Israel is exceptional in a very sharp way in this entire region. While it stands out in many respects, it is especially prominent in that it is a democratic state in which women have equal rights.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks today (Tuesday), 8 March 2011, in the Jordan Valley:
"Today, I am impressed by two things. First, I am impressed by you. There is a revolution in the IDF here. One-third of the IDF’s personnel are women. The reason this is not half is because they have a different service period. But this is first. Second, 3% of the IDF’s combat force is women. We see this in all units and in all corps. We have Border Police fighters. We have women in the Air Force, including as pilots. This expresses the change in the status of women in the IDF and in the State of Israel as a whole.
The most basic premise that everyone is talking about has to do with the upheaval in the Arab and Islamic world. One thing we do not see. We still do not see a revolution in the status of women in most of the countries around us. In at least one of them, women have been stoned; women are used like merchandise that passes from hand to hand, without any rights, fairness or ability to demand their rights in genuine courts of law. I think that Israel is exceptional in a very sharp way in this entire region. While it stands out in many respects, it is especially prominent in that it is a democratic state in which women have equal rights. What we see here is also equal obligations, not just rights.
There are things that must be corrected in our country. We are taking inventory of the things we need to fix. But I will say that in this huge region, from west of India to Morocco, there is only one place in which women have equal rights and that is the State of Israel. I think that we need to welcome this today. We must especially salute the women soldiers and officers in the IDF. I salute you. May the sun shine on you every day, not just now.
The second premise that I wanted to assert today has to do with the place in which we are standing. We live in a world that is undergoing a very major shake-up. As I have said, the entire region around us is in a state of instability, and is undergoing a political and security earthquake which we have not seen the end of. In this situation, more than ever, we need to ensure that we have solid security foundations upon which to defend the State of Israel.
Our security border is here, on the Jordan River, and our line of defense is here. If this line were to be broken, this would mean that it would be possible to bring in terrorists, missiles and rockets, and infiltrate them into Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be’er Sheva and throughout the country. Our line of defense starts here and it has no alternative. There is no alternative to the IDF’s line of defense. Therefore, in any future situation, and I say in any future arrangement as well, the IDF must stay here, i.e. along the Jordan River. This is the State of Israel’s insurance policy. If this was true before the major unrest now shaking the Middle East and the entire region, it is doubly true today. The IDF must remain along the Jordan River."