By Ori Nir
Here's what Benyamin Netanyahu should - but most likely won't - say in his much-anticipated policy speech on Sunday.
Bar Illan University President Moshe Kaveh, distinguished faculty, distinguished guests, dear Israelis:
In every nation's history, there are moments that call on its leader to face the truth and tell the truth to his fellow countrymen and women. This is such a moment. It is a moment of peril, but also a moment of great opportunity.
You have heard a lot from me in recent months about the peril. I am terribly concerned about the existential threats to our country. But you have not heard enough from me about the opportunity that we have today to devise a strategic, long-term approach to reduce these threats.
We have an opportunity - one that may not reoccur for generations to come - to reach the kind of regional security that we have been seeking since our parents and grandparents established this astonishing country sixty-one years ago.
Sure, there are many potential obstacles on the way to realizing that vision. In my recent public addresses, both as candidate and as prime minister, I have been focusing on the obstacles. I am still well aware of them.
Today, however, I would like to focus on the reasons for hope, on my reasons for making some bold choices. I have decided to pursue a path that may bring us security through peace with the entire Arab world, full normalization with all Arab and Muslim countries, a final settlement with our Palestinian neighbors, who will commit to an end of claims in return for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, and full legitimacy in the international community.
If we succeed, we will be in a position to find a reasonable resolution, with full regional and international support, to the Iranian threat. We will be in a much better position to tackle our domestic challenges. We will strengthen our democracy, our economy, our world standing, and our national moral integrity. We will be finally in a position to bolster the Zionist dream of our founding fathers: a just, secure, stable, prosperous democratic Jewish state in the Land of Israel.
We have an opportunity to achieve all that because we have a partner. I am talking about the partner we have in the White House, the leader of the United States, our greatest ally.
When I was in Washington last month, and in subsequent communications I had with President Obama, I realized that unlike his predecessors, he is truly determined to bring comprehensive peace to our scarred, cynical region. He is resolute, and if there is anyone who can lead a successful effort to get it done, it is Barack Obama.
President Obama has inspired not only the American public. He has captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, including Arabs and Muslims. He is already empowering moderates and reformists in the Middle East, as we see in Iran and Lebanon.
Today, I am here to announce that the state of Israel, under my leadership, chooses to contribute whatever it can to this promising transformation. Israel chooses to work with the U.S. president, to form a partnership with him and with moderates in the region to seek stability, security and peace for our people. Israel chooses not to be on the side of the rejectionists. It chooses to say yes; to harness its immense optimism and creativity to the noble task of peacemaking.
It's an ambitious goal, yes. It is risky, of course. It involves sacrifices and internal strife.. But I believe that no Israeli leader can afford to turn down such an opportunity.
I am declaring today that I am willing to resume negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, with the leaders of Syria and Lebanon, and - of course - with the Palestinian Authority and with any Palestinian leader who is willing to accept the two-state vision. And just as I demand that our Palestinian interlocutors come to the negotiating table having turned their backs on violence, so am I coming to the table in good faith. I have instructed my government to stop all settlement construction in Judea and Samaria - and in East Jerusalem - as long as negotiations are ongoing. It is something we can do, and should do, to show our interlocutors that we are serious. We will also promptly remove all the illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria. Those who continue to build illegally will be tried and punished.
My fellow Israelis, I am determined to do whatever I can to make this effort a success. It is my duty as a responsible Israeli leader. I urge you to demonstrate a sense of national maturity and responsibility and help me steer our country toward a better, secure future.
Ori Nir is the spokesman of Americans for Peace Now, and formerly covered Palestinian affairs for Israel's Haaretz and Washington for the Jewish Forward.
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