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PM Netanyahu's eulogy at the funeral for Shimon Peres

​In a turbulent Middle East, peace will not be achieved other than by preserving our power. But power is a means to an end; to promote progress, prosperity and peace – for us, for the nations of the region and for our Palestinian neighbors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Friday, 30 September), at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at the funeral for Israel's ninth President, Shimon Peres, delivered the following eulogy:

"You have come from near and far to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, to pay last respects to Shimon Peres, one of the founders of the state, one of the greatest leaders of our nation, a venerable leader, the remarkable Shimon Peres.


[Transcribed from the English]

I want to thank you all for coming today.

That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon, is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace, his love of Israel.

The people of Israel deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon and the state to which he dedicated his life.

Shimon lived a life of purpose. He soared to incredible heights. He swept so many with his vison and his hope. He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world.

Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy, as does the world.


[Translated from the Hebrew]

My friends,

Shimon Peres not only led a long life, but a meaningful life.

He played an active role as a senior partner in the national rebirth of the Jewish people.

He belonged to the generation that emerged from bondage to liberty, that struck roots in our ancient homeland, and wielded the Sword of David in its defense.

Shimon made a monumental contribution to guaranteeing our capacity to defend ourselves for generations.

And for that he will have the gratitude of generations.

At the same time, he made every effort throughout his adult life to achieve piece with our neighbors.

It is no secret that Shimon and I were political rivals, but over time we became friends, close friends.

In one of our many late night meetings at the President's House, late at night, I asked him, "Tell me, Shimon, throughout your long career, who were the Israeli leaders you most revered?"

Before he managed to answer me, I said, "The first one is clear. You studied at the feet of Ben-Gurion."

For indeed, as a young man, Shimon saw how Ben-Gurion forged our freedom and shouldered the responsibility for building Israel and securing its destiny.

But in the same conversation, he also talked about Rabin, Begin, and other leaders with genuine appreciation for their unique contributions to our state.

He then surprised me somewhat when he also mentioned one other person – Moshe Dayan.

Shimon talked about Dayan's valor on the battlefield and his originality, and one other characteristic.

"Moshe never cared what anybody thought about him," Shimon told me.

"Dayan completely ignored political considerations. He was what he wanted to be."

Shimon appreciated these qualities, but he also knew one other truth – that if you want to realize the things you believe in, your diplomatic, economic and social goals, you can't really disconnect from politics.

And therefore, in the 50 years that he served in Knesset and in government, Shimon lived in that inherent tension between statesmanship and politics.

He soared on the wings of vision but he knew that the runway passes through the rocky field of politics.

He was able to do all that—to be pummeled, to fall and get back on his feet time after time—thanks to his passion for activism and ideals.

I first encountered that passion, here, on this very hill 40 years ago.

Two days after the bold rescue operation in Entebbe in which my brother gave his life, Yoni's funeral was held here.

As defense minister, together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon approved that operation.

At the funeral, he delivered a deeply stirring eulogy, which I will never forget.

It was the first time I ever met him.

My late parents, my brother and I were profoundly moved by what he said about Yoni, about the Operation, about the bond with our forefathers, and about the pride of our nation.

From that point on, a special bond was formed between us.

Shimon and I disagreed about many things, but those disagreements never overshadowed our many warm and thoughtful discussions.

Our friendship deepened with each meeting.

Yet we never glossed over our differences of opinion.

In one of our nearly night-long discussions, we addressed a fundamental question: From Israel's perspective, what is paramount - security or peace?

Shimon enthusiastically replied, "Bibi, peace is the true security. If there will be peace, there will be security."

And I responded to him, "Shimon, in the Middle East, security is essential for achieving peace and for maintaining it."

The debate intensified.

We went back and forth for hours, flinging arguments at one another.

He came from the left, I came from the right.

I came from the right, and he came back from the left.

And in the end – like two worn-out prizefighters – we put down our gloves.

I saw in his eyes, and I think he saw in mine, that our principles stemmed from deep-seeded beliefs and a commitment to the cause – ensuring Israel's future.

My friends, do you know what surprising conclusion I reached with the passage of time?

We were both right.

In a turbulent Middle East in which only the strong survive, peace will not be achieved other than by permanently preserving our power.

But power is not an end in itself.

It's a means to an end.

That goal is to ensure our national existence and co-existence.

To promote progress, prosperity and peace – for us, for the nations of the region, and for our Palestinian neighbors.

Distinguished guests,

Shimon also reached the conclusion that no one camp has a monopoly on truth.

The day after his swearing in as Israel's 9th president, he attended the official memorial ceremony for Ze'ev Jabotinsky, whom I regard as one of my spiritual mentors.

Addressing the ceremony, Shimon said, "History bestowed on the two major streams of Zionism – the Labor movement and the Jabotinsky movement – the task of building the Zionist enterprise. The many gaps between these two camps have narrowed on many issues. The adherents of these streams are today partners in political parties and in the leadership of the state – something that was inconceivable in the distant past."

"It seems," Shimon concluded, "that King Solomon was right. Two are better than one."

At the end of his speech, I approached him, shook his hand and warmly thanked him for his unifying message.

Nine years later, two months ago, my wife and I came to honor Shimon at the opening of the "Peres Center for Innovation."

Nano and medical technology, neuroscience and computer engineering, satellites and robotics - all were on prominent display.

Shimon radiated pride. I don't think I had ever seen him that happy.

It was the realization of one of his dreams.

He put a pair of 3-D glasses over his eyes – the same eyes from which his corneas have been donated for the benefit of the next generation.

Nothing could be more symbolic.

Shimon always looked to the future. He believed, as we believe, in progress, in science and technology.

They have the power to strengthen our security as well as to lay the future foundations for peace.

If we nurture these capabilities and act resolutely against the enemies of progress, modernity will triumph over barbarism, good will win out over evil, and light will defeat darkness.

Shimon, my friend, you said that one of the few times you shed a tear was when you heard the tragic news of the death of my brother Yoni in Entebbe.

You cried then, Shimon. And today, I weep for you.

I loved you. We all love you.

Be at peace, Shimon, dear friend, great leader.

We will cherish your memory in the heart of our nation and – I can confidently say – in the heart of all nations."

Shimon Peres 1923 - 2016

Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president, passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, 28 September 2016. The State of Israel and its people deeply mourn the passing of a great leader, a statesman and a true visionary.


Ninth President of Israel 2007-2014
Prime Minister of Israel 1984-1986 and 1995-1996
Foreign Minister of Israel 1986-1988; 1992-1995; 2001-2002

Shimon Peres - public servant, parliamentarian and the eighth Prime Minister of the State of Israel - was elected by the Knesset on June 13, 2007 to serve as the Ninth President of Israel, and took the oath of office on July 15, serving until Julyi 24, 2014.

Peres was born in Byelorussia in 1923 and immigrated to Palestine with his family at the age of eleven. He grew up in Tel Aviv and attended the agricultural high school at Ben Shemen. Peres spent several years in Kibbutz Geva and Kibbutz Alumot, of which he was one of the founders, and in 1943 was elected Secretary of the Labor-Zionist youth movement.

Shimon Peres has been closely associated with the development of defense capabilities. In the late forties he joined the Haganah and was assigned responsibility for manpower and arms. During and after the War of Independence , he served as head of the naval services, and later headed the defense ministry's delegation to the US. In 1952 he joined the Ministry of Defense and a year later - at the age of 29 - was appointed Director-General, a position he held until 1959.

In 1959 Peres was elected a Member of Knesset and served until his election as President in June 2007. From 1959 to 1965 he served as Deputy Minister of Defense. Among his achievements were the establishment of the military and aviation industries and the promotion of strategic ties with France - a "special relationship" that culminated in strategic cooperation during the 1956 Sinai Campaign, which he masterminded. He was also responsible for Israel's nuclear program.

Shimon Peres distinguished himself as a political figure in internal politics as well. In 1965 he left the ruling Mapai party together with Ben-Gurion and became Secretary-General of Rafi; three years later, he was instrumental in reuniting these labor factions. In 1969 Peres was appointed Minister of Immigrants Absorption; from 1970 to 1974 he served as Minister of Transportation and Communications; and during 1974 he was Minister of Information. For three years following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Peres again played a central role in Israel's security as Minister of Defense. He revitalized and strengthened the IDF and played an important role in the disengagement negotiations that led to the 1975 Interim Agreement with Egypt. He was behind the 1976 Entebbe rescue operation and authored the "Good Fence" concept, promoting positive relations with residents of southern Lebanon.

Peres briefly served as Acting Prime Minister following the resignation of Prime Minister Rabin in 1977. Following the defeat of the Labor party in the 1977 general elections - after thirty years of political hegemony - Shimon Peres was elected party chairman, a post he held until 1992. During this period he was also elected Vice President of the Socialist International.

Shimon Peres served two non-consecutive terms as Prime Minister. His first tenure was from 1984 to 1986 in the National Unity government, based on a rotation arrangement with Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir. From 1986 to 1988, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and from November 1988 until the dissolution of the National Unity Government in 1990 - as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. He focused his energies on the failing economy and on the complex situation resulting from the 1982 war in Lebanon. He succeeded in enlisting the support of the Histadrut for the difficult steps needed to reduce the annual inflation rate from 400% to 16%. Peres was also instrumental in the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon and the establishment of a narrow security zone in southern Lebanon.

After the return to power of the Labor party as a result of the 1992 elections, Shimon Peres was once again appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. He initiated and conducted the negotiations that led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles with the PLO in September 1993 - which won him the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, together with Rabin and Arafat. Further negotiations with the Palestinians brought about Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and some areas of Judea and Samaria and the establishment of limited Palestinian autonomy, as decided in the Interim Agreement . In October 1994, the Treaty of Peace with Jordan was signed. Peres subsequently strove to promote relations with additional Arab countries in North Africa and the Persian Gulf - part of his vision of a "New Middle East."

Shimon Peres' second term as Prime Minister came in the wake of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995. The Labor Party chose Peres as Rabin's successor, and the Knesset confirmed the decision with a vote of confidence, supported by both coalition and opposition members.

Peres served as Prime Minister for seven months, until the general elections held in May 1996. During this trying period, Peres strove to maintain the momentum in the peace process, despite a wave of terrorist attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers against Israeli civilians.

Shimon Peres continued to serve as chairman of the Labor Party for a year after the party's election defeat. In June 1997, former Chief-of-Staff and Labor Member of Knesset Ehud Barak was elected chairman of the Labor Party.

In October 1997 Shimon Peres created the the Peres Center for Peace with the aim of advancing Arab-Israeli joint ventures.

Peres served as Minister of Regional Cooperation from July 1999 until March 2001, and in March 2001 was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister in the National Unity government headed by Ariel Sharon, serving until October 2002 when he resigned together with the other Labor ministers. Peres served as Vice Premier to Ariel Sharon from January-November 2005, when Labor resigned from the government.

Prior to the elections to the 17th Knesset, Peres left the Labor Party to join the newly founded Kadima. He served as Vice Premier, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galillee from May 2006 until June 2007.

In October 1997 Peres created the the Peres Center for Peace with the aim of advancing Arab-Israeli joint ventures. Shimon Peres has authored the following books:

In Between Hatred and Neighborhood (Hebrew - 1961)
The Next Phase (1965)
David’s Sling (1970)
Tomorrow Is Now (1978)
Go With The Men - 7 Portraits (1979)
La Force de Vaincre (French - 1981)
Entebbe Diary (1991)
The New Middle East (1993)
Reading Diary - Letter to Authors (1994)
Battling For Peace (1995)
For the Future of Israel (1997)
New Genesis (1998)
Le Voyage Imaginaire (1998)
A Time for War, A Time for Peace

Shimon Peres passed away on 28 September 2016. He is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Farewell speech by President Shimon Peres, Address to the Knesset plenum

"I came to thank you for the privilege you granted me to serve our country and its people for the past seven years. I leave the presidency without parting from my faith. I will continue to serve my country as a deep believer that Israel is an exemplary state."

I came to thank you for the privilege you granted me to serve our country and its people for the past seven years. There is no greater privilege. Thank you.

Israel, this small country, became a truly great state.

I know of no other country on the face of the earth or throughout history, which amazed and surprised so much.

Gathering in its people. Making its wilderness bloom. Resurrected from the ruins, surviving a terrible Holocaust. Fighting back in seven wars. Bringing a language back to life. Respecting its traditions and adopting modernity.

And at the same building a country which continues to develop. A country which carries values and practices democracy. A country without natural resources, which utilized instead the resourcefulness of its people. Our human resource is far more precious than wells of oil or mines of gold. A country which was established upon a historical core and became an outstanding state in the new scientific world. A country of song. A country of literature. A country which seeks peace day and night.

I leave the presidency without parting from my faith. I will continue to serve my country as a deep believer that Israel is an exemplary state.

We are a people that experienced unimaginable agony. And we are a people that reached the lofty heights of human achievement. We made great efforts. We paid a heavy price.

We will never forget our brothers and sisters who perished in the Holocaust. We will remember those who fell in battle, who brought new life to a redeemed people.

It is a great privilege to be a citizen among citizens who know toil and struggle. Who made a supreme effort and carried determined hope until the first dew of our dawn.

We returned. We built. We fought. We prayed. Until we began to see contours that even surprised us. We are an ancient people who are getting older. We are a people, first and foremost, that rebuilds itself time and again.

Israel was born as a precedent and created precedents. Despite being small in number among the nations, our people carried a faith as great as any. The first to rebel against prejudice was Moses. A nation that rebelled against Pharaoh. That smashed idols. That shattered illusions. A nation that walked through the desert to reach its home, its destiny.

We climbed the mountains and came down with the tablets, with the Ten Commandments which became the foundations upon which our nation was built and which were adopted by Western civilization.

We continue and will continue with this great legacy. There are still idols to be smashed, slaves to free, lives to save and justice to uphold. There is still a world to fix. Even if we remain the minority among the nations. Even if we serve as a target for evil - we will not deviate from our moral heritage.

Challenges are not invited. They occur spontaneously. That is how the current challenge occurred. I did not imagine that in the last days of my presidency I would be called upon, once more, to comfort bereaved families. Tears in their eyes. And faith in their hearts.

I did not imagine that it would happen again, after we were hit with rockets which were intended to harm innocent civilians. And after we uncovered tunnels meant to kill, intended to penetrate into the heart of civilian communities and fire at mothers and children. We must alert the world to the madness of the terrorist threat.

Terrorism aims to spill our blood. And leads to blood being spilled among its people. Never has such a minority torn apart the fabric of whole societies. So cruelly sent children to serve as shields for its crimes.

Hamas has once again put hundreds of thousands of the citizens of Gaza in harm's way, into a field of fire. The terrorists have transformed Gaza, which is over 3000 years old, into a man-made tragedy.

We left Gaza of our own free will and even helped to rebuild it. Unfortunately, it was taken over by fanatical terrorists, who uprooted the structures for rehabilitation and wasted them on a machinery of terror and murder.

Israel is not the enemy of the people of Gaza. The opposite is true, Israel built the Erez Crossing to open a gateway to Gaza. We did not open fire. We returned fire when fired upon. We fought the terrorists to bring peace to our people. They were also cruel to their own people, taking food away from babies to fund terror. They sowed death and they reaped death.

They forced their children to serve as human shields, and sent them into the fire. I say it again, I say it clearly, the Arabs are not our enemies. The policy of murder is the enemy. It is also the greatest danger to the Arab World.

Hamas fired but it cannot answer two simple questions.

What is the reason for the fire? Gaza is not occupied, and when they don't fire it is open.
Secondly, what do they want to achieve? You can accomplish things without fire and you lose them when you open fire.

For 68 years terror has been harming its people. It has never been victorious. It brought only darkness to its people and destruction to its land.

Terror has no answers and does not draw the right conclusions. Israel will be victorious over terrorism because we search for peace and we are just in defense of our home.

Israel will win because of the IDF. Because of its excellent commanders and dedicated soldiers. There is no other army like the IDF. Its power is great. Its equipment is advanced. Its values are clear.

The country is proud of its army. The people love the army. The nation trusts it.

When I came to comfort, these past days, those who had lost that which is dearest to them, I feel a sadness that has no comfort, but I also learn again the magnitude of our fallen. The fire cut short their lives and revealed their greatness. It lit up the depths of their personalities alongside the courage of their hearts.

Nobody had to explain a thing to them. They knew the reality. By themselves. They moved towards battle even before the call to the front lines came. They volunteered for dangerous missions and fought like lions. Fast but not reckless. They carried the legacy of our forefathers and the bravery of youth.

Their hearts were filled with love for their families, for their country, for their people. The parents educated and the boys exceeded the expectations of the country.

I visited communities which had been bombed. Communities which created wonderful societies and plowed new fields. I met the founders surrounded by fruit trees. And children who advocate for freedom and brotherhood. They are all aware of the danger. But convinced of our ability to overcome it.

Members of Knesset,

Allow me to say from upon this stage - there are none like them.

I will add, Israel's strength is drawn from its unity. A unity of a nation which fights and builds. A nation of good citizens, who enlist when they are young and volunteer for reserve duty long after.

Israel is a nation that dwells alone. But we have friends. In America and in Europe, in Asia, in Australia and in Africa. I am grateful to them.

It is difficult to understand how across the world in the streets and the squares protesters come out in support of terrorists and condemn those who defend themselves. They hold signs aloft without providing an answer to terror. They encourage and incite violence.

It is also hard to fathom how a council which bears the words "human rights" in its name, decided to establish a committee to investigate who is right. Is it the murderers or those who refuse to be murdered?

If the right to life is not the first right among human rights, what is the value of other rights? The terrorists try to restrict the freedom of air traffic. We must not submit to them. Governments must paralyze the terror and not suspend the flights. In countries governed by law, the sky should be open and the terrorists stopped.

Members of Knesset,

There is no place to doubt our victory. We know that no military victory will be enough. There is no permanent security without permanent peace. Just as there is no real peace without real security.

There is no chronological order when it comes to our founding principles. In our search for peace, we must not forsake security. In our efforts to ensure our safety, we must not forgo the prospects for peace. A people which can win wars can also bring peace to its children. Even when peace seems to elude us, our reach is determined enough to grasp it. We have witnessed it in the past.

I remember when experts used to say that Egypt will never sign a peace treaty with us. That Jordan will never agree to peace with Israel before Syria does so. That there will never rise a camp against terror among the Palestinians. That never will Arab leaders raise their voices for peace and against terror, in their own language and not just in English, in Arab countries and not just in Europe. Arab leaders that condemn kidnappings and are open to land swaps. Arab leaders that are for two states while one of them is clearly the State of Israel which is a Jewish homeland in its nature and in its constitution.

There was never an expert that could have predicted that one day the Arab League which engraved upon its flag the three "No's" of Khartoum, would publish an initiative which refutes them all, and would instead suggest a proposal of its own for a path towards peace, not only between Israelis and Palestinians but with all Arab countries. Even if we cannot accept this proposal in its entirety, we cannot ignore its value.

As Ben Gurion said: "There are no experts for the future, only experts for the past." Indeed, the future requires believers, not necessarily experts. The future is built. Not inherited from prophets. In order to secure the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel adopted the solution based on two states for two peoples. A Jewish state - Israel. And an Arab state for the Palestinians.

This solution is accepted by a majority of the peoples of the world and by a majority of the Arab world.

Members of Knesset,

I have come to bid you farewell as a citizen, as a man whose dream is still alive. As a man who has learned from experience that the greatness of Israel's reality is greater than the dream which begot it at its dawn.

I am taking leave of my position as President, but not from my duty as a citizen. I was a President who loved his people. As of now, I am a citizen in love with my people. I will not give up my right to serve my people and my country. And I will continue to help build my country, with a deep belief that one day it will know peace.

That Israel will uphold social justice and will raise its eyes to the realized dream of its prophets. That Israel will continue to be Jewish in its legacy and democratic in its practices. That it will safeguard freedom of speech and freedom of research. That it will continue to excel in its scientific level on a global scale. That it will be a moral country. A country which will practice equality for all its citizens - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouins, and Circassians. So we promised in our Declaration of Independence. So we proclaimed in our book of laws. So we practiced upon the commands of our authorities.

The social vision of the prophet Amos, as the political vision of the prophet Isaiah, are our guiding lights. They commanded us to take social justice and world peace as guiding principles for our actions. Israel was born on the foundations of its principles. Today it grows on the shoulders of science. There is no contradiction between the two and there shouldn't be.

During my visits to the many unique and diverse corners of Israel, I entered each place with an explorer's curiosity and returned with a heart full of pride. I discovered everywhere, and every time, hardworking people, endless talent, wonderful children and surprises which cannot be described.

Therefore, as I leave my official position I will remain a citizen filled with hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for peace. Hope that the dream of today will create an exemplary reality. When I return and meet the beauty and strength of the State of Israel, I find myself shedding a tear. Maybe excited slightly more than my younger friends. Because throughout my years I witnessed the entire incredible journey, and the miracles of Israel.

Alongside David Ben Gurion I saw it fighting for its life. With few resources but endless dangers. And today, I see her standing strong. Secure. Flourishing. Successful in every field. I see my country promising an exciting future for our sons and daughters.

Friends, Reuven Rivlin, the next elected President of Israel,

I wish you success, that you should serve the nation in your positive way, as you already do. With your great heart. With your face full of light. You already have what is expected from a president. I am sure you will succeed in our way and strengthen the future of the State of Israel

Members of Knesset,

The nature of parliamentary democracy is ongoing, passionate debate. This is democracy. This is how it should be. If I may, particularly in these days when we must stand united, in these difficult days in which they eyes of the nation are on its leaders, on you. Please - do not lessen the debate. It is the essence of democracy. And it must remain. But do it with mutual respect, with a sense of shared destiny and with great respect for the Israeli public, like which there is no other. They are worth of nothing less from their representatives.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

President Peres called upon the European Union to maintain the pressure on Iran and to acquiesce to Secretary Kerry's request not to implement the new guidelines which would hamper the peace negotiations

Israel, President Shimon Peres delivered a speech before the Dutch Parliament and afterwards held a closed-door question and answer session with MPs. In his speech President Peres laid out a vision for a Middle East based on science and a modern economy and addressed the major issues of the day. President Peres called upon the European Union to maintain the pressure on Iran and to acquiesce to Secretary Kerry's request not to implement the new guidelines which would hamper the peace negotiations.

Madam Speaker of the Senate, Madam Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a privilege to address your great Parliament. Which is a bastion of freedom and a model of human rights, at home and abroad. Your democracy is not just a right to be equal, but an equal right to be different. In the Netherlands, freedom and equality are indivisible.
The founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, wrote in his journal: "I see suddenly a city rising from the plain, without mountain, river, or sea. This is The Hague. Evidence that will-power can make cities rise.
The Netherlands is an example of what people can achieve from the most arid of lands.” And David Ben Gurion, the founder of Israel, wrote later on: "The Dutch Delta Works are the greatest human endeavor of our time."
Distinguished Delegates,
The real question in the Middle East today is how to divorce from the old age and embrace the new one. Poverty, hunger, thirst, scepticism are remnants of the long-gone era. Only a science-based economy is capable of escaping poverty.
“Respect the old and sanctify the new”, advised wisely our late Chief Rabbi Kook. It enabled Israel to overcome poverty. I believe that our neighbours can do likewise.
Of the three dangers that threaten the Middle East - war, terror, hunger - poverty looms today over the others. Poverty claimed more victims today than the swords of yesterday.
Historically, wars were caused mainly by territorial disputes. Today science is more important than land. Armies cannot conquer science. So war has lost its reason.
Today terrorism is made of small groups. They tear to pieces their own lands. Terror lacks a common policy. Terrorists are divided among themselves and fight one another. They replaced policies with violence.
They divided the Palestinian people. They devastated Lebanon. They shattered Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya. They move like a dark cloud over the skies of more people.
Traditional foreign aid cannot meet the growing scope of poverty today. The population of the Middle East grew five times, in the last fifty years. The donors, some of them facing the economic crisis, cannot meet the growing demands.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The fate of the Middle East depends today upon its entering the age of science. So to overcome the catastrophes of the past that brought the shortage of food and the lack of freedom. Israel is a typical Middle Eastern land. Mostly deserts and constant drought. Science enabled us to improve the land and overcome the droughts. It can be done by all others.
While events make headlines, developments make history. The current events in the Middle East make pessimism a headline. But the parallel developments offer hope.
Among these developments, I would refer to at least three of them.
Firstly, among the 350 million inhabitants of the Middle East, on hundred million already have access to the internet.
Secondly, over 60% of the population are below the age of 26. It is them who raised the call for an Arab Spring. They were right but unfortunately disorganised. Yet they remain the majority. It is estimated that in the next year the number of connected people in the Middle East will double. The digital age may serve as their organizer. The elder people are no longer a majority. Furthermore, they do not propose an alternative solution. To be digital or not, makes all the difference.
Thirdly, the protests in the streets brought an end to some dictators. To the others, the future is not promising. The end of dictatorship raises the chances of democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A responsible coalition of the peace-seeking countries was formed to prevent Iran from attaining its dangerous nuclear ambitions.
President Obama has engaged the United States as well as the European Union, among others, to impose sanctions upon Iran, in order to stop it from building nuclear weapons. The coalition preferred, rightly, to start with diplomacy while the military option remains.
The end of the Iranian nuclear threat, as well as the end of Iran being a centre of terror is the right way to keep the world free and secure. The sanctions led so far to the new tone of Iran.
President Rouhani's address to the United Nations must stand the test of real implementation. Today it is just a declaration, in a rhetoric competition.
Furthermore, the realities of today in Iran are in stark contradiction to his address. The construction of a nuclear bomb is a fact not a phrase. The building of long range missiles capable, of carrying nuclear warheads continues. It is a danger to the entire world. Nobody on earth threatens Iran's existence.
Meanwhile Iran is building a nuclear bomb. Spreading terror remains a menace to the entire world.

Historically the Jewish people knew friendship with Iran. The Iranian threat began when Khomeini took power. It is up to his successors to bring an end to it.
President Rouhani wants the sanctions to be reduced right away so to ease the Iranian economic crisis. Actually, Iran herself can improve her economy by ending the waste of money spent on building military nuclear reactors and military nuclear long-range missiles.
The Syrian agreement to dismantle their chemical arsenal was done only after Syria was threatened militarily. Humanity has no right to forget the lost lives of thousands of Syrians – innocent civilians, young children – were murdered on their own land, at the hand of their own leader. It is time for Assad to understand that the world has moral boundaries, not just geographical borders. He crossed all of them.
History has ups and downs. The Jewish people experienced the heights of friendship and, alas, the abyss of the Holocaust. Many of us found in the Netherlands a shelter and a home.
Anne Frank describes the darkness of the Shoah:
"I see the eight of us in the Annex, as if we were a patch of blue sky, surrounded by menacing black clouds. We are surrounded by darkness and danger, in our desperate search for a way out."
Six million of our brothers and sisters – among them a million and a half who were younger than Anne – were murdered by the Nazis in cold blood, by gas, rifles, starvation, on European soil. Of the 140.000 Jewish people who lived in the Netherlands, 100.000 were murdered by the Nazi industry of death.
Local collaborators aided them. Others stood aside. Yet 5 thousand Dutch heroes endangered their lives and the lives of their families to save Jews. Their courage saved Jewish lives and kept the honor of the Netherlands. We shall never forget them. The Shoah is both a burning reminder in our hearts and a warning to humanity for the future.
While never forgetting the past, we have to look to the future. To the new Netherlands. To the new Europe. They are a real departure from the past. The united Europe divorced a thousand years of blind hostility. It has invited rays of togetherness and friendship. Borders are no longer dams. Bridges of science replaced them and opened the ports to the new age.
A global age which does not allow racism. The Netherlands of today is a land of light. Darkness has gone. The Netherlands became a builder of the new Europe. The new Netherlands has become a moving friend of Israel. Thank you.
The Netherlands, like Israel, sees its destiny in a biblical touch. What we call in Hebrews for Tikkun Olam, which means bettering the world. Values outweigh expediencies.
Our relations are close and friendly. The economic cooperation is constantly increasing. Cultural exchanges brought books and art. Scientific collaboration offered a great potential for the two of us.

The Dutch contribution to the peace process in the Middle East is valuable and meaningful. Yesterday, today and may I say tomorrow as well.
The new age reached new heights. The sky is no longer the limit. The past became archaeological. The present is dwindling. The future offers promise.
Our young generation resides already in the world of tomorrow. They are constructing a world of their own. They are right to do so. There is no better match than young people and new age.
Israel rose out of the ashes of the Holocaust. It had to overcome the hardship of war. And made a barren desert flourish.
Israel is rich in holiness but poor in natural resources. We were blessed with a rich history but cursed with meagre geography.
At the time our dreams seemed surreal and absurd. Nobody believed that Israel would become a reality. Yet the present reality exceeds the past dreams. Maybe we should have had the courage to dream greater. When I think about we were mistaken by the size of our dreams, we should always have the courage to dream great and high.
The potential of science with the devotion of the pioneers converted smallness into greatness, compensating for past shortages with new resources.
We created a democratic society. Free. Pluralistic. Varied.
Today our great dream is peace with our neighbours. Nothing is more important and urgent. Extending our hands in peace to the entire region.
In the 65 years of Israel , we went through seven wars. No other country has the same experience. We were outmanned, we were outgunned. We lost some of our best children and we miss them.
But never in Israel did a day of war postpone a day of freedom. Never did a war weaken our search for peace. Had we been unable to fend off wars, we would have ceased to exist. We had to either win and live or lose and disappear. But would we give up our search for peace, we would betray our moral heritage which is so dear in our hearts and minds.
In spite of hostility, we made peace with two of our important neighbours – Egypt and Jordan. Once we made peace we gave them back all the land, all the water, all the assets. We kept nothing for ourselves.
Those peace agreements withstood the storms of our vicinity to this very day. Now we renewed the negotiations of peace with our Palestinian neighbours, with the help of Secretary Kerry, with the support of the United Europe and the United States.
I believe it is possible. I believe it is realistic. I believe it should be done as soon as possible.
All of us agree, Arabs and Israelis and the whole world, that the two state solution is the right one– a Jewish state, Israel and an Arab state, Palestine – living side by side in peace, respect and security.
The European Union, and the Netherlands in particular, were and remain very supportive, playing a meaningful role in making peace a reality.
Spinoza described peace beautifully: "Peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.”
Dear Friends,
Secretary Kerry asked the European Union to suspend the recent new guidelines, so as to free the negotiations from an added burden.
When peace will be completed, and it may happen quite soon, those guidelines will anyway become unnecessary. I believe that the answer of Europe to the request of the Secretary will be positive to make the negotiations flow uninterrupted. I believe it will be unnecessary in a short while.
There is no need for interim solutions. We shall make peace, there is no need for half measures. To cross a chasm, it is safer to do it in one brave step. Two steps is dangerous.
From Jerusalem, I carry the prayers of our people for the well-being of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.
I witnessed His Majesty’s devotion to peace when he presided over the trilateral committee of Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians to make water flow peacefully and efficiently. I happened to represent Israel so I watched with admiration the way he ran the committee and the results are still evident today.
King Willem-Alexander is the youngest king in Europe. As we know, the future belongs to the youngsters. My age permits me to declare t with authority.
Israel and the Netherlands are on a journey through a meadow of tulips. Moving together to our promised lands, and make our lands a real promise. On the horizon still hangs the great vision of Isaiah for a world free of wars and the great vision of another prophet Amos for a just society for all.
Our record provides us with a licence to keep on dreaming because yesterday's dreams gave birth to today's miracles. You are a miracle by making land from water and we follow you as a miracle by making land from desert, what was considered impossible became a reality. Our age is facing dangers and difficulties but it also has a clear call for hope.
I do believe that hope will win.
Thank you very much.

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