Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN: text and video

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria, and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya and Iraq, yet nearly half — nearly half of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East; Israel, where issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by the — by independent courts, and where women, gays and minorities live in a genuinely free society. The human rights — that’s an oxymoron, the human — U.N. Human Rights Council, but I’ll use it just the same. The council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of one of the world’s largest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews. We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. and that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism. It is now spreading in polite society where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel.

For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide. Today the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide — genocide. In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy civilian population to get out of harm’s way, or ensuring that they receive tons — tons of humanitarian aid each day even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us, or setting up a field hospital to aid their wounded?

Well, I suppose it’s the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews — Judenrein — can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing. In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people, but no more. Today, we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield — (applause) — we will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed. 

Ladies and gentlemen, despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have a historic opportunity. After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together, we and they face many of the same dangers, and principally, this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world. Our challenge is to transform these common interests to create a productive partnership, one that would build a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East. Together, we can strengthen regional security, we can advance projects in water and agricultural, in transportation and health and energy in so many fields.

I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, many have long assumed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world. But these days, I think it may work the other way around, namely that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace. And therefore, to achieve that peace, we must look not only to Jerusalem and Ramallah but also to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere.

I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries — those that are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support. I’m ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel occupies a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. (Applause.) History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.

I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people, but it must be a genuine peace — one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements — rock solid security arrangements on the ground, because you see, Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our borders for which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel, and these sobering experiences heightens Israel’s security concerns (regarding ?) potential territorial concessions in the future.

Now, those security concerns are even greater today. Just look around you. The Middle East is in chaos, states are disintegrating, and militant Islamists are filling the void. Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range, a few miles, of 80 percent of our population.

Now think about that. The distance between the 1967 lines and the suburbs of Tel Aviv is like the distance between the U.N. building here and Times Square. Israel is a tiny country. That’s why in any peace agreement, which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise, I will always insist that Israel be able to defend itself by itself against any threat. (Applause.)

And yet despite everything that has happened, some still don’t take Israel’s security concerns seriously. But I do and I always will — (applause) — because as prime minister of Israel, I’m entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waiver in fulfilling that responsibility. (Applause.)

I believe that with a fresh approach from our neighbors, we can advance peace despite the difficulties we face. See, in Israel, we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made a desolate land flourish, and with very few natural resources, we’ve used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation, and peace, of course, would enable Israel to realize its full potential and to bring a promising future not only for our people, not only for the Palestinian people, but for many, many others in our region.

But the old template for peace must be updated. It must take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new Middle East. It presents new dangers but also new opportunities. Israel is prepared to work with Arab partners and the international community to confront those dangers and to seize those opportunities. Together, we must recognize the global threat of militant Islam, the primacy of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons capability and the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians. All this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth, and the truth must always be spoken, especially here in the United Nations. 

Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power. (Speaks in Hebrew.) For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still until her justice shines bright and her salvation glows like a flaming torch. Ladies and gentlemen, let us light a torch of truth and justice to safeguard our common future. Thank you.