… defeated by the global information revolution.
Last week, I met students of the National Defense College in my office in Tel Aviv and we had a fascinating discussion, during which I came to regard these students – I came to regard you – as sharp-witted, as having a large amount of experience in your respective fields, with a proven track-record of contributing to the State of Israel. I was impressed by your skill, your aspiration to excellence, but mostly, I was impressed by your dedication, from your deep commitment to Israel's security, to the future of the State of Israel.
While we are standing in this wonderful place, we can extend our view, both in time and in space. I believe in Israel's security and its future and in our ability to base our existence here in peaceful relations.
If one were standing here in the middle of the nineteenth century, one would not be raising such issues, because one would not believe that there would be anything here. There were thirty, or at most, forty thousand Jews in the entire Land of Israel. No one would have dared to believe that what has happened here could actually happen here.
A hundred years later, the number of Jews grew to six hundred thousand, and today we are close to six million. For the first time since the period of the Second Temple, the majority of Jews will live in their homeland. These things required vision, daring and great faith, and also our ability to concentrate our capabilities in the ecomony, in education, in culture, in science, in technology, in agriculture, and above all in security, in security and in faith. I have great faith that we will be able to surmount these hardships, and establish a future of peace between us and our neighbors. But any such faith, like Zionism itself, requires correct detection of the problem and quick provision of the right solution.
We can see the problems from here. Climb one of the towers, look east, and you will see the Dead Sea, and the Jordan mountains. If you choose a higher tower and look west, you will see the Mediterranean Sea. At its maximum breadth, the Land of Israel is very small, and if we make peace agreements, the borders will be moved. Therefore, our first problem that makes it difficult with regard to our national security is that we have a very small country.
This in itself does not mean that there are security problems – Monaco has no security problems. Neither does Luxembourg have any security problems. Both these countries are smaller than we are. But when you combine the smallness and the country's dimension and look at some of our neighbors, their activities and their stated intentions – this combination of such minute dimensions and neighbors, some of whom negate the State of Israel's existence and use all means in order to abrogate our existence – this creates problems of national security which don't exist in any other country or for any other people.
In order to provide a response to this issue, given our attempts to achieve peace with the Palestinians, we need to respond to two problems: on the one hand, the problem of the denial of our right to exist, and on the other hand, the problem of security which stems from Israel's geographic dimensions.
The way of dealing with the denial of the State of Israel's existence is the recognition of the State of Israel's right to exist. This is the first foundation. This is a demand which we state in the clearest, most direct manner to our neighbors. This is not in order to receive their approval, which we do not need. We need this in order for the Palestinians to internalize this right.
If we are asked, which we are, to recognize the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people – and we are willing to do so – it is only natural that we ask our Palestinian neighbors to recognize the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is not only natural – it is necessary, just and logical, and it is the first foundation of peace.
Two additional foundations the second and the third are derived from the foundation or principle of recognition:
The second foundation is that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of the State of Israel. It is not possible to maintain this small state as a state with a clear Jewish majority if the State of Israel is flooded with refugees and their descendents. This is also unjust.
This is unjust because the Arab attack upon the State of Israel's existence in 1948 created two refugee problems. The first one is the Palestinian refugees which the entire world knows about. The second refugee problem is of the Jewish refugees who were forced to leave the Arab countries. But no one recognizes this problem because Israel with its limited resources, with a sliver of land, without oil resources, resolved this problem, whereas the first problem continues to exist to this day.
Therefore, in terms of justice, logic or ability – it is not possible to expect that the refugee problem will be resolved within the State of Israel. It needs to be resolved – the Palestinians refugees have suffered greatly, but the solution to this problem will be found outside the borders of the State of Israel.
The third foundation to reaching an end to the conflict – is the end of the conflict. When we sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians, which I believe will happen – we want it to be a final agreement – an end to the conflict, an end to the conflict's claims. We are not expecting a situation whereby a Palestinian state established within the borders of the State of Israel will continue to demand the entry of refugees, or that there will be national claims towards the territory and population within the borders of the State of Israel. An end to the conflict means an end to claims.
I have highlighted three foundations in my speech: recognition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, resolving the refugee problem outside our borders, and an end to the conflict. These are all connected to the question of recognition of the State of Israel. We raise these matters in an explicit and clear manner with the aim of reaching an agreement. These are the fundamental and necessary conditions, not for starting negotiations – we are not attaching any conditions to opening negotiations, but these are fundamental conditions for the successful completion of a real peace agreement.
The next two foundations are connected to security. Even if the first three foundations are implemented, and I believe that they will be achieved, it will still take an entire generation of Palestinians to internalize recognition and the permanent legitimacy of the State of Israel.
For the foreseeable future, we need to ensure that peace will be maintained. In order to maintain peace, the first foundation is security, and the first foundation of security in the case of the arrangement proposed here is demilitarization. None of us want a repeat of what happened in Gaza, or in South Lebanon. We want to ensure that any territory which we vacate within the framework of an arrangement will not be seized by terrorists or by Iran's representatives. This is the fourth foundation.
This is not a theoretical discussion for us. We know exactly what happened in the north, and what happened in the south. Heaven forbid that this should happen in the center of the country, on the mountains and the hills that overlook the majority of the State of Israel's population, on the strategic installations on which you depend and which are vital for our protection – this would undermine our security and naturally also invalidate the peace.
Therefore, our demand for effective demilitarization is a fundamental demand for establishing a real and stable peace with the Palestinians. I use the term effective demilitarization because we desire practical and effective arrangements. We all have experience with ineffective demilitarization. Effective demilitarization means that there will not be a foreign army west of the Jordan. A police force, a counter-terrorism mechanism by all means, but there is no reason for such a force to have tanks, artillery or other types of weapons. The second thing is that we will have control of our airspace. This is vital for ensuring our security.
The third component is to prevent rockets, missiles and other types of weapons from being brought into this territory. The Palestinians' self-determination does not require that there be, in any shape or form, Kassams or rockets which can be launched on Tel Aviv, on the coastal plain, cities or on other areas of the State of Israel.
The fifth and final of the foundations for peace is international recognition of the very demilitarization arrangements which we have talked about. I wish to clarify that we are not talking about American or NATO soldiers defending us and doing the defense work of the State of Israel. We have never requested this, nor are we requesting it now. We are talking about an international guarantee, headed by the United States, for the demilitarization arrangements that we will establish. We wish them to make it clear that these arrangements will be completely legitimate, and that there will also be total legitimacy for any action deemed necessary to preserve them. The purpose of this guarantee is that it adds a layer of deterrence against the intentions of those who may, in the future, wish to invalidate, or violate the demilitarization arrangements.
Recognition of the State of Israel, resolving the refugee problem outside Israel, an end to the claims as part of the end to the conflict, effective demilitarization and international recognition of the demilitarization arrangements – these are the five foundations which are essential for peace, and also have widespread consensus among the Israeli public. This is also the shared base of the unity government which the Minister of Defense, the other factions and I established.
As long as we unite behind these conditions, the chance of implementing them increases, because the international community respects a clear, solid, logical and just stance, which they also represent.
I think that there is an additional foundation which can assist us in reaching peace arrangements and in keeping them.
I have just come from a tour of the Allenby Bridge. A directive has been given to extend the terminal's operating hours at the bridge, for both goods and pedestrians. This is part of the policy which we are carrying out in order to make the lives of the Palestinians easier where possible, in fact to improve the flow of the Palestinian economy.
The Minister of Defense has removed a significant number of road blocks, and we are working together in the government in order to remove obstacles for economic projects which could advance the Palestinian economy. We are doing this because we are convinced that economic progress and development will help achieve both diplomatic and political peace.
We are convinced of this because there is a struggle here, as in other parts of the world, with dark, radical forces, where the last thing that they want is progress. I say that our real test, here, with the Palestinian Authority, is whether they can move closer in Dubai's direction, or whether they will retreat in Gaza's direction. I am not saying that it will be like Dubai here tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow, but they are growing as a result of the things that they have done and that we are doing. The Palestinian economy here in Judea and Samaria is currently growing at a rate of more than 7%, and it can grow even higher. I want you to imagine what will happen when the skylines of Ramallah, Jenin and Hebron start to be filled with skyscrapers, when malls, cinemas and restaurants are opened, and when the Palestinian youth know that they have a future.
I am not ruling out the need for diplomatic agreements; on the contrary, I claim that economic peace will assist diplomatic peace. In the struggle between darkness and terror and progress and prosperity, I have no doubt that the vast majority of the world's Muslim population will choose progress and prosperity. We saw this a month ago in Teheran, we saw this six months ago in Hebron, Jenin and Ramallah during Operation Cast Lead, and I tell you that we will see it in Gaza tomorrow.
The very fact that the Hamas regime, an offshoot of the Iranian tyranny, is forcing women to wear veils – I can tell you – is not winning it favor among the Palestinians in Gaza, and if they had the power to overthrow this regime, they would do it – and it will be in their power. This is why advancing economic peace and development is integral for helping to promote peace.
Eventually radical Islam will be defeated by the global information revolution, by the freedom of ideas which are breaking out, through technology and through ideas of freedom. This won't happen immediately, but it will happen, and it will happen here as well.
The only thing that can postpone and disrupt the rate of the extinguishing of radical Islam is the possibility that it will be armed with a nuclear weapon. Today, this is so dangerous that I would go so far as to say that understanding of this danger is permeating governments, leaders, public opinion shapers, and even armies. If there is one mission that we are partner to, it is to ensure that the forces of moderation, of progress, prosperity and peace will win this struggle.
I now turn to the representatives of several countries who are here with us. We all have the same mission, we are all on the same mission – to make sure that the forces of dark radicalism, of medievalism are held back.
I am certain of our ability to achieve this goal, and I want to thank the National Defense College alumni for all that they have done to ensure security, prosperity and peace for the State of Israel, and for what they have yet to do.
On the summit of Mount Scopus, we will guarantee peace for Jerusalem and for the State of Israel.
Thank you all.