In cabinet meeting this morning (Sunday), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated the importance of international recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in helping bring peace to the Middle East, as part of remarks commemorating the 96th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
"The declaration championed the rights for the Jewish nation to have a national home in the Land of Israel," Netanyahu stated. "There is no doubt that the international recognition of the right to a Jewish homeland and its historical significance is fundamental. Its refusal is the root of conflict" in the Middle East.
Netanyahu clarified in an address directed to the Palestinian Arabs that in order to ensure "peace between us and our neighbors, the Palestinians, you must recognize the right of the Jewish people to live in their own State, in their own national and historical homeland. What this means is that they must recognize this arrangement as a permanent one, and to lift Palestinian national demands - for a Right of Return or for the formation of any other state."
The Prime Minister also added a second condition: security for the Jewish people and a Jewish State. "Security arrangements are important to us, and they obviously cover a wide range of needs, but the first among them is to ensure that Israel's [Eastern] border remains along the banks of the Jordan river."
Netanyahu's declaration stresses the importance of maintaining Israeli control over the Jordan valley, a strategic military presence which could potentially be the key to regional security, even in the event of a "two-state solution". PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement last week, threatened that peace talks would "collapse" if Israel insisted on keeping the stretch of land, a condition with the Palestinian Authority alleges it will never be able to accept.
Regarding Iran, Netanyahu denounced "those that call for our destruction", especially Iran. "Iran continues to build nuclear weapons, and it has not changed its target," the PM stated. "The method [of obtaining nuclear weapons], perhaps - but not the target, nor their ideology. I direct your attention to the fact that tomorrow will be the day Iran commemorates the 34th anniversary of the current regime's control over the American embassy in Tehran - they call it 'Death to America Day'."
Addressing the international comunity, the PM continued: "This makes it clear that what you must do is to keep pressuring the Iranian regime. The pressure to bring them to the international negotiating table, I believe [. . .] will cause them to abandon their building nuclear weapons. If not under pressure, Iran will advance their goals. We are obligated to ensure that this death wish is not fulfilled."
Iran has faced increased pressure over recent weeks to change or abandon its nuclear weapons program, with mixed results. While some UN watchdog organizations have reported increased willingness from Iran to take part in international debates about the issue, Ayatollah Khamenei released a statement just this morning denouncing Israel as a "bastard" regime.