Israel is not hindering the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it is the PA who is unwilling to stand up and say to its people the truth, the need for true compromise.
Note: By law, 40 Members of the Knesset are needed to summon the Prime Minister for a discussion in the plenum on a subject of their choice. This may be done once a month.
… This meeting is held approximately once every 30 days, and once every 30 days I customarily open the discussion by summarizing the most important actions and decisions made by the government and coalition over the last few weeks.
We have dealt with several things that have been discussed for years but nothing was ever done about them.
Our first decision, one that is important for the future of the State of Israel, is to put up a fence along the border in the South – an obstacle that I think will very soon become a physical fence along our border with Egypt. That is one of the ways we are going to stop the flood, literally, the flood of illegal infiltrators that started in 2005-2006 and has been increasing since then. We know that this is our responsibility, it was discussed by others too, it was talked about, it was on the table, possible solutions were raised, but nothing was done.
Eventually we made this decision: to establish a detention facility, to impose heavy fines and punishes on employers and to work internationally to stop this flood that threatens every citizen. It threatens citizens’ jobs; it threatens the Jewish and democratic character of Israel. Go to Arad, Eilat, south of Tel Aviv. If we don’t take this action, it will shortly be the same everywhere. We are taking actions, executing steps and making changes that are vital for the security and the future of Israel – namely, the fence.
The second thing: we made a decision that has also been discussed for years, talked about but no one ever took action. I correct myself. They did, but it was too little and too slow. Two weeks ago we decided to bring the remaining residents of the Gondar Compound to Israel. I once made such a decision, I had the right to make the decision during my first tenure as Prime Minister and we are now doing it the second time. I believe that this will bring the story to a conclusion. The Jewish Agency is willing to take responsibility to deal with any residual issues and this is significant in bring an end to a very painful story of bringing one of the tribes of Israel to Israel on aliyah. As stated, they talked about it and we’re doing it.
The third thing is a revolution in communications. A decision has been made, and I commend the Minister of Communications, Moshe Kahlon, and the Chairman of Economic Affairs Committee, Ofir Akunis, for this. This is a decision that will advance the government, something we’ve all been talking about and we’re finally doing: having a fourth competitor enter into the cellular market, and an option for a fifth, and also significantly reducing fines on Israelis for leaving cellular plans. I think that this will release the public from the iron grip of the cellular companies on it; it will increase competition and make the service cheaper. Again, these are things that people have talked about, but we are doing.
The fourth thing. We are in the midst of a revolution not only in communications but also in transportation. We are launching new projects weekly. We are building railroads and paving roads at an investment of almost NIS 30 billion. Actually, it’s NIS 27 billion. Yesterday, I had the privilege, and fun I must add, of coming full circle: as Prime Minister, I put down the corner stone for the Carmel Tunnels and promoted the project as Finance Minister. I thank finance ministers who helped and labored to this end, and one of them is here today. This success has partners, but what happened yesterday is important. We are releasing the traffic jams not only of Haifa, but in the entire north; we are connecting northern Israel to the center, the center to the north and also to the south, because intensive, important and historic work is now starting on planning the railroad to Eilat.
I flew over the Negev to reach the fence. You can see vast expanses, reserves of land that are empty, nothing but dirt, empty desert. That is where the real reserves for crowded Israel are. That is where we are going to see change, when there is a train to the south that will branch out and connect with roads. That is where are future is. This is now happening. Once again, we are doing this after years of talk.
Another decision that we made last week, within these 30 days, is the decision to have a referendum. Again, for years they have been talking about it. The late Yitzhak Rabin had talked about it; all the prime ministers talked about it. But we didn’t talk; we did… A real decision must be accepted, must be given the people’s approval… Have confidence in the people. It is a reasonable, responsible people. A referendum is the most fitting thing to do, morally and democratically…
In the last six weeks we did something else that has been discussed for years. We made decisions regarding the implementation of a plan with a budget of NIS 2.2 billion to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses, another issue that has been discussed, has been on the table and talked about, but we made the decision about it.
All this has been done in the last 30 days… The truth is that this government, and not only in the last 30 days but generally, has been making decisions about issues that have been waiting to be solved, waiting to be decided on, waiting to be implemented for so many years…
Now, I would like to draw your attention to two points, two truths that have been exposed during these 30 days. There are public notions, that when repeated again and again, they gain the status of self-evident truth, until the people who declare them truth get hit in the face by reality. One of these truths over the years is that the root of the problem in the Middle East, the instability in our region, stems from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Those who say that usually have something to add, and I’ll tell you what it is in a minute. But that is the root of the problem. I’m not saying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a crucial problem that requires a resolution. It is a problem that needs a solution and I’ll get to it in a minute. But throughout the years we have been explained that here lies the root of the matter and this is what is preventing various forces in the region to join together to hold back the dangers.
What has become very clear in the last few weeks and days, and cannot be ignored, is that the origin of the problem of instability in the Middle East is first of all Iran. This is not trivial. It was arguable and we had to argue about it. I personally argued about it and spoke about it, discussed it with world leaders and whole publics, in this house too. What we are discovering now, is that today, there is a much broader agreement among world leaders and diplomatic bodies and among strategists, that the largest threat to world peace and peace in this region is currently a nuclear Iran. I think this should be recognized first of all.
Now comes the second thing which is of course the question, ‘what is the reason that the Israeli-Arab conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not being resolved?’ I say that, among other things, it also relates to the first truth. It is because the Iranians are growing a metastasis here. That metastasis is the Hamas and the Hamas threatens the Palestinian Authority, and the PA is shrinking because of that and is moving away from peace.
The second thing that arises from this concept is that Israel is not the side that does not want to advance peace negotiations and it is the PA who has real obstructions preventing them from making the moves. It is not from Israel, but the PA. We are trying to advance peace in various ways, we are making attempts to advance the political process, I cannot guarantee that we will be successful but I promise that we will continue trying and I hope we succeed.
For us to succeed, we need a partner for a responsible peace, not the kind of peace in which you throw down your protective vest, rifle and all your defenses, shut your eyes and hope for the best. We want to see security measures and a basic recognition in the right of the Jewish people to a state of its own. I want us to have such a partner, I yearn for that, but for us to have a partner we need them to have a leader who tells the people the truth. I have told my people the truth, I said it at the Bar-Ilan speech, and I am waiting for Abu-Mazen to tell his people the truth.
A few days ago I heard that the Palestinian Information Ministry was publishing a study that claims that the Jewish people has no connection to the Western Wall. Did you hear that? The Western Wall! I am trying to envision what the reaction would be among those sitting here today and any responsible person in the world if the Israeli government were to say that Islam has no ties to Mecca, or that Christianity, the Vatican are not linked and Judaism has no connection to the Western Wall. It is not only a religious bond, it is a religious and a national bond, a historic link of the highest level that has been going on for thousands of years, and that too is not trivial because there is a test point here.
I say to Abu Mazen to condemn this, denounce the study, turn to your people and tell them: "There is a Jewish people here, it has been here for close to 4,000 years, we recognize this people, we recognize their historic bond with this land and this city." We want to make peace with you, but a real peace. Real peace is based on the truth, not on spin, not on lies, not on half-truths or non-truths. It is based on truth. I call upon Abu-Mazen to promote peace; tell your people the truth.
You have probably heard the harsh denouncement made by the US State Department Spokesman about this harsh and puzzling thing that the PA has said in their attempt to deny out historic link to the Western Wall.
We have been working closely with the United States over the last few weeks trying to find an effective route to resuming talks and this is a joint goal. Our joint objective is to reach an agreement. I think that there are two basic truths that everyone knows, whether they admit it now or later.
One is that radical Islam, under the leadership of Iran is the biggest threat on our future and we need to concentrate international efforts without distractions and interferences to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
The second thing is that Israel is not hindering the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it is the PA who is unwilling to stand up and say to its people the truth, the need for true compromise. As one truth has strongly become clear, so will the second truth come into full view. I hope that Abu-Mazen will tell his people the truth in order to achieve a genuine peace.