Prime Minister Netanyahu’s full address to AIPAC in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
It’s always great to be here, but as I told President Trump yesterday, it’s especially great to be in America’s capital now that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thank you, President Trump for that historic decision. Thank you for announcing another decision—to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this Independence Day. And the first ambassador to have the honor of working from that embassy in Jerusalem is a great American ambassador, David Friedman. David, thank you for that terrific job that you’re doing.
And you know who else is doing a fantastic job? Israel’s ambassador to Washington—Ron Dermer. Stand up, Ron. Thank you for the terrific job you’re doing. I want to thank Mort Freidman, Lillian Pinkus—Lillian, you don’t have to remind them how far back we go together—Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s nuclear core, everyone at AIPAC. I want to thank all of you for the work you are doing to strengthen the remarkable alliance between our two countries. Thank you.
I want to acknowledge the Israeli ministers, Israel’s representatives here in the United States, in the United Nations, the Mayor of Jerusalem, the many Members of Congress and the former leaders of countries who are here. In particular, I want to acknowledge my friend, a great champion of Israel, the former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper. Stephen, stand up, please. Stephen, we never forget our friends, and you were a tremendous friend and still are.
And finally, I want to thank the 4,000 students who are here with us today. Four thousand students. Thank you for cutting class to be here. So, if any of you needs a note, you can see me later. There’s a line forming outside.
Now, what I can see is this. Well, it’s dark, but I can see something. I can see that the audience in this hall each year is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, 18,000 strong. I want to see all of you, and I can’t. I don’t want to stand behind this podium. Is it okay? What the heck—I’m the Prime Minister. Thank you, yeah, great, good to see you. Thank you. I’ll get there too. Don’t worry. Great to see you. Thank you.
So today… I want to ask you. You remember that great Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Well, I want to talk about the good, the bad and beautiful. The good are all the good things that we are doing in Israel that are helping make the world a better place. The bad are all the bad things that malevolent forces are trying to do to Israel and to the world—and specifically, I’m talking about Iran. And the beautiful—well, that I’ll leave to the last.
So first the good news: Israel has never been stronger militarily. Tremendously strong. That’s an F–35 fighter plane, the most advanced in the world. That’s an Iron Dome interceptor, and many other systems that we developed with the help of America. Thank you America; thank you successive American presidents; thank you Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike; thank you AIPAC for helping bring this about. You’re terrific.
And this incredible military is buttressed by superb intelligence, unmatched in the world. Can you see me? I can hardly see you. I have to get closer. Yeah, I see you. That’s good. Superb intelligence. You know, in the last few years, Israel’s incredible intelligence services have foiled dozens, dozens of terrorist attacks across the world in dozens of countries. That plane, a plane like that could have been blown out of the sky if it weren’t for Israeli intelligence, a plane heading from Australia to the Persian Gulf. You’re boarding planes when you leave this place. You are safer because of Israeli intelligence. It not only protects Israeli lives, it protects innocent lives around the world.
And we’re able to do all this because of the extraordinary soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, men and women—just look at them—men and women, black and white, religious and secular, gay and straight, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians. They come from different backgrounds, but they’re united with a common mission: to protect the State of Israel. They keep us safe. They make us proud. Thank you. Now, I know there are quite a few veterans of the Israeli army here. So I want you to stand up. I want you to be recognized. Stand up. Stand up.
But the good news doesn’t stop merely with Israel’s strong military. It continues with Israel’s strong economy. It’s a tremendously strong economy, and I’ll tell you, we made it stronger by moving Israel to free market principles, which unleashed the spark of genius embedded in our people, into innovation, entrepreneurship. And there is a revolution taking place. This couldn’t happen at the better time. Look at the ten leading companies in 2006: five energy companies, one IT company, Microsoft. And a mere 10 years later, 2016, a blink of an eye in historical terms, it’s completely reversed. Five IT companies, one energy company left. The true wealth is in innovation. You know these companies: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook. Guess what? They all have research centers in Israel. All of them, major research centers.
And they’re not alone. There are hundreds more. And there’s a reason, something is going on. It’s a great change. It’s—you want to hear jargon? It’s one sentence. This is a terrible sentence, but I have no other way to say it. It’s the confluence of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence, okay? Do you get that? You know what that does? It revolutionizes old industries and it creates entirely new industries.
So here’s an old industry that Israel was always great in: agriculture. We were always good in agriculture. But now we have precision agriculture. You know what that is? See that drone in the sky? He’s connected to a big database. And there are sensors in the field, and in the field there’s drip irrigation and drip fertilization. And now we can target, with this technology, the water that we give, the fertilizer that we give down to the individual plant that needs it. That’s precision agriculture. That’s Israel. Unbelievable.
You know, we were always good in water. I want you to see how good we are. So, we recycle almost 90% of our wastewater. The next country, with less than 20%, is Spain. You can see how Israel, what it does for water, what it does for the environment. So when you take these two things, agriculture and water, and the other technologies that we apply in both, we can change the world. We are. We are.
I just heard about an African woman in Africa, has to walk eight hours a day to give water to her children—four hours one way to a well, four hours back. And a young Israeli company brought in this technology that improves on Moses. You remember Moses? He brought water from Iraq? They bring water from thin air. They bring water to Africa, to millions of people in Africa—Israeli technology.
And I was just recently in India. That’s my friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, great friend. I’m showing him cherry tomatoes. This is in Gujarat, India. This is Israeli technology. And what I heard there was fantastic. Famers came from the region. There’s an experimental farm there and a place where Israel gives technology knowhow to India famers. Sixty-five percent of India’s population are farmers. And one farmer after the other gets up and says, “Because of Israeli technology, I’ve increased my crop yields and my income three times, four times, five times. Israel is changing the world in India, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, everywhere.
These are the old industries. Now, there are new industries. Israel is literally, how can I say this: Israel is literally driving the world. I’m talking about autonomous vehicles. Israel is a world leader in autonomous vehicles. Five hundred tech companies that sprang up almost instantaneously. And one of them, MobileEye up there on the left, was just sold to Intel for the paltry sum of 15 billion dollars. But the interesting thing is that Intel said to them, “Here are the keys to our 30 worldwide autonomous vehicle businesses. You run it.” Israeli technology is driving the world.
And one last industry—there are many more—but one more that you’re all familiar with. You have bank accounts? You should, okay? Well, you don’t want anyone hacking into them, right? Or into your cars, or into the planes you ride? You need cybersecurity. Everybody needs cyber. Israel has become a world leader in cybersecurity. Look at how much they invest in the hundreds of Israeli startup companies, tremendous companies. But here is another factor that you should now. Israel’s population is how much? Who knows? Class? Eight million? It’s closer to nine, but it’s about between eight and nine million, that’s correct. And what percentage of that is of the world’s population? Oh come on. It’s one-tenth of one percent. So, what percentage do we get of the world global investment in cybersecurity, in private investment in cybersecurity? We’re one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, and we get a whopping 20% of global, private investment in cyber. We’re punching 200 times above our weight. Not two times, not ten times, not a hundred times—200 times above our weight. That’s one heck of a punch. Very strong.
Now here’s how the dots connect. Because we have this tremendous capacity for security and intelligence, and because we have this tremendous capacity for civilian technology, for making the lives of people richer, safer, more productive, many countries are coming to Israel because they want to share with us these benefits. And that creates the third great change, which is a flourishing of Israel’s diplomatic relations around the world.
You know, when I joined the Foreign Service 105 years ago, as the DCM to this city, Washington, the number two in our embassy, I think we had about 80 or 90 countries with whom we had diplomatic relations. Now the number is 160, and there are very few countries left… By the way, what are we doing with Greenland? We got to do something with Greenland. Where’s my advance team? Go to Greenland. They must have some satellite needs or something that we could do there.
But we are coloring the world blue. I’ve been to Africa three times in 18 months. I’ve been to South America, to Latin America. Can you imagine in the 70 years of the history of Israel a prime minister of Israel never went south of Texas? I mean, I love Texas, but… Yeah, yeah, I do. But we went to Argentina. We went to Argentina, to Colombia, to Mexico. And they say come back, come back. We want more.
That is changing. All these countries are coming to us: India, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, all of them, Azerbaijan, Muslim countries. First time I visited Australia—tremendous. Far away though. So we’re coloring the world blue. And you know what? The numbers… You remember people talked about Israel’s isolation? You remember that? Israel’s isolation? Pretty soon, the countries that don’t have relations with us, they’re going to be isolated. There are those who talk about boycotting Israel? We’ll boycott them.
So, the good news is very good, and it’s getting better.
The bad news, and that’s the bad news, is that bad things are getting worse, and they’re very bad. And when I talk about that, we have to deal with this challenge. And I’m thinking specifically: What do we do about Iran? The force behind so much of what is bad is this radical tyranny in Tehran. If I have a message for you today, it’s a very simple one: We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran.
When I last spoke here, I warned, tried to warn the world about a nuclear deal that was a threat to the survival of Israel, the security of the region, the peace of the world. I warned that Iran’s regime had repeatedly lied to the international community, that it could not be trusted. I warned that the deal gives Iran a clear path towards developing a nuclear arsenal in little more than a decade. And I warned that by removing Iran’s sanctions, Iran’s regime would not become more moderate and peaceful, but more extreme and belligerent, much more dangerous.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what has happened. Here is what Iran is doing today. Darkness is descending on our region. Iran is building an aggressive empire: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, more to come. Now Iran is seeking to build permanent military bases in Syria, seeking to create a land bridge from Tartus, from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean. And in addition to moving its army, its air force, its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer hand, it’s also seeking to develop, to build precision guided missile factories in Syria and Lebanon against Israel.
I will not let that happen. We will not let that happen. We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran.
Last week, we read in the Book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to exterminate our people. They failed then. They’ll fail now. We will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons—not now, not in ten years, not ever.
President Trump has made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran’s aggression in the region. He has made clear that he too will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. That is the right policy. I salute President Trump on this. And the President has also made it clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed, he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions. Israel will be right there by America’s side. And let me tell you, so will other countries in the region.
As we counter Iran’s aggression, we should always remember, we should always remember the brave people of Iran: their suffering, their hopes, their courage. Women are jailed for removing their hijabs. Students are tortured, tortured and shot for advocating freedom. We stand with those in Iran who stand for freedom. Now I believe that a day will come when this horrible tyranny will disappear, will perish from the earth and at that point, the historic friendship between the people of Israel and the people of Persia will be reestablished. Today we have Haman. Tomorrow we’ll have Cyrus and friendship and peace.
My friends, as we work together to confront the bad, there is also potential to advance the good that paradoxically comes from the bad, because most of the states in our region know—they know very well, believe me—that Israel is not their enemy, but their indispensable ally in confronting our common challenges and seizing our common opportunities. That is true for Egypt and Jordan, Israel’s long-time peace partners, but it’s also true for many other Arab countries in the Middle East. Israel remains committed to achieving peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians. President Trump has made it clear that he is committed to peace. I have made it clear that I am committed to peace. We appreciate the efforts of President Trump’s superb team—Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman. Thank you all. Thank you all for your hard work for peace.
But to get peace, to get peace President Abbas has to embrace peace and to stop supporting terror. Raise your hands high if you agree with me that President Abbas should stop paying terrorists who murder Jews. You know how much he pays? He pays about $350 million dollars a year to terrorists and their families, each year. That’s about a little less than 10% of the total Palestinian budget. That’s an incredible number. He pays Hakim Awad. Hakim Awad is the terrorist who murdered this beautiful family of Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children, including a 3 month-old baby girl, Hadas. So he pays Hakim Awad, this murderer, and over the lifetime of this killer, he will be receiving two million dollars.
I have a message for President Abbas: Stop paying terrorists. Because what message does this send to Palestinian children? It says murder Jews and get rich. And I believe President Abbas should find better use for this money—to build roads, schools, hospitals, factories. Build life, don’t pay death. Invest in life. Invest in peace.
Israel hopes that the passage of the Taylor Force Act will make clear to President Abbas that America has zero tolerance for terror.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve spoken about the good and the bad—there’s plenty of both. But I want to end with a few words about the beautiful.... I’m talking about the beautiful alliance between Israel and the United States of America. I’m talking about the beautiful alliance that has brought all of you here to Washington, the beautiful alliance that you work day in and day out to make stronger and to make better.
What is this beautiful alliance made of? It’s made of our shared values. That’s the well-spring of the great alliance between our two countries. And all you have to do is leave this room, leave this hall, and you walk around a few blocks from here, and you see these majestic monuments , you can learn from them all about our common values. You know, they come from a certain book, a great book, a good book. It’s called the Bible. It said that all of us are created in the image of God. And those words inspired Jefferson when he declared in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. All women too, by the way.
And that book inspired Abraham Lincoln in the darkest days of America’s Civil War. He found inspiration in the words of our greatest king, King David, when he said that the wounds of a divided America would heal and that the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous.
Just as the stirring words of the Prophet Amos inspired the great Martin Luther King when he stood before the Lincoln Memorial and promised to carry on his struggle until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
They values are an inseparable part of America’s story. They’re an inseparable part of Israel’s story. And today, together, we are writing a new chapter in our common story, a story of freedom, of justice, of peace, of hope. And it is because we are inspired by the same ideas, because we are animated by the same values that America and Israel have forged an eternal bond that can never ever be broken.
Thank you, AIPAC. God bless Israel. God bless America. And God bless the Israel-America alliance. Thank you all.
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