Binyamin Netanyahu

Response to Secretary of State Kerry's Two-State Solution Speech

delivered 28 December 2016


Before I explain why this speech was so disappointing to millions of Israelis, I want to say that Israel is deeply grateful to the United States of America, to successive American administrations, to the American Congress, to the American people.

Weíre grateful for the support Israel has received over many, many decades. Our alliance is based on shared values, shared interests, a sense of shared destiny, and a partnership that has endured differences of opinions between our two governments over the best way to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. I have no doubt that our alliance will endure the profound disagreement we have had with the Obama Administration and will become even stronger in the future.

But now I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry -- a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week. In a speech ostensibly about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century. What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.

Hundreds of suicide bombings, thousands, tens of thousands of rockets, millions of Israelis in bomb shelters are not throwaway lines in a speech. Theyíre the realities that the people of Israel had to endure because of mistaken policies, policies that at the time won the thunderous applause of the world. I donít seek applause; I seek the security, and peace, and prosperity, and the future of the Jewish state. The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years, and weíre not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage.

Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israelís hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from day one, from its very first day. Weíve prayed for peace; weíve worked for it every day since then. And thousands of Israeli families have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and advance peace. My family has been one of them; there are many, many others.

No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt; this is how we made peace with Jordan; itís the only way weíll make peace with the Palestinians. That has always been Israelís policy; that has always been Americaís policy.

Hereís what President Obama himself said at the UN in 2011. He said:

Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations -- if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.

Thatís what President Obama said, and he was right.

John Kerry's Two-State Solution Speech

And until last week, this was repeated over and over again as American policy. Secretary Kerry said that the United States cannot vote against its own policy. But thatís exactly what it did at the UN, and thatís why Israel opposed last weekís Security Council resolution, because it effectively calls the Western Wall "occupied Palestinian Territory," because it encourages boycotts and sanctions against Israel. Thatís what it effectively does. And because it reflects a radical shift in U.S. policy towards the Palestinians on final status issues, those issues that we always agreed, the U.S. and Israel, have to be negotiated directly, face-to-face without preconditions.

That shift happened despite the Palestinians walking away from peace and from peace offers time and time again, despite their refusal to even negotiate peace for the past eight years, and despite the Palestinian Authority inculcating a culture of hatred towards Israel in an entire generation of young Palestinians.

Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done, and ultimately to repeal it.

Israel hopes that the outgoing Obama Administration will prevent any more damage being done to Israel at the UN in its waning days. I wish I could be comforted by the promise that the U.S. says we will not bring any more resolutions to the UN. Thatís what they said about the previous resolution.

We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced, and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council. Weíll share that information with the incoming Administration. Some of it is sensitive; itís all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. Thereís plenty more; itís the tip of the iceberg.

So they say, "but we didnít bring it." And they could take John Kerryís speech with the six points. It could be raised in the French international conference a few days from now and then brought to the UN. So France will bring it, or Sweden -- not a noted friend of Israel -- could bring it. And the United States could say, "Well, we canít vote against our own policy -- weíve just enunciated it."

I think the United States, if itís true to its word, or at least if itís now true to its word, should now come out and say, "We will not allow any resolutions, any more resolutions in the Security Council on Israel. Period." Not, "We will bring" or "not bring" -- "We will not allow any [further resolutions....]", and stop this game, the charades.

I think that the decisions that are vital to Israelís interests and the future of its children, they wonít be made through speeches in Washington or votes in the United Nations or conferences in Paris. Theyíll be made by the Government of Israel around the negotiating table, making them on behalf of the one and only Jewish state -- a sovereign nation that is the master of its own fate.

And one final thought. I personally know the pain, the loss, and the suffering of war. Thatís why Iím so committed to peace. Because for anyone whoís experienced it, as I have, war and terror are horrible. I want young Palestinian children to be educated like our children, for peace. But theyíre not educated for peace. The Palestinian Authority educates them to lionize terrorists and to murder Israelis.

My vision is that Israelis and Palestinians both have a future of mutual recognition, of dignity, mutual respect, co-existence. But the Palestinian Authority tells them that they will never accept, and should never accept, the existence of a Jewish state.

So I ask you: How can you make peace with someone who rejects your very existence? See, this conflict is not about houses, or communities in the West Bank, Judea, Samaria, the Gaza district, or anywhere else. This conflict is, and has always been, about Israelís very right to exist. Thatís why my hundreds of calls to sit with President Abbas for peace talks have gone unanswered.


Thatís why my invitation to him to come to the Knesset1 was never answered. Thatís why the Palestinian government continues to pay anyone who murders Israelis a monthly salary. The persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state remains the core of the conflict; and its removal is the key to peace.

Palestinian rejection of Israel and support for terror are what the nations of the world should focus on if they truly want to advance peace.

And I can only express my regret and say that itís a shame that Secretary Kerry does not see this simple truth.

Thank you.

1 From PM Netanyahu's 2016 Address to the United Nations General Assembly: "I have not given up on peace. I remain committed to a vision of peace based on two states, for two peoples. I believe as never before that changes taking place in the Arab world today offer a unique opportunity to advance that peace. I commend President el-Sisi of Egypt for his efforts to advance peace and stability in our region. Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab peace initiative and welcomes a dialogue with Arab states to advance a broader peace. I believe that for that broader peace to be fully achieved the Palestinians have to be part of it. I'm ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today -- not tomorrow, not next week, today. President Abbas spoke here an hour ago. Wouldn't it be better if instead of speaking past each other we were speaking to one another? President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak at the -- to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem. And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah." [emphasis added]

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