The State of Israel has proven time and again that it is prepared to pay a high price for peace with its neighbors and has already evacuated territory three times its size.

 FM Liberman addresses diplomatic corps on Independence Day

 

(Photo: GPO)

Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Diplomatic Corps at the President’s Residence
Israel Independence Day

His Excellency the President of the State of Israel Mr. Shimon Peres,
Heads of Missions and International Organizations,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
 
Thank you for joining with us today to celebrate Israel’s 62nd  year of independence.

Thirty years ago, during Israel’s 32nd independence day, the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin declared:  "Citizens of Israel, let us set Jerusalem above our highest joy!  …It is our right to reaffirm on the day of our rededication of our national independence, that the city, north and south, east and west, is entirely under Israel’s sovereignty, our eternal capital city! It cannot be divided! And will never again be divided! Neither directly, nor indirectly!"

Ladies and gentlemen,

The late Prime Minister Begin, who won a Nobel Peace Prize, expressed the eternal connection between Jews everywhere and Jerusalem, which existed then and exists today. Begin made that statement as Israel and Egypt were implementing the historic peace agreement between them. It did not stand in the way of peace.

Today, I stand before you in Jerusalem, as Israel’s Foreign Minister, and reaffirm late Prime Minister Begin’s statement: Jerusalem is our undivided, eternal capital!  

As Israel proved time and again, especially during PM Begin’s right wing government, we yearn for peace and can achieve peace with a genuine partner. That was the case when we signed peace agreements with President Sadat and later with the late King Hussein of Jordan. These historic peace agreements were made possible because we had genuine partners, as well as a supportive international environment. 

Today, as in the past, a genuine partner and a conducive international environment are critical to progress in any peace process.

The State of Israel has proven time and again that it is prepared to pay a high price for peace with its neighbors and has already evacuated territory three times its size.

In the last year alone, the current government, which is center-right, has made many significant gestures and confidence-building measures towards the Palestinians.

In order to make progress beyond the current deadlock, we must now create a new reality in the region based on security for Israelis, economic prosperity for Palestinians, and stability for both. Only then will it be possible to negotiate a final agreement between the parties.

Any attempt to force a solution on the parties without establishing a foundation of mutual trust will only deepen the conflict. Peace cannot be enforced, it must be built.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Israel is an island of democracy and freedom in the Middle East. We are an ancient people that returned to its historic homeland. In little more than six decades, a fleeting moment in history, Israel has transformed itself from a tiny nation surrounded by hostility into a high-tech powerhouse. We transformed the desert into a source of life and our knowledge and knowhow into a national reserve of creativity and excellence.

There is much that we can contribute to the world and the region in the years to come and I am certain you will be there with us as partners.