'We're here, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, forever'

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked addresses newspaper 'Besheva' Jerusalem conference on geopolitical changes in world and region.

Yoni Kempinski,

Shaked at Jerusalem conference
Shaked at Jerusalem conference
Yoni Kempinsky

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke this afternoon (Monday) at the 14th Conference of the newspaper Besheva, and wished Prime Minister Netanyahu success upon his setting off for Washington.

"I am convinced that all those present at the Jerusalem conference bless Mr. Netanyahu for his trip, hope for the success of his visit, and strengthen at this time the hands of Israel's Prime Minister," opened Shaked.

Shaked began her speech by mentioning the "historic window of opportunity" created, according to many, with Trump's election.

"In principle I agree with the expression. I spoke this week about the need at this historic time not to flank Trump from the left, because the Republican Party itself took the idea of ​​two states off its platform, so we therefore must eliminate all reference to the idea while ​​facing the Americans. However, I propose to widen our observation and perspective.

"I suggest we look not only through the window facing toward Washington, D.C., but to direct our attention to the international arena in general. What's needed is a much broader, panoramic look at the world-affecting changes occurring all over the globe. Changes that do indeed contain opportunities, but that also include dangers," emphasized Shaked.

Shaked explained that "the election of President Trump is in my eyes the most prominent event, to some extent only 'tip of the iceberg', in a series of awe-inspiring, worldwide events. Here are some examples from the past year: Brexit - UK citizens have chosen to break away from the Union. In a number of European countries, the power of nationalist right-wing parties has been bolstered. At the same time, countries on the European continent are closing their borders in an attempt to deal with enormous refugee and migration movement, and many European countries are advancing legislative measures to protect identity and nation.

"I seem to have listed distinct and isolated events, but there are significant similarities between them. One connecting thread is the worldwide return of nationalism. The pendulum that has in recent decades been swinging towards a globalized, liberal, multicultural society that sees all as citizens of the world - is moving now towards protection of nation, unique culture, and distinct identity. The liberal media elites are astonished by the general public's natural wish to return to the roots of one's identity and to protect the nation-state and its borders. These changes are occurring in the United States and Europe," said Shaked.

"If we turn our gaze toward the eastern hemisphere, closer to us, the changes are no less dramatic. The Arab world has seen a succession of upheavals in recent years. Regimes collapse and extremist militias in the Middle East as well as in Africa are fighting each other. Surrounding us rages the epic, bloody contest between the Sunni axis and the Shiite axis. Islamic religious radicalism becomes murderous terrorism in the Arab world, against Israel, and against western targets. What is happening in the East and the West are interconnected. For example, the movement of refugees and migrants towards Europe and cross-border terror are among the factors creating the reaction of Western nationalism," added Minister Shaked.

"It is important to examine each event individually, but equally important to see the bigger picture and identify the trend. This is not a chance series of events," argued Shaked, "and the dividing line between nationalism and chauvinism must not be crossed. I am definitely concerned about extreme right-wing national parties gaining strength in Europe. A long world history teaches us that waves of nationalism may be directed against foreigners and minorities and sometimes even directly against the Jews. Israel must make sure that anti-Semitism never raises its head. Even when the pendulum is swinging towards nationalism, it is particularly important to safeguard minority's rights and individual freedoms. There are therefore hazards to global change, but also - and even primarily - opportunities. Opportunity for Israel.

"The State of Israel now has a rare opportunity to shape its future and its borders for years into the future. It is our duty to do it. It is forbidden for us to sit on our laurels. Indecision means that others will decide for us."

Shaked later presented the "National Strength" program unveiled last month at the Institute for National Security Studies:

"Until today in Washington they would make sure to use the formula: 'Israel has a right to defend itself, by itself.' A new formula must be imparted: 'Israel has the right to decide on its own future, by itself', stated Shaked. "We must not only ask our friends what they expect from us, or seek White House approval for various moves. We must first solidify for ourselves an overall plan for Israeli national fortitude. The basic duty of a state is to take measures by itself, for its own sake."

Shaked emphasized, "A guiding principle is that as countries around the world act to protect their own borders, we must create global awareness of Israel's national borders. Since we are here in Jerusalem, I will begin with the first requirement of all, recognition of the capital of Israel - Jerusalem. Let us not be satisfied with expressions of hope; we must demand from every country with diplomatic ties to Israel to move their embassies to Jerusalem. The United States can and should be just the first ones to transfer their embassy and I hope many others will follow. I hope the Zionist party's leaders don't become tongue-tied, and we soon heard them clearly declare support for transferring the embassy to Jerusalem.

"Recognizing Israel's borders is also required regarding the northern border and the Golan Heights. But above all, we need to bring the entire world to recognize our legitimate presence in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. That must be the goal, and that's what must be said. We are here in order to continue to be here; in Gush Etzion just as in Gush Dan, in Hebron just as in Holon, in Kiryat Arba just as in Kiryat Shemona. It is a declarative statement, but the world must clearly hear from us what Israel's borders are," the minister said.

"We need to stop fueling the illusion that Israel will again withdraw, freeze, or uproot communities, or will cut off or concede land to our enemies. Each time we did it cost us blood, missiles, tunnels, kidnappings, and attacks while bringing more political pressure on us. Victory over terror begins with recognizing eternity. For all to know that we will be here, in all parts of Israel, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, forever.

"I conclude, therefore, with what I opened: The Netanyahu-Trump summit. I wish the Prime Minister success. The success of the meeting will come in the form of an Israeli announcement on practical advancement of sovereignty and construction. Success in Washington will begin when the declaration clearly includes Jerusalem, and unambiguous actions to express the fact that 'Palestine' will never be established. That we never again intend to withdraw from parts of the Land of Zion, and Israel's borders will include all communities in Judea and Samaria, and our capital has been and will be Jerusalem. We must say it and do it; now more than ever the prophecy of old applies to us: for the sake of Zion I shall not tarry and for the sake of Jerusalem, I shall not be silent," Shaked concluded.