Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the AIPAC policy conference by live satellite link on March 22, 2016. These are his remarks.
Good morning, America. Good morning, AIPAC. And a special good morning to the 4,000 students who are cutting class today to be with AIPAC in Washington. Greetings to all of you from Jerusalem.
I first want to send my condolences to the families of those murdered in today’s terrorist attacks in Brussels. The chain of attacks from Paris to San Bernardino to Istanbul to the Ivory Coast and now to Brussels, and the daily attacks in Israel – this is one continuous assault on all of us. In all these cases the terrorists have no resolvable grievances. It’s not as if we could offer them Brussels, or Istanbul, or California, or even the West Bank. That won’t satisfy their grievances. Because what they seek is our utter destruction and their total domination. Their basic demand is that we should simply disappear. Well, my friends, that’s not going to happen. The only way to defeat these terrorists is to join together and fight them together. That’s how we’ll defeat terrorism – with political unity and with moral clarity. I think we have that in abundance.
And I want to thank today the leadership of AIPAC and each and every one of you. I thank you for the tremendous support you’ve provided Israel over so many years. I thank you for the clear and unequivocal stand you took last year during the nuclear Iran deal debate, a debate critical for Israel’s security. And that debate, though intense, did not undermine the unbreakable alliance between Israel and the United States.
As part of that great alliance, America has generously provided Israel with many of the tools we need to defend ourselves. We are now working on a new agreement to help bolster Israel’s security in the years to come. I hope we can conclude that agreement soon. And I take this opportunity once again to thank President Obama for his support, including for ballistic missile defense. Israel deeply appreciates it, and we also deeply appreciate the strong bipartisan support for Israel in Congress and the strong, overwhelming support for Israel among the American people. Year after year, the overwhelming majority of Americans stand with Israel. They know something profound, that stands out for all to see today. They know that Israel is an island of liberty and democracy, that Israel must never be an issue that divides Americans, but a great cause of liberty that unites Americans.
My friends, two weeks ago, I visited Yodfat in northern Israel. It was there, 2,000 years ago, that the Romans began their military campaign against the Jews. I’m holding in my hand right now an exact replica of an arrow found at Yodfat – one of thousands used by the Romans in their war to crush Jewish independence. Yet two millennia later, the Jewish people are once again free and sovereign in our ancient homeland. And in rebuilding our land, our state, our economy, our army, our science, our culture, we’ve achieved remarkable successes.
But it’s true we also face great challenges. We are in fact today witnessing two contradictory trends.
First, the positive trend: Every day high-level delegations land at Ben-Gurion Airport. They come from America. They come from Europe. Increasingly they come from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America. As many of them confront the rise of militant Islam and its accompanying terrorism, they come to Israel to strengthen their security. They wish to learn from Israel’s proven security and intelligence capabilities how to better protect their own people.
But they also come to Israel because they want to upgrade their economies with Israel’s technology. And for good reason: Israel’s know-how is powering the world’s computers, navigating its cars, protecting its bank accounts. It’s led to breakthroughs in treating Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s. It helps farmers around the world yield more crops, produce more milk, conserve more water. So, for all these reasons, the world is coming to Israel. Today we have diplomatic relations with 161 countries – more than at any time in our history. And by the way, there are not that many countries left. There are only about 200 countries in the world.
But alongside this positive trend, there is a second, negative trend. While Israel is embraced by a growing number of individual nations, there are those who seek to malign Israel among the nations, and especially in the United Nations.
At the UN, Israel, the Middle East’s only true democracy, is slandered like no other country on earth. At the UN, Israel is subjected to consistent, systematic discrimination. Only Israel is permanently scheduled for condemnation at the UN Human Rights Council – not Iran, not Syria, not North Korea. Only Israel is hounded by UN bodies expressly established to delegitimize its very existence. Only Israel is condemned every year by 20 hostile resolutions in the UN General Assembly. The UN, my friends, has a shameful record of singling out Israel for castigation and condemnation. So I have a question for you. Why would anyone think that the UN could decide on a fair and secure peace for Israel?
Yet amazingly, there are some who believe exactly that. They seek to impose terms on Israel in the UN Security Council. And those terms would undoubtedly be stacked against us. They always are. So such an effort in the UN would only convince the Palestinians that they can stab their way to a state. Mind you, not a state next to Israel, but a state instead of Israel. A Security Council resolution to pressure Israel would further harden Palestinian positions, and thereby it could actually kill the chances of peace for many, many years. And that is why I hope the United States will maintain its longstanding position to reject such a UN resolution.
I was glad to hear the presidential candidates from both parties reaffirm this basic principle. Peace won’t come through UN Security Council resolutions, but through direct negotiations between the parties.
The best formula for achieving peace remains two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state finally recognizes the Jewish state. Now, I know there’s some skepticism about my views on this. So let me state unequivocally, and here’s the acid test: I am ready to begin such negotiations immediately, without preconditions, anytime, anywhere. That’s a fact. But President Abbas is not ready to do so. That’s also a fact. There is political will here in Jerusalem. There’s no political will there in Ramallah.
For the last five-and-a-half years, President Abbas has refused to sit down and talk with me even for a minute. But that doesn’t mean he’s been silent. He has helped inculcate a new generation of young Palestinians with murderous hatred for Israel. And my friends, this incitement has deadly consequences. Palestinian children are taught to stab Jews. They are taught that the goal of the Palestinian people is not to establish a state on the West Bank, but in all of Israel – in Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa.
Now, what I’m about to show you is deeply disturbing. I think you have to see for yourselves what the Palestinians are teaching their children. I want you to see the daily Pledge of Allegiance of Palestinian children. Take a look.
This is sick. It’s inexcusable. My friends, that little girl wasn’t born hating. She was taught to hate, as were the Palestinians who murdered the American student Taylor Force, and other American citizens in recent months. You’ve already heard what an impressive young man Taylor was, but President Abbas’s Fatah movement praised Taylor’s killer as – and I quote this – as “a hero and a martyr”. Now, that’s not from Hamas; that’s coming from Abbas. And now the Palestinians will spur even more terrorism by rewarding the families of murderers – including those who murdered Americans – with a regular monthly payment.
So the message they send to Palestinians is clear: terrorism pays – literally.
If the international community really wants to advance peace, it must demand that the Palestinians stop poisoning the minds of their children. If the international community wants to advance peace, it must address the true core of the conflict: the persistent Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state in any borders.
So there’s bad news, but there’s also some good news. While the Palestinians are stuck in their refusal to make peace, others are moving forward. First, Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan have weathered many storms. Second, increasingly our other neighbors recognize that we have common interests. They understand that we face the same threats from Iran and from ISIS. Now, I can tell you from a perspective of my lifetime: This is a historic change. I believe it offers a unique opportunity to advance peace. And we are working every day to seize that opportunity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am confident that, over time, the trend of embracing Israel will overcome the trend of maligning Israel, because, ultimately, freedom beats tyranny, and ultimately, when vigorously defended, truth beats lies. So I believe that Israel faces a future of promise. I believe that when we stand together, all of us, we can overcome all the challenges facing us.
And of these challenges, none is greater than Iran’s unrelenting aggression. Iran remains fully committed to genocide – our genocide. Its leaders loudly, openly, even proudly, they say and proclaim that their goal is to destroy Israel. Iran sends deadly weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon against us. It bankrolls Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza against us. It seeks to open a new terror front on the Golan against us. And it offers thousands of dollars for each Palestinian terror attacks against us.
So here’s what I believe: I believe that both those who supported the nuclear deal and those who opposed it can, at the very least, work together to stop Iran’s aggression and terror and hold Iran accountable for its transgressions.
Since the nuclear deal, Iran has continued to conduct ballistic missile tests, in defiance of its international obligations. As you’ve heard, Iran recently fired a ballistic missile with a Hebrew inscription painted on it. It said, “Israel must be wiped out”. So ladies and gentlemen, the writing is not on the wall; it’s on the missile.
Now my friends, an arrow just like this was shot by a Roman soldier at Yodfat. He was fighting to end Jewish independence once and for all. But imperial Rome is long gone and I am speaking to you today from our capital, Jerusalem, as the Prime Minister of the reborn Jewish state. We have restored our independence. We have restored our capacity to defend ourselves. Iran should learn this history and it should have no illusions. Israel will defend itself mightily against all those who seek to destroy us. And Iran should remember that today it’s not only the enemies of the Jewish people who have arrows. Today, the Jewish state can defend itself with powerful arrows of our own. Take a look.
The Arrow missile defense system is the product of Americans and Israelis working together. So I want to say again to all of you: Thank you America. Thank you AIPAC. Thank you for helping secure our common future, and a happy Purim to all of you. Thank you.