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נאום בכנס בבוקרשט של חברי פרלמנט אירופאים התומכים בישראל

דברים שנשא ח"כ עמר בר-לב בכנס השנתי של חברי פרלמנט אירופאים התומכים בישראל - European Association for Israel בבוקרשט, רומניה

אתמול בבוקר נחתתי בבוקרשט, רומניה, למשך 40 שעות (חוזר עוד מעט - הלילה - כיף גדול...), לשאת דברים בכנס/מפגש שנתי של חברי פרלמנט אירופאים התומכים בישראל - European Association for Israel.

כן, מתברר שיש עדיין כאלו באירופה, וחשוב לחזק אותם שיחזקו אותנו בארצותיהם. משימה לא קלה, לא לי ולא להם. 

כי הרי בקלות אני יכול לספר להם על כל מה שרע בארץ ושאני נאבק נגדו – ממשלה ללא חזון מדיני, ראש ממשלה בחקירות שדואג לכיסאו, גם כשזה על חשבון המוסדות והאישים הממלכתיים שלנו (ראו ערך מפכ"ל המשטרה), או על הדמוקרטיה הנאכלת אצלנו בכל מושב נוסף של הכנסת.

מצד שני לתת את הבמה במפגש הזה רק לנציג הליכוד, במקרה זה לאבי דיכטר, לא בא בחשבון. אז למי מכם שבא לו/ה לקרא את הנאום של (באנגלית) הרי הוא לפניכם:

I believe that we tend to oversimplify the case when speaking of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The belief that we and the Palestinians after a tough negotiation period will reach an agreement and that immediately following that agreement peace will reign between the two peoples is naive and dangerous.

Unlike our peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan (in which I took an active part as a member of the IDF's negotiating team) that were pacts between leaders and between countries with strong institutions and organizations peace took place almost the day after signed. Peace agreement with the Palestinians once reached will be very different. Even if an agreement is signed tomorrow between us, it will take Israel five years or even more to implement it. Israel will have to resettle some 100,000 settlers (to remind you, less than 10 thousand settlers needed to be resettled following the Gaza disengagement). Israel will also need that time to ensure that the Palestinian government that will take over the territories is indeed capable of fulfilling its responsibilities.

The internal public discourse related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the Israeli society is terribly shallow. Each camp has its own slogan which it repeats constantly: The Center-Left of the political spectrum cling to the motto of the 'Two-State Solution' while the Right claims: ‘We don't have a partner, we have tried everything and the Middle East is in turmoil we can’t trust Arabs.’

On one hand, internal polls in Israel show that the majority of Israel’s Jewish population would like to see a 'Two State Solution' come to fruition. On the other, the same polls show that more than 50% do not believe that realizing such a solution is likely to occur. This shallow discussion on the most important issue of Zionism 'works favorably' for the Right.

Since the days of Theodor Hertzel, the Zionist vision was and remains that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. To ensure this, Israel should have a clear Jewish majority and as long as Israel wants to be part of the enlightened nations, it must be a democratic state.

Today, in the 21st century, a democracy is a state in which all citizens enjoy equal rights and full citizenship. This is not our situation today in which we capture, occupy, being responsible – you may choose any one of these expressions- for almost 3 million Palestinians with no full citizens’ rights. Therefore, based on the foundation of Zionism Israel's paramount goal is to ensure its existence and security as a democratic state with a clear Jewish majority. In order to achieve this goal, Israel must separate from the 2.8 million Palestinians living in the West-Bank. This is our clear interest!Going back to the question: 'Do we have another option from the Two State Solution?' Theoretically, the answer is yes. We can keep on controlling 2.8 million Palestinians without affording them equal rights until we will be forced by internal and/or external forces to give them full citizenship. This, of course, will lead us to One-State for Two Nations and will mean the end of Zionism. Therefore anyone who calls themselves Zionist and anyone who believes in the Zionist spirit have no other option but to support separation from the Palestinians, no matter how difficult it may be.When I look back at the early days of Zionism, – it is clear how we have developed the courage and determination to constantly challenge the status quo, to say “no” to reality as it is and to work towards a better future. In 1947 Ben Gurion our first Prime Minister was the sole Zionist leader that called for the independence of Israel and it was against all odds. And he made it! We made it.

After five wars with Egypt over 25 years (in which I took part as a young soldier in the Yom Kippur war), Menachem Begin accomplished the unthinkable and signed a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979. Nearly fifteen years later Yitzchak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians followed by a peace agreement with Jordan. A decade later Ariel Sharon led the disengagement from Gaza.Each one of these leaders broke the rules and created new ones! Israel cannot, and should not, condition the future of Zionism on the presence or absence of a Palestinian partner and cannot place its future dependent on a Palestinian leader that might or ,ight not exist.

So what should and what can we do? There are basically two perceptions in the Israeli Center and Left political map. The first, the traditional one – we should begin negotiating with the Palestinians and reach an agreement that will end the conflict. As I mentioned already this I believe is a naïve belief assuming almost “it’s all about us” and once an agreement will be achieved the next morning it could be implemented and we’ll have peace in the region.The second, whom I am leading since I joined the Knesset five years ago and was formally embraced by the Labor Party last year, is the understanding that separating from the Palestinians is clearly an Israeli interest based on the foundation of Zionism.

We should implement it with or without a Palestinian partner with any more excuses for further delays. It is a long process that will take us several years of separating from the Palestinians ending hopefully with a peace agreement.

Recently I presented an initiative I called “Secured Separation” - defining the first four steps to be done simultaneously without infecting Israel’s security:1. The immediate cessation of building outside the settlement blocks2. Implementation of a "voluntary evacuation and compensation bill” in the Knesset to settlers living out of the Blocks that willingly would like to be resettled.3. Expand Area B in the West Bank on behalf of C. That means give the Palestinians additional civil responsibilities in area C as long as it does not affect Israel’s security. By the way, this was Avigdor Liberman Israel’s Defense Minister proposal that was recently rejected by the government.4. Offer “demilitarization for development” in the Gaza Strip.

I believe that a set of "first steps" like these will convince the Palestinians and the international community that we indeed have no interest in ruling over a foreign nation, and above all, begin the long separation from the Palestinians, and by that save Zionism. Once this will be done we can move another step ahead towered peace.

I would like to refer now to two recent developments relevant to our neighborhood, first, the consolidation of Iran in Syria and second the reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas.President Trump in his speech several days ago presented his view regarding Iran’s threat to the world. From an Israeli perspective I will divide such threat into three: The biggest potential threat to Israel today and in the next few years is Iran’s intention to send proxies probably Shiite militias south of Damascus to the Golan Heights near Israel’s border. There is no other reason for such intention apart from Iran’s interest to establish a direct threat to Israel which will enable Iran upon its sole decision and interest to easily provoke a total military confrontation between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and probably Hamas in the south all against Israel. Israel cannot accept such threat and therefore will not tolerate with such intention. Therefor among additional reasons I hope that President Trump directive to his minister of Treasury to implement sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard which is responsible for Iran’s terrorist proxies will materialize.

The second threat by Iran to the Middle East as a whole and to Israel is its missile development plan. By aggressively continuing the plan, it violates the UN Security Council decision from 2010 against such activity. I believe that the world and specifically the permanent members of the UN Security Council should not remain tolerant to such violation. I believe that the Security Council should consider implementing sanctions on Iran due to such violation, unless it freezes all such activity. 

As for the Nuclear Deal with Iran, I as many others do not think the Nuclear Deal is a good deal. I, as all of you, know that it’s always all about alternatives. At certain circumstances a better deal could be reached as well as at others the collapse of the sanction regime against Iran by one or more of the G5+1 might have happened as well. But today it’s a done deal! Once the deal was signed the immediate potential nuclear threat by Iran to Israel was reduced at least for the coming years. That is why President Trump didn’t decide to walk away from the deal and focused on improving and monitoring it more strictly.

The reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO is an outcome of Hamas’ distress due to its isolation within the Arab world and due to the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip which endangers the population’s support to the organization. We Israelis have the habit of seeing every development connected directly to us but the Reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO is first of all an internal Palestinian issue. Only in its second circle it affects us. Alongside the potential risk there are already two clear positive advantages. The first, since operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 Hamas is preventing fire of rockets at Israel, by it, by the Islamic Jihad organization and by Salafy organizations. These efforts are very much intensified and accelerated in the last few weeks and hopefully will continue - probably due to combined Egyptian and the PA efforts. The second, Egypt is back, fulfilling a dominant role in Gaza after to our disappointment it abandoned Gaza and the PLO for the last two years.Egypt, led by its President A-Sisi influenced and put pressure on both sides Hamas and the PA to conciliate. This development is clearly our interest due to the strategic alliance between Israel and Egypt. Once Egypt takes a major role in Gaza and influences Hamas, it is on behalf of Iran and this is again an Israeli interest. In addition, Egypt and Israel have a mutual interest in blocking ISIS in the Sinai peninsula as well as blocking the collaboration between Hamas in Gaza and ISIS in Sinai that began several months ago. So for the short run for sure there is a positive outcome to Israel from the reconciliation.

To conclude, you might know that years ago I was a soldier and then after the commander of Israel’s elite commando unit. During those years I had to do a lot of navigating at night. One of the most important navigation tools we have, is that bright light just above the horizon – the North Star.It is there, always. You walk towards it, always getting closer but never arriving.

Though the North Star is our guide in the sky, our path itself is here on the ground, with barriers and obstacles that challenge us. It weaves and winds along various little points along the way and sometimes we have no choice but to veer left or right or withdraw (no pun intended) in order to ultimately advance. This is true for navigating and for pursuing a vision: "Know where you are going to."For 70 years we have had a State, and no doubt it has fulfilled a fair number of our hopes. National freedom. The returning of exiles. Safety for persecuted Jews around the world. The galvanizing of the world community against anti-Semitism and terror. And more.

One of the final paragraphs of our declaration of independence opens with the words "we extend our hand in peace and good neighborly relations." 70 year later, we do have official and stable peace with two of our neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. Is our hand still extended in peace to the other members of our region?

We are 50 years after the Six Day War, and we ourselves define our current relationship with our closest neighbors, the Palestinians, as temporary. And yet we continue to act as if this situation is very acceptable, indeed comfortable, for us. A state with a true vision should be unable and unwilling to accept the temporary as permanent, to acquiesce to the "way things are".

To be honest our neighbors have time and again failed to reach a peaceful hand towards us. Still, we are the stronger side, and therefore the majority of the responsibility falls on our shoulders to strive for change now. If we are clear-eyed, we will address the acute challenges that require our action. We will charge towards our goal of a just society living in peace with its neighbors. I assure you - with the same courage that led our leaders in the past - we will reach that goal.

Thank you very much.

חבר הכנסת עמר בר-לב

חבר הכנסת עמר בר-לב, מתמודד לראשות מפלגת העבודה. חבר וועדת החוץ והביטחון בכנסת. מפקד סיירת מטכ"ל לשעבר. מקים תנועת "אחרי!". ממייסדי תנועת "שלום עכשיו". ממייסדי חברת "איתוראן". פעיל למען ביטחון ישראל ולמען צדק חברתי וחברה נאורה ומתקדמת בישראל.

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