Ladies and gentlemen, I am standing here today and saying in no uncertain manner: from 1993, in which the Oslo Accords were signed, the elected Israeli leadership has been - and is - in support of the solution of ‘two-states for two peoples’. Furthermore, being well versed in the Israeli Parliament, I do know that any political agreement brought before the Israeli Knesset by an elected government will be approved. Nevertheless, and with all the difficulty and pain involved, we must look at reality straight in the eye and tell the truth. Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize.
First, in order to achieve a comprehensive permanent agreement, an effective leadership is required. However, the Palestinian leadership today is divided in - at least - two. The Palestinian Authority ruling over Judea and Samaria, and on the other hand, Hamas, which rules Gaza and is ideologically committed - in both its political and military leadership - to the annihilation of Israel.
Second, in order to achieve a stable and viable agreement, a reasonable regional and economic infrastructure is required. But we are living in a reality where the plague of murderous Jihadi fundamentalism, religious fanaticism and incitement - embodied in the Islamic State and Hezbollah - are at our very borders and have not missed out Gaza and the West Bank either; we live in a reality of a chaos-stricken Middle East in which uncertainty is the only certainty.
To this worrisome picture, add the dire economic straits, poverty, and lack of infrastructure in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, which in turn will continue the destabilization and nurture violence. In this respect Israel is devoting, and will continue to do so, vast efforts, more than any other actor in the region even at the price of complex security risk-taking – but Israeli intervention alone will not suffice.
And finally, one should bear in mind the most fundamental trait of Israeli-Palestinian relations today which is, to my deep regret, a total lack of trust between the parties on all levels; between the leaderships and the peoples.
Distinguished audience, I am afraid that for years the international community has been acting as a mediator between the parties based on one inflexible paradigm, that of striving to renew negotiations toward a permanent agreement. This paradigm draws to a dichotomy: “Two states or a bi-national state”, “All or nothing”, “Here and now” or “Nevermore”. It is by the way by virtue of that same paradigm that various European states opposed the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, claiming that it does not provide a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Had that concept been accepted then, imagine where we would be today. This paradigm relies on the assumption that the problem which is the crux of the matter in this bloody and painful conflict is simply the lack of good faith on both parts, and that if we only exert pressure on “them”, on “us”, they will adhere to a permanent agreement and to a state of peace.
However, ladies and gentlemen, as years go by and rounds of negotiations fail one by one, bringing in their wake, waves of murderous violence and terror, it seems that this assumption of a “lack of good will” proves not only to be fundamentally erroneous, but to ignore the circumstances, the capabilities, and the present situation on the ground, which by definition would lead to the failure of any attempt to negotiate a permanent agreement.
Ladies and gentlemen, I speak before you today in the name of the citizens of Israel, grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, sick and tired of this bloody vicious cycle which soaks up the blood of our loved ones, the blood of our sons and daughters. I speak before you in the name of these young men and women who wish to live in their country, and not die in their homeland. I speak to you today in the name of a nation which abhors war and desires life and peace. And I must say, one cannot hope to achieve better results while resorting to the same outlooks and tools which have failed time after time previously.