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PM Netanyahu on official visit to Ethiopia

​PM Netanyahu: I'm absolutely delighted with the fact that the cooperation we have with Ethiopia and so many other African countries is consolidating into the recognition that all African countries can benefit from renewed cooperation with Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Thursday, 7 July 2016), began his visit to Ethiopia. He was welcomed at the national palace by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn along with an honor guard and national anthems.

The two prime ministers held a private meeting followed by an expanded meeting with their delegations. The delegations discussed ways to increase bilateral cooperation on a long series of issues including water, agriculture, communications, tourism and education. Agreements were signed in science, technology and tourism.

Prime Minister Netanyahu then met with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome, who – after their meeting – invited the Prime Minister to observe the lion and lioness in the palace garden.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following remarks at the joint statement with Ethiopian Prime Minister Desalegn:

"Prime Minister, I want to thank you first for your hospitality and the warm reception you have accorded me and my delegation on this visit to Ethiopia. You said in a meeting we've just had with our counterparts, with our respected delegations, you said something that I think puts a fine point to everything. You said Israel has a special place in Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel. And that's absolutely true. In fact, it goes back 3,000 years to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and I suggest that we don't wait another 3,000 years to cement this extraordinary relationship.

I am personally very proud to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia I think in over 30 years, we are not waiting even 30 years. We are committed to enhancing our partnership and our friendship in concrete ways. This is not just a one shot thing. It's not just statements. It is a plan for concrete cooperation in areas that are important for both our peoples. The first and most important one is the one that you raised which is agriculture, water, livestock, crops, very concrete areas in which you Prime Minister Hailemariam have a great expertise coming from the most elementary element which is water, and Israel has great expertise in the same area.
But in the other associated fields as well, we want some integrated teams that are working on a government to government level but also the businesses that have created their own abilities in this field, proven abilities, in Israel and worldwide to work with you and Ethiopian companies. This is a commitment. And we're launching this ship in many ways, launching it today with renewed momentum in this meeting of our businesspeople.

The second area is, the other areas of digitization, which means IT, space, education, digitized medicine and all the other areas that are opening up, changing the world, in which Israel would like to participate with you as you develop your country and your society.

There is of course an area that we'd all would have preferred that we wouldn't have to cooperate in but it's this battle against the forces of terror that are plaguing the continent of Africa, the continent of Europe, the Middle East, the world. And in this we have acquired of necessity skills and expertise that we think are important for our common battle for the triumph of civilization over barbarism. And this is something that we share with other African countries, with many countries now across the world. And I think that the effort to secure our security is something that also connects us together.

Finally, I want to say that I'm absolutely delighted with the fact that the cooperation that we have with Ethiopia, the cooperation that we have with so many other African countries is congealing and consolidating for a recognition that all African countries, all of them without exception, can benefit from a renewed cooperation with Israel. I've said before and I'll say it again: Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. And we appreciate deeply your support and the support of the East African countries for Israel's return as an observer to the African Union. We believe in Africa. We believe that Africa has a vast potential. We would like to be part of your success story. And I thank you one again for a wonderful meeting, a memorable meeting, I think a historic meeting. Thank you Prime Minister."

In response to a question, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

"I am proud of Ethiopian Jews' contribution in Israel. They constitute a living link with Ethiopia and Africa. It starts with our Ambassador who is here and also the fact that I brought MKs Neguise and Tamanu-Shata who represent this link.

To answer your question, of course I want to utilize Israeli citizens who came from Africa to strengthen ties and I am checking on our part in order to find appropriate possibilities and opportunities.

I raised the issue of Avra Mangisto with the Ethiopian Prime Minister and I requested his assistance on the matter. We always raise the issue of our citizens at various opportunities including here, of course.

Regarding the immigration to Israel of those members of the community who are here, we are doing so. We have a commitment and we are honoring it on a humanitarian and family reunification basis. This will be carried out under this budget. We are obligated and we are dealing with it."
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PM Netanyahu meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

​I ask you to use your standing to help return home our soldiers and citizens held by Hamas in Gaza. It's a humanitarian position and elementary humanitarian requirement that Hamas is, of course, throwing to the wind.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement at the start of his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

"The UN has a noble mandate to protect peace around the world and bring nations and bring nations closer together.

During his years of service the Secretary General has travelled the globe many times in service of these ideals, ideals which Israel shares. I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias.

That's an understatement. But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candor and this clear moral stance. It was exemplified in your efforts to secure the final Palmer Report which was very important for Israel, and Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your personal efforts in that particular instance.

Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East.

Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate.

So today I want to echo your words from 2013, Israel still faces bias at the UN.I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it's not just for Israel's sake. It's for the credibility of the UN.

Mr. Secretary, many many years ago when I came to serve as Israel's ambassador to the UN I gave a very brief speech, it was actually the shortest speech I gave, three minutes. And it was addressed to the efforts to expel Israel from the UN; it was an annual ritual at the time. And I said that what was at stake was not the future of Israel but the future of the UN itself.

Because If you can unfairly and in a biased way single out a country and apply to it what I call the Ostracon rule which is just decide to kick them out, just decide to brand them as criminal or whatever, you can apply that same principle to any other country and this served as the downfall of the Athenian assembly, the first such body on which all of our parliaments and the UN itself is modeled after. And I believe that this Ostracon problem, the singling out of Israel and the unfair treatment that it receives is a palpable threat to the future of the UN and not just for the interests of our country.

I want to thank you Mr. Secretary for agreeing to meet with the Goldin, Shaul and Mangisto families. Hamas is cruelly and illegally holding the remains of our soldiers and holding our citizens. I ask you to use your standing to help return home these soldiers and these citizens. It's a humanitarian position and elementary humanitarian requirement that Hamas and its criminal activities is of course throwing into the winds.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas has genocidal aims. It doesn't merely practice terrorism. It says openly that its goal is to wipe away from the face of the earth a member state of the United Nations.

I hope the UN will highlight Hamas's crimes and understand that our security measures are aimed only at keeping our citizens safe from this threat and we use judicious force in this regards. I don’t know what any other country, faced with thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at our citizens, at our children, would do differently. Many have done it differently and they have not used the restraint and the responsibility that Israel uses.

I know you are aware of all this, we've spoken about it many, many times. We've had many meetings and many productive meetings and once again I want to thank you for your many years of dedicated service to diplomacy and to the advancement of noble ideals, however distant they are today. Again, I want to thank you and I want to welcome you to Jerusalem."
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PM Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Kerry in Rome

PM Netanyahu: We discussed not only American-Israeli security cooperation, but security cooperation in a larger regional context - how to advance the process with the Palestinians, as well as regional implications for stabilizing the Middle East.​

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry, in Rome, issued the following statements before their meeting:
US Secretary of State John Kerry:
"Good morning, everybody. I'm delighted to welcome the Prime Minister of Israel, my friend Bibi Netanyahu, to the American residence here in Rome, which he is very familiar with. We spent quite a few hours here in the garden and in this room and elsewhere talking.
We had a very long meeting last night in which we discussed many different issues, but we focused significantly on the challenge of beating back terrorism and beating back terrorism specifically with respect to Israel's challenge in the Sinai, in the Golan Heights, where ISIL is now visible, positioned in places, and also the challenge of violence stemming from extremism in Gaza and the West Bank.
We had a very productive conversation about that, and we talked at some length about ways in which we might be able to try to work and move things in a more positive direction. We also talked about the progress being made, the significant progress being made by the Prime Minister in his discussions with Turkey, and we obviously have been encouraging a movement towards the resolution of the differences between Turkey and Israel.
And finally, we did talk at some length about the economic challenge, and particularly some of the countries in the region which are witnessing a transformational kind of set of hurdles – Egypt particularly, with respect to its economic transformation, which has to come at the same time as it is fighting back against terrorism, and we discussed how we can work together with other countries in the region in order to deal with those issues.
And of course, finally we talked about Brexit – impossible not to – and how that might or might not affect all economies, and I think we came to the conclusion that, managed properly, with leadership and effort by all of the parties to calm the waters and move in a steady way, that we can get through this – also another transformation, transition, and do so hopefully minimizing any kind of collateral negative effect.
Most importantly, Israel is, as everybody knows and we reiterate again and again, a critical ally and friend of the United States, and Israel continues to be facing significant challenges. We talked about those, and the ways in which, hopefully, with good effort by all leaders, we can try to change the direction and find a positive way to affect the lives of everybody – Israelis, Palestinians, people in the neighboring countries – and move towards a more stable and peaceful future."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
"Thank you, John, for dinner and breakfast, and for our conversations. I welcome the opportunity to have the, I would say, probing talks on the region, on the challenges and on the opportunities with my good friend John Kerry. There are serious talks by two committed allies, Israel and the United States.
We discussed everything that the Secretary spoke about – the challenges in the region from ISIL, east, west, south. We discussed not only American-Israeli security cooperation, but security cooperation in a larger regional context. We discussed how we can advance the process with the Palestinians, difficult though it may be. We discussed regional implications for stabilizing the Middle East, moving into a place where it will be less convulsive. And we discussed some bilateral issues between us. This was a far-ranging discussion that I think was meant to bring us both in a common direction for common purposes, and I find it very valuable, so thank you.
I updated Secretary Kerry about our agreement with Turkey, which we will show at noon. I think it's an important step here to normalize relations on one side. It has also immense implications for the Israeli economy, and I use that word advisedly – immense implications for the Israeli economy and I mean positive immense implications.
A lot of other things were discussed and will be discussed today, but I remember a meeting that I had with Secretary Kerry quite some time ago when we discussed it, and with Vice President Biden, whom I called yesterday, who met me a couple years ago in Davos. Rod is an oil expert, he's a gas expert, and he said, "This will create the foundations, part of the foundations, of the future of your economy." That has been uppermost in my mind, and I'll say more about that today at lunch.
US Secretary of State John Kerry: Because I wanted, I wanted the Prime Minister to say something about it and it shouldn't have come from me. But first of all, we welcome, the United States welcomes this step. It is something we have talked about for several years, as the Prime Minister has said. I'm proud to say that the Vice President's oil expert is the State Department's oil expert. Amos Hochstein did a great job on this too, and the Vice President's been pushing this all along. So, we are obviously pleased in the Administration. This is a step we wanted to see happen. I think when President Obama came to Israel, there was a famous phone call on the tarmac of the airport to Turkey, as we tried to move things forward. So this is coming full circle, and Mr. Prime Minister, I congratulate you. I know your team has been working long and hard at this. I think it's a positive step, one of, I hope, the beginning of others. Thank you. Appreciate it."
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PM Netanyahu meets with NATO member state ambassadors

​The indiscriminate, systematic attack on innocent people must always be confronted and must always be fought. The act is evil and is perpetrated by people with evil designs, and we, the people of the civilized world, have to band together to defeat it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, met with ambassadors from NATO member states and told them at the start of the meeting:

"Thank you to all of the ambassadors representing the NATO countries that are here today. I look forward to this opportunity to discuss our common interests, based on our common values. I want to thank NATO for inviting Israel to open an office in your headquarters in Brussels. I called Secretary General Stoltenberg immediately to express my appreciation and I want to inform you that we're in the process of opening the office as soon as possible. We attach great importance to that. Israel has much to contribute to NATO. I believe NATO has much to contribute to Israel. We've already begun that process, but I think we can extend and increase our cooperation.

This meeting obviously comes at a difficult time. Two days ago, a terrorist walked into a nightclub in Orlando and murdered nearly 50 innocent people, men and women. These people were doing nothing wrong. They were dancing with friends and enjoying music with loved ones. The terrorist murdered them because he was driven by intolerance to the LGBT community and driven by hatred for freedom and diversity. Now, days before that, a terrorist walked into a café in Tel Aviv and murdered four civilians. They too did nothing wrong. They were drinking coffee and enjoying the celebration of birthdays. Paris, Brussels, London, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bali, Mumbai, New York, San Bernardino and now Orlando and so many other cities have been struck by the same evil. Terror knows no bounds, and that is why our cooperation in the battle against terrorism must know no bounds as well.

One day ISIS kills gays, the next day Yazidis and then Jews and Muslims and Christians. They have no bounds. Terror, the indiscriminate, systematic attack on innocent people, must always be confronted and must always be fought, and that doesn’t change. In any case, it doesn’t depend on the identity of the victims. It depends on the nature of the act. The act is evil and is perpetrated by people with evil designs, and we, the people of the civilized world, have to band together to defeat it. We stand ready to help NATO in this collective struggle. We are prepared to share our intelligence and our experience to help in this common effort.

Now, in three weeks you're going to have an important summit in Warsaw and I believe the combat against global terrorism has to be, should be and probably is already a central part of your agenda. Know that Israel stands ready to advance that agenda, and I have no doubt that if we work together, we can roll back this terror, and I have no doubt that we can defeat ISIS. I think it can be defeated. I think with the right amount of international cooperation across the widest spectrum, this goal can be achieved, and I think that if we work together we'll achieve it faster and we'll defeat ISIS and terrorism faster."

Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr said:

"Mr. Prime Minister, It is a great honor for me as NATO Contact Point Israel to welcome you here at the King David. Ambassadors of NATO countries are very grateful that you have given priority to meeting us for discussion of security issues that affect both NATO and Israel.

And one of those issues is of course the scourge of terrorism. Again last week it showed its ugly head in Israel robbing four innocent people of their lives and injuring many more. Allow me, Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the whole NATO family to again condemn in the strongest terms these acts of terrorism.

There is no justification for terrorism. Period. And that is true whether it happens in Paris, which again last night was the scene of a despicable act of terror, in Tel Aviv or in Orlando. And if I may address our US colleague for a moment, we all share your grief and your outrage at the horrific massacre in Orlando.

Mr. Prime Minister, our meeting takes place only three weeks before the summit of NATO heads of states and governments in Warsaw. And on that occasion, leaders are going to discuss the future direction and the challenges that we face in NATO to our security and our values.

To the east, there is renewed focus on defense and deterrence. NATO has been obliged to take measures that represent the largest reinforcement of collective defense since the cold war and to the south there is instability. In the Middle East, terrorist groups spread chaos and violence, posing a threat to our security and our way of life.

As one element of that response NATO allies are taking military action as part of the global coalition against Daesh. There are so many threats that are facing NATO that are similar to the ones facing Israel.

Mr. Prime Minister, I am honored to share with you a message from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He says: 'Israel is a very important partner for NATO. Like the nations of the alliance, Israel is an open democratic society. Today our nations face greater, more complex threats than for many years. It is right that those countries that share common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law work together for the good of us all. Israel has for many years been an active member of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue. The only security forum that brings together NATO allies with Israel and Arab countries. And last month, NATO and Israel went further, agreeing to establish an Israeli mission at NATO. Having a mission will help us to take our political and practical cooperation to a higher level. NATO and Israel are natural partners, and I, the Secretary General, very much hope and look forward to an even closer relationship in the years ahead.' – Jens Stoltenberg.

And we, Mr. Prime Minister, look forward to our lunch discussion. Welcome."
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PM Netanyahu addresses the Knesset in honor of Jerusalem Day

​Since our very beginning as a people, our existence was tied to Jerusalem, and the awareness of this privilege is the cornerstone of our national experience and our Zionist faith.

The 49th anniversary of the reunification of Israel's capital finds Jerusalem in a clear trend of development, prosperity and accomplishments that inspire pride. There are many issues and challenges that we must address, and we are and will continue to do so.

However, one thing is clear: Jerusalem, the beating heart of our nation, our united capital, is advancing by leaps and bounds. We see this in the construction, the cranes, the roads, the institutions located here, in the factories. I refer to software factories, because out of Zion shall come forth software and it is. It is coming forth in completely new and unexpected places, for example in the automotive industry, as a global player, and so on and so forth.

Numerous crowns have been placed on Jerusalem's head, from Biblical times through the present day. There is a reason it creates a unifying experience between generations. We, the adults, remember the Jerusalem that was divided until the Six Day War. We remember what was on the other side, when Israel did not have security control beyond the barbed wire fences, in the minefields, the no-man's land. The younger people here were born into a different era. They visit the battlegrounds, especially Ammunition Hill. They read about the heroism of our fighters who fought the most justified of defensive wars and achieved a glorious victory. They hear the stories of divided Jerusalem, which for 19 years was the front line and a frontier town. That is what it was.

Older Jerusalemites, children like me, remember them firing, always firing from east to west. We did not fire eastward. The enemy was literally a stone's throw from us, and that is what happens when we do not have security control in the field. Of course, we do not want to return to that reality. I do not think that there is room for any apologetics. We do not need to make excuses for our being in Jerusalem.

Since our very beginning as a people, our existence was tied to Jerusalem, and the awareness of this privilege is the cornerstone of our national experience and our Zionist faith. Moreover, the vast majority of the public understands that only democratic Israel can safeguard Jerusalem's existence as an open city, one that has freedom for all religions. Freedom of religion is conditional on tolerance and tolerance only exists if there is genuine willingness to respect the holy places of the other side and the sanctity of religion first and foremost.

Unfortunately, this does not happen in our region nowadays. The Middle East is rife with extremism and under sway to a dangerous atmosphere – who will expel whom, who will banish whom, who will destroy whom, who will destroy the cultural treasures of the other side. Of course, influenced by these trends, we have, over the past year, witnessed incidents of incitement and extremism in relation to the Temple Mount. Claims were made against us that we allegedly sought to harm the al-Aqsa Mosque, something which was not and will never be true.

This old lie has been revived. It was applied to my grandfather's generation several short years after he immigrated to Israel in 1920. The same lie has been revived, and this severe incitement is of course also at the core of the current wave of terror, which has led to the injury of innocent people. Apparently this lie has legs because it has travelled as far as the UN headquarters at UNESCO. The organization charged by the UN to preserve the world's heritage recently determined that the Temple Mount has no connection to the Jewish people. We have no connection with the Temple Mount. This claim is so absurd and so outrageous that I cannot get over it. Not only is it ridiculous, but this absurdity and this lie are making the rounds the world over – we have no connection with the Temple Mount.

Our forefathers visited the Temple Mount 3,800 years ago. The two temples of the Jewish people stood on the Temple Mount for one thousand years. King David built his palace in the City of David adjacent to the Temple Mount and made Jerusalem our capital 3,000 years ago, and ever since, the Jewish people have prayed in the direction of the Temple Mount and its image has decorated their homes – and we have no connection with the Temple Mount. The Jews' ongoing affinity with the Temple Mount is a basic fact of history that only ignorant people, either by force or willingly, deny.

I must say here: These distortions of history are only reserved for the Jews. Does anyone claim that the pyramids in Giza have no connection to the Egyptians? That the Acropolis in Athens has no connection to the Greeks? That the Coliseum in Rome has no connection to the Italians? It is ridiculous to try and sever the connection between the Temple Mount and the Jewish people.

Of course, the truth is the complete opposite. We, the people of Israel, have a primal claim on Jerusalem. Our roots here are deeper than any other peoples, and the same is true about the Temple Mount. Jerusalem was ours and it will be ours.

I believe that the Six Day War made it clear to our enemies that we are here to stay. The same spirit of the liberators of Jerusalem beats in our hearts. Over the past year, we have stood firm against bloodthirsty terrorists. We took determined action against them – in any place, at any time, without limits. We can see that we succeeded in sharply reducing the number of terrorist attacks. I cannot say that we have "yet come to the resting place or to the heritage". We are doing everything we can to ensure that quiet will prevail in the capital and anywhere else in Israel. However, with regard to the capital, I wish to say – and especially with regard to the Temple Mount before Ramadan begins – that we made efforts, and I would say massive efforts, during Passover so that this spark would not be reignited.

The incitement and provocations concerning the Temple Mount played an important role in igniting the phenomenon of the individual terrorists, as we call them, seven months ago – and their numbers have gradually decreased. We spoke with neighboring Arab countries; we spoke with various publics; we spoke with the media; our representatives appeared in the Arab-language media; and we told the truth, the truth I am telling you now, regarding our intention to preserve the status quo. We succeeded in reducing the tension and in preventing its reoccurrence during Passover. Now Ramadan is about to begin and we are making that same effort, I hope with the full cooperation of all the members of Knesset and of all our neighbors.

Clearly, the violence will not overcome us and it will not weaken our hold on Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a mixed city. There is a complex web of relations between Jews and non-Jews here, and of course there is tension between the populations. By the way, this characterizes other mixed cities around the world, almost all of them. However, coexistence continues even if it is occasionally undermined. I believe that most of the residents of East Jerusalem want quiet, and I think we should not allow anyone to ignite a conflagration, to inflame the extremists. When they tried to do so, we acted decisively. If they try doing it again, we will act similarly in the future.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Mayor, we are contributing a measure of security, in full cooperation with each other under your leadership, but with the full support of the Government, and I believe also of the majority of members of Knesset – a measure of security and also of beauty. Herzl visited Jerusalem 118 years ago, and he found a rather neglected city. He wrote that it was filled with nests of filth that had to be removed. However, despite this, he emphasized, "Even in its current state of destruction, it is still a beautiful city and it could, if we come here, be one of the most beautiful cities in the world again."

I think that Herzl would appreciate that he was right in this prediction as well, because the act of building Jerusalem, its establishment, rehabilitation and development have made it into such a city, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, certainly the most beautiful city for our people and for our children. It is the largest of Israel's cities and a vibrant metropolis. It has been resurrected and it is flourishing.

The best way to describe Jerusalem is as an extremely old city, as it is thousands of years old, but one that is renewing its adolescence, and it still has a great many steps before all its problems can be resolved. However, I believe that something new is developing here. There are new energies here, and we are not only rehabilitating its spectacular ruins, we are advancing capabilities for innovation and opportunities that we never dreamed would be found in this city just years ago.

Several weeks ago, we placed a cornerstone nearby for the new location of the National Library. The Jerusalem of the spirit marches hand-in-hand with the Jerusalem of daily life – on the streets, in the markets, in the shopping centers, in the hi-tech factories. The road to Jerusalem is changing, with added lanes and train tracks. This week, the first part of the new Moza Bridge was connected, and the second part will open soon as well. Every Jerusalemite and anyone who has travelled up to Jerusalem welcomes this wonderful change. The dangerous curve near Moza is in the past.

We are entering the jubilee year of the unification of Jerusalem. We still have a great many plans up our sleeves and many initiatives to advance the capital from end to end. We will continue to ensure that Jerusalem, our united capital, will be open and prosperous, with its face to the future, to coexistence and to peace.

"Judah will exist forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation…"
"For he has strengthened the bars of your gates, and blessed your children in your midst."
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PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Independence Day Meeting with the Diplomatic Corps


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the occasion of Independence Day at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, made the following remarks to the diplomatic corps:

"I have a special affection for the diplomatic service because I entered public life 34 years ago as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington D.C. At the time, the number of states that had formal diplomatic relations with Israel was very small. Today we have full diplomatic relations with 159 states. There are not many left. And those that are left I can count maybe on the fingers of one hand, at a stretch you can go to other hand.

Those that we don't have some kind of active liaison with, there's been a great change in our fortunes in our foreign relations. Scarcely a day passes that we don’t have diplomatic delegations or trade delegations or technological delegations or security delegations not only from our great traditional ally the United States, and of course the European countries but also from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America, from every part of the world.

Countries are coming to Israel for two main reasons: One, they identify that Israel has significant contributions to make in our common battle, the battle of civilized countries against the dark forces of Islamic radicalism, those headed by Iran and Isis as the President correctly said.

They seek our help in intelligence, in logistics, our experience in combatting terrorism, in strengthening security, our common security

The second reason that people are coming here, in a word, technology. The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is the innovation nation. It is eager to share its contributions, its abilities, and some significant sparks of genius with the rest of mankind and womankind. If you hold a cellphone, a good chunk of it was made in Israel or thought up in Israel. If you eat a salad, and you eat a cherry tomato – Israel. If you have Alzheimer's, I hope you don't, but you have cures that are made in Israel. And if you want to work out a riddle – how to have a water surplus when you have no water? Come to Israel. Or make more milk per cow? Come to Israel.

And many countries are coming for these two reasons – security and technology. Which means fighting the forces of the past and seizing together the opportunities of the future.

This coincides with the consistent attempt to delegitimize Israel but I think that ultimately this trend will overcome and dominate because the future belongs to those who seize the future.

So today I want to tell you why I am hopeful about the future. 68 years ago, the State of Israel was born. It was weak, disorganized. It was isolated and besieged. Today, Israel is strong. It's stable. It's prosperous, it's vibrant.

And many of your nations, those represented here are cooperating in so many ways and you know, sometimes more than we can publish how many ways, how important.

For over a decade, I've been honored to lead the people of Israel as their Prime Minister.

I am hopeful because I have seen with my own eye the common sense and uncommon courage of the Israeli mothers and fathers who send their precious children to defend our country.

In my 66 years, I have traversed the land more times than I can count. I mean traversed it literally with my feet when I was a soldier like the young soldiers who are honored here today at the President's house. But I've traversed it in many other ways – going into communities, going into cities and into farms and to see the life force within our people…

I'm hopeful because the young Israelis I meet are willing, if I can borrow a phrase, are willing to bear any burden and pay any price for bettering our nation.

Most of all, I'm hopeful because I know that we will never give up on peace.

In my lifetime, I have seen Israel make peace…you can applaud, it's fine…in my lifetime I've seen Israel make peace with two Arab states – states that once fought brutal wars against us. And In recent years, I've seen formerly hostile states in the region and beyond, but especially in the region, form new and deep partnerships with us. I think this is a matter of great importance because I think this creates new hope.

We can advance peace with the Palestinians directly and through the support of other nations, including in the region. It was once thought that the only way that we could advance peace with the Arab states was to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That would certainly help enormously. But it's also true that we might solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem by enjoying the support of Arab states who now see Israel more and more not as an enemy, but as an ally against the forces that threaten their own countries as well.

I have a deep and abiding faith that Israel will have peace with many more of our neighbors and that our century-long conflict will end.

How will it end?

I know there is skepticism about my position. You can just repeat it ad nauseam and it becomes…it assumes the cachet of self-evident truth but the facts are important. I have taken steps that no other Prime Minister in Israel's history has taken to advance peace. So far, they've not been answered. But I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. It's about time.

That remains the core of this conflict: The persistent refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundary. And this is why this conflict preceded the Six-Day war by nearly 50 years. But I don’t believe that any issue is so complex that it cannot be solved. All we ask for is the right to live in peace in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.

And my call for peace today is not hypothetical.

I just gave a Twitter conference. It's the sign of the times. I think President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau preceded me. Talk to everyone in the world. And they said, "Are you willing to sit down and talk peace?" and I said, yes. Yes, I am. In fact, I'm willing to do so right now, today. To meet President Abbas today in Jerusalem. If he'd like, in Ramallah. If any of you ladies and gentlemen want to offer a different place that’s fine with me too. I have my preferences; we'll talk about it later. Right now. Today. And not next week. This week.

Because you cannot make peace with somebody who even refuses to sit down with you. And because every minute that President Abbas refuses to accept my call for peace robs Palestinians and Israelis of the opportunity to live without fear. It robs our children and our grandchildren of the opportunity they so richly deserve.

Peace is my vision.

Mutual recognition is my hope.

Security is my duty.

And I will work every day of every week of every month to advance peace and security for our people. I ask all of you to join me in providing hope for a better future. You can encourage President Abbas to accept my offer of direct talks today. Because direct talks are not merely the most likely and best path for peace. Ultimately, it's the only way that you will achieve a peace that will endure. And Israelis and Palestinians deserve no less.

Thank you all for your service. Thank you for coming here to honor Israel's Independence Day."
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PM Netanyahu addresses the 'Unto Every Person There is a Name' ceremony at the Knesset

​Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained his annual tradition of reading a poem written by his father-in-law Shmuel Ben-Artzi in 1941, after losing touch with his family in Europe but before he knew of their fate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day today, at the Knesset, made the following remarks at the 'Unto Every Person There is a Name' ceremony:

"My beloved late father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who won the Ka-Tzenik Prize for Holocaust Literature, was the only member of his family who survived the Holocaust. He was saved because in 1933, at the age of 18, he came here despite the pleadings of his father Moshe. He had studied at the Novardok Yeshiva, was a Hebrew pioneer who worked in orchards and built up the land. He was in both the Etzel and the Haganah. He was also a great Hebrew educator, major Tanakh scholar, an author and a poet.

He wrote a moving, heartfelt poem about the Holocaust, 'To the Land of Moriah' in 1941, two years after he lost contact with his family but before he knew what happened to them.

'To the Land of Moriah

My father –
I did not know what had befallen him.
Was he still alive? In what place
there did he wander, pursued and threatened?

I am here alone going up Mt. Moriah.

Many generations are laid upon my back:
Broken pieces of burnt wood dripping anguish,
And in my eyes lightning-fire of thousands of ovens,
Into which thousands of murderers were not thrown;
a blade dripping blood and anguish in my heart.

G-d, give me a sign!

Do not send an angel and ram,
let no shofar sound my name!
The binding of thousands has not assuaged your wrath,
Even my coming up is for naught –
G-d, give me a sign!'

The sign never came.

I will now read the names of some of the relatives of my father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi from Bilgoraj, Poland, who perished in the Holocaust:

The father to whom he wrote the poem, my wife's grandfather, Moshe Hahn, his father's wife Ita, his twin sister Yehudit, who was 24.

His brothers Meir Hahn .(18), Shimon Tzvi (16) and Aryeh Leib (13), and his little sister Feizele (10).

His uncle Avraham Tauber, his wife and their son and daughter.

His aunt Rachel Tauber .and her three sons – Avraham, Yaakov and Shlomo, and their wives and children.
His aunt Hinda and her husband Yehezkel.

His aunt Hendel, her husband and their children.

His aunt Paula and her two daughters.

His aunt Ma'tel Koenigstein, her son Hillel and her eldest daughter.

His uncle Mendel Hahn, his wife and their two children.

May their memories be blessed."
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PM Netanyahu meets with Russian President Putin

​Regarding the Golan Heights, we will not go back to the days when they fired at our communities and at our children from atop the Heights. Therefore, with or without an agreement, the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin:

"Mr. President, thank you very much. I very much appreciate both your heartfelt hospitality and the ongoing connection between us. I came here with one main goal – to strengthen the security coordination between us so as to avoid mishaps, misunderstandings and unnecessary confrontations.

At our previous meetings, I presented you with our security policy on our northern border. Israel has clear redlines for purposes of self-defense. First, we are working to the best of our ability to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Second, we are working to prevent the establishment of an additional terror front against us on the Golan Heights. These are red lines and we will continue to maintain hem.

Regarding the Golan Heights, we will not go back to the days when they fired at our communities and at our children from atop the Heights. Therefore, with or without an agreement, the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty.

This visit is also an opportunity to discuss bilateral issues in the context of relations that are – as you noted – celebrating 25 years. I would like to thank you personally for the effort that you have made to advance an especially important issue, the pensions agreement that is currently being formulated, and, I hope, is on its way toward being signed. This is of the highest humanitarian importance.

I would also like to thank you for your Passover greetings. This is our festival of freedom during which every Jewish family sits around the Seder table, including the over one million Russian-speaking Israelis who are a living link between our two peoples. I would also like to wish the Russian Jewish community, as well as all Jews around the world, a Happy Passover.

I would like to thank you again for your friendship which is very important for the interests of both our peoples."
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PM Netanyahu receives Bank of Israel Annual Report

​The report reflects the good situation of Israel’s labor market, with low unemployment and increasing wages. The positive economic situation allows policy makers to concentrate on long term issues.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the Bank of Israel 2015 Annual Report from Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Karnit Flug.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"I am pleased to hear that we are at an all-time low for unemployment, and are at high, full, employment, and this is pushing wages upward.

This is important but I think that we need to push growth higher and to this end we have started historic negotiations with China on a free trade agreement, which will greatly increase exports. We are in parallel discussions with Japan on a most-favored nation trade agreement, and we need to extract the gas from the sea. This will inject many billions into state coffers and for consumers in the State of Israel.

I thank you very much."

Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Karnit Flug:

"I would like to say that the economic situation is, overall, reasonable relative to the complex global environment. All in all, the labor market is in a good situation, unemployment is low, employment has increased, wages have risen, and the good economic situation allows us to focus policy on matters that we really need to focus on and this is the long term. I think that this will also free us to focus on the next budget and our major challenges. May we be successful."
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PM Netanyahu meets Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong declared the opening of talks on a bilateral free trade agreement, a significant step in relations between Israel and China.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I was delighted to hear today from Vice Premier Liu that China is prepared to begin free trade agreement negotiations with Israel. This is a momentous development and we are ready to do so right away. We have so much that we can do together. We discussed the various fields in which this can happen - in health care, in remote education, in agriculture, in marine agriculture, in IT. In every field of human endeavor the cooperation between Israel and China can yield enormous results. And we believe that Israel can be a perfect partner."

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said that China was pleased to begin talks on a free trade zone and added that her country is ready to cooperate for the benefit of both peoples. She said that Israel and China are heading toward major joint projects and noted that Israel is known throughout the world for its innovation.

The significance of the opening of the talks:

When the trade agreement takes effect, it could double bilateral trade (currently around $8 billion);
This agreement will include trade in goods and services, as well as economic and technological cooperation;
The free trade agreement could increase GDP in both countries;
The agreement will cause an increase in investments and lead to significant economic benefits for both countries;
This agreement constitutes a very significant step in bilateral economic relations.

The future trade agreement between China and Israel will deal with many issues, including:
1) The removal of impediments to trade - Israeli exports to China will benefit from easier entry to China and vice-versa; and
2) The agreement will enable the lifting of impediments in the fields of standardization and regulation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong met at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and opened the second meeting of the 2016 Israel-China innovation conference. This is the most important Israel-China inter-governmental platform, the establishment of which was signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu during her visit to Israel in 2014. The first meeting was held in January 2015 in Beijing.

The work of the conference was led and coordinated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Science and Technology Ministry. Dozens of government ministries and agencies (including the Foreign Ministry; Science, Technology and Space Ministry; the Economy and Industry Ministry Chief Scientist the Economy and Industry Ministry; the Health Ministry; the Education Ministry; the Culture and Sports Ministry; the Energy Ministry; the Agriculture Ministry; and the Patents Authority), as well as the Higher Education Council, the National Science Foundation and leading universities in both countries, all participated in the work of the conference.

Thirteen bilateral cooperation agreements were signed during the event.

At the start of the event, there was a meeting between the two delegations, led by the Prime Minister and the Chinese Vice Premier. Also participating were Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold and Israeli Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai.

The Chinese Vice Premier arrived with the Chinese Science and Technology Minister, the Chinese Ambassador to Israel, the deputy Foreign and Health ministers and other senior officials.
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