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Transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to U.S. Congress Add to ...

In recent years, Israel withdrew from south Lebanon and from Gaza. We thought we'd get peace. That's not what we got. We got 12,000 rockets fired from those areas on our cities, on our children, by Hezbollah and Hamas. The U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, they failed to prevent the smuggling of this weaponry. The European observers in Gaza, they evaporated overnight. So if Israel simply walked out of the territories, the flow of weapons into a future Palestinian state would be unchecked, and missiles fired from it could reach virtually every home in Israel in less than a minute.

I want you to think about that, too. Imagine there's a siren going on now and we have less than 60 seconds to find shelter from an incoming rocket. Would you live that way? Do you think anybody can live that way? Well, we're not going to live that way either. (Cheers, applause.)

The truth is that Israel needs unique security arrangements because of its unique size. It's one of the smallest countries in the world. Mr. Vice President, I'll grant you this: It's bigger than Delaware. (Laughter.) It's even bigger than Rhode Island. But that's about it. (Laughter.) Israel under 1967 lines would be half the width of the Washington Beltway.

Now, here's a bit of nostalgia. I came to Washington 30 years ago as a young diplomat. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out: there is an America beyond the Beltway. (Laughter, applause.)

But Israel under 1967 lines would be only nine miles wide. So much for strategic depth. So it's therefore vital -- absolutely vital -- that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized, and it's vital -- absolutely vital -- that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River. (Applause.)

Solid security arrangements on the ground are necessary not only to protect the peace; they're necessary to protect Israel in case the peace unravels, because in our unstable region, no one can guarantee that our peace partners today will be there tomorrow. And my friends, when I say tomorrow, I don't mean some distant time in the future; I mean tomorrow. (Applause.)

Peace can only be achieved around the negotiating table.

The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace. (Applause.) It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end. I appreciate the president's clear position on these -- on this issue.

Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated. (Applause.)

But peace can only be negotiated with partners committed to peace, and Hamas is not a partner for peace. (Applause.) Hamas -- Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction and to terrorism. They have a charter. That charter not only calls for the obliteration of Israel, it says: Kill the Jews everywhere you find them.

Hamas' leader condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a holy warrior. Now, again, I want to make this clear:

Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority. I believe we can fashion a brilliant future for our children. But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda. That we will not do. (Applause.)

So I say to President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas! Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with the Jewish state. (Applause.) And if you do, I promise you this: Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations; it will be the first to do so. (Extended applause.)

My friends, the momentous trials over the last century and the unfolding events of this century attest to the decisive role of the United States in defending peace and advancing freedom. Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All people who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation. Among the most grateful nations is my nation, the people of Israel, who have fought for their liberty and survival against impossible odds in ancient and modern times alike. I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state when I say to you, representatives of America: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you for your unwavering support for Israel. Thank you for ensuring that the flame of freedom burns bright throughout the world.

May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America. (Cheers, extended applause.)

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(Extended applause.)





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