Browsing Posts in UN

(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

This is a dark day for UNESCO, a day the organization will want to erase from its history as it demonstrates that it is acting outside the boundary of reality. Today, in the debates held by the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh, a Palestinian resolution on Jerusalem was submitted to a vote.

Exactly as Israel had warned in the recent past, the Palestinians are exploiting their admission to UNESCO as a member state in order to hijack the agenda and drag this important UN agency into the abyss of politicized manipulation. The resolution, which was adopted against the better judgment of the majority, is nothing but a heap of statements disconnected from reality. There is no linkage between the resolution’s language and the actual situation on the ground, as the text only reflects the clichés of the anti-Israel bubble which the Palestinians cultivate within UNESCO at the expense of the worthy causes the organization is supposed to promote around the world.

Israel will uphold its commitments and its sovereign responsibility by continuing to ensure freedom of worship to all faiths in Jerusalem, even as UNESCO insists on turning its back on reality and wreaking damage to the interests of member-states through the regurgitation of the dictates of Palestinian propaganda.

(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

Israel strongly condemns North Korea’s nuclear test, and joins the international community in expressing the grave danger that this act poses to regional stability and international peace and security.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear test, together with its ballistic missile launch in December 2012, is part of its extensive ongoing nuclear and missile programs. These reflect North Korea’s negative role in the region and raise grave concerns regarding proliferation of nuclear and ballistic technologies.

These actions by the DPRK, in violation of its international obligations, must be met with a swift response by the international community. A clear message must be sent to the DPRK and to other countries, that such activities are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

The resolution is designed to advance entrepreneurship as a catalyst for development, and calls for the creation of conditions favorable to entrepreneurs, education, and removing bureaucratic impediments to the establishment of businesses.

This is the first time that the United Nations adopted a resolution on the subject of entrepreneurship as a new means to meet the challenges of poverty and to create growth and jobs. Israel initiated and presented the resolution as the head of a group of almost 100 nations.

Background

A growing consensus on the critical role of entrepreneurship in economic development is emerging. Studies from around the world are consistently linking entrepreneurship with stable, sustainable job creation and GDP growth. But the benefits of encouraging entrepreneurship go beyond pure economics. As individuals become more self]sufficient, and more empowered, they are more likely to seek higher levels of education and better living conditions for themselves and their children. As President Kagame of Rwanda has said: “Entrepreneurship is the surest way for a nation to meet its goals and to develop prosperity for the greatest number of people.”

If we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we must work towards developing human capital in all countries and societies, and across sectors. Entrepreneurship has the power to help build societies in which people have the confidence, skill and desire to solve problems they see around them. By creating new businesses that provide desired goods and services, or by using entrepreneurial principles to create social ventures, entrepreneurs around the world have a unique ability to find solutions to poverty, improve social conditions, and confront environmental degradation.

Around the world, particularly in developing countries, aspiring entrepreneurs often face overwhelming challenges when starting up their business. This may be because of difficult regulatory frameworks, high administrative burdens, a lack of financial support, or entrenched social barriers.

Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector all have an important role to play in supporting entrepreneurship and enabling people to exercise their talents. A multi-stakeholder approach to promoting entrepreneurship is necessary to prepare future entrepreneurs and leaders to solve more complex, interlinked, and fast-changing problems.

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Statement by Ambassador Ron Prosor to the UN Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee)
7 December 2012

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the 97 co-sponsors, I sincerely thank all the delegations who supported this resolution today. I also express my deep appreciation to the delegations that participated constructively in our extensive and transparent negotiations.
The co-sponsors and supporters of this resolution are diverse. They include nations from all corners of the globe, both developing and developed. Their support reflects a growing global awareness that entrepreneurship is a critical driver of development in the new millennium.

Mr. Chairman,

Albert Einstein once wrote that “logic may get you from A to Z, but imagination will get you everywhere.”

Entrepreneurs are dreamers – risk-takers who dare to change the world. They are people like the young woman in Peru who built a recycling plant to turn the piles of waste in Lima’s poorest neighborhoods into a source of income. They are the two brothers from India who transformed a small online bookstore into a billion dollar enterprise. They are the recent college graduate in Ethiopia who turned a small sandal workshop on her grandmother’s property into a multimillion dollar footwear company.

These are the people who offer developing communities the best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty. No one is in a better position to solve a country’s problems than its entrepreneurs.

Today, this Committee is sending a clear and simple message: entrepreneurship is a primary pathway to sustainable economic growth for all.

Entrepreneurship has a ripple effect. By unlocking minds, we can inspire change. Business leaders build teams and instill confidence in their peers. They empower others to pursue their dreams.

Mr. Chairman,

Israel, and all the other co-sponsors, hoped for consensus on this resolution. Every country – every country – benefits from empowering its entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the Arab Group announced that it would vote against this resolution even before the negotiations ended. What a shame.

Few places could benefit from entrepreneurship more than the Arab world. People across the Arab world have risen up precisely because they are looking for change. They are demanding better lives, better economies, and better governance. They are demanding an end to the rampant corruption, discrimination against women, and economic stagnation in their region. But the Arab delegations here today – like their governments – have not responded to these calls. Instead, by voting against this resolution, they have turned their backs on their own people – and tried to turn back the clock on the important work of this committee.

This resolution has the promise to create a better world. It represents hope and progress for people in all corners of the planet – from the highest mountains of Nepal to the lowest valleys of Bolivia, from the sands of the Sahara to the Great Barrier Reef.

Every Arab delegate who voted “no” is sending the message that he cares far more about petty politics than human prosperity. This resolution can bring innovation to those who need it most. It can move humanity forward. And we should not allow certain delegations in this hall to move it backwards.

Mr. Chairman,

Israel’s experience shows that humans are a country’s greatest natural resource. In just six decades, Israel has transitioned from a developing nation to a start-up nation. We have moved from cultivating apples to designing Apple Computers, from harvesting oranges to building Orange mobile phones. We have more start-ups per capita than any nation on the planet. Tel Aviv was even recently named the second most entrepreneurship-friendly city in the world.

These achievements are no accident. They are the result of close collaboration between business and government – and a culture that rewards risk-taking, embraces entrepreneurship, and encourages imagination.

Israel’s story shows that if you want stability, empower your people. If you want prosperity, invest in your citizens. And if you want sustainability, engage every member of society – especially women and youth.

This, above all, is the core of our resolution.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to once again thank those countries that have worked with us tirelessly to adopt this resolution. The enthusiasm of so many in this room proves that we all share the same vision, both developing and developed nations, both North and South.

Today’s success is far from the end of our collaboration. We must now take the words from the printed page and breathe life into them. It is time that the UN puts business creation and growth at the forefront of its development policies. Regardless of size, every business venture – from a small start-up in the Amazon to the next Amazon.com – must be given the chance to thrive.

The spark of ingenuity exists in every society. All people have the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality; to turn their hopes into change. May this be the moment that the international community fully embraces entrepreneurship, so that people around the world can have a path to create a future they all can be proud of.

Thank you.

 

 

(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

The Foreign Ministry of the State of Israel today expressed its shock and consternation at the news that UNESCO is establishing a Chair at the Islamic University of Gaza.

The Islamic University of Gaza is a known greenhouse and breeding ground for Hamas terrorists. Only last month, the University’s Dean of Koranic studies openly called for the Islamic conquest of the Vatican and of Spain.

UNESCO’s motto is that “It is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed,” yet the Islamic University of Gaza is poisoning the minds of men for the cause of terror.

Scientists and Academics at the University double as Hamas technocrats. The Islamic University serves as an employment program and intellectual retreat for Hamas leaders. The University conducts lectures on Hamas’ radical ideology and concentrates on hostility to Israel; Hamas uses Gaza University laboratories to develop and produce explosives and rockets and has even run a course on explosive making. The university is a warehouse for weapons and a venue for secret meetings of military leaders.

UNESCO continues to damage its reputation. After establishing the Obiang prize, UNESCO is now establishing a chair linked to a terror organization.

Hamas and the Islamic University believe in extremism, violence and terror – not Education, Science and Culture. That UNESCO should choose to establish a chair in such a University damages further UNESCO’s reputation and it creates uncomfortable and inappropriate bedfellows.

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.”

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Kodjo Menan (Togo):

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in New Delhi, India, aimed at Israel’s diplomatic personnel which resulted in injuries to diplomatic personnel and civilians, and the recent attempted terrorist attack in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and all obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

The members of the Security Council condemned the new and recurring acts of violence against diplomatic and consular representatives, which endanger or take innocent lives and seriously impede the normal work of such representatives and officials.

The members of the Security Council recalled the obligations on States, including under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the 1973 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with all relevant authorities in this regard.

*****

Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said, “Today the unanimous voice of the Security Council can be heard around the world from the halls of every embassy that faces Iranian terror to the hospital room of Israeli diplomat Tal Yehoshua, who is still recovering from her injuries. Tal can rest this evening knowing that her friends in the diplomatic community have joined together from New York to New Delhi to send a clear message against terror and stand in solidarity with her.”

He added, “After seven years of silence, the Council has finally spoken against the terrorism that the Israeli people face every day. ”

The statement followed a letter that Ambassador Prosor sent to the Security Council last week, which called on the body to condemn the attacks immediately and unequivocally. He urged the Council to send a strong message to Iran and Hezbollah the parties directly responsible for the recent campaign of attacks.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

PM Netanyahu reviews exhibition of posters for International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Photo: GPO)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, January 22nd, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

“This week we will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The UN decided to mark this day at the initiative of the Israeli government and then Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, and it was an important decision.  It created an international framework for discussion of the Holocaust, certainly in several countries – for example in Europe – for which it is important to do so.

I was in the Netherlands last week and I was impressed that while this issue is being dealt with, it must be dealt with on a deeper level.  Israel has decided to mark during the same week, the struggle against anti-Semitism, a struggle which is being led by [Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs] Minister Yuli Edelstein, in new, creative and important ways.

Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and Yad Vashem Directorate Chairman Avner Shalev are here today.  Their work is making waves around the world, as is the assistance in the overall struggle given by the Jewish Agency led by our friend Natan Sharansky.

We are also marking 70 years since the Wansee Conference. Seventy years ago at a luxurious villa on the shores of a pastoral lake in one of the suburbs of Berlin, ten senior officials of the German Third Reich met and, over breakfast, decided to annihilate the Jewish people. They also decided on the ways to accomplish this.

Our friend Yossi Peled – a Holocaust survivor, former GOC Northern Command in the IDF and now a minister in the Israeli government – attended the ceremony this week.

Seventy years ago, the Jewish people were helpless.  They had no ability – neither political, nor military nor diplomatic – to organize their own defense, and one-third of our people were annihilated.  The difference between 1942 and 2012 is not the absence of enemies; that same desire to destroy the Jewish people and the State that arose – this desire exists and has not changed.  The difference is our ability to defend ourselves and to do so with determination.

The Jewish people and the Government of Israel have the obligation and the right to prevent another annihilation of the Jewish people or attack on its state.”

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today (Thursday), 3 November 2011, ordered that Israel’s $2 million-per-annum participation in the budget of UNESCO be frozen, following the organization’s decision to accept the Palestinian Authority into its ranks. The Prime Minister ordered that the budget be directed to cooperative initiatives towards the same goals in the region.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Such steps will not advance peace; they will only push it further away. The only way to reach peace is through direct negotiations without preconditions.”

Communicated by Foreign Ministry spokesman

“Israel believes that the correct and only way to advance the peace process with the Palestinians is through direct, unconditional  negotiations. In this context Israel welcomed and accepted the Quartet’s declaration of September 23rd 2011.

The Palestinians’ actions at UNESCO negate both the bilateral negotiations route and the Quartet’s proposal for continuing the diplomatic process. Their actions are a negative response to Israel’s and the international community’s efforts to promote the peace process.

UNESCO’s responsibilities address culture, science and education. UNESCO has remained silent in the face of significant change across the Middle East yet has found time during its current meeting to adopt six decisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision to grant the Palestinians membership of UNESCO will not advance their desire for an independent state whatsoever.

Israel thanks the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania who opposed the decision.”

Remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.N. General Assembly Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City, New York Time: 1:29 p.m. EDT Date: Friday, September 23, 2011

MR. : The assembly will now hear a statement by His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the state of Israel. (Cheers, applause.) I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of the state of Israel.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Thank you. Thank you.

MR. : I invite him to address the General Assembly.

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU: Thank you, Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland — it was then that this was braided — branded, rather — shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It’s the — the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.

You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide — they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is — the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have. (Applause.)

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents — in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday — can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it’s too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

And the world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It’s determined to tear apart the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It’s poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times — if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes like this: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don’t worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will do the job.

These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know, there’s only one problem with that theory. We’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked. In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn’t even respond to it.

But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn’t calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and make it stronger.

Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated. See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say that international troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and UBAM (ph) in Gaza didn’t stop the radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping for peace.

We didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of — out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even — we even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.

Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day — in one day.

President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What’s to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers away from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Would any of you — would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re not prepared to have another Gaza there. And that’s why we need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.

Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel’s critics ignore them. They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. Your read what these people say and it’s as if nothing happened — just repeating the same advice, the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel’s security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you in perspective, because you’re all in the city. That’s about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. It’s the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University. And don’t forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel’s neighbors.

So how do you — how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can’t defend it from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that’s exactly why Security Council Resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has had an airspace in Cyprus or rather an air base in Cyprus. France has forces in three independent African nations. None of these states claim that they’re not sovereign countries.

And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of airspace. Again, Israel’s small dimensions create huge security problems. America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes three minutes. So is Israel’s tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major international airport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It’s not merely the West Bank, it’s the West Bank mountains. It just dominates the coastal plain where most of Israel’s population sits below. How could we prevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could be fired on our cities?

I bring up these problems because they’re not theoretical problems. They’re very real. And for Israelis, they’re life-and- death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’s security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won’t be sealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first. (Applause.)

And there’s one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.

They haven’t given even one Red Cross visit. He’s held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming to the — in the 1930s as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. (Applause.) If you want to — if you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’s the resolution you should pass. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don’t you think it’s about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than 1 million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day — in fact, I think they made it right here in New York — they said the Palestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew-free — Judenrein. That’s ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death. That’s racism. And you know which laws this evokes.

Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don’t want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. (Applause.) We want to give up — we want them to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that’s odd. Our conflict has been raging for — was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the — I guess that the settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva. Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967; he said from 1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict. (Applause.)

The settlements have to be — it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.

I think it’s time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in 1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state. (Applause.)

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they’re ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel’s security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.

I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called “Jews”? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem, there’s a — there’s an ancient seal. It’s a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there’s a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin — Binyamin — the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Sumeria 4,000 years ago, and there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.

And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land. (Applause.)

As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I’ve worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn’t respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again — no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. (Scattered applause.) Once again — you applaud, but there was no response. No response.

In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn’t like. There were things there about the Jewish state that I’m sure the Palestinians didn’t like.

But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don’t you join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace. (Applause.)

I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you’ve dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we enable our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it? That’s what we should aim for, and that’s what I believe we can achieve.

In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. If you wish, I’ll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We’ve both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations. (Applause.) Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?

And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let’s listen to one another. Let’s do as we say in the Middle East: Let’s talk “doogli” (ph). That means straightforward. I’ll tell you my needs and concerns. You’ll tell me yours. And with God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace. (Applause.)

There’s an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand — the hand of Israel — in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah — (speaks in Hebrew) — “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” Let that light be the light of peace. (Applause.)

END.