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PM Netanyahu attends launch of Knesset caucus for Israel-Africa relations

Both as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister, we are making a deliberate African strategy, and I've received an invitation from the President of Kenya and from others to come and visit Africa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Monday, 29 February 2016), at the Knesset, attended the launch of the Knesset Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations, which was initiated by MK Dr. Avraham Naguisa. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, MKs and African ambassadors were also in attendance. The Prime Minister spoke with the ambassadors, all of whom invited him to visit their countries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel. It's happening in a big way. It's happening now, but it should have happened a long time ago. It's happening now because it's so clear that this is good for Africa and it's good for Israel. We face a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Both as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister, we are making a deliberate, what I call African strategy, and I've received an invitation from the President of Kenya and from others to come and visit Africa.

I intend to do so around the 40th anniversary of the raid at Entebbe that was for us a very dramatic national experience. For me, obviously, one of great personal consequence, but we view that as an opportunity to give practical meaning to what I said before: Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel.

And in fact, what I'd like to see, given this new reality, given the confluence of interests - that means the meeting of the minds, the meeting of the minds and the meeting of hearts. Now we understand that we have these two great things before us: overcoming the dark forces of militant Islamic terrorism and seizing the opportunities of the future with technology and everything else we can bring to bear. What I'd like to see is the closeness of our relationship reflected also in the voting pattern of the African Union.

I would like to eventually get to that point with the African Union, because you should vote for the interests of your own countries and you should vote for the interests of Africa. And I have no doubt whatsoever that today the interests of Africa and the interests of Israel cohere. They're almost identical, and in some respects and in many respects they are identical. So, I want to see that reflected in our bilateral relationship and also in our multilateral relationship. And as I said, Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel, and I intend to make good at it by literally coming to Africa. For too long you have come here and we have not come there, and we are going to change that.

The greatest challenge we face together - the entire world faces - is the surge of militant Islamist extremism and the terrorism that it espouses. It threatens every land in Africa. In my opinion, it threatens the entire globe. Its nexus is in the Middle East, but it is rapidly spreading.

It can be defeated. It can only be defeated if the nations that are attacked by it, make common cause. We understand the dangers of Al-Shabab. We understand the dangers of the other militancies that threaten your countries in Africa, and we are prepared to work with you to defeat them. And it is possible to do so.

I think that many countries from Africa, and may I say not only from Africa, are coming to Israel because of a demonstrated capacity to stand up to the forces of militant Islam, do battle with them, roll them back. And we are prepared to put our expertise at your disposal. That's the first reason that there has been such a marked change in the appreciation of Africa and Israel to one another.

Israel is ready to help in every way - in agriculture, in health care, in water, in irrigation, in science, in technology, in investment, tourism, cyber. Every country can be brought to its knees today if it doesn't have adequate cyber protection, just the basic services that you have - communications, banking, airlines and so on. And Israel is now a world power in cyber security and my policy is to make some of our experience available to our friends. We consider you great friends. So we want to be able to cooperate with you in these two fields: fighting the forces of terror and seizing the opportunities of tomorrow. And they go hand in hand."

Cameroonian Ambassador Henri Etoundi Essomba, the dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Israel, noted that Netanyahu ”is one of the first Israeli leaders to open, with full force, a small window between Africa and Israel.”

Kenya's ambassador to Israel, Augostino S.K. Njoroge, said President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent visit to Israel was his most successful official visit to a foreign country, adding that Kenya was looking forward to strengthening its relations with Israel.

Ruben Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s first ambassador to Israel, urged PM Netanyahu to visit his country, saying such a visit ”could unite the torn tribes, bring peace and end the bloodshed.” The South Sudanese people ”love Israel,” he stated.

Jean-Baptiste Gomis, the Ivory Coast's ambassador to Israel, also invited PM Netanyahu to visit his country.

PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin on the terrorist attacks in Paris

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement regarding the terrorist attacks in Paris:

"On behalf of the people and Government of Israel, I extend our deepest sympathies to the people of France and to the families of those who were brutally murdered in Paris last night. We also extend our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Israel stands shoulder-to-shoulder with France in this common battle against militant Islamic terrorism. I've instructed Israel's security and intelligence forces to assist their French counterparts and their counterparts from other European countries in any way possible.

Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians. It can never be justified. Terrorism must always be condemned. It must always be fought. Innocent people in Paris, like those in London, Madrid, Mumbai, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem, are the victims of militant Islamic terrorism, not its cause. As I've said for many years, militant Islamic terrorism attacks our societies because it wants to destroy our civilization and our values.

I call on the entire civilized world to unite to defeat the plague of worldwide terrorism. An attack on any one of us should be seen as an attack on all of us. All terrorism must be condemned and fought equally with unwavering determination. It's only with this moral clarity that the forces of civilization will defeat the savagery of terrorism."

President Reuven Rivlin this evening issued the following statement in relation to the terror attacks which had taken place in Paris

“We are deeply grieved by the murderous terrorist attack yesterday, in the heart of Paris. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I send my sincere condolences to the French people and to the families who lost their loved ones.

"The State of Israel stands alongside you in your uncompromising struggle against terrorism.
“Terrorism strikes indiscriminately, striking and killing the innocent. We, citizens of the free world, in the face of this threat, we stand united in our struggle against those who seek to kill and maim, and to use violence and destruction.
“Our prayers are with the injured for a swift and full recovery.”

PM Netanyahu meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Netanyahu: President Abbas has not condemned a single one of the 30 terrorist attacks on Israelis over the last month. In the face of this terrorism Israel is acting as any democracy would to defend its citizens.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Prime Minister's Office, in Jerusalem. They made the following remarks prior to their meeting:

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Welcome to Jerusalem.

Your visit comes at a troubling time. In recent weeks Israelis have been deliberately run over, shot, stabbed and hacked to death, and in large part this is because President Abbas has joined ISIS and Hamas in claiming that Israel threatens the al-Aqsa mosque.

This, Mr. Secretary, is a total lie.

Israel vigorously protects the holy sites of all faiths. We keep the status quo. The Palestinians, by contrast, are the ones who violate the status quo. Palestinians have brought explosives into al-Aqsa mosque. That's a violation of the status quo. They try violently to prevent Jews and Christians from visiting the Mount. That's another violation of the status quo. And, Mr. Secretary, they work to convince UNESCO to deny the Jewish people's historic connection to the Western Wall. These are the real threats to the status quo.

I believe it's time to tell the truth about the causes of Palestinian terrorism. It's not the settlements. It's not the peace process, It's the desire to destroy the State of Israel, pure and simple.

President Abbas unfortunately has been fanning the flames. He said on September 16th, just a few days ago, that he welcomes "every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem…." That's a quote.

President Abbas has not condemned a single one of the 30 terrorist attacks on Israelis over the last month. And he continues to glorify terrorists as heroes.

In the face of this terrorism Israel is acting as any democracy would to defend its citizens. We are not, I repeat, we are not using excessive force.

Now, if the international community truly wants to help end the bloodshed and the violence, I believe it must affirm Israel's proven commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, it must support Israel's right to self-defense, and it must hold President Abbas accountable for his dangerous words.

Mr. Secretary, these are pressing subjects. I look forward to discussing them with you, how we can restore calm and reconciliation and security. That is important and that is the order of the day.

I welcome you here in Jerusalem. I look forward to our discussions.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for the warm welcome. Ladies and gentlemen, Shalom. I thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for welcoming me on such short notice. These are difficult times for Israelis and Palestinians. I am here in the hope that we can work together to end the violence, ease the tensions, and begin to restore a long-term political horizon of peace.

I want to offer, first of all, my sympathy for the loss and injury of innocent victims. Allow me to express my condolences to you and the people of Israel for the killing of your citizens.

I deplore the random attacks against civilians. Such terror attacks make every place unsafe, and every person, regardless of gender or age, a potential victim. Tomorrow, I plan to meet with some of the families of the victims of the recent violence.

I understand the fear and the anger felt by many Israelis in the current environment, as well as the duty that weighs on you, Mr. Prime Minister, to ensure that your citizens can enjoy safety and security.

Clearly, those attacks by individuals are not taking place in a vacuum. Over the past weeks, I have been deeply troubled by statements from Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, praising such heinous attacks. In a recent call with President Abbas, I voiced my deep concern over instances of inflammatory rhetoric and urged all to refrain from it. I have also condemned the arson attack by Palestinian protesters against Joseph's Tomb last week, and I welcome President Abbas' condemnation of that incident.

I urge the Israeli Government to do its utmost to help calm the situation. I welcome the recent statements by you, Mr. Prime Minister, and members of your government and prominent rabbis expressing Israel’s commitment to the preservation of the historic status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif. I look forward to discussing with you how to uphold the status quo, in accordance with the agreements between Israel and Jordan and with respect to Jordan's special role as custodian. I urge you, Mr. Prime Minister, to engage with the King of Jordan directly. I am going to see His Majesty, the King of Jordan, on Thursday in Amman.

Mr. Prime Minister, the security challenges your Government is currently facing raise many complicated dilemmas and may require tightening of security measures. However, security measures can be counterproductive if they are applied without special efforts to defuse situations before people lose their lives. If the use of force is not properly calibrated, it may breed the very frustrations and anxieties, from which violence tends to erupt. I urge Israel, as a democratic state, to guard against such incidents and to conduct thorough investigations when necessary.

Israelis and Palestinians stand on the brink of another catastrophic period of violence. We need to keep the situation from escalation into a religious conflict, with potential regional implications. We must create the conditions for meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation and realize the aspirations of both peoples.

The only way to end this conflict is through negotiations that produce visible, meaningful results. Unilateral actions from either side will only perpetuate the downward spiral.

The leaders on both sides, and their peoples, face extremely difficult decisions on the road to peace. No one can take those decisions for them - but neither can the world wait and watch another deadly tragedy unfold.

The generation born after the Oslo Peace Accord expect and want peace. We cannot fail them.

I and my special coordinator on the ground, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, are fully committed to working closely with your government and all the relevant actors regionally and internationally in order to create conditions for meaningful negotiations.

There can be no de-escalation of violence without a re-emergence of hope.

Toda raba (Thank you)!

PM Netanyahu addresses the 37th Zionist Congress

The physical assaults on the Jews are always preceded and accompanied by an assault on the truth, campaign of defamation and slander. And what I would like to examine with you today are the ten big lies that are hurled at us.

The 37th Zionist Congress is currently convening in Jerusalem, with 525 delegates from all over the world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the opening of the Congress:

We've witnessed a lot of changes since the last Congress, great challenges and great opportunities for Israel and the Jewish people. We are now, despite our desires and our efforts for peace and for tranquility, we are now in the midst of a campaign, an assault, and not the first one, that seeks to murder Israelis wherever they are. And this campaign is incorporating medieval ideology with modern technology. It’s a unique combination.

I am seeing it primarily on the social networks. I'll talk about it in a minute. And we know for example that the various attackers are using their Facebook pages to indicate what they are, to absorb messages of incitement. I appreciate the fact that Facebook is trying to find the balance between free speech and the safety of the public. I think that warrants special attention in this case.

Now let me try to put in perspective what it is we're fighting: We're fighting not only a campaign of physical assaults on the Jewish state - the Jewish people have experienced that throughout the centuries - but as we've experienced in our history, the physical assaults on the Jews are always preceded and accompanied by an assault on the truth, campaign of defamation and slander. And what I would like to examine with you today are the ten big lies that are hurled at us. And the only way that you can fight lies, and especially big lies, is to puncture them with the simple truth.

So here's the first big lie: Israel is trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. No, we're not. We haven't changed the status quo on the Temple Mount in years. There's a simple arrangement: Muslims visit the Temple Mount and they pray there. Others, Jews, Christians and other denominations, secular people, they come - secular people pray too by the way - they visit the Temple Mount but they don’t. Sunday to Thursday, 7:00 to 11:00, the non-Muslims visit. Muslims visit the rest of the time. How many Muslims have visited and prayed on the Temple Mount, on average, last year? Anybody know? No, not 300,000, three and a half million. Eighty thousand Christians and other denominations and 12,000 Jews. That hasn’t changed.

Though the Temple Mount is our holiest site - it was built there by king Solomon 3,000 years ago, 1,500 years before the birth of Islam - though we've been attached to it for 3 millennia, we in no way deny the sacred sites or the rights or the free access for other denominations, and Israel has not and will not change the status quo. This is one huge lie.

The second is not only that we seek to change the prayer arrangements on the Temple Mount and the non-prayer arrangements on the Temple Mount, which we don’t, is that we seek to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque. Now this is particularly farcical. It would be farcical if it weren’t tragic. My grandfather came to this land in 1920 and he landed in Jaffa, and very shortly after he landed he went to the immigration office in Jaffa. And a few months later it was burned down by marauders. These attackers, Arab attackers, murdered several Jews, including our celebrated writer Brenner.

And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution. He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, "If you expel them, they'll all come here." "So what should I do with them?" he asked. He said, "Burn them." And he was sought in, during the Nuremberg trials for prosecution. He escaped it and later died of cancer, after the war, died of cancer in Cairo. But this is what Haj Amin al-Husseini said. He said, ":The Jews seek to destroy the Temple Mount." My grandfather in 1920 seeks to destroy…? Sorry, the al-Aqsa Mosque. So this lie is about a hundred years old. It fomented many, many attacks. The Temple Mount stands. The al-Aqsa Mosque stands. But the lie stands too, persists.

First lie: Israel seeks to change the status quo - false. Second lie: Israel seeks to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque - false. It's particularly onerous because Israel is the only country that protects the holy sites in the Middle East. You see Muslims, the militant Shi'ites and the militant Sunnis, blowing each other's mosques to smithereens across Iraq, Syria, you name it, churches - of course, synagogues - don’t even talk about it. And ancient shrines of great world heritage - blown up. The only place where the holy shrines of all are absolutely guaranteed is in Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty and of course in the rest of Israel.

Here's lie number three - the reason you have this surge of violence is because there has been a surge in settlement construction. Did you hear this? Yeah, all the time. Well, here are the numbers - some of you are not going to like them. In my first term in office, we built an average of 3,000 units annually in Judea and Samaria. In Barak's single year, he built 5,000. In Sharon, it was down to 1,900. In Olmert, it was down to 1,700. And given the circumstances, in my successive terms it's down to 1,500.

There are reasons for that. We can discuss that some other time but facts are facts. These numbers are exact. So, far from seeing a settlement surge, there's actually been a decline in construction. I raise that because this is raised again and again and again. The Palestinians are protesting because of a surge in settlement activity. Sorry, not true. And I put the facts forward before the world. Some surge.

The fourth big lie is that we are executing Palestinians - executing Palestinians. When our people are fighting back against these knife-wielders, meat-cleaver-wielders, people who try hack to death our citizens and our soldiers and our policemen, they're executing people. And what was the example? Ahmed Mansara, this boy that Abu Mazen put forward. He held his picture and he said we're executing this innocent boy. He's not innocent, he nearly stabbed to death, he stabbed nearly to death a 13-year-old Israeli boy riding on a bicycle.

He's not dead. He's been released, I think he's about to be released, from the Hadassah Hospital where his victim is struggling for his life. This is a big lie that we punctured right on the spot. Because here's the thing about the lies that I'm describing: If left unchallenged, they continue to expand like a cloud and by dint of constant repetition, these lies assume the cache of self-evident truth. And I think it's vital to put the facts before the world.

The fifth point is that Israel uses excessive force in general. That's not true either. What do you think would happen on the streets of New York? Let's just imagine the NYPD and people are rushing in the streets trying to knife down their police or innocent passers-by. What would the police do in New York City or in Paris or in Moscow or anywhere else? You know exactly what they would do. And this is what our police force is doing. To those who question our use of force, I would ask: How would you respond to it? How would your police respond to it? And our instructions are very clear. If there's a threat to life, either to the police officer or to innocent civilians, take action to neutralize it. Half the terrorists are killed; half the terrorists are apprehended; one terrorist escaped.

The sixth lie is that the reason we have this increase is not only a surge in settlements, it's the stagnation in the peace process. Well, some of the worst terrorism that Israel has experienced in its history occurred when the peace process was at its peak. We've had terrorism when there was a peace process. We've had terrorism when there was no peace process. We've had terrorism when there was an Israel. We've had terrorism when there was no Israel. We've had terrorism when there were settlements. We've had terrorism when there were no settlements, when we didn't even control Judea and Samaria.

The real reason we have this terrorism is not because the terrorists are frustrated in the peace process. They're frustrated because there's a State of Israel and that frustration will continue.

The seventh myth is that Abbas is a moderate. Abbas does not send his security forces to attack us, this is true. And there is ongoing cooperation; that is true too. So on one hand, Abbas does what I've just described, but on the other hand, he is a steady inciter. He incites all the time. He and his Fatah partners and the official websites of the Palestinian Authority incite day in and day out on those social networks. And to put a fine point on it, he said the other day, "I welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem." Are these the words of a moderate? He glorifies these killers.

He hasn't condemned a single one of the 30 terrorist attacks on Israelis over the last month. And I think that people who call public squares in the name of mass murderers should be condemned. I haven't heard a word of condemnation, practically not a syllable of condemnation for this irresponsible behavior of Abbas. And I think what we should tell Abu Mazen is: Stop lying, stop inciting.

The eighth big lie is that only international observers will restore calm on the Temple Mount. The last thing we have to do is to take the most explosive square kilometer on earth and put there the General Assembly of the United Nations. That is not a force for moderation. Israel enforces the status quo and we should tell the truth, affirm Israel's proven commitment to the status quo and hold President Abbas, Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel accountable for their lies and incitement. That is what is producing this violence.

The ninth lie is that the violence is erupted continually because there's no Palestinian state. Palestinians have repeatedly refused to accept a nation-state for themselves. They've repeatedly refused to accept it if it means accepting a nation-state for the Jewish people alongside it. That was and remains the core of the conflict - the persistent refusal to recognize Israel in any boundaries.

Now I spoke to you about my grandfather. After he came here in 1920, we had the surge of the attacks at that year. In 1921, the Jewish community in Hebron, who had been there for millennia, was massacred - no provocation, no reasons. In 1936 to 1939, massive attacks by Palestinians on the Jewish community here, throughout the coast - in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, elsewhere. There were no settlements there, no territories, no desire even for a Palestinian state. And this continued, of course, into 1947, '48, when the Palestinians rejected a partition for a Jewish state and a Palestinian state - no territories then, a state offered to them.

And then it continued in the attacks against us, terrorist attacks by the Fedayeen and others in 1956. And in 1967, those attacks, the desire to destroy Israel continued despite the fact that the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza were firmly in Arab hands. So it couldn't have been the reason for our attacks. Now we're talking about a century, half a century - from 1920 to 1967, that's 47 years - where the attacks, the attacks are going against us one after the other. Half a century and it's clearly not the core of the conflict. The core of the conflict was the desire to destroy the Jews anywhere, without a state, and with a state without the territories and without settlements.

Now, when we came into possession of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and when we came back to our ancestral homeland into these disputed lands and built some communities, some settlements, we uprooted them according to the book. They changed the narrative. After '67 what the Palestinians did is turn the result of their aggression - our presence in those territories - into its cause. And the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon made a decision with which I disagreed.

They uprooted all the Israelis from Gaza, disinterred the graves, gave the territory to Abu Mazen and he promptly handed it over to Hamas under the force of their guns. Well, we didn't get peace. We got thousands and thousands of rockets hurled into our cities. And when we asked Hamas, "Why are you firing these rockets on our cities? Is it to liberate the West Bank?" And they said, "Yeah, that too, but it's to liberate Palestine - Haifa, Akko, Jaffa, Jerusalem of course." That is what they said.

We turned to the others, to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and I said, "What about you? Are you willing to recognize the Jewish state? You demand a nation-state for the Palestinian people. Assuming we solve the problem of the border, of the settlements and so on, would you then be prepared to recognize a Jewish state, a nation-state for the Jewish people?" They hem and haw and basically say no because they'd have to give up the fantasy of the so-called right of return because they have to end the conflict, because they don't want a state to end the conflict because they want a state to continue the conflict and eradicate the Jewish state. This is what this conflict has always been about. That's what it's about. You can't deny the facts. You can stick your head in the sand and be an ostrich, but we Jews do not stick our heads in the sand. We see the territory, we see reality as it is and we confront that reality.

And here's the tenth, final myth - and this is a doozer for some of you. This one shows how persistent and absurd these myths are and this was common parlance for our critics, for commentators, for political leaders, for the greatest news media in the world and this was uttered day in, day out, every hour by the hour, by the international community and even some here and even by our own people. And they said this as though it was self-evident truth and here's what it said: The core of the conflict in the Middle East - conflict always in the singular - the core of the conflict in the Middle East is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Remember that one?

Now four years after the Arab Spring and the convulsions that take place, the disintegration of Syria, the disintegration of Iraq, the disintegration of Libya, the wars in Yemen, the chaos in the Sinai and everything else that convulses North Africa and the Middle East from India to the Atlantic, from the borders of India I'm happy to say to the Atlantic, there is great convulsion. What's that got to do with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? And the answer is: Nothing. Yet this was repeated over and over and over again. There were two truths - this was one of them. The core of the conflict was the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; and the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were the settlements. Neither one is true.

Now it's evident. The first one is, you know, there are still true believers - not many - walking about us, but they're fairly silent about the first one because when millions are displaced, when hundreds of thousands are butchered, when every week in Istanbul now they had… in Ankara they had 100 people die in one day and thousands die every month - thousands - in Iraq, in Saudi Arabia, in the Sinai, in Libya. It's patently absurd. And yet people believe this. They believe this with religious fervor, I would say. I'm talking about the West. Now they believe the settlement myth even though they see it before their eyes. We left Gaza. We left every settlement - nothing. The conflict continues. We offer a deal and we say, "Okay, assuming we solve the settlement problem, what about the settlement called Tel Aviv? What about Jaffa? Give up the ghost." Nope.

The core of the conflicts in the Middle East is the battle between early medievalism, very primitive, very violent, the forces of militant Islam, and modernity. The core of the conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the persistent refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries. There is no way to battle lies except to tell the truth. Any attempt to forge peace based on lies will crash against the realities of the Middle East, will crash against the rocks of reality. We look forward and we say we want a real peace, a lasting peace, a peace where our long-standing rights, the right of the Jewish people to live in their ancestral homeland as a free and secure people - those rights are guaranteed.

We have no preconditions for entering negotiations. We have foundations for a solution and we will be very firm and insistent on it. But there is no limitation on our side for entering negotiations. Yet that too is not being met by the other side. It has enjoyed a long pass, it has been given a pass by the international community, the Palestinian Authority. They are not held to their incitement. They're not held accountable for the violence that they foment all day, all night, every day, every month, on their Palestinian social networks and this has to end. My government has taken very strong steps to bolster our security, adding forces, giving them the means to do their job, punishing people who blow up houses or blow up people, murder innocent people. We do all that.

But I think the larger battle that we fight is the battle for the truth and I urge every one of you to be a soldier in that battle. We've withstood, in the last century, the many assaults on our people. We came back to our homeland. We built our state. We've overcome tremendous forces. Israel is a modern, democratic, progressive and powerful state. We've withstood the attacks of terror, Palestinian terror, over the decades and we'll overcome this one too. But I believe that the biggest battle we have to fight is the battle for the facts. The facts win over the fiction if they're repeated clearly, responsibly, firmly. This is what I ask all of you to do for the sake of the Jewish state and for the sake of the Jewish people.

Thank you.

PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

The fight against terrorism:
"We are in the midst of a wave of terrorism originating from systematic and mendacious incitement regarding the Temple Mount – incitement by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Movement in Israel. This weekend I ordered the mobilization of 16 Border Police companies in order to restore security and order. It is better to mobilize massive forces to deal with possible developments, rather than do so after the fact, and we will call up more forces as necessary.

Today I will hold another meeting to advance government action against the Islamic Movement in Israel. I will not tolerate internal incitement. We will use all means at our disposal against the instigators from any direction. In this regard, note the words of incitement and violence over the weekend uttered by Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi in Hamas's official journal (al-Risala). Here is what she said: 'Hundreds of thousands of worshipers should go up to Al- Aqsa in order to face down an Israeli plot for the blood of East Jerusalem residents.

Today there are actions only by individuals and what is needed is popular support. If only individual attacks continue without popular support, they will sputter out within a few days. Therefore the outpouring of thousands of our people will make these events a real intifada.' This wild and deceitful incitement is a clear call to violence. This is serious and I will not ignore it. This morning I contacted the Attorney General to immediately open a criminal investigation against MK Zoabi.

At my instruction, the government today will approve legislation for minimum prison sentences for those who throw rocks and firebombs and fines for minors and their parents.

I would like to wish a speedy recovery to the civilians, policemen and soldiers who were wounded in recent days. Also, I want to commend the security forces, police, border police, the IDF and the ISA for their dedicated and tireless actions for the security of Israel, and I particularly want to commend the citizens of Israel for their impressive display of vigilance, determination and composure."

Statements by President Rivlin and PM Netanyahu on terror attack

Tonight, bloodthirsty murderers claimed the lives of a mother and a father, leaving their young children orphaned. The heart breaks at the magnitude of such cruelty and hatred.

President Reuven Rivlin this evening made the following comment regarding the terrorist attack this evening, in which two young parents were murdered, and their young children were injured.

The President said:

"Tonight, bloodthirsty murderers claimed the lives of a mother and a father, leaving their young children orphaned. The heart breaks at the magnitude of such cruelty and hatred.

We will continue in our brave and unwavering fight against this cruel and heinous terrorism - of this our enemies can be sure. This is our duty, and the only way we can ensure the right of the orphans who lost their parents tonight, along with the right of all our children and grandchildren, to live with security and in peace, everywhere in the Land of Israel.

We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured children - our hearts and thoughts are with them."

In response to the terrorist attack in Samaria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"This is a difficult day for the State of Israel. We are witness to an especially heinous and shocking murder in which parents were murdered, leaving four young orphans. My heart is with the children, all of our hearts are with the children and the family. The killers knew that they were murdering a mother and father, the children were there. It has been proven again that the wild Palestinian incitement leads to acts of terrorism and murder such as we have seen this evening. I am about to speak with the Defense Minister, the IDF Chief-of-Staff and the Director of the ISA about the steps we will take not only to apprehend the murderers but also to increase security for all Israeli citizens."

The victims have been identified as Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin of Neria. Four of their children, aged 4 months to 9 years, were in the car at the time of the attack and were treated for shock.

PM Netanyahu departs for UN General Assembly

Israel desires peace with the Palestinians who are continuing to spread gross lies about our policy on the Temple Mount. Israel is committed to the status quo. It is the Palestinian rioters who are harming the sanctity of the place.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left to attend the UN General Assembly in New York.

Prior to boarding the plane, the Prime Minister said:

"I am now leaving for the US where I will address the UN General Assembly. Each time that I address the UN I feel the privilege and great honor of telling the truth before the world on behalf of the citizens of Israel, on behalf of our country. The world needs to know what the citizens of Israel feel about the nuclear agreement with Iran and what we expect from the international community in the wake of this agreement.

In my speech, I will - of course - refer to our policy vis-à-vis Syria and the dangers on our northern border. The following day I will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and will discuss with him the strengthening of Israel's security. We will also discuss the peace process.

Israel desires peace with the Palestinians who, to my regret, are continuing to spread gross lies about our policy on the Temple Mount. I will demand a halt to this wild incitement. Israel is committed to the status quo; Israel is maintaining the status quo. It is the Palestinian rioters who are bringing war materiel, pipebombs and fireworks onto the Temple Mount who are harming the sanctity of the place and it is they who are violating the status quo.

Indeed, with every passing day it is clear that within the collapsing Middle East Islamic extremists are capturing more and more territory. Israel is an island of progress and stability. I will say all of this and more at the UN General Assembly and in my meetings in the US."

PM Netanyahu meets with Russian President Putin

PM Netanyahu: "Iran and Syria have been arming Hezbollah with advanced weapons. Iran, under the auspices of the Syrian army, is attempting to build a second terrorist front against us. Our policy is to prevent attacks on us from the Golan Heights."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon (Monday, 21 September 2015), met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following are their remarks at the start of the meeting:

Russian President Vladimir Putin: "Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I know that in Israel you recently celebrated the New Year. I would like to welcome you. Tomorrow evening, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the fast begins. I would like to welcome you and wish you all the best."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I thank you Mr. President for your greetings and I also congratulate Russia on its day of celebration. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak to you. Israel and Russia share a common interest to ensure stability in the Middle East.

And I am here because of the security situation which is becoming ever more complex on our northern border. As you know, in recent years, and particularly in recent months, Iran and Syria have been arming the extremist Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with advanced weapons, aimed at us, and over the years thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired against our cities. At the same time, Iran, under the auspices of the Syrian army, is attempting to build a second terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights.

Our policy is to prevent these weapons transfers, and to prevent the creation of a terrorist front and attacks on us from the Golan Heights. Under these circumstances, I thought it was very important that I come here, also to clarify our policies, and to make sure that there is no misunderstanding between our forces.

And I must say something else, both from a personal standpoint and from a national one - in all of the relations between us, whether I agreed and also when we differed, our discourse has always been conducted with mutual respect and openness. I am certain that it will be this time as well."

Russian President Vladimir Putin: "And so it will be Prime Minister. Let there be no doubt about this. We have never forgotten that in the State of Israel live very many emigres from the former USSR. This has a special effect on our bilateral relations. All of Russia's actions in the region will always be very responsible. We are aware of the shelling against Israel and we condemn all such shelling. I know that these shellings are carried out by internal elements. In regard to Syria, we know that the Syrian army is in a situation such that it is incapable of opening a new front. Our main goal is to defend the Syrian state. However, I understand your concern and I am very pleased that you have come here to discuss all issues in detail."

PM Netanyahu Meets with British PM David Cameron

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the start of his meeting in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron:

"I look forward to discussing with you everything you mentioned – three specific areas; First security. The Middle East is disintegrating under the twin forces of militant Islam: The militant Sunnis led by ISIS and the militant Shiites led by Iran. And I believe that we can cooperate in practical ways to roll back the tide of militant Islam both in the Middle East and in Africa altogether.

Secondly, and no less important, peace. I want to say here in 10 Downing Street, and reaffirm again that I am ready to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians with no conditions whatsoever to enter negotiations, and I'm willing to do so immediately.

The third point is technology – the future belongs to those who innovate. Britain and Israel are two great centers of technology. Israel is a global hub of innovation, especially in cyber security. And I think that if we pool our resources together we can offer a better future and great prosperity."

PM Netanyahu Meets with Italian PM Matteo Renzi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening, met with Italian Prime Matteo Renzi and told him at the start of their meeting: Thank you, my good friend Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. 

I want to thank you for the extraordinary hospitality you've shown me and my wife and my delegation. And I have to tell you that your visit to Israel made a great impression. All the people of Israel were moved by your historic speech in the Knesset. I've heard many speeches in the Knesset. Yours was one of the exceptional ones that touched on basic truths that bind our two countries and our common civilization. 
Equally, I was enormously impressed by my visit to the Milan Expo. It's a testament to the creativity of the people of Italy and to your leadership. And I look forward to discussing with you this evening how we can further expand the cooperation between Israel and Italy in technology, in agriculture, in culture and science, in fighting terrorism, in security and stability for our world.

There is a simple rule that is absolutely critical for the future of our societies. 

The future belongs to those who innovate. 

Italy has always been at the forefront of creativity. You only need to stand in this amazing hall next to the paintings of Vasari and the statues of Michelangelo to understand how creative and how powerful Italy has been over the centuries and today. 

Israel in turn is a global hub of technology.

And I think that together we can innovate more than separate, both for the benefit of our two peoples, but also for the benefit of other peoples. 

And specifically we discussed in Israel and I hope we'll continue this tonight, how we can expand our cooperation in African countries that yearn for our expertise.

It's a great pleasure for me to visit you in your home town of Florence. 

I think the first time we met, you came as Mayor of Florence, and Florence is clearly one of the world's most magnificent cities. It has left an indelible mark on our common civilization.

And that civilization today is under threat from militant Islam.
The savagery of the Islamic State of ISIS captures the world’s attention, and justifiably so.

But I believe that a far more serious threat is posed by another Islamic state, the Islamic State of Iran, and specifically its pursuit of nuclear weapons. 

Let me make clear, Matteo, that Israel doesn’t oppose a civilian nuclear program in Iran. We oppose a military nuclear program in Iran.
And Regrettably, the deal with Iran allows it to keep and expand a formidable nuclear infrastructure that is completely unnecessary for civilian nuclear purposes, but is entirely necessary for the production of nuclear weapons.

The deal will give Iran within 13 years the ability to make as many centrifuges as they want, enrich as much uranium as they want to whatever level that they want. And this will put the Iranian Islamic state that practices terrorism worldwide, it will put it on the threshold of an entire nuclear arsenal. 

But well before that, Iran will get hundreds of billions of dollars of sanctions relief and investments to fuel its aggression and terrorism in the Middle East, in North Africa and beyond that. 

I think that this will make Iran far richer and far stronger militarily, and it will make it far more difficult to confront its nuclear ambitions in the future.

Prime Minister, Matteo, today your country and all of Europe face a wave of increasing illegal immigration. Thousands upon thousands flee the horrors of militant Islamic terrorism in Libya, across the Middle East and in Africa. 

This is a great tragedy and a great challenge.

We both want to see greater security in the Mediterranean region and beyond.

We are committed to building a better world where our children can enjoy peace and prosperity.

And I believe this is what the people of Israel and the people of Italy expect from us both. And this is what we shall discuss in the spirit of the wonderful and growing friendship between us. I believe we can help each other. I believe we can help Italy and Israel. I believe that together, we can help the world. 

And I want to thank you once again for…well, it's a warm friendship and a warm greeting. I didn’t expect it to be this warm, but it is extraordinary and your city is extraordinary.

Thank you, thank you, Matteo, and thank you all. Thank you.
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