Prime Minister Netanyahu delivers 2009 Bar-Ilan Speech (video capture)

On June 14th, 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a thirty-minute foreign policy speech at the Bar-Ilan University addressing President Obama’s regional peace plan and his personal admiration of peace. 

After quickly addressing the Iranian threat and the global economic crisis, Netanyahu dedicated his entire speech to peace and how, in his vision, a Palestinian entity could achieve its ambitions for statehood. Despite Netanyahu’s call for immediate negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, the talks never brought any progress due to the Palestinian Authority's objections.

Netanyahu’s speech broke from earlier ideas and speeches on a two-state solution put forth by two of his predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu even offered details for a Palestinian State and assured that such a state would be completely demilitarized if it were to ever become a reality.

Broadcasted on Israeli national television, the speech was in sync with the news cycle; it came just ten days after President Barack Obama delivered his famous “New Beginnings” speech in Cairo. Netanyahu personally urged Obama to watch and listen to his address.

In the speech, Netanyahu became Israel’s first Prime Minister to frame the backbones for a two-state solution with significant detail, however, without talking specifically about borders or the status of Jerusalem. The five points outlined in the speech were: “1. Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state; 2. the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state; 3. a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue that does not include a return of refugees to Israel’s pre-1967 borders; 4. The need for Palestinian economic development; and 5. an end to building new Israeli settlements while allowing “natural settlement growth to continue.”

Netanyahu said: In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, and its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other. These two realities, our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us.

Netanyahu also spoke of peace initiatives with other Arab states in the region, noting that he would happily visit any capital, hostile or not, to achieve this goal. “I also discussed this with President Obama, and I strongly support the idea of ​​a regional peace that he is leading. I share the desire of the President of the United States to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region. I turn from here to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: ‘Let's meet. let's talk, let's make peace I am ready to meet with you at any time. I am ready to come to Damascus, Riyadh, Beirut - anywhere.”


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