Trying to get a workable peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors is something we are both seeking to achieve. The formula is simple: two states for two peoples, a nation-state for the Palestinian people and a nation-state for the Jewish people.
Copyright: GPO/Chaim Tzach
Prime Minister Netanyahu: Chancellor Merkel, my dear friend Angela, it’s a pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to Israel. We had a very enjoyable and productive dinner last night in which we covered a breadth of issues, maybe the most important issues that relate to Israel’s security interests and our quest for peace. And I appreciate your understanding and your consideration.
We had today an exceptional meeting of our two governments – exceptional because first of all, we stuck to the schedule. We were on time. Second, we stuck to the agenda and I think a lot of areas were covered and we can learn a great deal from each other. I must say that I learned quite a few things, including how to cut bureaucracy and streamline regulations, which is a revelation for me. So we intend to deepen these exchanges because this is part of our common policies. So I extend a warm welcome to you and your entire delegation.
The goal of these annual meetings is to do precisely what I just described: how to bring an already close and strong relations [sic] to even higher levels of closeness and strength, and I think your visit here, accompanied by virtually all of your Cabinet, is a demonstration of the strength and warmth of Israeli-German relations. It’s deeply appreciated. And I deeply appreciate your personal friendship.
I said that we had discussed last night critical issues on our agenda and today we actually expanded on that: on international development and third countries, primarily in Africa; on trade and commerce; on defense and security; and again I think that Germany is – under your leadership and traditionally, but especially under your leadership – has had a clear commitment to the security of the Jewish state, which we all appreciate. We discussed energy and environmental protection, education and youth exchanges, scientific and technological research. In all these areas and in many more, we’re working closely together.
I believe that we also seek something that changes our world. How to have a stable Middle East is something that is perhaps beyond the compass of our two countries, but how to try to get a workable peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors – this is something that we’re both seeking to achieve and I believe that there’s a simple formula for that. It’s two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.
I want to thank you for making clear that the Palestinians who ask us to recognize a Palestinian state have to reciprocate by recognizing the Jewish state. Because without Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, there can be no real reconciliation because the conflict cannot end without the Palestinians basically giving up all national claims to the Jewish state. This is the idea of the two nation-states: they have a nation-state for the Palestinian people, we have a nation-state for the Jewish people and there are no more claims.
I think that peace must also be based on iron-clad security arrangements that enable Israel to safeguard the peace and protect Israel for any contingency because in this volatile part of the world, and we see how volatile it is, there can be no real peace without security.
I know that there are those in Europe who have been calling on a boycott for Israel so I want to be very clear: there can be criticism of Israel. That’s legitimate. But it’s hard not to notice the fact that those who call for boycotting Israel are not calling for the boycott of any other country. They boycott only Israel. They blame only the Jewish state and singling out Israel, the one democracy – the one true democracy in the whole Middle East – is neither moral or correct and I would say or productive because actually these boycotts push back peace. They only serve to strengthen Palestinian intransigence. They also don’t help the Palestinian economy, you know? There are 30,000 Palestinian workers who work in the settlements and the Jewish communities and their economy would be hard hit.
But the most important thing is I think that we’re working to resolve, through negotiations, a very complex conflict. We hope to make progress on it. Boycotts is not the moral or productive way to move peace forward. It actually pushes peace back. So I hope that others in Europe follow your lead, Angela, in rejecting boycotts and going for the support of Secretary Kerry’s effort to advance a workable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I have been working very closely with John Kerry and I’m ready for a stark agreement that ends the conflict between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors once and for all. I can only express my hope that President Abbas is equally willing to end the conflict once and for all and of course this will be seen in the coming weeks and months.
On the Iranian issue, despite the soothing words of President Rouhani, we see that Iran has not changed its behavior at all. Iran continues to oppress its people. Inside Iran they execute hundreds of innocent people in the city squares. They actually hang them from cranes. And Iran continues to be on the ground in Syria, propping up the Assad regime, financing its murderous activities, giving them arms, giving them weapons, giving them fighters and commanders.
This is continuing every day, as we speak. It’s happening right now. Iran continues to perpetrate terrorism directly or through its proxy Hezbollah in Europe and around the world. And Iran continues its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. They continue to do so while developing the means to deliver those weapons. They’re developing long-range ICBMs and I want to say, they are not directed against us. They already have the missiles to reach us. Those ICBMs are intended for Europe; they’re intended for you; they’re intended for the United States. And they have only one payload – that’s a nuclear payload. And of course, Iran continues to call for the annihilation of the Jewish state.
Last week, the P5+1 started negotiations with Iran on a final deal. I think that the most crucial thing is to define the goal. The goal of these negotiations is to prevent Iran from having the capability to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons, because if Iran maintains that capability, then make no mistake about it: It will use those weapons.
We know that we cannot have a world in which fanatic regimes, irresponsible regimes, have atomic bombs. We understand already what is happening in one part of the world, in Asia, with such a regime having such weapons and we cannot afford to have that replicated by a regime that I say is the equivalent of 50 North Koreas – having weapons that could threaten not maybe the security of Israel and the security of Germany, but the security of the entire world.
The goal is to prevent Iran from having the capability to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons. I believe that means zero enrichment, zero centrifuges, zero plutonium and of course an end to ICBM development. Because none of these elements – none of them – is necessary for developing civilian nuclear energy, which is what Iran has claimed that it wants.
I know, Angela, that you are concerned with this issue. We understand what this would mean for the world. I think it will also mean that if Iran gets away with this, than this will spark waves of proliferation, nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Other countries would seek to nuclearize and of course that may have an effect around the world. I find that, when we speak about this, there’s a common desire to see a peaceful, secure and stable world, but also a common desire to see Israel and Germany working together to achieve a better world, both in our region and at large.
I think our ties provide an example of how, despite the horrors of the past that we can never forget, we strive for – our two peoples strive to transform our relationship into a unique and constructive friendship. And I think that the example of Israel and Germany offers hope for the entire world. It shows how we can transform history and make the world a better place to live in – better and I have to say safer and more prosperous. We’re certainly doing that in our own relationship, working in many, many levels and many, many fields and I want to express again my thanks for this unique cooperation and for your unique leadership.
Thank you, Angela, and welcome to Jerusalem.