would only be
resolved in direct negotiations.
This resolution sends a message that the international community is willing
to turn a blind eye to peace agreements. For the people of Israel, it raises a
simple question: why continue to make painful sacrifices for peace, in exchange
for pieces of paper that the other side will not honor?
It will make a negotiated peace settlement less likely, as Palestinians
continue to harden their positions and place further obstacles and preconditions
to negotiations and peace.
And unfortunately, it will raise expectations that cannot be met, which has
always proven to be a recipe for conflict and instability.
There is only one route to Palestinian statehood. And that route does not run
through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations
between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace
between Israelis and Palestinians.
There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions. As President
Obama said in 2010, "Peace cannot be imposed from the outside."
The real message of this resolution for the people of Israel is that the
international community will turn a blind eye to violations of these agreements
by the Palestinians.
In submitting this resolution, the Palestinian leadership is once again
making the wrong choice.
65 years ago the Palestinians could have chosen to live side-by-side with the
Jewish State of Israel. 65 years ago they could have chosen to accept the
solution of two states for two peoples. They rejected it then, and they are
rejecting it again today.
The international community should not encourage this rejection. It should
not encourage the Palestinian leadership to drive forward recklessly with both
feet pressing down on the gas, no hands on the wheel, and no eyes on the road.
Instead it should encourage the Palestinians to enter into direct
negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve an historic peace in
which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.
Winston Churchill said, "The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it
… ignorance may deride it … malice may distort it … but there it is."
The truth is that Israel wants peace, and the Palestinians are avoiding
Those who are supporting the resolution today are not advancing peace. They
are undermining peace.
The UN was founded to advance the cause of peace. Today the Palestinians are
turning their back on peace. Don't let history record that today the UN helped
them along on their march of folly.
Thank you, Mr. President.