Since the inception of the State of Israel in 1948, not a single day has gone by where we did not face the threat of terrorism. Out of this persistent need to defend our citizens, Israel became a specialist in the field of counter-terrorism.
I would like to congratulate China on its Presidency of the Security Council this month. I would also like to express my appreciation to the chairmen of the committees for their informative briefings and professional work.
I want to use this opportunity to welcome CTED’s new Executive Director, Jean-Paul Labord. We are happy to have you on board and we look forward to working closely together in the future.
Israel believes that the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committees are essential to global efforts to isolate terrorists. We appreciate their dedicated work along with that of other relevant UN agencies.
Since the inception of the State of Israel in 1948, not a single day has gone by where we did not face the threat of terrorism. Out of this persistent need to defend our citizens, Israel became a specialist in the field of counter-terrorism – with techniques, technologies and tools unmatched by any other country.
Over the years, terrorists have become increasingly sophisticated, and Israel’s counter-terrorism efforts have evolved to keep us one step ahead. From aviation security to border security and from money laundering to legal infrastructures – Israel has a well of expertise for countries to draw from. From the plains of Africa to the jungles of Central America, Israel is proud to be sharing its counter-terrorism capabilities and saving countless lives.
Let me give you just one example. The issue of aviation security is increasingly a focus of concern for many nations. Israel has been grappling with this threat ever since an Air France flight filled with Israeli passengers was hijacked in 1976 and forced to land at the airport in Entebbe in Uganda. Since that time, Israel has become a leader in the field of aviation security. By sharing our innovative techniques with countless nations, Israel is making the skies safer and airports more secure.
Just as it is with family, we don’t get to choose our neighbors on the map – and Israel is not exactly surrounded by Benelux countries. I don’t have to convince anyone in this chamber that Israel finds itself in one of the most volatile and violent neighborhoods in the world. Every day we are using our counter-terrorism expertise to keep our citizens safe from the threats that surround us on every side.
For years, Israel’s southern citizens have been the targets of rocket fire and terror attacks from Gaza. Just last month, the IDF discovered a two kilometer tunnel originating in Gaza and ending just outside an Israeli community – not far from homes, kindergartens and playgrounds.
The tunnel was built by Hamas using 500 tons of cement that had been earmarked for construction. Just imagine how many schools, hospitals and homes could have been built with all that cement. Instead of using construction materials to build a better future for the Palestinian people, the leadership in Gaza is committed to destroying the State of Israel.
On our northern border Hezbollah has laid siege to Southern Lebanon and is hiding its arsenal of 60,000 rockets in civilian homes, schools, and hospitals. In doing so, Hezbollah is committing a double war crime – first by using the people of Lebanon as human shields and second by targeting Israeli civilians.
No government can be expected to stand by and allow its citizens to be the targets of terror. Israel will take every measure necessary to protect its citizens and will not allow strategic weapons to reach the hands of Hezbollah, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
Israel commends the steps that have been taken to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal. This must continue to be a priority for the international community and it must ensure that the process is properly monitored, verified and completed while abiding by the agreed timelines. It must also ensure that chemical weapons never fall into the hands of terrorist organizations.
As we speak, terrorist groups are taking advantage of the chaos and instability in Syria to train, recruit, and arm a new generation of terrorists. Syria has become the foremost academy for foreign terrorists – teaching the philosophy of fundamentalism, the engineering of explosives, and the calculus of chaos. Two of the terrorists behind the September attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead, were found to be European citizens who were trained in Syria.
The ongoing slaughter in Syria has been made possible through the financing of fighters that Iran sends to prop up the dictator in Damascus. Iran may have a charming new president, but its real decision-maker is still Khamenei. The Ayatollah has been an accessory to Assad’s slaughter of 120,000 Syrians, while accessorizing terrorists with suicide belts in Gaza and in Lebanon.
Iran remains the world’s primary sponsor of terror. Its proxies – including Hezbollah and Hamas – have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of bombs, and fired tens of thousands of missiles at civilians. It doesn’t take the detective skills of Agatha Christie to see Iran’s fingerprints on terror attacks from Argentina to Bulgaria and from Thailand to India.
Last week, former Prime Minister Tony Blair provided a report to CTED focusing on the importance of education in countering terrorism. Israel strongly supports the assessment that counter-terrorism efforts must attack the root of the problem – namely the fertile soil of incitement.
Terrorism does not begin when a bomb detonates on a bus or in a café. It begins in classrooms and mosques where children are being taught prejudice instead of peace; terror instead of tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding.
In Gaza, Hamas is poisoning the hearts and minds of the next generation. They recently published a textbook for 55,000 high school students in which page after page denies Judaism’s historical connection to the land of Israel and describes Zionism as racism. Textbooks should be for education, but Hamas uses them for provocation, indoctrination and escalation. Millions of Palestinians are growing up in a society that portrays murderers and kidnappers as heroes.
This culture of incitement is having deadly consequences. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 1,163 terror attacks against Israelis and dozens of attempted kidnappings.
No nation should have to stand alone in the face of global terrorism. Israel commends CTED for its efforts to coordinate actions and monitor the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1373 which constitutes the centerpiece of the UN’s efforts to create a robust counter-terrorism regime.
Israel fully implements resolution 1373 and has adapted its legislation to ensure compliance with resolution 1267 which established the important Al Qaida Sanctions Committee.
Israel also supports resolution 1540, recognizing that export control systems and appropriate national counter-terrorism legislation are critical to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and dual use items.
Finally, Israel supports the UN 2006 Global Terrorism Strategy and reiterates that all four pillars should be treated as a whole. We look forward to the upcoming fourth Review of this Strategy.
Today millions of Israelis are mourning the passing of Arik Einstein, an Israeli cultural legend. Over the course of his career, Einstein’s music became the soundtrack of our nation – comforting us in times of sorrow and making our hearts soar in times of joy.
One of his most famous songs is called “Ani Veata” (Me and You). Its lyrics are as follows:
You and I will change the world
You and I, and others will join us
They have said it before
It doesn’t matter, because you and I will change the world.
As we mourn the passing of one of Israel’s icons, let the music he left behind guide our efforts to make this world a safer, stronger and more secure. Together, we will change the world.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.