Binyamin Netanyahu speech at The Likud Central Committee Gathering
Tel Aviv, 12.5.02
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, honored ministers, Knesset members, Likud Central Committee members, dear friends.
We have gathered here to discuss a Palestinian state. But in order to do so we must first discuss the Jewish state.
Many have written off our state. They have said that we have lost our stamina, our staying power, that we have split up into different tribes that do not share a common vision, that we no longer have the strength to fight our enemies, enemies that use unbridled terror against us.
However, the events of the past few weeks have proved to the entire world that just the opposite is true.
We have proved that we are still able to unite as one to face the dangers posed to us and repel them. We have shown that when we act out of resolve and faith, we can overcome our enemies.
We have refused to give in to terror and defeatism, we have refused to accept the baseless drivel that “there is no military solution to terror.” As if there is any other solution to terror! As if the right way to fight terror is to make political concessions, which in fact only increases terror.
Today, most of the Israeli nation understands that it is impossible to reach any kind of solution with the Palestinians before the terrorist forces are completely routed, before they lose all hope of ever achieving their goal – which is the destruction of the State of Israel.
But in order to decisively prevail over terror, we must do three things, about which I have been talking for these many months.
The first thing we must do is to complete the removal of all Palestinian fighters, weapons and ammunition from the area.
The prime minister and the government began this important operation, but it has not yet been completed. But even this partial operation proves the extent to which it has contributed to reducing the level of terror and restoring Israel’s power of deterrence.
However, there are still two more steps which have not yet been carried out, and which are also vital if we are to eradicate terror.
The second step is to establish security buffer zones opposite the main Palestinian population centers in order to seal off the free passage of Palestinians into our cities and towns.
Let me emphasize – I am not talking about a fence along the 1967 lines, which would only bring the Palestinians even closer to us. And neither am I talking about a political border of any kind in any location, which would only make it more difficult for us to act on its other side.
What I am talking about is a physical buffer opposite the Palestinians’ main population centers, the source of most of the terror. We would be able to go in there, but they would not be able to come in here.
That is the second step.
But there is a third step, and it is the most important one of all. We must completely and totally eradicate Arafat’s regime and remove him from the vicinity!
This is because Arafat is the engine that drives the terror, restoring and reestablishing it each time anew. He is responsible for poisoning the hearts and minds of an entire generation of Palestinian children with boundless hatred for Israel and Israelis.
He is the one calling for a million suicide murderers – shaheeds – equipping them with explosive belts and paying them to kill us in our coffeehouses, our hotels, our buses – to murder as many as possible Jews anywhere and at any time. This one thing must be understood: If we do not remove Arafat and his regime, the terror will return and increase. And only if we do remove them is there any chance of turning a new leaf in our relationship with the Palestinians.
Let us not forget that Arafat is committed to what has guided him his entire life – the destruction of the State of Israel by means of terror. Many among us believed that he had abandoned this goal and this path.
But today, with the exception of very few, the vast majority of the people – right, left and center – realize that Arafat’s talk of peace was nothing more than an exercise in deceit, that his word means nothing, that his signature means nothing, that any agreement signed with him means nothing.
Therefore, if we indeed seek peace, we have no choice but to get rid of Arafat. Only then, can we open the door to hope of reconciliation with the Palestinians.
These three steps – removal of all fighters and weapons, the establishment of buffer zones and the removal of Arafat and his regime – are the necessary conditions for the restoration of security to our land. No one step on its own is sufficient – that would be like taking just one-third of a dosage of antibiotics – which does not do any good at all.
From all this, it is clear that not only must we not hold negotiations with Arafat, but we must not participate in a regional conference that includes him or anyone representing him.
Because who would attend such a conference? Great lovers of Israel like the Saudis, who provide funding for the suicide murders; the Europeans, who support Arafat; the United Nations, which automatically positions itself against us; and of course, Arafat or his representatives.
Not only will we not distance Arafat by participating in such a conference, but we would be rehabilitating him and his international legitimacy, which has recently been dealt a serious blow. Not only would we be facing him or his representatives, we would have to face a broad international front that would support him and make impossible demands of us.
We must not attend a conference of this kind. We must not enter this trap.
But some say: What choice do we have? The whole world is against us.
That is not true, but even if it were, every country must take the steps that are crucial to safeguard its own security, its own survival and that of its citizens, at any price, certainly at the cost of international condemnation.
But in this case I repeat that not everyone in the world is against us! The great American nation is not only not against us – it supports us, and by a huge majority!
And that is important, because in the final analysis, what determines the position of the administration in the United States is public opinion – especially since the current administration – and primarily President Bush, knows perfectly well just who Arafat is and what he is striving for.
We have the ability to sway this public opinion. Because the American people is in general a decent nation that cannot stomach a double standard. The citizens of the United States understand very well that terror is the absolute evil that must be eradicated.
And they understand that it must be fought militarily. Just as they are fighting against the terror aimed at them, taking it by the roots, they recognize our right to fight against the terror that targets us.
When the prime minister asked me to help stem the tide of pressure on us and consolidate support for Israel in the United States, I of course immediately agreed to do so.
While I had been doing this on my own for an entire year beforehand, this time I went to Washington with a special goal. I met with scores of senators and many members of Congress.
I spoke with Vice President Cheney, with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with reporters and columnists, Jews and non-Jews.
I appeared at huge gatherings and rallies in support of Israel held in Washington and London.
If I had any influence at all in these appearances, it was because I came not as a representative of the government, from which unfortunately we hear opposed and contradictory voices, but because I came as an individual presenting a clear and consistent stand, a stand that expresses a very broad consensus among the people today.
If I did have any problem in explaining our position, it was not related to the question of why Arafat should be removed – but rather why we haven't yet done so!
And in truth, not only are we not expelling Arafat, not only have we released him, not only are we giving in to his plan to internationalize the conflict, but we are doing something even more serious and dangerous:
We are promising Palestinian terror the greatest prize of all – the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Today most of the Israeli public realizes that a Palestinian state under Arafat would be a bastion of terror directed at the destruction of the State of Israel.
But what about a Palestinian state without Arafat, under different leadership, after the Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Brigaes have seemingly undergone reforms and become transparent, more responsible, under a different command?
What will happen then? Okay – let’s talk about this latest illusion.
The question is whether in a future settlement, the Palestinians would indeed enjoy self-rule. I, for one, have no desire whatever to rule over even a single Palestinian.
The question is whether we can agree that they have sovereign authority, power that goes beyond self-rule, which every country has. This power would include:
the right to have full control over borders, through which they could import unlimited arms and solders.
States control their own air space – a Palestinian state would have the right to shoot down any Israeli plane overflying it without permission.
States have the right to make military alliances with other countries – a Palestinian state would have the right to make such alliances with Syria, Iraq, Libya, ets.
States control the water sources underground – a Palestinian state would have the right to control the mountain aquifer which supplies about 30 percent of Israel’s water and most of our drinking water.
Even those who support the establishment of a Palestinian state are unwilling under any circumstances to give this power to the Palestinians. But the moment we agree to give them a state, that is exactly what we would be giving them!
It must be understood that sovereignty has its own power. Even if an agreement limiting certain sovereign rights were signed, within a short time, this Palestinian state would demand to have all these rights and would realize them, whether we agreed or not.
The world would not stand in the way of allowing the Palestinian state to appropriate all this authority, which would give it the power to destroy the State of Israel, but it would stand in our way if we tried to prevent it from realizing these rights.
Already today, under Arafat’s limited regime, the Palestinian are in wholesale violation of the restrictions they committed to in the Oslo agreements. They are smuggling weapons, polluting water sources, building an army, creating military ties with Iran, and instead of fighting against terror – they are the ones creating it and intensifying it.
And when we enter Area A to fight against terror, as is our right according to the agreements, the entire world is scandalized (Look what happened in Jenin!). Now imagine what would happen if there were a state there, that we agreed to, a state whose borders the entire world recognized.
If we agreed to such a state, we would be shackeling the Israeli army in iron chains of our own making, thus creating a danger to our very existence.
The danger posed to Israel by a Palestinian state has been defined precisely by Arafat himself. This is what Arafat said in the Arab-language media on the day he signed the Declaration of Principles of the Oslo agreement on the White House lawn, and I quote:
“Because we cannot defeat Israel in war – we must do so in phases. We will take any Palestinian territory we can lay our hands on and establish our sovereignty on it. Then we will use it as a jumping board for other conquests. And when the time comes, we will persuade the Arab countries to join us in delivering a mortal blow to Israel.”
That is what Arafat said.
In any future agreement, if and when we get that far, I see self-rule in which the Palestinians will have the freedom to rule themselves. But to establish a state, with everything that that concept entails, with all the powers I have enumerated, which would endanger Israel’s existence – that no.
Not under Arafat or under any other leadership. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. The Palestinians can have full rights – with the exception of one: the right to destroy the State of Israel!
Self-rule – yes! A state – no!
We are told that a Palestinian state is the vision of the future. Okay, our nation also has a vision for the future: “And the wolf will lie down with the lamb” and when that vision is realized in the Middle East, we will be willing to discuss the subject once again.
I would like to read to you something that was said by a person who understood well and profoundly analyzed the danger posed to the survival of the State of Israel by a Palestinian state. This person was not a member of Moledet or the National Religious Party or the Likud. He was not even a member of the Labor party.
He was the leader of Mapam, the forerunner of today’s Meretz, the late Yaakov Hazan, who made the following comments in 1978, when minds in Israel had not yet been brainwashed by the sweeping propaganda of the proponents of Oslo. And this is what Yaakov Hazan said, and I quote:
“Guaranteeing our national survival requires that we fight against the establishment of another Arab state on the West Bank. The entire essence of such a state would be directed against the existence of the State of Israel. No agreements or contracts would do any good – nor would peace treaties. Life is stronger than any of these.
“Squeezed in between two states – Jordan on the east and Israel on the West – this state would be a pressure cooker, always on the verge of bursting, with the explosion directed first of all westward – against us.
“It would be a state that would not be able or want to control the ‘dissidents’ among it, with the excuse that it is too weak to do so. It would become the most dangerous of jumping boards for terror directed against us. And ultimately, when we once again would be required to take matters into our own hands – and to fight with one raid following on the heels of another, we would appear in the eyes of the world to be conspiring against the existence of a young state that had just been born.”
Some might say that reality has changed since them. Indeed it has – exactly as Yaakov Hazan expected it would. And if we continue on this path and enable the establishment of a Palestinian state, his prophetic words will come true in their entirety.
That is the reason I objected so firmly to the establishment of a Palestinian state when I was prime minister. The Oslo agreement was still in force then, before Arafat completely voided it. We did what we could then to keep the damage caused by the agreement to a minimum by insisting on the principle of reciprocity and reducing terror by directly threatening Arafat’s regime. And indeed, the level of terror dropped drastically.
As a result, the government that I headed, with the participation of then foreign minister Ariel Sharon, halted the withdrawal to the ’67 lines and during the three years I was in office, gave the Palestinians only 2 percent of the territory that was under our complete control. Arafat did not keep any of his other commitments, and consequently did not get even another inch of territory.
And I never at any time agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
When Arafat threatened to declare a state in the United Nations in 1999, I made it clear from the UN podium that in response, Israel would seize considerable areas in Judea, Samaria and Gaza – and Arafat backed off.
The Likud has always been firmly opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of our homeland. This opposition has appeared in every Likud platform in election campaigns, including the most recent one.
That is what we went to the voters with, and that is what we got their mandate for. And all Likud leaders are committed to that mandate.
And now suddenly, without anyone authorizing it, without any democratic process, neither in the movement, the government, the Knesset and certainly not in general elections – by making uncalled for statements – one of the cornerstones of our platform and our national security has been undermined.
And in this way, the position of the left, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state – the position held by Yossi Sarid and Shimon Peres – has suddenly become the official policy, as it were, of the State of Israel.
And as a result of this, it quickly became the official policy of the United States as well. Because if we support it, who can we expect from the Americans? That they be holier than the Pope?
This is not a minor change in some marginal section – it is one of our most basic positions, one that touches on our very survival.
Should we allow life or death decisions to be made in this way?
Whoever tells you that this is not on the agenda is either mistaken or misleading. Just today we have heard that Peres met with Mohammed Rashid to discuss the reforms needed over there in order to establish a Palestinian state. We have been told that we must not tie the government’s hands – and I say to you that on this crucial matter, we must halt the danger.
There is no question here of international “sensitivity,” of seemingly “complex” matters, or of damaging the prime minister’s stature. The only question that should concern us is that of the survival of our nation, and it is only that survival that we must safeguard.
Dear friends, let me say this once again loud and clear: There will not be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan.
If we leave here tonight without making a decision on this matter, if we waffle or waver, not only will we not stop the rushing train of the Palestinian state, we will be stoking its fires and increasing its speed.
Because such an outcome would have only one interpretation: that the Likud has backed off from its own positions and given in to the dictate of the establishment a Palestinian state.
That must not happen.
From here, we must send out a message loud and clear to the entire world.
We must vote as one in favor of the proposal opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state.
We must not be frightened if the international community does not see eye to eye with us on these matters. Did the international community foresee the danger of the Holocaust? And when it finally opened its eyes, did it do anything to stop it? Did it as much as lift a finger?
Did it see the danger posed to our survival from the atomic reactor in Iraq? And when it did, did it not condemn us when Menachem Begin’s Likud government bombed that destructive facility from the air?
On matters vital to our survival, we have always taken resolute steps, and we have always spoken clearly, even when many others in the world did not agree with us.
Because, ultimately, the historical accounts are clear: Yes to a Palestinian state means no to a Jewish one. And yes to a Jewish state means no to a Palestinian one.