Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘We left Gaza, we got terror’

Jon Ward Contributor
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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will appear with President Obama and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas at the White House and speak prior to a working dinner in the Old Family Dining Room which will include Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Here is the full text of Netanyahu’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I am very pleased to be here today to begin our common effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I want to thank you, President Obama, for your tireless efforts to renew the quest for peace.

I want to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Mitchell, the many members of the Obama administration and Tony Blair, who have all worked so hard to bring Israelis and Palestinians together here today.

I also want to thank President Mubarak and King Abdullah for their support of these talks and for their continued efforts to promote peace, security and stability in our region. Your presence here today is deeply appreciated.

Our goal is to forge a secure and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We do not seek a brief interlude between two wars. We do not seek a temporary respite between outbursts of terror.

We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all. We seek a peace that will last for generations.
This is the peace my people want. This is the peace we all deserve.

A lasting peace is a peace between peoples. Israelis and Palestinians must learn to live next to one another and with one another.

But every peace begins with leaders. President Abbas, you are my partner in peace. It is up to us to overcome the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to forge a new beginning.

The Jewish people are not strangers in our homeland, the land of our forefathers. But we recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.

I have been making the case for Israel all my life. But I did not come here to win an argument. I came here to forge a peace.

I did not come here to play a blame game where even the winners lose. I came here to achieve a peace that will bring benefits to all.

I did not come here to find excuses. I came here to find solutions.

I know the history of our conflict and the sacrifices that have been made. I know the grief that has been inflicted on so many families who have lost those dearest to them.

Only yesterday, four Israelis, including a pregnant woman and a mother of six children, were brutally murdered by savage terrorists.

I am prepared to walk down the path of peace because I also know what peace would mean for our children and for our grandchildren.

I know it would herald a new beginning that would unleash unprecedented opportunities for Israelis, Palestinians and peoples throughout the region.

A period of calm has created an economic boom for Palestinians in Ramallah, Jenin, and throughout the West Bank. Real peace can turn this boom into a tidal wave of progress and hope.

If we work together, we can take advantage of the great benefits afforded by our unique place under the sun. Our geography, history, culture, climate and the talents of our peoples can create unprecedented opportunities in tourism, trade, industry, energy, water and so much more.

But peace must also be defended against its enemies. We want the skyline of the West Bank to be dominated by apartment towers, not missiles. We want the roads of the West Bank to flow with commerce, not terrorists.

We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror. We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned into a third Iranian sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel.

That is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us.

There will be many challenges, both great and small. Let us not get bogged down by every difference between us. Let us direct our courage at the historic decisions that lay ahead.

There are many skeptics. There are many reasons for skepticism. But I have no doubt that peace is possible.

President Abbas, we cannot erase the past. But it is within our power to change the future.

Thousands of years ago, on the very hills where Israelis and Palestinians live today, the Jewish prophet Isaiah and the other prophets of my people envisioned a lasting peace for all mankind.

Let today be a first step, however small, in our joint effort to realize that vision.”

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