Addressing AIPAC’s 2014 Policy Conference on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience of 14,000 people that peace will only begin when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recognizes Israel has a Jewish state.
“Abbas must recognize the Jewish state,” Netanyahu declared. “In doing so, you’d be telling the Palestinians that while we have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute.”
Netanyahu urged Palestinian leaders to come to their senses and be the turning force that would create peace with Israel.
“Recognize it. No excuses. No delays. It’s time,” he said. “The Palestinians need to stop denying history.”
Netanyahu told the packed audience that he hoped “the Palestinian leadership will stand with Israel and the U.S. on the right side of the moral divide. On the side of peace, reconciliation and hope.”
The prime minister reflected on Israel’s ongoing capitulations to the Palestinians with nothing in return. He confirmed that a “durable peace” with the Palestinians was of the highest priority of the State of Israel.
“Peace is Israel’s highest aspiration. We are prepared to make a historic peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbors that will end a century of conflict.”
Palestinian leaders are not thrilled by Netanyahu’s demands. In a statement released by the Palestinian Authority, the PA believes that Netanyahu is sabotaging peace efforts and “wasting time” by demanding recognition.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for PA president Mahmoud Abbas, told Palestinian Wafa news agency, “Netanyahu’s continued demand to recognize a Jewish state is a waste of time and an attempt to avoid a just and comprehensive peace agreement.”
Speaking on Iran, Netanyahu criticized the Islamic Republic for being one of the world’s largest sponsors of terrorism. Reflecting on his recent visit to an IDF field hospital in northern Israel that treats Syrian refugees, the prime minister was deeply affected by the humanitarian crisis at the hands of the Syrian government. Syria’s president, who is backed by Iran, has killed thousands of innocent Syrian’s over the course of the country’s raging civil war.
“The only thing Iran sends abroad are rockets, terrorists and missiles,” Netanyahu stated. “Iran continues to stand unabashedly on the wrong side of the moral divide.”
Netanyahu encouraged the United States to increase economic sanctions on Iran. However, the prime minister warned that “only a deal that allows Iran to fully dismantle its nuclear capability” will allow the world to rest in peace.
The prime minister also touched upon the actions of the BDS movement. He said that the anti-Israel movement stood with Iran on the “wrong side of the moral divide.”
“Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat other anti-Semite and bigot. BDS is bad for peace and it is just plain wrong. It is morally wrong.”
In his closing words, Netanyahu thanks AIPAC for its continued support of Israel.
“Seventy years ago, our people were left for dead. We came back to life. We will never be brought to the brink of extinction again,” he said. “America and Israel stand for life. We stand together on the right side of moral history.”
Click here to watch the full address.