by Benjamin Netanyahu, November 29, 2007
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is a former Prime Minister of Israel and current Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset. He is head of the Likud party.
This article is reproduced at Zionism On The Web under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Israel License.
The UN resolution of November 29, 1947 recognizing a Jewish state was an important moment in the history of our nation, and an important moment in the history of all nations.
Since then, we have made peace with Egypt and Jordan, but the obstacle to widening the circle of peace remains what it has always been: the refusal of Israel’s enemies to recognize the Jewish State in any borders.
Our enemies do not want an Arab state next to Israel. They want an Arab state instead of Israel.
Time and again they were offered an Arab state next to Israel: first, in the partition plan of 1947; then, indirectly, in the Oslo accords; later, unequivocally, at Camp David in 2000; and finally, in the countless declarations since then by both Israeli and international leaders which have called for two states for two peoples.
And how did our enemies respond to these offers? Time and again they violently rejected them. In 1947, they launched terror attacks and then an all out war to annihilate the Jewish state. During the Oslo peace process, they terrorized Israel with suicide bombers; after Camp David, they orchestrated the Second Intifadah in which over 1,000 Israelis were murdered; since then they have fired thousands of Katushya rockets on the Galilee and thousands of Kassam rockets on the Western Negev in order, they say, “to liberate occupied Palestine” – in other words, “occupied” Haifa, “occupied” Acre, “occupied” Sderot and “occupied” Ashkelon.
In doing so, Hezbollah and Hamas are merely following the words of Jamal Husseini, a cousin of the Mufti and a member of the Arab High Committee, who said four days before the UN partition vote: “Palestine will be filled with blood and fire if the Jews receive even a part of it.”
Regrettably, even the more moderate Palestinians refuse to support making peace with Israel as a Jewish state. They support two states for one people: A Palestinian state cleansed of Jews, and a bi-national state that they hope to flood with Palestinians according to what they call the “right of return.”
Until they truly recognize and internalize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own and until their leaders show the courage of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, it is doubtful that we will have a real partner for a genuine peace.
In this context, we can understand what happened – and what didn’t happen – with the adoption of the UN partition resolution in 1947.
The resolution did not fix for all time the contours of a final settlement between us and our neighbors. After all, the Arabs rejected the establishment of a Jewish state and sought to destroy it. The day after the vote the Mufti himself said, “what the UN wrote in black ink, we will write in red blood.”
Arab leaders cannot come today, 60 years later, and demand to turn back the clock as if nothing happened. They cannot demand that we accept an agreement that they themselves tore to shreds because, having failed to destroy Israel, they have now concluded that its provisions would spell Israel’s doom.
Ben Gurion understood this well when he said in one of the first meetings of the government of Israel: “The decisions of November 29 are dead. The borders of partition are dead. Jerusalem as an ‘international city’ is a mere fantasy.” He repeated these ideas in his speech to the Knesset on December 12th, 1949 when he said that the UN decision was null and void.
Thus, neither the borders of partition nor the internationalization of Jerusalem are the enduring features of the UN vote.
What is enduring is the international recognition of the right of the Jewish people to their own state, a right anchored in the Balfour Declaration which recognized the right of the Jews to a national home in the Land of Israel and which was reaffirmed by both the San Remo conference in 1920 and by the League of Nations in 1922.
But the UN partition vote is seared in our memory because immediately following the vote Britain began to leave the country, opening the way to the fateful battle that almost snuffed out our existence.
The UN partition vote did not establish the state of Israel. It merely recognized the historic right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland and restore their sovereign existence.
But had it not been for the millennial longing of the Jewish people for the land of Israel, the continuous presence of Jews here across the centuries and the seventy years of intensive Jewish settlement in the land that preceded the UN vote, this historic right would never have been realized.
And even these would not have sufficed had not the sons of a tiny nation, in the wake of the horrific Holocaust, raised the sword of the Macabees and with incomparable heroism repelled an Arab onslaught that was about to overwhelm the fledgling state.
The enduring belief in our historic national rights, the settlement effort that realized those rights and the military struggle that defended them– these are what established the Jewish state.
The UN vote merely gave international recognition to this. Yet the UN vote was an important and historic decision, and it is right that we commemorate that vote today with the distinguished ambassadors of the nations that supported it.
But consider this: What would have happened to the UN decision if we would have been defeated in the War of Independence?
The key to Israel’s existence has always been rooted in strengthening Zionism and our ability to defend ourselves - and this remains the key to our existence and the key to forging a genuine peace with all our Arab neighbors. Only when some of them recognized Israel’s permanence and indestructibility did they reconcile themselves to making peace with us.
That is why I was shocked to hear in the press that the prime minister said: “If there will not be two states, Israel is finished.”
Mr. Prime Minister: The state of Israel will never be finished! Our fate will be determined by us, and us alone!
Our existence does not depend on the willingness of the Palestinians to make peace with us. Our existence is secured by our right to live in this land and our capacity to defend that right.
We built up our country for 31 years before the peace agreement with Egypt, we continued to build it for another 16 years before the peace agreement with Jordan, and I hope we will not wait long before we can achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians and with others in the Arab world.
But we do not condition our existence on their agreement. That was the policy of all Israeli governments until now, and it must be the policy of all Israeli governments in the future. Let me repeat: Our fate will be determined by us and us alone!
In the Middle East, peace and security go hand-in-hand. In fact security, which stems from Israel’s strength, precedes peace and peace agreements. Whoever does not understand this will be left without security and without peace.
Only a strong Israel, confident in the justice of its cause and led by a strong leadership, will be able to achieve the lasting peace with our neighbors for which we all yearn
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Israel License. This means you CAN reproduce this (if you comply with the conditions).
We'll be happy to add a link to our directory for any site on Israel, Zionism, the Middle East, or Judaism that links to us. You can add your site and if you have a link to us we'll aprove it. You can aslo e-mail us at for an additional link on our links page.