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Highlights from Netanyahu’s Speech



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Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress this morning garnered far more (boisterous) bipartisan applause than Barack Obama, or perhaps any American leader, could ever hope to receive. A full transcript can be found here.

Some highlights:

On Israel’s unique standing in the Middle East:

In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.

My friends, you don’t have to — you don’t need to do nation- building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. And you don’t need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves…

In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different…

Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East. Israel is what is right about the Middle East.

On the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions:

A great convulsion is shaking the earth from the Khyber Pass to the Straits of Gibraltar… The tremors have shattered states. They’ve toppled governments. And we can all see that the ground is still shifting…

Now, this historic moment holds the promise of a new dawn of freedom and opportunity. There are millions of young people out there who are determined to change their future. We all look at them. They muster courage. They risk their lives. They demand dignity. They desire liberty. These extraordinary scenes in Tunis, in Cairo, evoke those of Berlin and Prague in 1989…

…we must also remember that those hopes could be snuffed out, as they were in Tehran in 1979. You remember what happened then.

The brief democratic spring in Tehran was cut short by a ferocious and unforgiving tyranny. And it’s this same tyranny that smothered Lebanon’s democratic Cedar Revolution and inflicted on that long- suffering country the medieval rule of Hezbollah.

So today the Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads. And like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less traveled, the path of liberty.

On being interrupted by a young female protester yelling “No more occupation and Israeli war crimes!”

You know, I take it as a badge of honor, and so should you, that in our free societies you can now protest. You can’t have these protests in the farcical parliaments in Tehran or in Tripoli. This is real democracy.

So as we share the hopes of these young people throughout the Middle East and Iran, that they’ll be able to do what that young woman just did — I think she’s young; I couldn’t see quite that far…

On the Iranian nuclear threat:

When I last stood here, I spoke of the consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out. The hinge of history may soon turn, for the greatest danger of all could soon be upon us: a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.

Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam…

A nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It would give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. It would make the nightmare of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger throughout the world.

See, I want you to understand what this means, because if we don’t stop it, it’s coming. They could put a bomb anywhere. They could put it in a missile; they’re working on missiles that could reach this city. They could put it on a — on a ship inside a container; could reach every port. They could eventually put it in a suitcase or in a subway.

Now, the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads on the stand. Less than seven decades after 6 million Jews were murdered, Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Leaders who spew such venom should be banned from every respectable forum on the planet.

On confronting that threat:

. . . the ayatollah regime briefly suspended its nuclear program only once, in 2003, when it feared the possibility of military action. In that same year, Moammar Gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapons program, and for the same reason. The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation. And this is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message that America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

On the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

So far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it…

Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state; it’s always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about…

President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people — and I told you, it wasn’t easy for me — I stood before my people and I said, “I will accept a Palestinian state.” It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, “I will accept a Jewish state.”

Those six words will change history. They’ll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end; that they’re not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it.

And those six words will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace.

On the demographic/geographic conditions for peace:

In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers…

. . . the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel . . .

. . . the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967…

Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel…

The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace. It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end. I appreciate the president’s clear position on these — on this issue.

Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated.

On Hamas:

Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority. I believe we can fashion a brilliant future for our children. But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda. That we will not do…

So I say to President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas! Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with the Jewish state. And if you do, I promise you this: Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations; it will be the first to do so.

On the United States’ special role in the world:

My friends, the momentous trials over the last century and the unfolding events of this century attest to the decisive role of the United States in defending peace and advancing freedom. Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All people who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation. Among the most grateful nations is my nation, the people of Israel, who have fought for their liberty and survival against impossible odds in ancient and modern times alike. I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state when I say to you, representatives of America: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your unwavering support for Israel. Thank you for ensuring that the flame of freedom burns bright throughout the world.

Full video here.



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