We view the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, and the Palestinian Authority Government, as directly responsible for yesterday’s terror attack, for the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and for the duty to bring him back safe and sound to the State of Israel.
(translated from Hebrew)
These days – as all too often happens in Israel – are not easy days. For a long time, we have been faced with murderous, radical, extreme terrorism, saturated with hatred, devoid of any willingness to compromise and motivated by the desire to bring about the elimination of the State of Israel.
What happened yesterday is not some sort of military confrontation, as someone has been trying to portray it. The State of Israel pulled out completely from the Gaza Strip. We are in a territory which is recognized by the entire world as a territory of the State of Israel. Anyone who fires from the other side of the border, anyone who engages in violent activity of any sort against the citizens of the State of Israel, does so as part of a fanatic, fundamentalist, radical and terrorist worldview, aimed at undermining the very foundations of the State of Israel. There is no chance that we will ever compromise with this.
We view the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, and the Palestinian Authority Government, as directly responsible for yesterday’s terror attack, for the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and for the duty to bring him back safe and sound to the State of Israel. This is not a matter of negotiation, it is not a matter of bargaining and it is not a matter of agreement – it is a matter of fundamental duty to abide by the international community’s elementary standards of decency, and anyone who wants to be part of the international community must adhere to these rules. The question of release of prisoners is not at all on the agenda of the Government of Israel.
The recent manifestations of incessant shooting of Qassam rockets aimed at the residents of the south of Israel, and now this violent and severe provocation which took place yesterday morning, compel us to respond, and I state here that we will respond. We will respond against any terrorist, against any terror organization, wherever they are, and you know – and they know – that we know how to reach them even in distant places, even when they think they are hiding, even when they believe they are safe. We know how to get to them and target them, in order to prevent them from carrying out the terror activities which they are planning.
We are not operating under any pressure. We have weighed our options with patience, but the time for comprehensive, harsh and severe action by the State of Israel gets shorter and shorter. We will not wait indefinitely, we will not become the subject of terrorist coercion by Hamas, and we will use all forces at our disposal in order to bring about the cessation of terrorism and ensure that our IDF soldier will not be harmed and that he will quickly return to his family and his country.
At my instruction and the instruction of the Minister of Defense, the Gaza Strip is already closed and blocked at land and sea. There is no entry or exit. This is the first in a series of steps which we will consider, with patience but determination, and without compromise, in order to make it clear to everyone that this terror must stop. We have never tolerated it, we are not tolerating it now. The enlightened international community is not willing to tolerate the continuation of this radical, fundamentalist Muslim extremism. The State of Israel will defend itself and its citizens in any way deemed appropriate in order to terminate the blood-thirsty radicalism of the terror organizations. Any functionary, anyone who represents this authority, is responsible for its actions, and there will be no immunity, neither personal nor organizational, for any one of them.
I regret that this meeting, which I had hoped to dedicate to other issues, is dedicated primarily to a discussion on those issues which we have, for years, been making tremendous efforts to remove from the agenda. I want to assure you that despite today’s hardships, the Government of Israel, under my leadership, will continue to explore every avenue to ultimately achieve negotiations with those elements who will be willing to accept the principles set forth by the international community for genuine, serious and responsible dialogue which will lead us to the start of a peace process with the Palestinians.
I say these things at exactly the same moment as I make a commitment that we will take harsh measures against the terror elements, because these two paths represent, as one, the policy of the government – uncompromising determination to fight terrorism anywhere and anytime in order to prevent further harm to Israeli residents, and at the same time, a genuine, decent and sincere effort to pave the way and create the conditions which may allow us to ultimately return to the negotiating table, in order to try to resolve this conflict, once and for all.
I said it more than once, and I say it again today – we have always favored negotiation. Any agreement – if ever signed – is preferable to a solution reached through a unilateral process, without an agreement. Therefore, we will look for every way, if the conditions are ripe, and will meet with Palestinians who are willing to conduct themselves fairly, act against terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist, primarily the Chairman of the PA who, in these very days, does not hesitate to speak out against the murderous methods of Hamas. I respect and appreciate it. However, if it transpires that the Palestinian Authority is incapable of eradicating the terror elements from within, if it transpires that Hamas continues to be the dominant body which dictates the public agenda of the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority, the State of Israel will seek other ways to change the reality, separate ourselves from the Palestinians and shape the borders of Israel, in order for there to always be a stable and permanent Jewish majority in the State of Israel, which will not be subject to any threat, and guarantee the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.