Spain will soon be taking over the European Presidency, and I am confident that you will work to deepen the ties between Israel and the European Union.
Statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Spain
Spain and Israel have a long tradition of friendly relations. In recent years, we have developed these relations, and today we will discuss ways to enhance them. In a few minutes, our Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Fuad Ben-Eliezer, and Spain’s Minister of Science and Innovation, will sign a bilateral agreement on industrial development. I am confident that this agreement will benefit both of our countries.
Spain will soon be taking over the European Presidency, and I am confident that you, sir, with your leadership, together with the help of the Minister of Foreign Affairs whom we know well, Mr. Miguel Moratinos, will work to deepen the ties between Israel and the European Union.
I believe we are facing a very challenging time. We are facing two particularly great challenges. The first is Iran’s attempt to equip itself with nuclear weapons. Spain has already played an important role, together with Europe, in the effort to prevent Iran from developing these weapons. The second challenge is the peace process, which we all want, and we will work together to advance this process. I know that this is not a simple challenge. There are many obstacles to implementation, but I want you to know that we intend to advance it. And we need your help to do that.
One of the important things needed to promote peace is to combat terror. Tomorrow there will be a vote in Geneva that will either encourage terror or undermine terror. It can either promote peace or undermine peace. We hope that all responsible nations will vote against this decision, which supports and encourages terror, and undermines peace.
Our President, Shimon Peres, has said that Israel’s only crime is that it does not have an automatic majority in the UN. He is absolutely right. I served in the UN for many years. One can enlist a majority there, it is even customary, for the most absurd resolutions. And we know how absurd this particular resolution is. We pulled out of every last inch of Gaza. The international community assured us that we would have the legitimacy to exercise our right to self defense. Thousands of rockets were fired at our civilians, and terror organizations used civilians as human shields. The previous government was justifiably forced to launch this operation. Israel made enormous and genuine efforts to avoid harming Palestinian civilians. The IDF is a moral army, and this report accuses us of war crimes. The truth is exactly the opposite. Our just battle was against their war crimes.
This report also has consequences for peace. We are being asked to take risks for peace. We have taken risks and steps that no other nation has taken in history. We have done very painful things. And now, we are being asked to take more risks. At the same time, we are being told that we will be unable to defend ourselves if peace fails. If an area we vacate is used to launch rockets at our citizens, we will be expected to sit and do nothing – our hands will be tied.
Israel can only advance peace if it is able to defend itself. Therefore, responsible nations must vote against this decision that encourages terror and undermines peace. Vote against this decision and in favor of peace.
I thank you, sir, for the clear stand you have taken on this issue in Spain and for your contribution in the international arena to bringing justice, balance and truth to the international discourse. These elements are very important to advancing the peace we all want.