Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told participants Sunday at the Haaretz Conference, held at UCLA in California, that the international community “should invest their good will and resources in improving Palestinian life and economy.”
Speaking in a pre-recorded address, Gantz added that helping the Palestinian Authority “will contribute to peace and stability and enable us to continue building the foundation for our common future.”
The complete transcript follows.
“As a young soldier, my first-ever operation was guarding Egyptian President Sadat’s convoy during his first historic visit to Israel.
“Today I am serving as Israel’s minister of defense during a time when we have peace with Egypt and Jordan and a groundbreaking normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco.
“This is time when I am more hopeful than ever that we can multiply the success of these Accords.
“These agreements are critical so that the region may flourish and so that we may stand strong against common threats.
“These threats are all originated and coordinated by Iran, which is a global and regional challenge as well as a challenge to the State of Israel.
“Iran sees itself as a hegemon, systematically equipping terror armies and exporting its radical ideology, weapons, funds and manpower across the Middle East.
“They target economic resources, as we saw in the Aramco attack case, disrupt global trade as we saw in the Mercer Street attack, harm democratic processes as we see in the Iraqi elections, and dismantle regimes – as we see in Lebanon and Syria.
“Everything that Iran is doing now is taking place without nuclear capability. Imagine what will happen if Iran reaches a nuclear threshold.
“I can support an agreement that will be broader and stronger and longer, taking Iran back – dismantling its current capabilities and placing effective inspections on its sites and on its weapons production.
“Iran poses a serious threat to global peace and a potential existential threat to Israel.
“We will continue to act, ensuring that Iran will never achieve military nuclear capabilities.
“This conference is not only dealing with the challenges but also remarks the opportunities that we have in the region.
“One of them is strengthening the ties between Israel and its neighbors. When I met Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen, I told him that regardless of our differences, nobody on either side is going anywhere and we will have to live side by side.
“As I see it, we have an opportunity to build trust between Israel and the Palestinians, taking measures on the ground that will contribute to security, stability and economic prosperity — steps that will benefit both sides.
“At a time of both great optimism and increasing threats in the region the international community, led by the United States, EU and partners in the Middle East should invest their good will and resources in improving Palestinian life and economy. This will contribute to peace and stability and enable us to continue building the foundation for our common future.
“Having discussed our challenges and opportunities we must remember that Israel’s ability to both defend itself and to seek peace lies in the resilience of our society. The Israeli government is committed to this issue.
“Israel’s social resilience, partnership with international friends and the strong bonds with Jewish communities around the world will guarantee our future in this complex region.