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Daily Archives: 10/12/2010

Medvedev urges to develop various trends of Russia-Germany coop

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (2nd R), his wife Svetlana (L) meet with German President Christian Wulff (2nd L) and his wife Bettina (R) at the Kremlin, in Moscow, on October 12, 2010. Wulff is on his state visit to Russia. (Getty Images)

 

MOSCOW, October 12 (KATAKAMI / Itar-Tass) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hopes that the negotiations with his German counterpart Christian Wulff will be fruitful and interesting. Medvedev stated about it Tuesday opening a narrow-format meeting with his German counterpart. Before the negotiations both leaders with their spouses were participating in an official welcome ceremony of the German high guest, who is on a state visit in Russia.

“I hope for interesting and fruitful negotiations,” Medvedev stated.

“The scale of your visit notes broad and diversified relations between Germany and Russia,” Medvedev said. “Our relations are strategic, partnership and highly developed,” he pointed out. “Germany is our major partner in the European Union,” the Russian president remarked. “We have highly developed economic ties and we also have special relations between political structures, regions, parties, civil society institutions; all this is making the essence of relations,” the president underlined.

“We should develop various trends of cooperation,” Medvedev urged, noting humanitarian contacts in this respect.

The German president agreed with his Russian counterpart that his visit will contribute to the development of bilateral relations. “I hope that we will have an opportunity to discuss all issues we are interested in,” Wulff said.

“Germany and Russia have a long common changeable history and we take your friendship as a great gift to the German people,” he said. “Our mutual sympathy and interests confirm how close our peoples are,” the German president added.

“We are following with a keen interest the situation in your country and consider ourselves as natural partners in promoting the modernization in Russia,” Wulff said. “We are seeking to intensify relations with your country, which is passing the stage of reforms, and to expand relations not only in economy, but also in education, legal protection, public institutions and culture,” he added.

Photostream : Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev meets Germany’s President Christian Wulff

 

From left: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's wife Svetlana, German President Christian Wulff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and Wulff's wife Bettina prepare for a photo in the Moscow Kremlin, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. Wulff is on a state visit to Russia.

 

 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (2ndR), his wife Svetlana (L) meet with German President Christian Wulff (2ndL) and his wife Bettina (R) at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 12, 2010. Wulff is on a state visit to Russia. (Getty Images)

 

 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) presents flowers to German President Christian Wulff's wife, Bettina at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 12, 2010. German President Christian Wulff and his wife Bettina are on a state visit to Russia. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo : ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

 

 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) shows the way to German President Christian Wulff (R) as he arrives at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 12, 2010 during his state visit. (Photo : ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

 

 

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) talks to Germany's President Christian Wulff during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow October 12, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

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Tears Shed as Bali Bomb Victims Remembered

Bali bomb victims and relatives throw flower petals at a memorial site in remembrance of those killed in the 2002 twin nightclub terror attacks that killed 202 people, in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (Getty Images)


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October 12, 2010. Denpasar (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA GLOBE) — In emotional scenes, about 100 relatives and friends of the victims of the 2002 Bali Bombings gathered at the monument that marks the location of the deadly terrorist attacks to remember their loved ones on Tuesday.

Many of those gathered for the solemn ceremony were members of Yayasan Isana Dewata, an association comprised of people who lost loved ones in the Oct. 12 attacks.

Many, including Ni Nyoman Rencini, wept openly. Her husband, a local travel agent, was waiting for a customer on Jalan Legian, Kuta, when he was killed.

“I have tried to let go and move on with my life,” she sobbed. “The only thing that matters to me now is how to keep on working and earning enough to raise my children. But no matter how hard I try, I still can’t forget what happened, especially during the yearly commemoration,” she said.

About 80 foreign dignitaries, meanwhile, and friends or family of the victims of the bombing gathered at Australia’s Consulate-General in Bali to commemorate the eight anniversary of the attacks.

Melinda Rio, an Australian counsel, told the Jakarta Globe that the ceremony was held in the memorial gardens of the Consulate-General lasted 30 minutes

The ceremony featured representatives from a number of foreign nations who lost citizens in the devastating terrorist attacks — including New Zealand, Poland, Japan, Switzerland, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Italy and Germany — as well as Australia and Indonesia.

Acting Australian Consul-General Brent Hall and Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, representing countries that respectively lost 88 and 38 citizens in the suicide attacks, laid a commemorative wreath together, before the remaining country representatives and friends and family members of those who lost loved ones followed.

In eastern Sydney, meanwhile, there were emotional scenes as a memorial wall listing the 43 victims from the state of New South Wales was unveiled at the Bali Memorial in Dolphins Point at Coogee.

Six of those lost were members of the Coogee Dolphins Rugby League Club.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally was quoted by the Australian Associated Press as saying that the Bali victims were innocent people.

“The victims of this atrocity were not soldiers, they had not gone to fight a declared enemy,” she said. “The innocence of those victims [and the] benign and harmless reasons for them being where they are, when they were, only underscores the savagery of those people who took their lives.”

PM Netanyahu ‘Seeking freeze formula’

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on October 10, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu if facing increased pressure from the U.S. to renew the 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank, an issue opposed by many of the coalition government members. He also gave his support to Israel's proposed citizenship oath, which would require all non-Jewish citizens to vow their allegiance to the State of Israel as a ''Jewish and democratic state''.

 

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October 12, 2010 (KATAKAMI) — After PM Netanyahu demands recognition of Jewish state as precondition for freeze, sources say he does not intend to derail talks. Shas willing to support freeze; Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beitenu are not
Attila Somfalvi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have demanded conditions the Palestinians are unable to meet, but he has agreed to the principle of a continued settlement construction freeze. Following his Knesset speech, government sources close to the prime minister said Monday the proposal he presented was not his final offer, and discussions are now underway regarding what must be received in return. Meanwhile the US on Monday again reiterated its expectation of a continued moratorium.

Despite the confusion in the government regarding Netanyahu’s declaration that he is ready to extend the freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, sources emphasized this was “not an attempt to put an end to negotiations or cause the talks to break down.” This deal, they said, was tabled a month ago and rejected by the Palestinians, but “alternative formulations” are being sought.

“If the Palestinian leadership says unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, I am willing to convene my government and request a moratorium on construction for a further limited period,” Netanyahu said to the Knesset plenum opening the winter session.

“The prime minister’s words leave an open door for reaching an agreement around a freeze, while at the same time he tries to win points regarding Israel’s character as a Jewish state,” a senior minister close to Netanyahu said Monday evening. “The freeze is still on the table.”
The forum of the top seven ministers is expected to convene Tuesday, though it is not yet clear whether this issue will be on the agenda. The prime minister met Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the Knesset on Monday, while on Thursday he is expected to meet Opposition Chairperson Tzipi Livni.

Freeze ‘with significant US agreements’

It was in fact from the right side of the political spectrum that Netanyahu received support. Shas leader MK Eli Yishai said to Ynet in a special broadcast from the Knesset that his party would not quit the government even if there is an additional freeze – “so that Kadima won’t get in (the government) and cause an even deeper freeze.” Already in August, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said he would not oppose a continued freeze for a limited period.

However, it is still not clear whether Netanyahu will be able to muster a majority in favor of extending the freeze – even with Shas on board, Yisrael Beitenu and Habayit Hayehudi are still opposed. Some senior Likud ministers will back Netanyahu in return for “significant agreements with the US.”
The prime minister let slip another hint during the Likud faction meeting Monday, when he asserted there were “other important interests apart from building in the settlements” – words that riled the rightwing members of the party.

Netanyahu is also under pressure from the left, including from Labor’s Ehud Barak. The party discussed the talks on Monday and their chances of success, and Barak reiterated his position, saying things would be clearer by April, when Labor’s position in the government would also be made clear.
Labor ministers emphasize that if there is no progress in the political progress, there is no point them being in the government.

U.S. after Netanyahu proposal: Our position on settlements hasn’t changed

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C), looks on as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel (L) and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (R) shakes hands as they re-launch of direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian Authority at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 2, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

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October 12, 2010 (KATAKAMI) — Netanyahu offers renewal of settlement freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as Jewish state; U.S. State Department says Obama administration committed to Israel’s democracy as a Jewish state.

The U.S. State Department on Monday dodged a direct response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to extend the settlement freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state, saying that the U.S. position on settlements hasn’t changed.

“Our position on settlements is well known. As we’ve noted we would like to see the settlement moratorium extended. Beyond that, we are not going to get into the substance of our discussions with the parties,” a U.S. State Department official said when asked by Haaretz for a response to Netanyahu’s Knesset speech.

“U.S. policy has been consistent. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to Israel’s democracy as a Jewish state,” he said.

Netanyahu spoke at the opening of the third session of the 18th Knesset on Monday, and proposed an exchange of gestures to the Palestinians, wherein Israel would renew its settlement freeze if the Palestinian Authority would recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.

The Palestinians quickly issued a statement saying they reject the offer and that “the issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the matter,” emphasizing that Israel must freeze the settlements before they could return to U.S.-backed peace talks.

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Clinton in Sarajevo to push for Bosnian reforms

October 12, 2010. (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would press Bosnia’s quarrelsome leaders on Tuesday to set aside deep ethnic divisions and bring the Balkan nation more fully into Europe’s fold, U.S. officials said.

Clinton, on a diplomatic swing through the Balkans, would step up U.S. pressure on Bosnia’s Serb, Croat and Muslim leaders to enact political and economic reforms that could open the door to both European Union and NATO membership, the officials said.

Since the 1992-95 war in Bosnia in which about 100,000 people were killed, it has lagged in reforms and remains near the back of the queue of Western Balkan countries aspiring to EU and NATO membership.
“It is fair to say that the political process is stalled,” Philip Gordon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told reporters during Clinton’s flight to Bosnia on Monday.

“That is one reason the secretary wanted to come here and underscore for the parties their need to move forward with the types of reforms that will strengthen their candidacies for European Union membership and NATO membership,” said Gordon.

Clinton’s arrived just over a week after presidential and parliamentary polls in the former Yugoslav state which appeared to do little to change ethnic rivalries that have dogged the uneasy union of its Muslim-Croat federation and Serb Republic.

The deadlock has set back Bosnia’s chances of EU and NATO entry, with leaders unable to agree on constitutional reforms or on dividing fixed military assets — conditions that Western nations say are essential if it is to meet membership standards.

Gordon said Clinton would stress to leaders of all three communities, starting with Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, that it was time to follow through on the promises of U.S.-brokered 1995 peace accords which ended Bosnia’s war.

“The rest of the region is moving toward Europe and Bosnia is going to have to overcome these ethnic divides,” said Gordon.

Clinton’s visit is her first as secretary of state to Sarajevo, a city that dominated the headlines during the administration of her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

She will travel on to Belgrade where U.S. officials say she will urge Serbia’s leaders to follow through on an offer of talks with the former Serbian but ethnic Albanian dominated province of Kosovo, which declared independence two years ago and remains a point of friction for the region.

Clinton will visit Kosovo on Wednesday, seeking to emphasize the U.S. commitment to equal rights for its Serb minority population, before moving on to Brussels for discussions with her NATO counterparts.

Photostream : Hillary Clinton in Sarajevo

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on her arrival, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is pressing political reforms to the restive Balkans with the hope that such changes will lead to the region's full integration into the European Union and NATO. Clinton arrived Monday night in Sarajevo, the capital of ethnically divided Bosnia-Herzegovina, which just held elections, to urge the country's new leadership to make EU membership a priority. She then travels to Serbia and its now-independent former province of Kosovo to encourage the bitterly divided sides to normalize relations. (Getty Images)

 

 

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton waves as she walks out of airplane, upon arrival at Sarajevo airport, late on October 11, 2010. Secretary Clinton arrived in two-day visit to Bosnian capital on her tour of the Balkans. Clinton's visit to Balkans also includes visits to capitals of Serbia and Kosovo. (Getty Images)

 

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, centre left, is greeted by unidentified officials, on her arrival, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is pressing political reforms to the restive Balkans with the hope that such changes will lead to the region's full integration into the European Union and NATO. Clinton arrived Monday night in Sarajevo, the capital of ethnically divided Bosnia-Herzegovina, which just held elections, to urge the country's new leadership to make EU membership a priority. She then travels to Serbia and its now-independent former province of Kosovo to encourage the bitterly divided sides to normalize relations. (Getty Images)

 

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, on her arrival, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is pressing political reforms to the restive Balkans with the hope that such changes will lead to the region's full integration into the European Union and NATO. Clinton arrived Monday night in Sarajevo, the capital of ethnically divided Bosnia-Herzegovina, which just held elections, to urge the country's new leadership to make EU membership a priority. She then travels to Serbia and its now-independent former province of Kosovo to encourage the bitterly divided sides to normalize relations. (Getty Images)

 

 

Kosovars walk near a billboard with a photo of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Pristina October 11, 2010. Clinton travels to the Balkans on Monday, seeking to buttress the fragile peace that was one of her husband's chief foreign policy achievements as president. Clinton will urge reconciliation for Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, which battled through the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and dominated the news when former U.S. President Bill Clinton was in office. (Getty Images)

 

Photostream : U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Hanoi

 

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates reviews an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony prior to the opening of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Defense Ministers meeting with their main counterparts in Hanoi on October 12, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reviews an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony prior to the opening of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Defense Ministers meeting with their main counterparts in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reviews the guard of honor during the welcoming ceremony at the National Convention Center before the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers Meeting Plus in Hanoi October 12, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

Vietnam's Minister of Defense General Phung Quang Thanh (L) introduces U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (2nd L) to (from right) Admiral Hien, Lt. Gen. Khue , and Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh on October 11, 2010 at the Vietnam Ministry of Defense in Hanoi, Vietnam. Gates is in the region to attend a meeting of defense ministers from around the Asia-Pacific region. (Getty Images)

 

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates,(L) and Vietnam's Minister of Defense General Phung Quang Thanh during a press conference at the Vietnam Ministry of Defense on October 11, 2010 at the Vietnam Ministry of Defense in Hanoi, Vietnam. Gates is in the region to attend a meeting of defense ministers from around the Asia-Pacific region. (Getty Images)

 

 

China's Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (R) and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates pose for a photo before their meeting in Hanoi October 11, 2010. Liang and Gates are in Hanoi for the first ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus this week. (Getty Images)

 

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Photostream : Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev meets California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (L) walk during their visit to Skolkovo outside Moscow on October 11, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) gives California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a ride in a vintage Soviet-era Chaika automobile at the presidential residence Gorki outside Moscow, October 11, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) gives California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a ride in a vintage Soviet-era Chaika automobile at the presidential residence Gorki outside Moscow, October 11, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) shakes hands with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the presidential residence Gorki outside Moscow, October 11, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

 

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) meets with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the presidential residence Gorki outside Moscow, October 11, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

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PM Cameron: British Hostage May Have Been Killed by US Grenade

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron gestures during a press conference in Downing Street in London, where he said aid worker Linda Norgrove, 36, who died in Afghanistan during a rescue attempt, may have been killed by her American rescuers, rather than her Taliban captors, 11 Oct 2010

 

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October 11, 2010 (KATAKAMI) — U.S. and British officials in Afghanistan are investigating the death of a kidnapped British aid worker killed during a rescue attempt Friday in eastern Kunar province.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that Linda Norgrove, captured on September 26, may have been accidentally killed by the troops trying to save her, and not her Taliban captors, as initially reported.

Linda Norgrove died as American Special Forces attempted to rescue her from a compound in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. Initial reports claimed Norgrove was killed when her captors triggered an explosion near her.

Mr. Cameron says he has received different information from the commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus.

“General Petraeus has since told me that review has revealed evidence to indicate that Linda may not have died at the hand of her captors as originally believed,” he said.

Mr. Cameron says American forces may have been involved.

“That evidence and subsequent interviews with the personnel involved suggest that Linda could have died as a result of a grenade detonated by the task force during the assault, however this is not certain and a full U.S.-U.K. investigation will now be launched,” he said.

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of the Knesset Winter Session

Israel’s President Shimon Peres, right, listens, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening of the winter session in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. (Getty Images)

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October 11, 2010 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE) — It is not by chance that the portrait of the State visionary, Benjamin Zeev Herzl, hangs here, on the wall of the Israeli Knesset.  In 1896, Herzl wrote in his book, “The Jewish State”: “The Jews who are seeking a state will have a state.  Finally, we will live as free people on our own land.”

I mentioned these things at the beginning of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, along with several other key sentences from the history of our country, and because of their importance, I would like to repeat them here at the opening of this session of the Knesset of Israel.

In 1947, 51 years after Herzl, on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary: “The state that will be established will be Jewish in its purpose, designation and objective; not a state of those Jews who reside in the country but a state for the Jews, for the Jewish People.”

In 1992, in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the Knesset determined the following: “The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Members of Knesset,

The State of Israel is, therefore, both the nation-state of the Jewish people and a democratic country for all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, enjoying full equal rights.

There is no country in our region that protects the individual rights of its citizens and the rights of their minorities like Israel’s democracy does.

The Zionist movement established an exemplary democracy and established an exemplary nation-state, a country that balances the national needs of our people with the individual rights of each and every one of Israel’s citizens.

There is no other democracy in the Middle East, and there is no other Jewish state in the world.

The combination of these two values – a Jewish state and a democratic state – expresses the foundation of our existence and the essence of the State of Israel.

I will expand on this point later on.

My fellow Members of Knesset,

During the Knesset Winter Session, we will continue dealing with the great tasks the State of Israel faces.

We intend to pass a second two-year budget in the State of Israel.

We succeeded in returning the economy to the path of growth and stability.  An additional two-year budget will help us continue these trends.

We are moving forward with the transportation revolution, developing a road and train network in the Galilee and the Negev.  You all travel the nation’s roads.  You see this revolution taking shape, the tremendous amount of work being carried out in order to connect the South and the North and to ease traffic jams in the center of the country.

We are beginning to implement the land reform, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of families in Israel will move from leasing their apartments and homes to full ownership of them.

We will continue to advance legislation regarding the planning and construction reform in order to finally alleviate the bureaucratic complications that hinder the increase in the supply of land, and which provide a constant incentive to practice nepotism and corruption.

The land reform, the planning and construction reform and the work being carried out in transportation will provide additional growth of between one and two percent per year, and I believe even more, to the GNP.  This means that we will have the resources to invest in the national needs that rightly interest the members of this house, especially two needs: security and education.

We are launching a program to rehabilitate education, including higher education, in Israel.  Higher education in Israel is in desperate need of resources.  Within six years, we will add NIS 7.5 billion to higher education.

This year, we will establish four centers of excellence at the universities out of the eventual 30 that will be established over the next several years.  These centers will gather together the most brilliant minds in Israel and abroad.  We are dealing with what is called “returning and nurturing minds” in the fields of the future, four in particular that we decided to focus on: finding fuel alternatives; the computer- and cyber-world; brain research; and unlocking the genetic code in order to cure diseases.

We are beginning to adapt the elementary education system to the 21st century.  In the next two years, teleprocessing systems will be introduced into 900 elementary schools in the North and South, with an overall investment of NIS 420 million.

We are not only teaching excellence, but also Zionism.  We are beginning the project to restore 150 heritage sites.  We have already begun work on historic sites in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and on kibbutzim, including: at the cemetery near the Kinneret where the poets Rachel and Naomi Shemer are buried; and in the auditorium where the Declaration of Independence was presented, on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the opening of the winter session of parliament in Jerusalem October 11, 2010. Netanyahu offered on Monday to renew a partial settlement construction freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. (Getty Images)

I will visit these two places in the next week.  All Israeli children should visit them.  As always, knowing our past is the key to our future.  However, there is a need to deal with the pressing problems of the present as well.

During the Winter Session, we will begin erecting the land obstacle in the south to prevent the massive infiltration of illegal job-seekers, something that threatens that character and identity of the State of Israel.  This is a necessary step to preventing the country from being flooded by parties that undermine our economy, as well as the unique structure we have built here.

In the coming months, we will begin implementing the urban policing plan in order to promote law and order in all areas of the country, first and foremost in Lod.

Last week, I visited Lod.  I heard the Jewish and the Arab residents beg for protection from crime families and from violence.  They want to send their children to school without fear; they want to go out in the evening without fear for their lives.

They’re right.  Every Israeli citizen – Jew and non-Jew – deserves to enjoy personal safety.

Soon the Government will hold a special meeting in Lod.

We already decided to set up a web of cameras there and make it the pilot in the City Without Violence Project.  We did these two things in nearby Ramla, and vandalism and violence was reduced by approximately 50%.

At the same time, we will begin investing in developing infrastructure in the non-Jewish sector, investing an overall amount of NIS 800 million.  We will invest an additional NIS 250 million in order to create special programs encouraging the non-Jewish sector to acquire higher educations.

As we promised, we are making significant changes to the economy, society, infrastructure, education and domestic safety.

We will, of course, continue to do so and we will continue in our efforts to return our kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, to his family and to his people.

Now, Members of Knesset, I will move on to the political arena.

From the first day of the Government’s tenure, I called on the leaders of the Palestinian Authority to enter into direct peace talks with us without preconditions.

In my speech at Bar-Ilan University, I outlined the principles for a peace agreement with the Palestinians: a demilitarized Palestinian state which recognizes the state of the Jewish people and lives beside it in peace.

I believe that under the right conditions, the establishment of a Palestinian state could bring about peace, but if it is done in an irresponsible manner, the establishment of a Palestinian state could also be the cause for a worsening of the conflict and an increase in terror.

In order for the compromise to lead to peace and not war, it must be accompanied by two fundamental components: recognition and security arrangements.

When I say recognition, I mean Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.  This is not just stubbornness.  This is the root of the conflict and therefore a central foundation for resolving it.

For 100 years, the Palestinians have taught entire generations to believe that there is no Jewish people, that this land is their homeland alone.

The refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people and its historic connection to its land is the root of the conflict, and without dealing with it, there will be no end to the conflict.

As to security, any peace agreement between the Palestinians and us must be based on strong security arrangements in the field.

We left Lebanon and Gaza without such security arrangements, and we suffered thousands of rockets fired at the Negev and the Galilee.

I am not willing to make do with peace on paper.  The citizens of Israel are also not willing to make do with that.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from the end of the Second Lebanon War, withdrawal from the Philadelphi Route after the Disengagement, the positioning of international forces in the North and the South – none of these things prevented the firing of thousands of missiles at Israel, and the smuggling of tens of thousands of additional missiles by Iran into hostile territory surrounding us.

I will not allow Iranian missiles to be positioned 500 meters from Kfar Saba, or scant kilometers from Ben-Gurion Airport.

We live in a small country – very small.  Our small dimensions pose existential security problems – problems that are unique to Israel.

We must not take these security problems too lightly, and we must not allow ourselves to be tempted by the illusion that a peace agreement, in and of itself, will resolve them.

We once had peaceful, normal relations, relations which included exchanges of delegations, contact between leaders, trade relations, especially of petroleum, with an important country.  That country is called Iran.

We also had wonderful, friendly relations with another country, with military cooperation, with full diplomatic relations, with visits by heads of state, with 400,000 Israeli visitors to that country.  That country is called Turkey.

I still we can rehabilitate and restore those relations, which have deteriorated against our will.  Things have changed in Iran, and unfortunately in other places as well, almost overnight, and no one can promise us that, despite our desire, a similar thing won’t happen after the establishment of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Therefore we must insist on strong security arrangements in the field, with determination and without fear, in order to ensure that the peace will be upheld in practice, and also in order to defend our existence in the unfortunate but possible case that the peace is violated.

Peace and security are interwoven, and they are the principles which guide me.  I firmly insist on the need for both of them, and I see that an understanding of our security needs has finally begun to penetrate international debate, beyond general statements.  I speak of our specific needs.  I believe, Members of Knesset, that if we stand together on this front, united around these principles, I am convinced it will help us achieve a peace agreement.

I believe that the unity surrounding these principles, which are so basic, so important and so real, can greatly advance our ability to achieve a peace agreement.

Although the Palestinians did not answer my call to begin direct negotiations for over a year, we took action.

We removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints.  We encouraged impressive growth in the Palestinian economy – impressive by any standards, especially given the fact that at the same time the entire world was mired in recession and economic crisis.

And as you know, we also suspended new construction in the Jewish settlements for ten months.   We did so with a heavy heart.

We knew that this step would weigh heavily on our brothers and sisters, good and loyal Israeli citizens, taxpayers, participants in the Reserves, law-abiding citizens.  As the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, stated, it was an unprecedented move that no other government in Israel had taken before.

But we said we would do it and we did it.  We enforced the moratorium with determination and without compromise.  For ten months.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians wasted those ten months as well.

Now they demand that we continue the moratorium as a condition to continuing the talks.  I hope they are not doing so to avoid   making the real decisions necessary for a peace agreement.

Because they too will have to make difficult decisions.  I don’t belittle that.  I know what kind of decisions we will have to make, but I also know what kind of decisions they will have to make.  The only way to reach a peace agreement is to try, through direct talks, to bridge the gaps and make decisions.

However, as Prime Minister of Israel, I am committed and want to advance towards an agreement, one that will bring an end to the conflict and achieve peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors.

I know, Members of Knesset, that one can argue a great deal as to the path to achieving peace – but there is no argument that we will not achieve peace if we do not try.

During the past several weeks, I have explored every path to ensuring the continuation of the talks.  I asked myself – what could convince the government and, more so, the citizens of Israel, that the Palestinians are truly ready to live with us in peace?  What would show that there has been a genuine change on the Palestinian side – something that would demonstrate to us, the majority of the public, that they are not only demanding concessions by Israel, not only issuing dictates, but that they are ready to take a meaningful step towards us.

There is one thing.  I transmitted the message through quiet channels during the past month, and I am now saying it here, publicly: if the Palestinian leadership will unequivocally say to its people that it recognizes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, I will be ready to convene my government and ask for another suspension of construction for a fixed period.

Because the Palestinians expect us to recognize the Palestinian state as their nation-state, we can expect them to recognize the Jewish state as our nation-state.

I am not insisting that this recognition serve as a precondition for talks.  We will continue the negotiations in any event, without any conditions.

However, there is no doubt that such a move by the Palestinian Authority would serve as a trust-building step, one that would open up a new horizon of hope and trust among broad sections of the Israel public who, in light of the events of the past decade, have lost their confidence in the Palestinian’s desire to end the conflict.

Unfortunately, so far the Palestinians have not answered this call, and the United States is attempting other means to ensure that the talks take place.

The United States has made various suggestions, and we are seriously and responsibly considering them, in accordance with Israel’s national interests, first and foremost security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We do not lack for difficulties and challenges, but I am convinced that we will overcome them.  We must only think of the obstacles we have overcome since Herzl expressed his vision.

The ancient Jewish people, so experienced in suffering, returned to its historic homeland at the turn of the previous century and found it destroyed, neglected and desolate, full of swamps and malaria.

For over one hundred years, we built it through sweat and blood, and we established a magnificent country.

Those reverberating words of the Declaration of Independence, read by David Ben-Gurion, still touch our souls today: “We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel to be known as the State of Israel.”

This is the secret to our national existence, and recognition of this has always been and will always be the true foundation for peace.