"Israel is guaranteeing the future of the Jewish people", said Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, at the meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem this morning.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu honored the Board of Governors with his presence, taking advantage of the opportunity to outline the national agenda facing Israel and the Jewish people as well as to speak about the forthcoming visit of US President Barack Obama to Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of unity in meeting the many challenges facing Israel today. Noting that the ages-old desire to eradicate the Jewish people hasn't changed, the premier stated that while anti-Semitism became politically improper for a few decades after the |Holocaust, it has come back in full force. Furthermore, the attack by those who seek to delegitimize Israel, which is uniquely moral in its fight for minorities and human rights, is "one of the great moral failures of our time", he said.
Iran is developing nuclear weapons to destroy the Jewish state, but the development of these weapons will change the balance of power in the world, said Netanyahu, warning that "hatred directed against Jews threatens the rest of the world but they don't see it". "It is a critical mistake to think that people will behave rationally", he said citing the worldwide web of terror supported by Iran.
At the moment, the Iranians are aggressive but cautious, he added. And while the current situation is perilous, it is dwarfed by the dangers once they obtain the means to develop weapons of mass destruction. The development of nuclear weapons threatens the security of every country in the Middle East and will change the world, said Netanyahu, noting that the world has not faced a threat like this since the Cuban missile crisis.
Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that Iran is continuing to install fast centrifuges that will pass the Red Line, which will provide 90 percent enriched uranium. Sanctions will not stop them, he warned, citing the failure of sanctions to halt North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The world has to decide whether it will allow a terror regime that break all norms to have access to nuclear weapons, he said, urging the use of a military threat to back the sanctions. "This is the number one topic that President Obama and I will discuss", he said.
Number two on the list, said Netanyahu, is the situation in Syria and its implications for Israel and the region. Referring to the humanitarian disaster currently unfolding, he cautioned that the situation can also become a strategic disaster. The Assad regime's ultra-advanced weaponry will be "up for grabs" if the Syrian regime collapses, he said, and Israel will not allow weapons fall into the hands of Hezbollah or others, who want to turn back the clock. "We have to unite our forces, to protect ourselves and to prepare ourselves for the challenges to our future".
Let's not waste another four years negotiating about negotiations
Negotiations with the Palestinians will be the third item on the agenda. Noting that date, Israel has evacuated areas that have become launching pads for missiles – southern Lebanon in 2000 and the Gaza strip in 2005 – the Prime Minister stressed that Israel seeks a realistic peace: "We need a peace process that gives us peace and security" and that isn't achieved by signing a piece of paper. We need "actual security on the ground".
Calling for a thoroughly demilitarized Palestinian state, Netanyahu cited the need for tough negotiations to "ensure that what happened twice will not happen thrice". Peace must be based on mutual recognition; the time has come for the Palestinians to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Not only Israel has to make concessions, but also the Palestinians, he stressed. "I placed no conditions on entering negotiations. They've done nothing but set pre-conditions. I don't think we should waste another four years negotiating about negotiations. We have to return to direct talks without preconditions".
The Prime Minister emphasized that in coalition talks in which he is deeply immersed these days, he is pushing for a broad national unity government to address the many challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people.
Mr. Netanyahu concluded his remarks the way he started, calling for unity and the need to "unite our forces against our enemies and detractors and those who don't see the enormity of the challenges we face".
"I know your commitment to the Jewish people and Jewish values," he told his audience. "I look forward to working with you to secure the future of the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
"The Prime Minister gave missions to the Jewish Agency", said Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, World Chairman of Keren Hayesod. "Keren Hayesod, which fundraises for the activities of the Jewish Agency, is ready to take those missions on its shoulders to assure that the Jewish Agency can fulfill the missions given by the Prime Minister"