Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he desires peace, but that no agreement with the Palestinian Authority would silence critics of the Jewish state.
“Let no one among us delude him or herself that if we make a peace agreement with the Palestinians, that this agreement would eliminate the wild defamation of the state of the Jews. What has been the lot of the Jews beforehand, for generations, today is the lot of the state of the Jews,” Netanyahu told an audience during a State Memorial Ceremony for Zionist leader Theodor Herzl in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu further added that any peace must be based, first and foremost, on security.
“It is not based on goodwill and legitimacy as is believed. It is based, first of all, on our ability to defend ourselves. Without security, without the army, the establishment of which Herzl called for, we will be unable to defend the peace, we will be unable to defend ourselves if the peace frays. A basic condition for the existence of peace, for achieving it and for preserving it is security,” he said.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Israel’s President Shimon Peres echoed Netanyahu’s call for peace, saying it is necessary to avoid becoming a bi-national state.
“Peace is a moral foundation of Judaism; it is an existential need of the Jewish state. A binational state contradicts the vision of Herzl; it endangers the Jewish and democratic state of Israel. There is a chance to renew the peace process, and it is not to be missed,” he said.
The comments came just hours before Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in the region in an effort to renew peace talks.
While in Kuwait on Wednesday, Kerry called on Israelis and Palestinians to renew talks before it was too late.
“The time is getting near where we need to make some judgments. Last time I was here, I said it’s time for leaders to make some hard decisions,” he said. “That stands. It is time. Why is it urgent? It’s urgent because time is the enemy of a peace process.”