Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs Newsletter
Redacted from a much longer, and his usual eloquent address, by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
January 28, 2014
Speaking at the seventh conference in The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) annual series “Security Challenges of the 21st Century,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed three principal issues: Iran, the Palestinian issue, and the global economic challenge.
“Thank you for the opportunity to discuss several of the larger challenges we face, some of the largest ever faced by the state of Israel. There are three such challenges, or at least three which I wish to discuss: Iran, the political process vis-à-vis the Palestinians and the global economy.
With regard to Iran, although there is internal dissent in Iran about the allocation of resources — how much comes in, how much goes out — there is no dissension in the Iranian regime, which continues to be controlled by Ayatollah Khamanei. There is no dissension, first about its aspirations to obtain military nuclear capability and there is also no dissension regarding the goal of erasing the State of Israel from the Earth. They say it all the time domestically of course, and occasionally also internationally.
Iran “remains close to nuclear weapons,” it must be understood that there are three stations when producing nuclear weapons, in manufacturing the fissile material needed for nuclear weapons: producing enriched uranium at a level of 3.5%, uranium enriched to 20% and finally a quick jump to uranium enriched to 90%, which is the level needed for a weapon.
What the Iranians did, and this is what the agreement determined is that they would return the train to the first station, but at the same time, they are upgrading the engine and strengthening it so that they will be able to break through all at once, without any stations in the middle, straight to 90%.
The agreement made in Geneva is not a good agreement — it is a bad agreement. In our estimation, this agreement delayed Iran by six weeks — no more — from where they were before, and therefore the test was and remains the final agreement, if such an agreement is achieved, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
Of course, Iran is trying to fool the West; it makes all kinds of statements and claims. You heard Rouhani in Davos recently. He said, for example, that they object to any intervention in Syria at a time when they are up to their necks in Syria. In fact, they are propping up Assad’s regime. They actively participate in the mass slaughter there. He said they object to harming the innocent; in Iran hundreds of people every year are executed. Most of them are innocent, including dozens of people who were hung there last week. You would undoubtedly define most of them as innocent. They were executed.
He speaks of free access to technology; that’s what Rouhani said in Davos at a time when Iran is denying its citizens to surf on the internet freely. And of course, he repeated his statement that Iran does not seek to obtain nuclear weapons, that it only wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Iran has directly invested at least 40 billion dollars in its nuclear facilities and nuclear program, and an additional 140 billion dollars as the cost of the sanctions. A country does not invest nearly 200 billion dollars in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes when it is so rich in other sources of natural energy.
Now of course the Iranian threat is not just an unconventional threat; it is also a conventional threat which mainly focuses on missiles and rockets brought to the Iranian enclave which surrounds us, in an attempt to strangle us from two sides, from Lebanon and from Gaza.
We want to ensure that in the political negotiations with the Palestinians, we achieve two goals: one, we don’t want, I don’t want a binational state. I think that in this, I reflect the will of most citizens of Israel. And second, we do not want another country to be established here under Iran’s sponsorship that fires missiles and rockets at us or that launches terror attacks on us. We need to achieve both these goals, not just one of them — both of them.
The Americans are working to formulate the American positions. But I would like to emphasize that they are not Israeli positions, but rather American ones. Israel does not have to agree to anything the Americans present, but we insist on two fundamental things. The first is, of course, recognition of the Jewish State or the nation-state of the Jewish people. I would like to explain the reason for our insistence on this issue, because it is at the root of the conflict. This conflict has gone on for nearly 100 years. The date I choose to mark for its beginning is 1920, 1921 – one year after my late grandfather arrived in Jaffa. When he arrived, he made his way to the Jewish immigration office. In 1921, rioting Palestinian Arabs attacked that office; they attacked in Jaffa. There were no settlers there; there were no settlers as they are defined today. There were no territories. There was a basic objection to any Jewish presence, an opposition that grew and resulted in the attacks in 1929 in Hebron and of course the great riots of 1936-1939.
This struggle, which continued through the War of Independence and afterwards until 1967 – this struggle was not over the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Those were in Arab hands. This struggle was against the very existence of the Jewish state, against Zionism or any geographic expression of it, any State of Israel in any border.
The conflict is not over these territories; it is not about settlements; and it is not about a Palestinian state either. The Zionist movement agreed to recognize a Palestinian state during the partition plan, and various governments also agreement later on to recognize a Palestinian state. But this conflict has gone on because of one reason: the stubborn opposition to recognize the Jewish state, the nation-state of the Jewish people. To end the conflict, they must recognize that in our land, this land, in the Jewish homeland, there are two peoples.
We cannot be sure that this recognition would take root in Palestinian society which has experienced and continues to experience methodical incitement against Jews and the Jewish state. And that is why there must also be robust security arrangements. These security arrangements must also include long-term Israel Defense Forces (IDF) presence along the Jordan River and other security arrangements that fundamentally rest on the State of Israel, the IDF and Israel’s defense system.
The most condensed version of the formula for a peace agreement with the Palestinians is a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. I cannot tell you this arrangement will take place.
I said there was a third challenge and that was the global economy. We are in the age of knowledge, in an outburst of knowledge, and the economy is globalized. This provides the State of Israel with a tremendous opportunity. Not only do we produce more knowledge-based products per capita at the highest level in the world, we can do more. Even in absolute terms, our technological product is large, even very large. For example, in the cyber field, we create approximately 50 times more than our relative size. That means that the State of Israel has the same weight as a country with a population of 400 million in terms of these products, and that provides us with an opportunity, alongside the development of the global economy, to reach many more markets that would have been very hard to reach if it were not for these two trends, globalization and technology, especially the internet.
I do not know how many of you were at the cyber conference we held yesterday. It was pioneering. There were 1,500 people there, including the most advanced companies in the world in this field — and they did not come here because of our beautiful eyes, nor did they come because of any kind of political consideration. They came, they told me, for three reasons — those same three reasons I am given with I meet with the leaders of China or of Mexico or of other countries, as I did recently.
They want three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology. They know what they want. Our advantage in this field, I believe, results from unique reasons that created a crystal of tremendous technological capabilities here, and we must continue to nurture it.
The reasons are, first of all, our military needs which created special capabilities in the ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) and the security branches; our excellent universities – I am at one of them — our research institutions; our special culture, which is connected to the fact that we always ask questions. This tradition burst forth after the French Revolution and the fall of the ghetto walls into new fields, fields like science, mathematics, physics and chemistry. The results of this are clear.
Let me touch on China. China is very interested in Israeli technology, to say the least. We think we can gain a small share of a huge market, which for a country with eight million citizens can help us a great deal. This is an opportunity which exists and there are other opportunities with China.
China must still move a significant portion of its goods for the next 20 years to central markets in the West, including Europe. These goods still must move there physically. 95%-98% of them come by sea, a significant portion of that through the Suez Canal, and we are building a valve in the form of a train that would connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, between Eilat, Aqaba to Ashdod and Tel Aviv. This is a land connection between Asia and Europe and between Europe and Asia, and then there will be a passenger train that will allow you to travel from here, from Tel Aviv to Eilat in two hours.
If there are two huge engines driving the global economy today, the first is the rise of Asia, first and foremost China; and the second is the rise of the internet. I made the decision to ease the exportation of Israeli cyber companies. There are now several hundred and their numbers continue to increase — half of them didn’t even exist four years ago. We are in a position where we can transform Israel into a world power in technology.
Let me say a few words about the Israel Defense Forces, especially about the members of the regular army. Everything we are describing: these tremendous opportunities alongside dealing with the dangers lurking at our doorstep and the desire on the one had to prevent the dangers of a nuclear Iran and terror, while on the other hand ensuring a stable agreement with the Palestinians – our entire existence depends on the IDF. It also depends on many other factors, but first and foremost it depends on the IDF, and the core that leads the IDF is the regular army and the regular army has recently suffered irresponsible attacks.
In order to sustain a regular army, in order to achieve the goals of repelling the threats we face and advancing the secure peace at the same time — this obligates a very strong army. I do not see a situation in which we will not need a very strong army and an additional security system — including the Mossad and the Shin Bet – in the coming years. We will also need special cyber capabilities. All this necessitates a great deal of money. We will not get this money through contributions and handouts. It will come from the development of that same economic capability in a global economy and the economy of tomorrow. We are developing it with the goal of reaching our main target: the Jewish state.
Thank you very much.”
Complete speech at: