In an unprecedented speech at Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke those words.
In the same speech he uttered the words: Palestinian State. The first Prime Minister of Israel to do so. But he also laid down quite a few conditions for there to be peace between the 2 peoples:
“I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors," he said, let us start negotiations for peace immediately. I say to you – we want to live with you in peace and good neighborly relations. I want our children will dream of a better future and realize it. That we will put our energy into plowshares and pruning scissors, not swords... I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. Let us join hands and work at peace. There is no end to the flourishing we can bring to our two nations."Netanyahu reiterated Israel's long standing desire for peace. A desire held by all Israelis since the founding of the nation in 1948.
"The simple truth," he added however, "is that the root of the conflict is the refusal to accept the Jewish people’s right to exist in its historic homeland. Whoever thinks that the enmity to Israel is the result of our occupying Judea and Samaria is confusing cause and effect." He then enumerated instances of Arab belligerence against the Jews in the Land of Israel before 1967.
The closer we come to a peace the more the Palestinians move away, he said. "Every retreat by us was met with thousands of suicide terror bombings and rockets."
"We vacated the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter and received a rain of missiles on our communities and our children. Hamas and Hizbullah keep saying that their aim is to free Akko, Beersheva and Haifa. Even the moderate Palestinians, even now, are unwilling to say the simplest thing: Israel is the state of the Jewish People and it will stay that way.”
He added: "In order to achieve peace one needs courage and honesty on both sides – not just the Israeli side. The Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people."
“The demand to settle Palestinian refugees inside Israel is incompatible with the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state," he said. "It is possible to solve this problem outside the borders of Israel. There is wide national agreement about this among us.”
"Judea and Samaria are not a foreign country for us. This is the land of our forefathers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The right of the Jewish people over our country does not come from the suffering we have been through. Some say if it weren’t for the Holocaust there would be no State if Israel. But I say that if Israel had been established n time there would not have been a Holocaust," Netanyahu said.
"Peace has always been our objective," Netanyahu began. "Our prophets always envisioned peace; we bless each other with Shalom; our prayers end in peace."Now for the $64,000 question:
The prime minister said that he was willing to meet any Arab leader anywhere.
"I turn to Arab leaders: Let's make peace, I am ready," Netahyahu said. "I am willing to go to Damascus; Riyadh, to meet anytime and anywhere."
Netanyahu also warned of the threat emanating from Iran, saying, "The biggest threat to Israel, and the middle east and all of humanity is the meeting between radical Ismalism and nuclear weaponry."
Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to "begin peace talks immediately, and with no preconditions."
The prime minister continued to speak of the heavy toll the ongoing conflict has taken, mentioning his being a bereaved brother.
"I don't want war. Nobody in Israel wants war," he said to applause.
"If the advantages of peace are so clear, we must ask - why is peace still far? What is perpetuating the conflict for over 60 years? We must reach the root of the struggle," Netanyahu ascertained.
"Let me use the most simple words - the root of the struggle is the refusal to recognize the Israel as the Jewish state. The initial Arab refusal was to a Jewish state in any location, before Israeli presence in the West Bank," continued Netanyahu.
"The closer we get to an agreement with the Palestinians, the further it is rejected. We tried a withdraw with an agreement, without one, a partial withdraw and offered a near-complete withdraw. We uprooted Jewish settlers from their homes, and got a barrage of missiles in return," he said of the Gaza pullout.
"Sadly, even the Palestinian moderates won't say the most simple statement - Israel is the Jewish national state, and will remain such.
"To achieve peace, courage and honesty are needed from both sides. The Palestinians must say - 'enough with this conflict. We recognize Israel's right to exist, and want to live by their side.'
"A public Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state is a precondition for regional peace," Netanyahu said.
Did Netanyahu sell out? NO! He did not call for an freeze on Settlements, Jerusalem was to remain in Israeli hands, nor did he call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria (The West Bank).
What he did call for is very simple:
- Recognize Israel as a Jewish Nation.
- No militarized Palestinian Nation.
- No Law of Return for Palestinians.
- Jerusalem, the city of David would be always be part of Israel.
Now what will Obama do?