Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress today, touching on the uprisings in the Middle East, the Iranian threat, and the outlines of a peace accord with the Palestinians.
Here are some of the highlights of his speech:
- Prime Minister Netanyahu began his address emphasising US-Israel ties. “Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel. We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism.
- Addressing the Middle East uprisings, he said: “Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of one-per cent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel! This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East. Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”
- He warned about Iran’s nuclear weapons. “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.”
- “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historical peace… This is not easy for me. It’s not easy, because I recognise that in a genuine peace we will be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.”
- “You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about.”
- The 650,000 Israelis who live in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv occupy areas of strategic importance and these regions will be incorporated into Israel. Some settlements will end up outside Israeli borders.
- “We will be very generous on the size of a future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible lines of 1967.”
- “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”
- “…Israel on the 1967 lines would be only nine miles wide… So it is therefore absolutely vital for Israel’s security that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized. And it is vital that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River.”
- “Hamas is not a partner for peace. Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction and to terrorism… Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of Al Qaeda.”
- “So I say to President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas! Sit down and negotiate! Make peace with the Jewish state!”