Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed late Monday evening (early Tuesday morning Israel time) the attendees of the 2011 AIPAC Conference in Washington, DC.
Netanyahu began by thanking the United States for its “staunch commitment to Israel’s security. Thank you for defending Israel’s right to defend itself. Thank you for standing by Israel as it seeks a secure peace.”
He noted that “Israel is America’s indispensible ally. We stand shoulder to shoulder, fighting common enemies, protecting common interests. Your support for Israel flows from the heart.”
Netanyahu emphasized the fact that Israel was founded on the common eternal values of the United States and Israel and added that because of that fact “Israel’s more than one million Muslims enjoy full democratic rights. The only place in the Middle East where Christians are completely free to practice their faith is the democratic state of Israel.”
America’s support for Israel, said Netanyahu, unites everyone: Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. He thanked the United States for providing Israel with economic assistance, particularly for the Iron Dome system, “so it can defend itself by itself.”
Referring to his speech on Tuesday in front of Congress, the Prime Minister said that he will talk about the convulsions taking place in the Middle East, about the dangers of a nuclear armed Iran, and that he will outline his vision for peace between Israelis and Arabs.
“I will speak the unvarnished truth,” promised Netanyahu. “The events in our region are finally opening people’s eyes to a simple truth: The problems of the region are not rooted in Israel. The remarkable scenes we’re witnessing in town squares across the Middle East and North Africa are occurring for a simple reason. People want freedom, progress.
“It’s time to stop blaming Israel for all the region’s problems,” he added.
Netanyahu then went on to address the conflict between Israelis and Arabs, saying that it “has raged for nearly a century because the Palestinians refuse to end it. They refuse to accept the Jewish State. This is what this conflict has always been about. There are many issues linked to this conflict. We can, we must resolve them. But we can only make peace with the Palestinians if they’re prepared to make peace with the Jewish State.”
He emphasized that in Congress he will “describe what peace between a Palestinian State and a Jewish state looks like. It must leave Israel with security and therefore Israel cannot return to the indefensible ’67 lines.”
Netanyahu, who received several standing ovations, also mentioned kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas for five years with not a single visit from the Red Cross. “The whole world should join together with a simple message for Hamas: release Gilad Shalit!” called Netanyahu.
He concluded by thanking Americans for the American-Israeli alliance.