Following are key remarks by Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the special Knesset session in honor of the peace accord signed with Bahrain, earlier today:
As an Israeli career military man who spent nearly forty years of my life pursuing enemies and terrorists, I am proud to stand here today as a defense minister who can not only continue to protect our security, but apply that same degree of determination to pursuing peace and partnership, in the spirit of our sacred texts: “seek peace and pursue it.”
The normalization with Bahrain, which has gradually moved from being a distant, foreign country, to a neighbor and potential partner, is mainly thanks to the President of the United States Donald Trump, who was able to identify the right course and led us Israelis, along with our neighbors in Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan, to historic understandings.
Instead of a course of collision with the Arab world, we are on a course of partnership with moderate forces… Instead of unilateral annexation, which would have weakened us in facing our most extreme enemies, we are forging an alliance that strengthens our security.
I have no doubt that President-elect Biden, a great friend of Israel, who has supported us for decades, will continue to move these trends forward, both in the region and beyond it. I would like to take the opportunity to, once again, congratulate President-elect Biden on his election…[and commend his] faith in the unity of the American people, as well as the respect with which he treats the citizens of his country and every human being.
I am certain that under his leadership, the American government will continue to lead the process toward further peace agreements, and that Israel will always be party to any strides that offer greater stability to the Middle East.
The Abraham Accords can expand to other countries in the region, but, equally important, their spirit should extend to our closest neighbors, the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Palestinian leadership has not internalized the fact that the time has come to put the excuses aside, to get back to the negotiating table, to security and civil coordination, and to work together to find solutions. To put illusions aside and start working to create a better reality for both of our peoples.
I call upon Abu Mazen and Palestinian leadership: If not for yourselves, do it for your children. Even if you find it easier to stay barricaded in a hateful past, the next generation deserves a future of peace and wellbeing. They can look beyond and see the external world very well.
There are a range of options on the table. And under American leadership, and with the aid of the countries of the region, we can change reality. We just need to understand that there is no other alternative. We need to live together, and if we need to, we can, and if we can, it becomes an ethical and national imperative.”