Browsing Posts published in March, 2012

In response to Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the New York Times, we would like to stress that Israel is not interested in war. It never was and it never will be. It is, however, the obligation of any government to reserve the right to defend its citizens at any and all cost. Raise your hand if you want to live in a world that consists of a nuclear Middle East.

Raise your hand if you think the world will be safer with a state sponsor of terror being able to choose overnight whether to hand out nuclear bombs. Raise your hand if you think the West should return to a “Cold War” mentality and fear of nuclear war breaking out at a moment’s notice. Now, raise your hand if you think the world needs to do all it can to prevent this from happening.

Saying “all options must remain on the table” doesn’t mean force is your first option, but a realistic understanding that your last resort needs to be available under a worst case scenario. Israel, the United States and the international community must do everything in order to prevent this scenario from becoming a reality – a reality that begins with Iran going nuclear.

Israel has no desire to enter into armed conflict. But it is the obligation of any responsible government, and especially the international community, to prevent the annihilation of sovereign countries. As long as every tool remains a viable, publicly stated option, Iran will understand that it has no choice but to abandon their nuclear program. But if we continue to ignore Iran’s actions and motives, and instead focuses on Israel’s possible options, we only march one step closer to a nuclear Middle East. Not every call for action is a call to arms, but continued inaction is a path to catastrophe. Today, we can decide how tomorrow should look. Tomorrow, we might not have that luxury.

Response to UNHRC decision to establish a commission on settlements

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish a “Fact Finding Mission on the Influence of Settlements on Palestinians” is yet another surreal decision from the workshop of a Council that is instrumentalized as a tool to push for one-sided politicized moves instead of promoting human rights.

While all over the Middle East human rights are violated in an unprecedented scale, the HRC ridicules itself by dedicating its time and resources to establish a superfluous and extravagant body whose sole purpose is to satisfy the Palestinians’ whims and to harm future chances to reach an agreement through peaceful means. The Palestinians must understand that they can’t have it both ways: they can’t enjoy cooperation with Israel and at the same time initiate political clashes in international fora.

Turning to international bodies is a breach of concluded Israeli Palestinian agreements. Had the Palestinians wanted to solve the settlements issue, they would resume without delay direct and unconditional negotiations on all core issues within the framework of a comprehensive agreement. Their deliberate choice to foster confrontation and provocation rather than compromise and reconciliation is nothing but a destructive strategy that the international community should firmly reject.

*****

Said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Human Rights Council’s decision, “This is a hypocritical council with an automatic majority against Israel.  This council ought to be ashamed of itself. Until today, the council has made 91 decisions, 39 of which dealt with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran. One only had to hear the Syrian representative speak today about human rights in order to understand how detached from reality the council is. Another proof of its detachment from reality came last week when it invited before it a representative of Hamas, an organization whose ideology is based on the murder of innocents.”

Last week, at the 6th World Water Forum, Israel’s Minister of Energy and Water, MK Uzi Landau held an important inter-governmental session on wastewater management. Israel is the world leader in wastewater management, with up to 80 percent of waste being recycled, primarily used for agricultural purposes. Israel presented its findings and innovative technologies at the conference, challenging the 179 other countries in attendance to double their sewage treatment by 2025.

The World Water Forum is held every 3 years since 1997, its goal is to mobilize “creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favour of water. It gathers all stakeholders around today’s local, regional and global issues that cannot be undertaken without all stakeholders into a common framework of goals and concrete targets to reach.”

Said Minister Landau ahead of the conference, “We will offer Israeli expertise toward improving the water markets of countries around the world, with the goal of opening more and more doors for Israeli companies to create relationships with foreign companies and implement international projects.”

In addition, Israel offered to help Gaza build a desalination plant in Gaza to provide freshwater for its residents. “Our expertise is available to all of our friends, including some of those who don’t accept us there, which is the Palestinians. We would like to see their projects going on” said Minister Landau.

“We have been waiting for such projects for many, many years. It is high time, almost 20 years after (the) Oslo (Accords on Palestinian autonomy), that they will start working and take responsibility for handling their own things, said Minister Landau.

Water security affects both Israelis and Palestinians equally, and Minister Landau noted that the Palestinian Authority has not done enough to tackle sewage problems. The PA lets it “pour down the riverbeds and to our areas on the coastal plains, where at the same time they are not only polluting the rivers but these waters infiltrate to the underground aquifer which is the body of drinking water both for them and for us,” said Landau.

The Gaza desalination plant is estimated to cost as much as $450 million USD. The Palestinian Authority believes that this plant, funded with international aid, would be able to provide fresh water to Palestinians in Gaza by 2020.

Rabbi Jonathan Sandler

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

After the appalling murders in Toulouse, the Israeli Embassy in Paris, as well as the Israeli Consulate in Marseille, have contacted the bereaved families and learned of their desire to bring their loved ones to Israel for burial. The government of Israel has therefore decided to transfer the coffins to Israel as soon as possible, with the cooperation and assistance of Israel’s representatives in France and in coordination with the French authorities.

The names of the victims are: Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, Gabriel Sandler (age 4), Arieh Sandler (age 5), Miriam Monsonego (age 7).

* * *

Yesterday, Israel’s leaders expressed their profound shock, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, saying that “Only a person possessed with demonic evil could carry out such a terrible murder of small children at a school.”

In a statement, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Today we had a savage crime in France that gunned down French Jews, among them children. It’s too early to say what the precise background for this act of murder is, but I think that we can’t rule out that there was a strong murderous anti-Semitic motive here. I’m sure that Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, and his government will do their utmost to find the killer and we, in Israel will do everything to help them in this task.”

“Today we had a savage crime in France that gunned down French Jews, among them children. It’s too early to say what the precise background for this act of murder is, but I think that we can’t rule out that there was a strong murderous anti-Semitic motive here. I’m sure that Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, and his government will do their utmost to find the killer and we, in Israel will do everything to help them in this task.”

As the week came to a close and families throughout Israel took their seats around the Sabbath table for songs and celebration, the all too familiar sound of terrorist rockets from Gaza rang through the air. Since Friday, one hundred missiles and rockets have been fired upon numerous southern Israeli population centers including Ashdod, Beer Sheva, and Ashkelon. Make no mistake, these attacks were not aimed at military targets or personnel, but sought the deliberate destruction of civilian centers, schools, and local government buildings.

In spite of the ongoing terror attacks on its citizenry, Israel has continued to emphasize that it does not seek an escalation in violence. However, Israel will not waver in its full commitment to defend it citizens. Israel will continue to act to prevent rocket and terror attacks and to undermine the terrorist infrastructure of Gaza.

Unlike the terrorist cells within Gaza, who operate within the heart of civilian activity, the Israeli Defense Forces act in a focused manner to strike at terrorists while eliminating collateral damage and reducing the possibility of civilian casualties. These efforts underscore that Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people or the citizens of Gaza, but only with the terrorist organizations who continue their pursuit of Israel’s destruction.

Hamas, the party chiefly responsible for these attacks, continues its attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers, send suicide bombers into Israeli cities, and fire rockets into the homes and communities of Israel’s south. Using its own citizens as human shields for attacks, Hamas time and again demonstrates their preference for Israel’s destruction over the health and well being of the Palestinian people. Rather than investing in the welfare of the people of Gaza, Hamas expends great resources on weapons collection and terrorism. Put simply, where infrastructure could be built, guns, rockets, and bloodshed are chosen in its place.

​In contrast, despite Hamas’ determination for Israel’s destruction, Israel has continued to put forth every effort to protect its citizenry. Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome technology has intercepted close to thirty rockets directed at population centers and the government continues to invest extensive resources into homeland security. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “We will improve the home front defenses even more…by purchasing more Iron Dome systems, which proved themselves again this weekend.”

The United States State Department condemned the rocket fire on Southern Israel today, saying, “We are deeply concerned by the renewal of violence in Southern Israel.  We condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel in recent days, which has dramatically and dangerously escalated in the past day.  We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts. We regret the loss of life and injuries, and we call on both sides to make every effort to restore calm.”

More than 135 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, and struck major population centers in southern Israel in the last 48 hours. More than 500,000 Israelis are forced to stay in bomb shelters and one million Israelis are sleeping tonight under the threat of rocket fire from Hamas.

Terrorists are firing Qassam rockets, Grad missiles and mortar shells into the cities of Ashdod, Be’ersheba, Yavne, Netivot and Ashkelon; as well as into the Eshkol Regional Council. Iron Dome has intercepted more than 20 rockets.

Timeline

Saturday, March 10, 2012

  • 19:30 – Approx. 135 rockets have been fired from Gaza74 landed in Israel. Iron Dome intercepted 28 out of 31 attempts–a 90% success rate. Regarding the recent strikes, IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai: “The aerial strikes were surgical and precise, with no collateral damage to innocent bystanders.”
  • 18:10 – Over 90 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, and over 70 have landed in Israeli soil. The Iron Dome system has intercepted 27 out of 30 attempts–a 90% success rate.
  • 17:40 – A senior operative in the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization was targeted in an IAF strike. IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai: “So long as Hamas enables Popular Resistance Committee and Islamic Jihad rocket fire at Israel, we’ll continue to act against it.”
  • 14:00 – IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz held a situational assessment in southern Israel and ordered forces to prepare for a heightened escalation. As of now over 94 rockets have been fired from Gaza, 68 of which landed in Israeli soil. Iron Dome intercepted 25 out of 28 attempts.
  • 12:00 - As of now over 70 rockets have been launched from Gaza at Israeli communities, out of which 67 landed in Israeli soil.
  • 11:45 – The Iron Dome active missile defense system has intercepted 27 rockets – which were fired at the cities of Be’er Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon, together home to over 520,000 people. 25 attempts out of 27 have been successful thus far.
  • 7:00 – Over the past 24 hours, over 45 rockets have hit communities in southern Israel–injuring four people, one severely, one moderately and two lightly.
  • Overnight, IAF aircraft targeted two weapon manufacturing facilities and two rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip, a weapon manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip and a terror activity site in the southern Gaza Strip.
  • In addition, IAF aircraft targeted a terrorist in the central Gaza Strip and six additional terrorist squads who were in the final stages of preparing to fire rockets at Israel from separate locations in the northern and the central Gaza Strip. Direct hits were identified.

Friday, March 9, 2012

  • 23:00 - Four people were injured today; two severely, one moderately, and another lightly.
  • 22:20 – The Iron Dome System has intercepted so far one of three rockets aimed at Ashdod and four of four rockets aimed at Be’ersheba–two cities with a population of more than 200,000 each.
  • 17:30 - IAF aircraft targeted two members of the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization in the Gaza Strip – a senior operative, Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi, and a collaborator, Mahmud Ahmed Mahmud Hananni. The squad had been responsible for planning a combined terror attack that was to take place via Sinai in the coming days. A direct hit was confirmed.

Israel does not seek an escalation in the region. However, the the country is prepared to defend the residents of Israel and prevent terrorist attacks.

 

 

(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

Israel extends its condolences to the government of the Republic of the Congo and to the bereaved families, and sends its wishes for recovery to those injured in the explosion that occurred in Brazzaville, in which over 200 people lost their lives and hundreds were wounded.

With the desire to contribute to the medical treatment of the  wounded and hospitalized, Israel is sending today, through MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) and Israel’s embassy in South Africa, and in cooperation with Magen David Adom, South Africa, emergency medical equipment to assist in treating burn injuries. The humanitarian aid shipment will be delivered to the Brazzaville Red Cross.

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA  AND PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU

Courtesy of the White House and Office of the Press Secretary

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and the entire Israeli delegation back to the White House, back to the Oval Office.

This visit obviously comes at a critical time.  We are seeing incredible changes that are taking place in the Middle East and in North Africa.  We have seen the terrible bloodshed that’s going on in Syria, the democratic transition that’s taking place in Egypt.  And in the midst of this, we have an island of democracy and one of our greatest allies in Israel.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable.  My personal commitment — a commitment that is consistent with the history of other occupants of this Oval Office — our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I’ve said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.  This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries.

During the course of this meeting, we’ll talk about the regional issues that are taking place, and I look forward to the Prime Minister sharing with me his ideas about how we can increase the prospects of peace and security in the region.  We will discuss the issues that continue to be a focus of not only our foreign policy but also the Prime Minister’s — how we can, potentially, bring about a calmer set of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians and arrive at a peaceful resolution to that longstanding conflict.  It is a very difficult thing to do in light of the context right now, but I know that the Prime Minister remains committed to trying to achieve that.

And obviously a large topic of conversation will be Iran, which I devoted a lot of time to in my speech to AIPAC yesterday, and I know that the Prime Minister has been focused on for a long period of time.  Let me just reiterate a couple of points on that.

Number one, we all know that it’s unacceptable from Israel’s perspective to have a country with a nuclear weapon that has called for the destruction of Israel.  But as I emphasized yesterday, it is profoundly in the United States’ interest as well to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We do not want to see a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world.  We do not want the possibility of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists.  And we do not want a regime that has been a state sponsor of terrorism being able to feel that it can act even more aggressively or with impunity as a consequence of its nuclear power.

That’s why we have worked so diligently to set up the most crippling sanctions ever with respect to Iran.  We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far.

And as I emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment.  My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.  And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it.

Having said that, I know that both the Prime Minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically.  We understand the costs of any military action.  And I want to assure both the American people and the Israeli people that we are in constant and close consultation.  I think the levels of coordination and consultation between our militaries and our intelligence not just on this issue but on a broad range of issues has been unprecedented.  And I intend to make sure that that continues during what will be a series of difficult months, I suspect, in 2012.

So, Prime Minister, we welcome you and we appreciate very much the friendship of the Israeli people.  You can count on that friendship always being reciprocated from the United States.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, thank you for those kind words.  And thank you, too, for that strong speech yesterday.  And I want to thank you also for the warm hospitality that you’ve shown me and my delegation.

The alliance between our two countries is deeply appreciated by me and by everyone in Israel.  And I think that, as you said, when Americans look around the Middle East today, they see one reliable, stable, faithful ally of the United States, and that’s the democracy of Israel.

Americans know that Israel and the United States share common values, that we defend common interests, that we face common enemies.  Iran’s leaders know that, too.  For them, you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan.  For them, we are you and you’re us.  And you know something, Mr. President — at least on this last point, I think they’re right.  We are you, and you are us.  We’re together.  So if there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it’s that Israel and America stand together.

I think that above and beyond that are two principles, longstanding principles of American policy that you reiterated yesterday in your speech — that Israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself against any threat; and that when it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions.  I believe that’s why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself.

And after all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state  — to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny.  And that’s why my supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate.

So I thank you very much, Mr. President, for your friendship, and I look forward to our discussions.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

 

Thank you, everybody.

Remarks as prepared from Israeli President Shimon Peres at the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

As The President of the State of Israel I came here first and foremost to say on behalf of my people: Toda. Thank You.

Thank you President Obama, for being such a good friend. Thank you AIPAC, for your dedication and excellence. It is great to be here. To be together. Strong and united. I see old friends and new ones. I see many young faces. The future belongs to you. Israel loves you. I am moved by your generous tribute.

I stand here, before you, a hopeful man. Proud to be Jewish, proud to be Israeli, proud to be there at the birth of Israel, proud to have served it for 65 years, proud of our alliance with the United States. Israel, like America, was conceived as an idea. Born in defiance of history; creating a new world by drawing on the values of the past and the innovations of the future.

Friends, the restoration of Jewish statehood after two thousand years in exile – is a historic miracle. We started as a doubt and wound up as a certainty. We had to fight six wars in six decades. We did not lose one. We never will. We can not afford it. We had to defend ourselves. Self-defense is our right and obligation.

With little land, water or resources, Israel grew tenfold in population. Fifty-fold in gross domestic product. Israel’s high-tech and innovation enriches the world its agriculture makes deserts green. Israel built new villages, new cities, new universities, new theatres and cultural centers. Our children are speaking the language of the prophets. Hebrew literature is flourishing. From a dispersed people we became a united democracy. No day of war ever interrupted a day of Democracy.

Dear Friends,

Permit me a personal note. Fate placed me in the eye of the storm. I was eleven years old when my beloved grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Melzer, accompanied me to the train-station on my way to Israel. He hugged me and whispered in my ear only three words, “Shimon…stay Jewish.” Those were his last words to me. I never saw him again. In 1942, when the Nazis arrived to his village, they forced my Grandfather, together with the remaining Jews into the wooden synagogue and set it on fire. No one survived. Not one. What remained was my Grandfather’s legacy, His last words to me “Stay Jewish.”

Dear Friends,

I was privileged to work with the father of our nation, my mentor, David Ben-Gurion. For me, Ben Gurion’s great leadership with my Grandfather’s legacy became my compass. That compass is comprised of four core values: Our moral code. Our pursuit of peace and security. Our quest for knowledge. Our alliance with America.

The moral code, the return to the Book and its values, enabled the Jewish people to survive, for four thousand years. Not because of quantity – Because of quality. Not due to thousands of guns – but due to Ten Commandments. We are guided by the call of our Prophets, to me it means: To be just. To do justice. To never deny justice to others.

Dear Friends,

The pursuit of peace, for us, is not a passing opportunity it is a moral imperative. It is the tenet of our national security. To make peace, Israel must be strong. Let me assure you, Israel is strong.

Dear Friends,

The Middle East is undergoing its greatest storm. With horrible bloodshed in Syria, where a tyrant is killing his people, killing children. I admire the courage of the Syrian people. We wish them peace and freedom. In spite of the storm, we have to reach out to the young generation in the Arab world, to those who strive for freedom, democracy and peace. The Palestinians are our neighbors for life. Peace can and must be achieved. A peace based on a Two State Solution: A Jewish state – Israel, An Arab state – Palestine.

It was accepted by past and present Israeli Prime ministers and American presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The principle of “The Two State” solution is a paramount Israeli interest. We want to preserve an Israel that is Jewish, democratic and attractive. I meet from time to time with President Abbas and PM Fayyad. They need and want peace.

I believe that peace is possible. They are our partners for peace. Not Hamas. A peace that is a dream for both of us, is a nightmare for the Ayatollahs in Iran. Iran is an evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime. It is based on destruction. and is an affront to human dignity. Iran is the center. The sponsor. The financer of world terror. Iran is a danger to the entire world. It threatens Berlin as well as Madrid, Delhi as well as Bangkok. Not just Israel. Iran’s ambition is to control the Middle East, so it can control a major part of the world’s economy. It must be stopped. And it will be stopped. Israel experienced the horrors of war. It does not seek it. Peace is always our first option. But, if we are forced to fight, trust me, we shall prevail. President Obama is leading and implementing, an international complex and decisive policy, imposing economic and political sanctions against Iran. President Obama made it clear that the US will not permit Iran to become nuclear. That containment is not a sustainable policy, all options are on the table.

The United States and Israel share the same goal – to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us. Our message is clear: Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon. Ladies and Gentlemen, The quest for knowledge defines Jewish history. Judaism is a constant debate. It is about asking the right questions. It is about being a liberal and pluralistic society. I believe, Jews are never satisfied because they are always seeking new answers. A better tomorrow, Tikun Olam. I believe that the next decade will be the most scientific, the most dramatic chapter in human history. It will expose possibilities that today sound like science fiction. Its center will be brain research. The more we shall know about ourselves, the more we shall be able to control ourselves. In a global world without a global government self-control is vital. Friends, In a world of science and knowledge the Jewish people and Israel have an exciting role to play. Much to contribute. Ladies and Gentlemen, members of Congress, America was, is, and will remain the indispensable leader of the free world. The indispensable friend of our people. Today more than ever, the world needs America. I have had the privilege to meet all American Presidents in the last fifty years, Democrats and Republicans. I was strongly impressed by their deep commitment. Their care for Israel. That commitment was and is bipartisan. Mr. President, members of the Administration, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, we are forever grateful for your unwavering support of the unbreakable alliance between the US and Israel. I first met President Barack Obama, our great friend, when he was a Senator from Illinois. I saw before me a born leader. His care and devotion to Israel’s security were evident. Mr. President, I know your commitment to Israel is deep and profound. Under your leadership, security cooperation between the US and Israel has reached its highest level.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We have a friend in the White House. He reflects the values that make America great and make Israel secure. Thank you President Obama on behalf of my people. Soon I will return home. Great challenges and promising opportunities await us. Thanks to your love and commitment and America’s great friendship. I return home, much more hopeful much more encouraged. Thank you very much, God Bless America. God Bless Israel. Shalom.