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Bibi Speaks

4:31 PM, Jun 14, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Elliott Abrams writes:

In Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech today he took one major step toward the Obama administration, by endorsing a Palestinian state. In every other way, he resisted President Obama's pressure.

First, he refused a "settlement freeze" and President Obama's insistence that Israel "stop settlements" (whatever that means) and instead stuck with the Bush-Sharon bargain on settlements. He referred to two aspects of that bargain (no new settlements and no confiscation of land in the West Bank for settlements), but it can be assumed that he'll stick as well to the other two parts of the deal (no financial incentives for settlers, and construction only in already built-up areas). He specifically referred to the need for settlers to lead normal lives in their communities, which can only mean that some construction will be permitted.

Second, he rejected the Obama narrative in Cairo, which held that Israel was established as a reaction to the Holocaust. Netanyahu carefully noted that land of Israel (including the West Bank) was the homeland of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that Zionists had dreamed of and worked for a state there long before the Second World War.

Third, in another rejection of the Obama narrative, he asserted that Israel had always longed for peace but had been attacked--before, during and after its independence struggle--by the Arabs. There is no peace, he said, because the Arab states and the Palestinians refuse to this day to accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Read the rest here.

You can find an unofficial transcript of Netanyahu's speech after the jump:This is an unofficial transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech of June 14, 2009 at Bar Ilan Univerasity, produced by The Israel Project

Honored guests, citizens of Israel. Peace was always the desire of our people. Our prophets had a vision of peace, we greet each other with peace, our prayers end with the word peace. This evening we are in the center named for two leaders who were groundbreakers for peace -Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat - and we share their vision.

Two and a half months ago, I was sworn in at the Knesset as the Prime Minister of Israel. I promised that I would establish a unity government, and did so. I believed, and still believe, that we need unity now more than ever before.

We are currently facing three tremendous challenges: The Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace.

The Iranian threat still is before us in full force, as it became quite clear yesterday. The greatest danger to Israel, to the Middle East, and to all of humanity, is the encounter between extremist Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this with President Obama on my visit to Washington, and will be discussing it next week on my visit with European leaders. I have been working tirelessly for many years to form an international front against Iran arming itself with nuclear armaments.

With the world financial crisis, we acted immediately to bring about stability to the Israeli economy. We passed a two-year budget in the government and will pass it through the Knesset very soon.

The second challenge, rather, the third, so very important challenge, facing us today, is promoting peace. I discussed this also with President Obama. I strongly support the idea of regional peace that he is advancing. I share the President of the USA's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.

I discussed this in my meetings with President Mubarak in Egypt and with King Abdullah in Jordan to obtain the assistance of these leaders in the effort to expand the circle of peace in our region.

I appeal tonight to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: Let us meet. Let us talk about peace. Let us make peace. I am willing to meet at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut, and in Jerusalem as well. (Applause)

I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to join together with the Palestinians and with us to promote economic peace. Economic peace is not a substitute for peace, but it is a very important component in achieving it. Together we can advance projects that can overcome the problems facing our region. For example, water desalinization. And we can utilize the advantages of our region, such as maximizing the use of solar energy, or utilizing its geographical advantages to lay pipelines, pipelines to Africa and Europe