Kobi Gideon / GPO)
On its 64th birthday the Knesset of Israel has renewed confidence and renewed
legitimacy. The eyes of the public are fixed on you, the members of Knesset, in
expectation that you will be their loyal representatives for the
creation of a better future. In this Knesset are a record
number of new Knesset members, 48 in total, and an increasing number of
female Knesset members, 27. This is an achievement but still far less than the
equality we seek.
During the last elections the cynicism waned and the scornfulness reduced.
Young people were elected, free from the bonds of the past and with wings to fly
anew. Veterans were elected and those with experience who will create a
constructive balance between new and experienced. The Knesset is not
above the nation, it represents the nation. It should serve the nation
more than rule over it.
We are faced with serious challenges, which may turn out to be existential
threats or new opportunities. We must see inwardly and look outwardly, with an
investigative eye. Israel is an island in a stormy ocean. We must protect the
island and work to calm the angry ocean. Domestic issues dominated the
election and a new budget is the most pressing matter. Israel's economy has
avoided the surging global deficit and managed to maintain its unique
position. As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance I learnt to be wary
of two evils: Deficit and inflation. A rising deficit creates high interest
levels and nothing is produced. Inflation gnaws away at trust in the currency
and discourages investors; the success of the economy is dependent more on
joining hands than twisting arms.
Cutting the deficit demands widespread political agreement and cooperation
between the three parts of the market - the government, workers and employers.
It is difficult to reach a deal of this sort, but it is dangerous to remain
without it. I urge members of the house to join in a collective effort to curb
the deficit and return to growth, the greatest challenge facing you is the
expectation of the people for social reform.
On the eve of the elections you made promises, almost unanimously,
that this Knesset will be the most socially-minded Knesset of all time.
That you will bridge the gap between those with influence and those being worst
affected by the difficulties, equal sharing of the national burden. We cannot
accept a reality whereby 900,000 children lack food, and are disadvantaged when
it comes to education. The State of Israel is a democracy based on
individual freedom and the rule of law. Those who determine the conduct
of society, the character and destiny of our democracy are the institutions of
the elected representatives.
Democracy is not only the right to be equal but the equal right to be
different. There is no place for discrimination. Not religious discrimination,
not ethnic, not national and not gender-based discrimination. Our nation
suffered from racism. We will not allow for racism in our country.
Israel is small in size but can be large in social justice. The issue is
critical for young people, it is good to be young but these days it is also
expensive. We demand from our young people to attain higher education, to be
competitive internationally, to manage high food prices and improved medical
care which has also become more expensive. The price of land has gone up because
the population has increased and the size of the land remains the same, likewise
the cost of accommodation. I remember the first days of Israel, there was
equality but there was nothing to share. We had to create something from
nothing. There is nowhere like Israel, a country that has created so much from
so little. What we have has been created from almost nothing. Now we have - we
must share equally. We must be caring, brothers and sisters to one another.
Members of Knesset, around us there is a storm. In the Arab world a
young generation has risen who has had enough of being subjugated and
they have rebelled. They have yet to achieve their aims. This is a new
development. And we wish them success.
Conversely, from Iran the threat is growing. It threatens our
existence and the independence of Arab states. At its head stand a
group of Ayatollahs. They have become a brutal dictatorship which casts a stain
on Persian history and is a nightmare for its people. That group seeks Iranian
hegemony over the entire Middle East. They have terror agencies such as
Hizbullah and Hamas. Iran smuggles weapons into Arab countries to undermine
their stability. Iran exports wild incitement against Israel. Their leaders are
both Holocaust-deniers and threaten a Holocaust. They are building a nuclear
weapon and claim it is against their religion. They do not tell the truth and
they denigrate the individual. They are the deniers of enlightenment in our
President Obama has built a wide coalition to prevent a nuclear Iran. The
coalition began with diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions and has made
clear that it will take no options off the table. The United States can put an
end to the Iranian threat and I believe that the President of the United States
is determined to do it. Iran is a threat and Syria is a tragedy. The president
of Syria is butchering his own people. The United Nations must, in my opinion,
give the Arab League the mandate to immediately form a transition government in
Syria and to save Syria from self-destruction. Assad who has murdered so many,
has also murdered Syria's future.
Members of Knesset, protecting the security of Israel are our security
forces. The IDF is rich with historic achievements and the security forces excel
in their personal abilities and professional skills. The current generation of
IDF commanders, and at their head the Chief of Staff, have proven once again
their incredible ability and won the trust and love of the people. The IDF must
constantly train its soldiers. And renew its technological advantage time and
Israel can develop unique technology on a global scale. The
security services are focused today on building the army of tomorrow, which will
be quicker and stronger. I recommend to our enemies not to be mistaken about our
abilities both overt and covert. Strategy is based upon military strength and
diplomatic wisdom - a strategic victory is not just defeating our enemies but
securing peace. We must eradicate hostility, not only our enemies.
There is no security without an army and no peace with
diplomacy. Peace requires security mechanisms and security requires
diplomatic mechanisms. We made peace with Egypt and Jordan. And we started
negotiations with the Palestinians. If we complete the negotiations, we will
create a strategic depth which each of the components alone is missing. In
Jewish tradition, peace is a traditional obligation. David Ben Gurion summed it
up in one sentence: "Israel's fate is determined by its strength and is
Israel's scientific ability strengthens its political ability and
increases economic output. Our high-tech transformed a recalcitrant
soil into a producer of abundant crops. From one dunam of land we produce crops
as if from five dunams. From one drop of water we recycle three drops. Israel
has proven that even from the desert hope can spring, that makes us an example
to the world. Our agriculture not only increased yield, it is also able to raise
their nutritional value.
In our history we had help and in our future we will be able to help others.
Already today, Israel is able to provide unique support across the world in the
fight against hunger, poverty and natural disasters. In the field of terrorism
we have gathered experience which we put at the disposal of other countries.
I am incredibly proud of the scientific advances in medicine in Israel both
in terms of innovative equipment and unique treatment. 15% of the world's modern
medical devices are made in Israel. Medicine is the diplomacy of friends. Israel
continues to march forwards in medicine. Israel is able to create a key to crack
the genetic code of each individual and to reduce reliance on hospitals and
medication, something that will lead to the democratization of medicine.
Equality for all. Israel is also advancing when it comes to space. Israeli
satellites are some of the most advanced in the world, they are smaller and
cheaper, they enable smaller countries which aren't as rich to enjoy their
A decade ago we put Nano-technology at the center of Israel's scientific
endeavors. We were right. Today we need to put brain research at the center of
our research efforts. When a person knows his own brain, he knows how to control
himself, to choose wisdom over folly. Peace over violence. The European Union
decided to allocate one and a quarter billion euros for brain research. The
first to benefit from this program are Israeli researchers and institutions.
These are the first fruits of our efforts. I am so proud. It is no
Members of Knesset, the smallness of our territory requires a greatness of
minds. An Israel that will be built on values. That will be just for all
citizens. A state that will be daunting to our enemies. A country that
contributes. Our foundation is the Ten Commandments. Our vision is the
edge of science.
Members of Knesset, you are privileged to be representatives of the people.
There is no greater right than to serve your nation. One who serves many. Better
to serve the nation than rule over it. Please, carry with you a vision of a
better world, for each of us individually and collectively. For our nation and
other nations. The vision of the prophets is a journey from slavery to freedom,
the promised land. I wish you all success.