Shimon Peres"The elections are intended to set our goals for the future. They should be conducted with respect, with sensitivity to one another and with restraint."

The President of the State of the Israel, President Shimon Peres, delivered a speech to the opening of the winter session of the 18th Knesset. During the speech President Peres addressed the Iranian issue and said, "We are operating against Iranian attempts to build a nuclear weapon. The current Iranian regime is a genuine and immediate threat to the entire world, not just to Israel. The world cannot live in the shadow of a nuclear Iran and under the dark clouds of the policy of a fanatical regime. The coalition that has been built to deal with the threat of a nuclear Iran is a coalition that is not necessarily pro-Israel. But it is committed to protecting the peace and security of the world. If that coalition relents it will not know victory. All the options, including the military option, must remain on the table so that Iranian understands their seriousness. The military option is not the preferred option but in the eyes of the world, and of Israel, it is a serious option. The policy of the Iranian regime is not for show. We must treat it as the real, serious existential threat that it is. The Iranian people are not our enemies. The Ayatollahs, who are busy enriching uranium and inciting to violence, are the real enemy of the Iranian people. And of many other nations." President Peres addressed the challenges and opportunities facing the State of Israel and said, "Israel must take the initiative. We must be ready for any challenge. We must work for peace as soon as possible. The challenges facing us are varied: security challenges, social challenges and economic challenges. They do not exist in isolation. We must set national priorities because it depends on us as a people. We are a sovereign nation. The security and peace of our citizens is the responsibility of the IDF and the security services, their commanders and their soldiers and the highest quality equipment that the country can produce and procure.

President Peres spoke of the strategic importance of the relationship with the United States of America and said, "We need friends. Friends who will help stop wars. Friends who will stand against attacks on the State of Israel. We have that friend in the United States of America. It is a friendship like no other. It is founded on values and on the pursuit of peace. It is a bi-partisan friendship. It has both mutual consideration and mutual respect. We want to build those friendships with all people, with all nations. With our neighbors and with those further away."

President Peres turned to the Knesset members and said, "These coming elections are intended to set our goals for the future. They should be conducted with respect, with sensitivity to one another and with restraint. The elections should be a national debate without senseless attacks. You are finishing four years of governing. You have known many storms but have also secured important achievements. For that the nation owes you thanks."