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The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, delivered a speech before the Dutch Parliament this evening. The speech came on the day when President Peres was hosted by the new King of the Netherlands and met with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the two held a joint press conference.

Following the speech to the parliament, President Peres held a closed doors question and answer session with members of the Dutch parliament. In his speech President Peres laid out a vision for a Middle East based on science and a modern economy and addressed the major issues of the day. President Peres called upon the European Union to maintain the pressure on Iran and to acquiesce to Secretary Kerry request not to implement the new guidelines which would hamper the peace negotiations.  Below are extracts from his speech. The speech in full is attached.

President Peres on Iran:

"A responsible coalition of the peace-seeking countries was formed to prevent Iran from attaining its dangerous nuclear ambitions. President Obama has engaged the United States as well as the European Union, among others, to impose sanctions upon Iran, in order to stop it from building nuclear weapons. The coalition preferred, rightly, to start with diplomacy while the military option remains. The end of the Iranian nuclear threat, as well as the end of Iran being a centre of terror is the right way to keep the world free and secure."

"The sanctions led to the new tone of Iran. President Rouhani's address to the UN must stand the test of real implementation. Today it is just a declaration, in a rhetoric competition. Furthermore, the realities of today in Iran are in stark contradiction to his address. The construction of a nuclear bomb is a fact not a phrase."

"Historically the Jewish people knew friendship with Iran. The Iranian threat began when Khomeini took power. It is up to his successors to bring an end to it."

President Peres on negotiations with the Palestinians

"Now we renewed the negotiations of peace with our Palestinian neighbours, with the help of Secretary Kerry, with the support of the United Europe and the United States. I believe it is possible. I believe it is realistic. I believe it should be done as soon as possible. All of us agree, Arabs and Israelis and the whole world, that the two state solution is the right one– a Jewish state, Israel and an Arab state, Palestine – living side by side in peace, respect and security."

"The European Union, and the Netherlands in particular, were and remain very supportive, playing a meaningful role in making peace a reality. Spinoza described peace beautifully: "Peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.”

"Secretary Kerry asked the European Union to suspend the recent new guidelines, so as to free the negotiations from an added burden.  When peace will be completed, and it may happen quite soon, those guidelines will anyway become unnecessary. I believe that the answer of Europe to the request of the Secretary will be positive to make the negotiations flow uninterrupted. I believe it will be unnecessary in a short while."

"There is no need for interim solutions. We shall make peace, there is no need for half measures. To cross a chasm, it is safer to do it in one brave step."

President Peres on Syria:

"The Syrian agreement to dismantle their chemical arsenal was done only after Syria was threatened militarily. Humanity has no right to forget the lost lives of thousands of Syrians – innocent civilians, young children – were murdered on their own land, at the hand of their own leader. It is time for Assad to understand that the world has moral boundaries, not just geographical borders. He crossed all of them."

President Peres on relations with the Netherlands:

"The new Netherlands has become a moving friend of Israel. Thank you. The Netherlands, like Israel, sees its destiny in a biblical touch. What we call in Hebrews for Tikkun Olam, which means bettering the world. Values outweigh expediencies. Our relations are close and friendly. The economic cooperation is constantly increasing. Cultural exchanges brought books and art.  Scientific collaboration offered a great potential for the two of us. The Dutch contribution to the peace process in the Middle East is valuable and meaningful. Yesterday, today and may I say tomorrow as well."

"From Jerusalem, I carry the prayers of our people for the well-being of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. I witnessed His Majesty’s devotion to peace when he presided over the trilateral committee of Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians to make water flow peacefully and efficiently. I happened to represent Israel so I watched with admiration the way he ran the committee and the results are still evident today."




The IAF has begun reviewing its performance during Operation Pillar of Defense. During the operation the IAF conducted over 1,500 airstrikes

This week, Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel summarized the IAF's operations during Operation Pillar of Defense, which concluded last week. Maj. Gen. Eshel promised that the IAF would continue to be ready for any challenge, maintaining a high level of readiness for challenges in the future.

In a note sent to all officers and soldiers in the IAF, Maj. Gen. Eshel said, "Over the course of a week, operated against the upper echelon of terror organizations, their operatives and their infrastructure. The IAF carried out its missions in a clear and precise manner. We demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism, creativity, and execution, all while maintaining admirable morality."

An officer within the Air Force noted that "the offensive effort was based entirely on accurate intelligence that progressed in real-time. The extensive planning, execution, and precise attack caused serious and extensive damage to the terror organizations, all during complex operating conditions in the heart of urban areas. Our air defenses intercepted and downed hundreds of rockets fired at Israeli citizens in the southern and central regions of the country. It is an unprecedented achievement and a milestone in the history of warfare."

We welcome wholeheartedly the cease-fire that has just been proclaimed in Gaza and thatwas being strongly called for by the European Union and the international community. It isnow crucial to ensure its implementation and to prevent the restart of violence. The eventsof the last days stress the urgent need to move towards a two-state solution allowing bothsides to live side-by-side in peace and security. The European Union remains determinedto continue working to assist in achieving this goal. Finally, we reiterate our deep sorrowfor the loss of lives on both sides resulting from this outbreak of violence and convey ourcondolences to the bereaved families.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Thursday, 22 November 2012), appointed Prime Minister's Office Director-General Harel Locker to head the team that will deal with the communities that were damaged and the residents who were injured and to see to a quick return to normal life. The other members of the team are the director-generals of the Finance; Home Front Defense; Tourism; Social Welfare and Social Services; Agriculture; Negev and Galilee; and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries.

They will work in tandem with the ongoing work of the Prime Minister's Office, National Security Council, and Home Front Defense Ministry in preparing the home front for security events of this kind.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "The resilience shown by Israeli citizens and the local authorities was an important component in achieving the goals of the operation. Residents' needs must be seen to quickly and efficiently. I am aware of the distress and the needs, and we will deal with them. I am following the dealing with home front and I have directed all ministries to see to physical reconstruction, psychological rehabilitation and economic compensation quickly and without bureaucracy."
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice
President of the Commission issued the following statement today:“I welcome the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel. I commend in particular the efforts of Egypt
and all those who engaged in mediating between the parties to secure this ceasefire.
The European Union will continue its efforts to ensure a sustainable solution to the present
situation in the Gaza Strip. This is crucial for ending all violence and enhancing security in the