Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on Netanyahu's Speech

Netanyahu has finally made his much anticipated foreign policy speech. I have reproduced the official translation of it in it's entirety below and added my own comments in bold.

"Honored guests, citizens of Israel.

Peace has always been our people's most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace.


We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.

Two and half months ago, I took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of Israel. I pledged to establish a national unity government - and I did. I believed and I still believe that unity was essential for us now more than ever as we face three immense challenges - the Iranian threat, the economic crisis, and the advancement of peace.

Netnyahu may have pledged to form a national unity government, but in Israel, this often means a government of all the parties, not the situation that exists now with Kadima, the party that won the single most votes sitting in opposition.

This paragraph is also significant as it lays out what Netanyahu sees as Israels three main priorities. They are really no surprise. Netanyahu, an economist, has always placed the economy high on not only his list of domestic priorities, but also international ones. He has spoken frequently of the need for economic peace with Palestinians. The threat from Iran is looming ever larger on the Israeli national agenda and it's a safe bet to say that no Israeli leader has ever omitted the advancement of peace from the top three of their agenda items.

The Iranian threat looms large before us, as was further demonstrated yesterday. The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this issue with President Obama during my recent visit to Washington, and I will raise it again in my meetings next week with European leaders. For years, I have been working tirelessly to forge an international alliance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

This is an issue Netanyahu has indeed been pushing very hard. It is a real Israeli fear that should nuclear weapons be developed in a place like Iran, that Iran, or perhaps even more likely, one of its clients, like Syria or proxies, Hizbollah or Hamas could be funnelled these weapons for use against Israel. An Iranian attack against Israel with nuclear weapons would probably result in Iran's destruction. An attack against Israel by Hamas or Hizbollah with a dirty bomb (as it is unlikely that they would be able to attack with a nuclear weapon) would present a situation that would be difficult for Israel to respond to. Therefore, on this point, Netanyahu is speaking to a real and legitimate fear held by Israelis.

Confronting a global economic crisis, the government acted swiftly to stabilize Israel's economy. We passed a two year budget in the government - and the Knesset will soon approve it.
And the third challenge, so exceedingly important, is the advancement of peace. I also spoke about this with President Obama, and I fully support the idea of a regional peace that he is leading.

So Netanyahu supports a drive for regional peace. This is significant as the most prominent regional peace plan is the so called "Arab peace plan" proposed by Saudi Arabia which calls for full normalization of relations between Israel and all Arab states in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a right of return for Palestinian refugees. Obama has endorsed a version of this and now it seems that Netanyahu accepts at least part of it. Like all peace proposals, it should be seen as a starting point, one that can be used as the basis for negotiation, but still, this is significant. A "right wing" Israeli leader may be seen to have endorsed a plan that will see Israel withdrawing from if not all, most of the occupied territories.

I share the President's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region. To this end, I met with President Mubarak in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan, to elicit the support of these leaders in expanding the circle of peace in our region. I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: "Let us meet. Let us speak of peace and let us make peace." I am ready to meet with you at any time. I am willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place - including Jerusalem.

What's interesting here is the use of the term Arab leaders. One would have to assume that the words of this speech were chosen very carefully and that each of them has a precise meaning. Aren't the leaders of Hamas Arabs? Does this mean that Netanyahu would sit with the leader of Hamas? A major reason for Israel's desire to isolate Hamas is that they are a terrorist organization that has killed Israeli civilians and that denies Israel's right to exist. States like Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia also deny Israel's right to exist and some of them have directly or indirectly supported terrorism. Could this really be what Netanyahu means? Hard to imagine, but again, this speech lays out positions not before publicly espoused by Netanyahu.

It's also significant that Netanyahu said "Arab" leaders, not leaders of Muslim states or some such variation. While the statement Arab leaders is not exhaustive--meaning he will probably be willing to talk to people other than Arabs--the term seems to exclude the possibility of talking to Iran, or Pakistan for that matter.

I call on the Arab countries to cooperate with the Palestinians and with us to advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a political peace, but an important element to achieving it. Together, we can undertake projects to overcome the scarcities of our region, like water desalination or to maximize its advantages, like developing solar energy, or laying gas and petroleum lines, and transportation links between Asia, Africa and Europe.

The economic success of the Gulf States has impressed us all and it has impressed me. I call on the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world to come and invest here and to assist the Palestinians - and us - in spurring the economy. Together, we can develop industrial areas that will generate thousands of jobs and create tourist sites that will attract millions of visitors eager to walk in the footsteps of history - in Nazareth and in Bethlehem, around the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee and the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is an enormous potential for archeological tourism, if we can only learn to cooperate and to develop it.

These two previous paragraphs are important. For one, they dispel any question that Netanyahu sees economic peace as some kind of substitute for a political peace with Palestinians. He makes this point explicitly. More than that, however, he proposes programmes that will ensure that it is in the mutual interests of Arabs and Israelis to not only be at peace with one another, but to work together. Arabs and Israelis making money for each other and from cooperation, mutually improving each other's lives and creating a symbiosis reduces the likelihood of one side raising a sword to the other.

It also has the more personal impact of Israelis and Arabs meeting and actually knowing and meeting each other, increasing the "density" of the relationship and decreasing the likelihood of conflict on an individual level.

I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors, led by the Palestinian Authority, and I say: Let's begin negotiations immediately without preconditions.

Well, this could be an answer to the question about a willingness to talk to Hamas. Or maybe not. Netanyahu is willing to talk to the Palestinians, so long as the Palestinian Authority is leading these talks. Is this Netanyahu telling Palestinians that they must unite behind the PA or is he saying that he'll talk to Palestinians without preconditions, so long as they're the PA?

Israel is obligated by its international commitments and expects all parties to keep their commitments. We want to live with you in peace, as good neighbors. We want our children and your children to never again experience war: that parents, brothers and sisters will never again know the agony of losing loved ones in battle; that our children will be able to dream of a better future and realize that dream; and that together we will invest our energies in plowshares and pruning hooks, not swords and spears.

If Israeli is obligated by it's previous agreements, that also includes the "road map" to peace, ending in a Palestinian state. It's a statement different from what Lieberman, the foreign minister has said in the past: that the road map is dead. Netanyahu, however, is the Prime Minister. He speaks for the government with even greater authority than the foreign minister does. It seems that he's saying that all of Israel's previous obligations hold.

I know the face of war. I have experienced battle. I lost close friends, I lost a brother. I have seen the pain of bereaved families. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war.

If we join hands and work together for peace, there is no limit to the development and prosperity we can achieve for our two peoples - in the economy, agriculture, trade, tourism and education - most importantly, in providing our youth a better world in which to live, a life full of tranquility, creativity, opportunity and hope.

If the advantages of peace are so evident, we must ask ourselves why peace remains so remote, even as our hand remains outstretched to peace? Why has this conflict continued for more than sixty years?

More than sixty years. Interesting in that the Analysis starts from the day of Israel's creation, not 1967 or any other date. It is therefore not just an analysis of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but the Israeli Arab one.

In order to bring an end to the conflict, we must give an honest and forthright answer to the question: What is the root of the conflict?

In his speech to the first Zionist Conference in Basel, the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl, said about the Jewish national home "This idea is so big that we must speak of it only in the simplest terms." Today, I will speak about the immense challenge of peace in the simplest words possible.

Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality, to the truth. And the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own, in their historic homeland.

Palestinian leadership has, even recently refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish homeland, dismissing the request with the comment that it was no business of the Palestinians what Israel called itself. It's certainly true that it's nobody's business what Israel calls itself. It is significant to recognize what Israel is. It's really not the business of the world that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy and that there is no separation of "church" and state in that country, but to deny that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country would be to deny a reality. The Israeli reality is that the land where the State of Israel now exists was part of a Jewish kingdom that existed in a time even before Saudi Arabia ever did. Refusing to acknowledge this, strips Israel of one of it's raisons d'etre. It allows those who reject the fact of a continued historic Jewish presence in Israel to continually seek to regard Jewish presence in Israel as alien.

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing. The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.

Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence. The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel's independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria.

This is true and a common argument in favour of continued settlement. It does not, however, change the fact that as the settlements grow an increasingly large population of Israeli citizens are beginning to establish themselves permanently in land will will likely become part of a Palestinian state. Their presence further complicates a simple transfer of "land for peace." Netanyahu, here, appears to be establishing a basis for an argument in favour of maintaining the settlements. He is likely also playing domestic politics and speaking to the many settlers who support him or his coalition allies within the Israeli government.

Fortunately, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of enmity. The signing of peace treaties have brought about an end to their claims against Israel, an end to the conflict. But to our regret, this is not the case with the Palestinians. The closer we get to an agreement with them, the further they retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end the conflict.
Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles.

We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement. We tried a partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal. In 2000 and again last year, Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the conflict, and twice our offers were rejected. We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted tens of settlements and evicted of Israelis from their homes, and in response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children.

Here Netanyahu is speaking to the feelings of the overwhelming majority of Israelis and essentially, a reflection of fact. Israel was taking rocket fire from Gaza when it was in Gaza, and these rockets grew more frequent and bold even after a unilateral withdrawal from the strip. Netanyahu does, however, note that in the Egyptian and Jordanian cases land for peace has worked. His reversal of the onus to Palestinians to prove their serious about peace is interesting, however, because it's not all Palestinians that are firing rockets. Just Hamas. Things in the PA ruled West Bank have, thanks in part to the wall, been relatively calm. But this reverse onus is placed on Hamas, over whom the PA has no control. Essentially Netanyahu's position is leading towards, we want to negotiate for peace with Palestinians led by the PA, but Palestinians need to build our confidence in them by stopping the rockets fired by a group that the PA--the negotiating partner--has no control over. Essentially, Palestinian infighting shakes Israeli confidence. This is not surprising though. Netanyahu wants to avoid a situation where he makes concessions for peace with one party while the other disavows the agreements made and continues hostilities independently.

The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality. In addition to this, Hamas in the south, like Hizbullah in the north, repeatedly proclaims their commitment to "liberate" the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Beersheba, Acre and Haifa.

Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.

Achieving peace will require courage and candor from both sides, and not only from the Israeli side. The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: "Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace."

I am yearning for that moment, for when Palestinian leaders say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be. Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel's borders. For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel's continued existence as the state of the Jewish people.

This is another key point and argument as to why Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Just as Palestinians would view Israeli settlers in Israel as a problem--and these setters merely argue "we are returning home"--many Israelis would view Palestinian refugees "returning home" as a challenge to the character of Israel. Many Israelis view the right of return with suspicion, suggesting that it's a way for Palestinians to create a state in all of Israel by weight of numbers and population. The idea is, move into Israel, become citizens, vote and then elect a government that will merge Israel with a newly created Palestine, therefore creating one Palestinian state and making the Jews a minority in the country they built.

Netanyahu in his comments about resolving the Palestinian refugee crisis is drawing a red line in the Israeli position. He acknowledges there is a "Palestinian refugee problem" and leaves the slate blank as to how is shall be resolved, except that it won't be resolved in Israel.

The Palestinian refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, as we ourselves proved in a similar situation. Tiny Israel successfully absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries. Therefore, justice and logic demand that the Palestinian refugee problem be solved outside Israel's borders. On this point, there is a broad national consensus. I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved.

"Goodwill and international investment" read: the US and EU and wealthy Arab nations will be expected to pay what could well be a hefty financial compensation package to be paid to Palestinian refugees in exchange for them dropping the demands to be physically resettled in Israel. A tiny Palestine will need to simply absorb these refugees as its citizens, just as "tiny" Israel did for Jewish refugees. The Palestinian right of return, will be the right of Palestinians to return to a new, independent Palestine from all corners of the world, and those refugees who may be able to make a claim to hanig originated in what is now Israel, will be compensated.

So far I have spoken about the need for Palestinians to recognize our rights. In am moment, I will speak openly about our need to recognize their rights. But let me first say that the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived, are not alien to us. This is the land of our forefathers.

The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. True, for 2000 years the Jewish people suffered expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, and massacres which culminated in a Holocaust - a suffering which has no parallel in human history. There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occured.

I could not agree more. Jews are an indigenous people, and the ones who have moved to Israel, are indigenous people returning to their ancestral territory. The caveat is, Netanyahu refers here to Judea and Samaria being this ancestral homeland as well as the state of Israel. While the Jewish connection to the West Bank is no doubt stronger than it is to places like, Eilat, for example, which is not a significant religious or culturally Jewish site, Netanyahu walks a fine line between recognizing that Jews have a connection to the land in the West Bank, and the state of Israel having a right to that land.

As for his points on the Holocaust and persecution of Jews. Abosultley correct. Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust. It exists because Jews have built a country in the land of their ancestors.

This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense. But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged.

As Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed in Israel's Declaration of Independence: "The Jewish people arose in the land of Israel and it was here that its spiritual, religious and political character was shaped. Here they attained their sovereignty, and here they bequeathed to the world their national and cultural treasures, and the most eternal of books."

But we must also tell the truth in its entirety: within this homeland lives a large Palestinian community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them.

In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other. These two realities - our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it - have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us.

This is an incredibly bold statement from the leader of an Israeli coalition government that includes those who would advocate for a one state solution and a "transfer" of Palestinians to anywhere else.

I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli society. These are the principles that guide our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.

What is Netanyahu talking about when he says the "international situation that has recently developped?" Two guesses: the first, is the election of Obama. His eagerness to re-engage in the middle east creates a new reality in the region and in the pursuit of peace as part of Israel's policy. Israel will need to consider the reality of a US president engaged in the middle east, personally commited to peace in the middle east and pushing for a regional solution, not a bilatteral one.

The second guess is a refernce to Iran's "re-election" of Ahmadinejad. A man who spares no vitriol in his tirades and efforts in opposing Israel's existence. This is the security aspect of the policy, and probably what Netanyahu is refering to when he says that a new international situation has developed.

I have already stressed the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel. Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza. We don't want Kassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion airport. We want peace.

This, significantly, is the first time is this speech that Netanyahu mentions a "Palestinian state."

In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hizbullah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel. It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized. On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.

While this is not a new idea, and it has been suggested to Palestinians in the past, it easy to see why it's a bitter pill to swallow for a new state. All it means though, is that while Palestinians should have an armed force of some kind (probably a police force similar to what they have now) an independant Palestine should not have heavy weapons like tanks and artillery or an airforce. Really, though, what would they need it for? Palestine would be sandwiched between a friendly Jordan and Egypt and Israel, a country with whom it will have just made peace. An army in Palestine would serve little more than to fufill the image, or the trappings of full soverignty, it would otherwise, not really be needed. Also, if Jordan and Egypt, for example, were to become guarantors of Palestinian security, it's unlikley that Israel would dare try to retake territory if it knew that such adventurism would bring it into a broader conflict with its other neighbours.

Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory - real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts. Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another Hamastan. And that we cannot accept.

I told President Obama when I was in Washington that if we could agree on the substance, then the terminology would not pose a problem. And here is the substance that I now state clearly:
If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitirization and Israel's security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state.

A second, much clearer enunciation of Netanyahu's willingness to accept a Palestinian state under the conditions that it be demiliarized, and it recognize Israel as a Jewish state which means, renouncing the right to physically return to what is now Israel.

Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths. The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement. In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements.

Before adressing the question of settlements, Netanyahu buries a refference to Jerusalem in this paragraph of other important issues. This is an important point. The Palestinians are as unwilling to budge on having their capital in Jerusalem as Israel is on maintaining Israel as its undivided capital. This is an important point where the parties are not near a solution and Netanyahu does not delve into it. There will need to be some compromise on this point which is, at it's core, essentially an emotional issue.

Just wondering out loud though: if some sort of sharing agreement could be worked out for the holy sites (basically the temple mount) would it satify Palestinian desires to have a capital in Jerusalem if a new suburb contiguous to Jerusalem were to be constructed with the express purpose of being the seat of a Palestinian government? It could be called Jerusalem, be seemlessly integrated into Jerusalem, only there would be a line politically dividing it from the rest of the city...Just an idea...

But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere. The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace. Rather, they are an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public.

This is not totally true. Many settlers are just people looking for cheap housing. Others however, are really extremists with a scary, religious, violent streak. They are not the people anyone would really want for neighbours. The fact is, the "settlers" are a disperate group, and saying "the settlers want/are" is like saying "Gazans want/are." These are substantial populations with a range of views amongst their membership. Some of these people, are quite distasteful.

Unity among us is essential and will help us achieve reconciliation with our neighbors. That reconciliation must already begin by altering existing realities. I believe that a strong Palestinian economy will strengthen peace. If the Palestinians turn toward peace - in fighting terror, in strengthening governance and the rule of law, in educating their children for peace and in stopping incitement against Israel - we will do our part in making every effort to facilitate freedom of movement and access, and to enable them to develop their economy. All of this will help us advance a peace treaty between us.

It's the first time he mentions it in this speech, but Netanyahu's point about how Palestinians educate their children has been made before by members of his government. Each time a class of students graduates having been raised up on texts and maps which do not indicate that Israel exists and are fed children's shows akin to the infamous Hamas ripoff of Mickey Mouse, replaced with an antisemetic character teaching children to hate Jews, there's no reason to think that these children will grow to want to accept Israel. Everyone selling an agenda knows, when you get them young, you have them for life.

Above all else, the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction. Hamas will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents, his family and his people. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy and safe.

This again is a very intersting point, where the onus is placed on Palestinians to make peace amongst themselves, and it's made on two levels. First, Palestinians, the people, are asked to reject Hamas in favour of peace. Netanyahu is tellnig the ordinary people, if you want peace, you cannot support Hamas and their ilk. On a second level, Netanyahu is tellnig the PA that they have to overcome Hamas. This last paragraph is actually somewhat of a reversal of comments he made earlier on in his speech, where he pledged to sit with Palestinians with no preconditions. Aparently, as noted earlier as well, this means that there are no preconditions, so long as you're the PA.

With a Palestinian leadership committed to peace, with the active participation of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a breakthrough to peace.

Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible. Over the past 61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed wonders.

Our microchips are powering the world's computers. Our medicines are treating diseases once considered incurable. Our drip irrigation is bringing arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. If only our neighbors would respond to our call - peace too will be in our reach.

I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the Palestinian leadership, let us continue together on the path of Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let us realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2700 years ago said: "nations shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall learn war no more."

With God's help, we will know no more war. We will know peace."

Amen.

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