Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of U.S. Congress on May 24, 2011
Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.
You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state; it's always been about the existence of the Jewish state. (Applause.) This is what this conflict is about. (Extended applause.)
In 1947, the U.N. voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes; the Palestinians said no.
In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli prime ministers to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War. They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees. My friends, this must come to an end. (Applause.)
President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people -- and I told you, it wasn't easy for me -- I stood before my people and I said, "I will accept a Palestinian state." It's time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, "I will accept a Jewish state." (Cheers, applause.)
Those six words will change history. They'll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end; that they're not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it.
And those six words will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace.
With such a partner, the Palestinian -- or rather the Israeli people will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise. I will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise. (Applause.)
This compromise must reflect the dramatic demographic changes that have occurred since 1967. The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv.
Now these areas are densely populated, but they're geographically quite small. And under any realistic peace agreement, these areas, as well as other places of critical strategic and national importance, we'd -- be incorporated into the final borders of Israel. (Applause.)
The status of the settlements will be decided only in negotiations, but we must also be honest. So I'm saying today something that should be said publicly by all those who are serious about peace. In any real peace agreement, in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel's borders. Now the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We'll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. (Applause.) Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967. (Cheers, applause.)
So I want to be very clear on this point. Israel will be generous on the size of a Palestinian state but will be very firm on where we put the border with it. This is an important principle, shouldn't be lost.
We recognize that a Palestinian state must be big enough to be viable, to be independent, to be prosperous. All of you -- and the president too -- have referred to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, just as you've been talking about a future Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people. Well, Jews from around the world have a right to immigrate to the one and only Jewish state, and Palestinians from around the world should have a right to immigrate, if they so choose, to a Palestinian state.
And here is what this means. It means that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel. (Applause.)
You know, everybody knows this. It's time to say it. It's important.
And as for Jerusalem, only a democratic Israel has protected the freedom of worship for all faiths in the city. (Applause.) Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians and Moslems could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites has been during Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem.
Jerusalem must never again be divided. (Applause.) Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel. (Applause.)
I know this is a difficult issue for Palestinians. But I believe that, with creativity and with good will, a solution can be found.
So this is the peace I plan to forge with a Palestinian partner committed to peace. But you know very well that in the Middle East, the only peace that will hold is the peace you can defend. So peace must be anchored in security. (Applause.)