- Written by Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
The Nuclear Deal with Iran: Commentary & Analysis from the Mitvim Institute
The Nuclear Deal with Iran: Commentary & Analysis
The deal reached between Iran and the six world powers is likely to have significant implications for Israel’s foreign policy, Israel-US relations, domestic American politics, next steps regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Iran’s role in the region. This document includes commentary and analysis on these issues by Mitvim Institute experts: Prof. Moshe Ma’oz, Dr. Nimrod Goren, Dr. Ilai Saltzman, and Brian Reeves. It is also available in Hebrew.
An Israeli campaign against the deal will further damage Israel-US relations
Dr. Ilai Saltzman, The Mitvim Institute and Claremont McKenna College
The signing of a nuclear deal with Iran will further aggravate the already tense relations between Israel and the US regardless of the exact details of the agreement or the nature of the mechanisms put in place to make it work. To be more specific, this dramatic development will bring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama further apart. The Prime Minister presented no coherent and practical alternative; he merely advocated maintaining the sanctions against Iran and dismantling its nuclear program, even by force. This “all or nothing” approach was utterly unacceptable and unfeasible from Obama’s vantage point and mutual criticism lasted until the very last minute.
The signing of the nuclear agreement will mark a new stage in Netanyahu’s anti-agreement crusade. Given the fact the American Congress will now have 60 days to review and assess the signed accords before lifting the sanctions on Iran, we should expect a massive Israeli campaign against its approval. While Netanyahu will not be invited to give another anti-agreement speech on Capitol Hill, he will use every possible asset to prevent Congress from lifting the sanctions. Netanyahu’s proxies including Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and AIPAC will engage every legislator, Republican or Democrat, and will be extremely vocal in the public sphere, criticizing the agreement and the president’s handling of the negotiations.
Regardless of the outcomes of the battle in Congress, one obvious casualty will be US-Israel relations. Israel has become a partisan political issue, dividing Congress and the Jewish community, forcing people to choose between their President and their support of Israel, as Netanyahu’s speech in Congress vividly showed. Obama will do anything in his power to prevent Congress from interfering in what he believes to be one of the most significant diplomatic achievements of his administration. The crossfire will certainly take its toll and the only question is the exact price Israel will pay.
Netanyahu’s maximalist and uncompromising approach throughout the nuclear talks left Israel marginalized and disengaged from the negotiations. In the post-deal period, the Israeli government must engage the Administration in good faith and regain access to the decision-making process, in order to influence the way the agreement is enforced and Iran’s nuclear facilities are monitored. Moreover, in the long-term, Israel should seek a reversal of Iran’s destabilizing policies in the region through encouraging US-Iranian rapprochement induced by the nuclear agreement.
A veto-proof majority in Congress against the deal is unlikely
Brian Reeves, The Mitvim Institute
Now, that an Iranian nuclear deal has been reached, the US Congress must decide whether it risks being a hindrance or abettor to this historic compromise. Particularly in the Senate, where it can still plausibly go either way on whether the chamber can muster a veto-proof, two-thirds majority against an agreement, the reputation of many Democratic members on the fence hangs in the balance.
With this in mind, recent statements from leading senators appear to corroborate the prevailing assessment that this two-thirds majority cannot be achieved. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) repeatedly called an expected deal a “hard sell,” but refused to impart a more forceful response. Senior Senator Lindsey Graham (R) contended he was in favor of the interim deal and applauded Secretary John Kerry’s efforts, while qualifying these comments with a formulaic critique of President Obama’s supposed willingness to give concessions. Senior Democratic Senator and known hawk on Iran, Robert Menendez, voiced his concerns but would not rule out support for a deal.
Given the influence of these three senators, their statements are of considerable import. They each demonstrate pains to hedge their bets on the passing and long-term success of a deal, and more importantly to help prepare their constituencies for coming to terms with that deal. This latter, critical aspect of helping one’s nation take advantage of any new, significant reality is now also being practiced by Iranian President Rouhani.
With a deal soon to be reached and under review in Congress, Israel’s leadership now has a choice. It can either continue to level unrestrained rebuke at its American counterparts and pronounce doomsday predictions. Or it can still voice its legitimate concerns, but through language and actions mindful of its relationship with the US, while preparing new regional policies and its citizens for both the challenges and opportunities that this new paradigm in the Middle East may present. If strategy, not ideology, is to prevail, then it should adopt the second option.
The international community can now re-engage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Dr. Nimrod Goren, The Mitvim Institute and the Hebrew University
Israeli politicians, from the coalition and opposition alike, were quick to state unequivocally that the deal poses grave danger to Israel. They did so before even having the chance to read the text of the final agreement. This is characteristic of Israeli statesmanship, which tends to emphasize the risks and the negative aspects of international and regional developments. The problem with this approach is that it lessens the ability to identify opportunities in a timely manner. Moreover, it tends to create tensions between Israel and its Western allies, which often distance Israel from international decision-making processes relating to international issues of historical significance.
Israel would be wise to react positively to the efforts invested by the six world powers, among which are Israel’s two greatest allies – the US and Germany, to address a major security threat that Israel faces. Israel would also be wise to refrain from launching a new struggle against the deal that has been reached. Instead, and despite its reservations from the deal, Israel should now work together with the US and the broader international community, and seek to leverage the deal to promote its diplomatic and security interests.
The fact that a deal has been reached on the Iranian nuclear program also means that the international community’s self-imposed hiatus from dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has come to an end. As a result of the recent Israeli elections and the negotiations with Iran, international efforts on this issue have been frozen for over half a year. However, Israel did not use this respite to propose its own framework for advancing the two-state solution and now, the international powers are likely to return to these issues with greater urgency and perhaps in a more coordinated fashion in light of their successful model of joint negotiations vis-à-vis the Iranians.
In the coming months, the US and the Europeans are expected to promote initiatives that will bring more clarity to the parameters for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the potential fruits of peace, and the prices of its absence. Israel should be as engaged as possible in the shaping of these efforts and should avoid slamming the door on its Western allies, as she did on the Iranian nuclear talks. If the current Israeli government does not do so, the Opposition will have an opportunity to carve a significant political-diplomatic role for itself, vis-à-vis both the international community and the Israeli public.
Iran’s regional role after the deal: Fighting IS while promoting a “Shi’i Crescent”
Prof. Moshe Ma’oz, The Hebrew University and the Mitvim Institute
The nuclear deal will increase Iran’s strategic, political and economic power.The crucial question is whetheror not Tehran will employ its new advantages to advance stability in the Middle East and to settle its ideological and strategic disputes with Sunni Muslim countries.
Iran is likely to expand its military and economic efforts to contain, if not defeat, IS forces in Iraq and Syria, which are threatening Tehran's allies in Baghdad, Damascus and Hizballah, and are also main factors of regional instability. By doing so, it will contribute to regional stability. But simultaneously, Iran is likely to continue its regional “Shi'i Crescent” strategy, which widens frictions between Shi'is and Sunnis in several Arab countries, thus also contributing to instability.
Shi'i Iran by no means can afford to forsake the most important Shi'i shrines in Najaf and Karbala (Southern Iraq) and the majority (60%) Shi'i state of Iraq. Nor could Tehran abandon its Alawi (pseudo-Shi'i) ally in Damascus, being a crucial link to its Shi'i proxy, Hizballah, in Lebanon, as well as to its “Shi'i Crescent" strategy. Indeed, it may be also predicted that Iran will also use its new grand position to strengthen its would-be Shi'i Crescent by fostering the Shi'i communities in oil-producing Gulf state such as Bahrain, Kuwait and even Saudi Arabia, as well as Yemen.
In view of this possible scenario, Israel should find ways to establish a solid strategic cooperation with Sunni-Muslim states in the region aiming at curbing this common Shi'i threat. A major condition for such strategic cooperation is for Israel to settle the Palestinian problem. Such bold policy may also reduce Iran's immense antagonism to Israel.
Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
11 Tuval St, Ramat Gan 525226, Israel
- Written by Office of the President
President Rivlin makes ‘Israeli Hope: Towards a new Israeli order’ address at the 15th Annual Herzliya Conference, marking a year since his election.
In the speech, the President stressed;
The make-up of the ‘stakeholders’ of Israeli society, and of the State of Israel, is changing before our eyes
In the State of Israel the basic systems that form people's consciousness are tribal and separate, and will most likely remain so
If we do not reduce the current gaps in the rate of participation in the work force and in the salary levels of the Arab and Haredi populations - who are soon to become one half of the work force - Israel will not be able to continue to be a developed economy.
The President posed the following challenging questions;
Are we, the members of the Zionist population, able to accept the fact that two significant groups, a half of the future population of Israel, do not define themselves as Zionists? They do not watch the torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl on Independence Day. They do not sing the national anthem with eyes glistening.
Are we willing to give up military service, as an entry ticket into Israeli society and economy, and settle for civilian or community service?
Are the Arab and Haredi publics willing to commit to contributing their share in molding Israeli identity and the Israeli economy, and to participating in civil national and community service, with a sense of responsibility and commitment?
The President stressed that;
The Haredi, the secular, the religious, or the Arab individual must not feel that the issues most sensitive to them are in danger or under threat.
The sense of security that my basic identity is not threatened is a fundamental prerequisite for the ability of each one of us to hold out a hand to the other.
No tribe is exempt from proposing solutions to deal with the challenge of defending the security of the State; from facing the economic challenges, or maintaining the international status of Israel as a member of the family of nations. Partnership demands responsibility.
The developing Israeli mosaic offers a tremendous opportunity. It encompasses cultural richness, inspiration, humanity and sensitivity.
President Reuven Rivlin this afternoon, (Sunday), addressed the 15th annual Herzliya Conference of the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at IDC Herzliya, marking the first year of his term as the Tenth President of the State of Israel. In the speech, entitled "Israeli Hope: Towards a new Israeli order", the President spoke about the various developments within the different camps in Israeli society, and of the obligation as a society to actively work to expand the partnership and cooperation as a crucial prerequisite for the State of Israel. The President warned against the deterioration of Israeli society in light of the demographic trends and the alienation between the various groups in the society; Haredim, Arabs, national religious Jews, and secular.
The President said, “I have never regarded, nor will I ever regard any persons or groups comprising Israeli society as a danger, or, God forbid, as a threat. But, I am standing here today, because I have identified a very real threat in our collective suppression of the transformations that Israeli society has been undergoing in recent decades; in neglecting to confront what I call the ‘new Israeli order’, the significance of which I want to deal with today.”
The President continued, “In the 1990s (as can be seen in the slide behind me), Israeli society comprised a clear and firm majority, with minority groups alongside it. A large secular Zionist majority, and beside it three minority groups: a national-religious minority, an Arab minority, and a Haredi minority. Although this pattern remains frozen in the minds of much of the Israeli public, in the press, in the political system, all the while, the reality has totally changed.
“Today, the first grade classes are composed of about 38% secular Jews, about 15% national religious, about one quarter Arabs, and close to a quarter Haredim. While it is true that numbers and definitions are dynamic, neither identities nor birth-rates remain static over time. But one thing is clear, the demographic processes that are restructuring or redesigning the shape of Israeli society, have, in fact, created a ‘new Israeli order’. A reality in which there is no longer a clear majority, nor clear minority groups. A reality in which Israeli society is comprised of four population sectors, or, if you will, four principal ‘tribes’, essentially different from each other, and growing closer in size. Whether we like it or not, the make-up of the ‘stakeholders’ of Israeli society, and of the State of Israel, is changing before our eyes.”
The President added, “In the State of Israel the basic systems that form people's consciousness are tribal and separate, and will most likely remain so. The ‘new Israeli order’ is not a creative sociological differentiation; it is, rather, a reality with far-reaching consequences for our national resilience, for the future of us all. From an economic viewpoint, the current reality is not viable. The mathematics is simple, any child can see it. If we do not reduce the current gaps in the rate of participation in the work force and in the salary levels of the Arab and Haredi populations - who are soon to become one half of the work force - Israel will not be able to continue to be a developed economy. The severe and painful epidemic of poverty that is already having a major effect in Israel, will only expand and worsen.”
The President concluded by saying, “During my first year in office, I have worked to rouse each sector among us, to see the other sector - even when difficult - to hear the other sector, even when it grates on ones ears. To hold out a hand to them. At the end of that year, I now stand here before you, seeking to say these things openly and clearly, feeling deeply that Israeli society is today in need of a wake-up call. I call on you all today to join me in facing this challenge. I am a partner to anyone ready and willing to play their part in this task. I am here at your service, at the service of all of Israeli society. Only in this way, together and in partnership, shall we be able to rekindle the Israeli hope.”
In his speech, the President highlighted the need for four key principles of partnership for Israeli society:
The first is a sense of security for each sector, that entry into this partnership does not require giving up basic elements of their identity. The Haredi, the secular, the religious, or the Arab individual must not feel that the issues most sensitive to them are in danger or under threat. Whether this be the Haredi way of education in the Yeshivot; the national religious concept of redemption; the liberal lifestyle of a secular Jew, or the Arab-Palestinian identity. The sense of security that my basic identity is not threatened is a fundamental prerequisite for the ability of each one of us to hold out a hand to the other. To understand their pain and fears. The ability of us all, to establish a partnership here between the various sectors. We cannot do this unless we can learn to know each other, unless we gain an understanding of the most sensitive issues of each sector, and learn how to respect and safeguard them – even when this is difficult or even frustrating.
The second pillar is shared responsibility. When no tribe is a minority, no side can escape bearing responsibility for the destiny and the future of the State of Israel, and of Israeli society in general. So, no tribe is exempt from proposing solutions to deal with the challenge of defending the security of the State; from facing the economic challenges, or maintaining the international status of Israel as a member of the family of nations. Partnership demands responsibility.
The third pillar, is equity and equality. In order to ensure the partnership between us, we must ensure that no citizen is discriminated against, nor favored, simply because they belong to a specific sector. The current situation of structural gaps between the partners, whether in budgets, infrastructures or land, is intolerable. There are clear tribal aspects to poverty in Israel, and the majority of senior positions in the economy are held by the members of one or two sectors. In such a situation it is not possible to build a shared future here. In order to create a strong basis for the partnership between us, we will have to ensure an accessible ‘Israeli dream’ that can be realized by each and every young person, judged only on the basis of their talents, and not according to their ethnic or social origins.
The fourth, and the most challenging pillar, is the creation of a shared Israeli character - a shared ‘Israeliness’. Despite the challenges the ‘new Israeli order’ poses, we must recognize that we are not condemned to be punished by the developing Israeli mosaic – but rather it offers a tremendous opportunity. It encompasses cultural richness, inspiration, humanity and sensitivity. We must not allow the ‘new Israeli order’ to cajole us into sectarianism and separation. We must not give up on the concept of ‘Israeliness’; we should rather open up its gates and expand its language.
The President’s speech marked a year since his election to office, and a year of activity in the field of building and encouraging educational, economic and social cooperation across Israeli society. Accordingly, the the Herzliya Conference of the Institute for Policy and Strategy, in close cooperation with the President's office has created a steering committee composed of public figures and opinion leaders, along with academics and business executives from all sectors of Israeli society.
Over the next year, the committee will meet to discuss four subjects which will be held in four communities representing the main 'tribes' within Israeli society.
On the eve of the 2016 Herzliya Conference, the steering committee will submit a report to the President that will include lines of agreement and disagreement, as well as policy recommendations in the following four issues:
Equality, rights and obligations of the new Israeli agenda (service, budgeting, land, etc)
The community and state within the new Israeli agenda (education, public sphere, "cultural autonomy")
Joint economy and society in the new Israeli agenda (fighting poverty, equal opportunity, and the "Israeli dream")
What is a "joint Israeli society" in the new Israeli agenda? (Symbols / ceremonies, education).
The full report (4 chapters) shall be submitted to the President, leading up to the 2016 Herzliya Conference, during which an extended discussion will take place with Ministers and Members of Knesset, looking at the report's findings and recommendations, entitled "Israeli Hope: Towards a New Israeli Agenda".
The committee's work will be accompanied by a process of public participation process in which the public will be asked questions on the subjects of the various sessions through an internet platform. Furthermore, a public opinion survey with key questions about the above issues will take place.
Erez Harodi Ozim Tzilum
- Written by Arik Rudnitzky
Arab Politics in Israel: Pending Questions
On March 31, sixteen recently elected Arab and Druze Knesset members were sworn in and took their seats in the 20th Knesset. Of this group, 12 belong to "the Joint List" while each of the remaining four represent different Jewish-Zionist parties, including the center-left Zionist Camp, the left-wing opposition Meretz, the victorious Likud (led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu), and Yisrael Beitenu, a member of the previous governing coalition. This is the largest number of Arab and Druze MKs elected to the Knesset since its establishment in 1949. Perhaps even more noteworthy, the Joint List, which is now the Arab public's major political representative body in the Knesset, is the third largest faction in parliament, with a total of 13 seats (including 1 Jewish MK), trailing only Likud (with 30 seats) and the Zionist Camp (with 24).
The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.
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- Written by President’s Media Advisor
PM Netanyahu: The threats in the region also create opportunities. We will take every opportunity to translate regional cooperation into processes for stability and peace, including attempts to reach a responsible political settlement with the Palestinians.
President Reuven Rivlin today (Tuesday, 19 May 2015), together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stood for the traditional photograph at the President's Residence with the ministers of the newly sworn-in 34th Government of Israel.
At the beginning of the event, the President and Prime Minister delivered brief statements, and toasted, with the ministers, the success of the new government.
President Rivlin began by referring to the great challenges that face the new government, "There are governments that receive a grace period of one hundred days. However, there are great challenges that this government must deal with from the outset, without a 100 day grace period. Previous governments did not face such challenges in the same way or with the same intensity. With regard to foreign affairs, you are required to deal with international pressure in a manner that demands endurance and the ability to make considered decisions which will not lead the State of Israel to isolation, but will preserve the red lines of Israeli diplomacy. On the domestic front, you face the urgent and crucial mission to present a budget which will provide an answer to the social and economic needs of the citizens of Israel - from housing and employment to welfare."
President Rivlin addressed the ministers and spoke of the criticism of the size of the government. He said, "On your shoulders rests the task and the duty to prove your ability to manage the affairs of the state with its complexities and sensitivities, for the benefit of all citizens. Much noise was made on the issue of the size of the government which was sworn in, and ostensibly relating to its legitimacy. However, in Israeli democracy a government of sixty-one Members of Knesset is as democratic and legitimate as a government of ninety Members of Knesset. We must remember that the most dramatic moves in Israel's political history, including the Oslo Agreement, were decided by a single vote. Equally today, we must respect and obey the rule of democracy. A narrow government must be, and is able to be, a good government as long as it is faithful to its internal cohesion, and to the public interests of all the citizens of Israel."
The President concluded by wishing the new government success, "On my own behalf and on behalf of citizens of Israel, I want to wish success to the Prime Minister and all the new ministers and Members of Knesset in general. Together with all the people, I am filled with hope and prayers for your success."
Prime Minster Netanyahu said, "Also for the fourth time, just as the first, I am greatly moved and honored to present to you today, the ministers of the Government of Israel. This government has been established at a time of great challenges and opportunities. Our first challenge is to ensure the security of Israel in the face of accumulating threats around us. Radical Islam is lapping at all our borders, nearly all in the form of factions and forces led by Iran and other radical elements. At the same time, aided by the agreement proposed to it, Iran is making progress in achieving a nuclear weapon. All the enemies of Israel know that in the face of these threats, we have red lines.
Until today, Mr. President, we have been successful in keeping Israel out of the turmoil and atrocities affecting the region. We will continue to guard the security of Israel. The threats in the region also create opportunities. Many states around us have common interests with us, they see eye to eye with us on the dangers, and they see Israel as central partner in fending them off. We will make every effort to translate this cooperation into processes for stability and peace, including attempts to reach a responsible political settlement with the Palestinians, which will safeguard Israel's essential interests. We will continue to promote deeper ties with the US Administration and the American people. Even at times of disagreements, this bond is stronger than any difference of opinion.
"Mr. President, the welfare of the citizens of Israel is our top priority. We will work to reduce the cost of living, and the cost of housing. Already today, at the cabinet meeting which took place this morning at the Israel Museum, we made decisions aimed at these goals.
"The People of Israel returned to its land, and established here the State of Israel, a Jewish and democratic state, a state which preserves the rule of law and respects every human being. Here in our eternal capital of Jerusalem, the Prophets of Israel embedded the eternal values of humanity, but also embedded the eternal values of our people – to which we are committed in each generation. I am proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel, and I will do all in my power, together with my ministers, to honor the mandate we have been given by the citizens of Israel. There is nothing more valuable than that."
Photo The 34th Government of Israel.
By GPO / Avi Ohayon
- Written by MFA
To the nations that continue to allow prejudice to prevail over truth, I say "J'accuse." I accuse you of hypocrisy. I accuse you of duplicity. I accuse you of lending legitimacy to those who seek to destroy our State.
I stand before the world as a proud representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I stand tall before you knowing that truth and morality are on my side. And yet, I stand here knowing that today in this Assembly, truth will be turned on its head and morality cast aside.
The fact of the matter is that when members of the international community speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a fog descends to cloud all logic and moral clarity. The result isn't realpolitik, its surrealpolitik.
The world's unrelenting focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an injustice to tens of millions of victims of tyranny and terrorism in the Middle East. As we speak, Yazidis, Bahai, Kurds, Christians and Muslims are being executed and expelled by radical extremists at a rate of 1,000 people per month.
How many resolutions did you pass last week to address this crisis? And how many special sessions did you call for? The answer is zero. What does this say about international concern for human life? Not much, but it speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of the international community.
I stand before you to speak the truth. Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, less than half a percent are truly free - and they are all citizens of Israel. Israeli Arabs are some of the most educated Arabs in the world. They are our leading physicians and surgeons, they are elected to our parliament, and they serve as judges on our Supreme Court. Millions of men and women in the Middle East would welcome these opportunities and freedoms.
Nonetheless, nation after nation, will stand at this podium today and criticize Israel - the small island of democracy in a region plagued by tyranny and oppression.
Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state.
Sixty seven years ago this week, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Simple. The Jews said yes. The Arabs said no. But they didn't just say no. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon launched a war of annihilation against our newborn state.
This is the historical truth that the Arabs are trying to distort. The Arabs' historic mistake continues to be felt - in lives lost in war, lives lost to terrorism, and lives scarred by the Arab's narrow political interests.
According to the United Nations, about 700,000 Palestinians were displaced in the war initiated by the Arabs themselves. At the same time, some 850,000 Jews were forced to flee from Arab countries.
Why is it, that 67 years later, the displacement of the Jews has been completely forgotten by this institution while the displacement of the Palestinians is the subject of an annual debate? The difference is that Israel did its utmost to integrate the Jewish refugees into society. The Arabs did just the opposite.
The worst oppression of the Palestinian people takes place in Arab nations. In most of the Arab world, Palestinians are denied citizenship and are aggressively discriminated against. They are barred from owning land and prevented from entering certain professions.
And yet none - not one - of these crimes are mentioned in the resolutions before you.
If you were truly concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people there would be one, just one, resolution to address the thousands of Palestinians killed in Syria. And if you were so truly concerned about the Palestinians there would be at least one resolution to denounce the treatment of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps.
But there isn't. The reason is that today's debate is not about speaking for peace or speaking for the Palestinian people - it is about speaking against Israel. It is nothing but a hate and bashing festival against Israel.
The European nations claim to stand for Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité - freedom, equality, and brotherhood - but nothing could be farther from the truth.
I often hear European leaders proclaim that Israel has the right to exist in secure borders. That's very nice. But I have to say - it makes about as much sense as me standing here and proclaiming Sweden's right to exist in secure borders.
When it comes to matters of security, Israel learned the hard way that we cannot rely on others - certainly not Europe.
In 1973, on Yom Kippur - the holiest day on the Jewish calendar - the surrounding Arab nations launched an attack against Israel. In the hours before the war began, Golda Meir, our Prime Minister then, made the difficult decision not to launch a preemptive strike. The Israeli Government understood that if we launched a preemptive strike, we would lose the support of the international community.
As the Arab armies advanced on every front, the situation in Israel grew dire. Our casualty count was growing and we were running dangerously low on weapons and ammunition. In this, our hour of need, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, agreed to send Galaxy planes loaded with tanks and ammunition to resupply our troops. The only problem was that the Galaxy planes needed to refuel on route to Israel.
The Arab States were closing in and our very existence was threatened - and yet, Europe was not even willing to let the planes refuel. The U.S. stepped in once again and negotiated that the planes be allowed to refuel in the Azores. The government and people of Israel will never forget that when our very existence was at stake, only one country came to our aid - the United States of America.
Israel is tired of hollow promises from European leaders. The Jewish people have a long memory. We will never ever forget that you failed us in the 1940s. You failed us in 1973. And you are failing us again today.
Every European parliament that voted to prematurely and unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state is giving the Palestinians exactly what they want - statehood without peace. By handing them a state on a silver platter, you are rewarding unilateral actions and taking away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate or compromise or renounce violence. You are sending the message that the Palestinian Authority can sit in a government with terrorists and incite violence against Israel without paying any price.
The first E.U. member to officially recognize a Palestinian state was Sweden. One has to wonder why the Swedish Government was so anxious to take this step. When it comes to other conflicts in our region, the Swedish Government calls for direct negotiations between the parties - but for the Palestinians, surprise, surprise, they roll out the red carpet. State Secretary Söder may think she is here to celebrate her government's so-called historic recognition, when in reality it's nothing more than an historic mistake.
The Swedish Government may host the Nobel Prize ceremony, but there is nothing noble about their cynical political campaign to appease the Arabs in order to get a seat on the Security Council. Nations on the Security Council should have sense, sensitivity, and sensibility. Well, the Swedish Government has shown no sense, no sensitivity and no sensibility. Just nonsense.
Israel learned the hard way that listening to the international community can bring about devastating consequences. In 2005, we unilaterally dismantled every settlement and removed every citizen from the Gaza Strip. Did this bring us any closer to peace? Not at all. It paved the way for Iran to send its terrorist proxies to establish a terror stronghold on our doorstep.
I can assure you that we won't make the same mistake again. When it comes to our security, we cannot and will not rely on others - Israel must be able to defend itself by itself.
The State of Israel is the land of our forefathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is the land where Moses led the Jewish people, where David built his palace, where Solomon built the Jewish Temple, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace.
For thousands of years, Jews have lived continuously in the land of Israel. We endured through the rise and fall of the Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman Empires. And we endured through thousands of years of persecution, expulsions and crusades. The bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land is unbreakable.
Nothing can change one simple truth - Israel is our home and Jerusalem is our eternal capital.
At the same time, we recognize that Jerusalem has special meaning for other faiths. Under Israeli sovereignty, all people - and I will repeat that, all people - regardless of religion and nationality can visit the city's holy sites. And we intend to keep it this way. The only ones trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount are Palestinian leaders.
President Abbas is telling his people that Jews are contaminating the Temple Mount. He has called for days of rage and urged Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount using (quote) "all means" necessary. These words are as irresponsible as they are unacceptable.
You don't have to be Catholic to visit the Vatican, you don't have to be Jewish to visit the Western Wall, but some Palestinians would like to see the day when only Muslims can visit the Temple Mount.
You, the international community, are lending a hand to extremists and fanatics. You, who preach tolerance and religious freedom, should be ashamed. Israel will never let this happen. We will make sure that the holy places remain open to all people of all faiths for all time.
No one wants peace more than Israel. No one needs to explain the importance of peace to parents who have sent their child to defend our homeland. No one knows the stakes of success or failure better than we Israelis do. The people of Israel have shed too many tears and buried too many sons and daughters.
We are ready for peace, but we are not naïve. Israel's security is paramount. Only a strong and secure Israel can achieve a comprehensive peace.
The past month should make it clear to anyone that Israel has immediate and pressing security needs. In recent weeks, Palestinian terrorists have shot and stabbed our citizens and twice driven their cars into crowds of pedestrians. Just a few days ago, terrorists armed with axes and a gun savagely attacked Jewish worshipers during morning prayers. We have reached the point when Israelis can't even find sanctuary from terrorism in the sanctuary of a synagogue.
These attacks didn't emerge out of a vacuum. They are the results of years of indoctrination and incitement. A Jewish proverb teaches: "The instruments of both death and life are in the power of the tongue."
As a Jew and as an Israeli, I know with utter certainly that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it.
Hamas's genocidal charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide. For years, Hamas and other terrorist groups have sent suicide bombers into our cities, launched rockets into our towns, and sent terrorists to kidnap and murder our citizens.
And what about the Palestinian Authority? It is leading a systemic campaign of incitement. In schools, children are being taught that 'Palestine' will stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. In mosques, religious leaders are spreading vicious libels accusing Jews of destroying Muslim holy sites. In sports stadiums, teams are named after terrorists. And in newspapers, cartoons urge Palestinians to commit terror attacks against Israelis.
Children in most of the world grow up watching cartoons of Mickey Mouse singing and dancing. Palestinian children also grow up watching Mickey Mouse, but on Palestinians national television, a twisted figure dressed as Mickey Mouse dances in an explosive belt and chants "Death to America and death to the Jews."
I challenge you to stand up here today and do something constructive for a change. Publically denounce the violence, denounce the incitement, and denounce the culture of hate.
Most people believe that at its core, the conflict is a battle between Jews and Arabs or Israelis and Palestinians. They are wrong. The battle that we are witnessing is a battle between those who sanctify life and those who celebrate death.
Following the savage attack in a Jerusalem synagogue, celebrations erupted in Palestinian towns and villages. People were dancing in the street and distributing candy. Young men posed with axes, loudspeakers at mosques called out congratulations, and the terrorists were hailed as "martyrs" and "heroes."
This isn't the first time that we saw the Palestinians celebrate the murder of innocent civilians. We saw them rejoice after every terrorist attack on Israeli civilians and they even took to the streets to celebrate the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center right here in New York City.
Imagine the type of state this society would produce. Does the Middle East really need another terror-ocracy? Some members of the international community are aiding and abetting its creation.
As we came into the United Nations, we passed the flags of all 193 member States. If you take the time to count, you will discover that there are 15 flags with a crescent and 25 flags with a cross. And then there is one flag with a Jewish Star of David. Amidst all the nations of the world there is one state - just one small nation state for the Jewish people.
And for some people, that is one too many.
As I stand before you today I am reminded of all the years when Jewish people paid for the world's ignorance and indifference in blood. Those days are no more. We will never apologize for being a free and independent people in our sovereign state. And we will never apologize for defending ourselves.
To the nations that continue to allow prejudice to prevail over truth, I say "J'accuse." I accuse you of hypocrisy. I accuse you of duplicity. I accuse you of lending legitimacy to those who seek to destroy our State. I accuse you of speaking about Israel's right of self-defense in theory, but denying it in practice. And I accuse you of demanding concessions from Israel, but asking nothing of the Palestinians.
In the face of these offenses, the verdict is clear. You are not for peace and you are not for the Palestinian people. You are simply against Israel.
Members of the international community have a choice to make.
You can recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, or permit the Palestinian leadership to deny our history without consequence.
You can publically proclaim that the so-called "claim of return" is a non-starter, or you can allow this claim to remain the major obstacle to any peace agreement.
You can work to end Palestinian incitement, or stand by as hatred and extremism take root for generations to come.
You can prematurely recognize a Palestinian state, or you can encourage the Palestinian Authority to break its pact with Hamas and return to direct negotiations.
The choice is yours. You can continue to steer the Palestinians off course or pave the way to real and lasting peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Amb Prosor addresses the UN General Assembly
Copyright: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard