President Isaac Herzog

Press Statement at NATO Headquarters

delivered 26 January 2023, Brussels, Belgium

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Thank you very much, dear Secretary General Stoltenberg. Thank you, dear Jens. We met when in your first term as Prime Minister in Norway. So, it's always a pleasure to meet you.

And of course to be here today among friends and allies, NATO and Israel are indeed close friends and allies. We share the core values of democracy of conflict resolution through peaceful means, as well as basic commitment to safeguarding the rules based international order. And we share the same determination to defend these values, to deter those who threaten them and to harness goodwill and collective resources to ensure peace and security around the globe.

I'm very happy to see the ties between Israel and NATO continuing to grow across so many spheres, as you have just mentioned through frequent visits and consultations, concrete strides like stationing an Israeli liaison in Markham and through joint training and projects that bring us closer and positions to act more effectively.

The threats are indeed not static beyond conventional warfare. We also face a wide range of emerging change, changes and challenges from space and cyber security. You mentioned climate correctly, to armed drones, energy resilience and so many other fields in all of these areas.

The deepening Israel NATO partnership is a precious asset. Our collaboration is strengthening the security of the citizens of NATO Member countries. End of Israel and of like minded peace loving nations around the world in Ukraine, you mentioned correctly and painfully, a terrible war continues to cause needless human suffering and compromise the well being and welfare of millions. Israel has been a partner in the aid efforts and our hearts continue to go out to the people of Ukraine as they defend their homes and their country. But the crisis there goes beyond the boundaries of Ukraine with the Iranian threat. Now at Europe's doorstep, the international order is being challenged as well. Yes, the radical Iranian regime is executing innocent citizens at home launching attacks and undermining stability across the Middle East spreading arms, death terror in Europe in Ukraine, especially in around the world and continuing its belligerent pursuit of nuclear weapons on its quest for regional and world domination in Israel. The danger is clear, present and real and we've been saying it for decades and we really hope and expect the international community and NATO to implement into action in Israel, a stone throw from our major population centers Hamas, one of Iran's chief local proxies, plots destruction and souls turmoil it threatens, kills and seeks every means to harm innocent civilians. Even tonight, a terrorist squad on its way to a terror attack in Israel was blocked and eradicated by the Israeli military forces that squad affiliated with Hamas and Islamic jihad and we will continue to act and prevent terror wherever it may be. With no compromise ifs or buts I want to raise a really important topic as well. Mr Secretary General two young Israelis with mental health disabilities are very Mengistu and Hisham aside and two Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and our own show are being helped in captivity as hostages by that terrorist organization in Gaza without any regard for legal or humanitarian norms. It is a disturbing pro portrait of a fundamentalist worldview that runs counter to every human value we seek to uphold. Recently, Hamas released a video of Mr Visto and Ethiopian born Israeli citizen begging and praying for his release with Iran tightening its hold on European soil. The illusion of distance can no longer hold, NATO must take the strongest possible stance against the Iranian regime, including through economic, legal and political sanctions and credible military deterrence. This is critical for the stability of the Middle East for Europe and the world and is also critical for the future of the Iranian people who deserve civil rights, human rights and future for their Children. In the wake of the Abraham accords, we have an historic opportunity to expand the current unprecedented security cooperation across the Mediterranean and the Middle East into a strategic regional partnership with NATO as a potential partner.

So, Secretary General Stoltenberg, my dear friend, Israel is committed to expanding and deepening our strategic ties with NATO and we welcome a new cooperation agreement slated to be signed in just a couple of months, which lengthens the period of cooperation and expands it reach. It is in just this spirit of collaboration that we are actively moving towards fully leveraging our capacity to pray, protect the safety of our peoples and achieve our shared goals.

I look forward to working together to defend our shared values, meet our shared challenges and promote peace and security in Europe, Middle East and around the world.

Thank you very much.

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Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Text Note: Supplemental transcription work by Michael E. Eidenmuller

Page Created: 6/14/24

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