Here is the full speech Shimon Peres gave at the Davos forum. The Tundra Tabloids differs with Peres’ continued emphasis on starting negotiations with the Palestinians presently, it appears old habits are too hard to kick, but the point he makes concerning Israel’s difficult choices vis-a-vis the Hamas’ rockets and the world silence in the face of Hamas’ war crimes against Israeli civilians, and against their own people, are right on track.
The kind of people Finnish YLE activist, journalist, stooges like Kirsi Virtanen are defending
The pictures above tell of the despots that run Gaza, stealing from their own people, and murdering anyone they disagree with. That is the mindset that rules Gaza, and makes a living hell for the people who live there, not Israel.
Israeli President, Shimon Peres
Thank you Mr.Chairman, I heard the distinguished speakers talking about Israel and I couldn’t recognize the picture of the country that they know. I want to tell the beginning. It’s very difficult when a democratic country has to confront an illegal terroristic group, Whatever we do, is being photographed, whatever they do, nobody sees.
For example. When you throw a rocket on a settlement in Israel, it’s no big photograph. You cannot see the mother trying to defend her child the whole night, and led a sleepless night. Did you ever see on television a sleepless night?
(Turning to Turkish Prime Minister Mas-kom-ya Erdogan) I have very much respect for you Mr.Prime Minister, but I must put things as they really are. Let me start with democracy, first of all.
Who was elected by the Palestinians? Not Hamas, but Mr.Abbas who’s called Abu Mazen, Sixty-two percent of the Palestinians voted for him to be the president of the Palestinian people, and we negotiate with him. Hamas participated in the elections, but they have a very unique idea about democracy. They think a democracy is a story of one day in four years, you go through the elections, after the elections you can start to shoot and kill and threaten. Finished.
Democracy is not a matter of elections, it is a civilization. And I want to contradict your words (Erdogan’s), by quoting from the Hamas. I won’t give (unclear) ..but Hamas concerns us, Hamas published a charter. Let me read just two lines, three lines from it. From the Hamas charter (reading from a piece of paper):
“The day of judgment will not come about until the Muslims kill the Jews, when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, there is no solution for peace initiative, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time.”
(Turning to Erdogan) This is an official charter. I don’t know of which Hamas you are talking?
Now about the proportions. In the last eight years, well I mean I hate to say it but since you mentioned it, let me give the other picture too. (Reading from a piece of paper) Israel lost hundred..thousand hundred sixty seven lives from terrorists, eight thousand five hundred were wounded. It wasn’t done in twenty day, it was done over several years. We restrained all the time. And then since the last four years when Hamas took over Gaza, 5500 rockets, and 4000 mortars, shells were fired upon civilian life in Israel at random, they didn’t care if it was a kindergarten, if it’s a..we didn’t answer them.
For that reason, the ceasefire idea, Mr. Prime Minister, was very strange in our views. We never started fire. And we told the Palestinians time and again:
“don’t fire, and there won’t be fire, we are not doing (unclear) we never started!”
And who broke…and oh by the way, we didn’t have a formal agreement about the ceasefire, they announced, and the Palestinians said, “it’s over”. (Turning to Erdogan) They broke it. And when the Prime Minister (Olmert) was at your place four days before the operations started, the government of Israel didn’t get to decide to take actions against it.
Now let me,…I want you (the audience) to listen because you watch all of your televisions, and I can understand your feelings.
“Israel left Gaza completely, no occupation. We took out all of our soldiers from Gaza, all of our civilians. People are talking about settlements, we took out from Gaza all the settlements and all the settlers, 15000 of them. Nobody forced us, it was our own choice. We had to mobilize 45000 policemen bring them back home, at the cost of 2.5 billion dollars.
I want to understand (turning to Erdogan) why did they fire rockets against us? What for? There was not any siege against Gaza. All the passages were open. Not only that, we participated in investing money in Gaza, to develop agriculture. We at the Peres Center, we ourselves 20 000 dollars…20 million dollars, sorry, to build green houses, to develop strawberries, the export of strawberries, excellent strawberries, flowers.
Jimmy Bolton who was representative of the Quartet, took from his own pocket 5 million dollars to participate in it. They destroyed it. Why? They bombed all the passages. Why? Why did they fire at us, what did they want?” We didn’t occupy, there was never a day of starvation in Gaza!
By the way, Israel is the supplier of water daily to Gaza, Israel is the supplier of fuel to Gaza, the only thing we didn’t permit to bring in was rockets from Iran! And they build tunnels to do it!
And you know, we also have women and children, and they want to sleep at night. Do you know what it means, every day, almost a hundred rockets falling at random, a million people have had to be under shelter. They came to the government and said “what happened to you? We want to have security, why do you permit to happen it? ” And I want anyone telling me, clearly, what were the reasons for the attack? What were the purposes of the attack?
Peace? We make peace with Egypt, not by arms, but by peaceful negotiations, and we met all of the requests of Egypt. We made peace with Jordan the same, we gave back all the land and all the water. We opened with the Palestinians, and we told them, that we are for a Palestinian state, I started in Oslo, against the majority maybe, of our people that didn’t agree.
And all the time, you know Mr. Prime Minister, (looking at each other) when you had to wait, because many busses that came from the West Bank to Jerusalem were full of dynamite. I was then Prime Minister I saw it with my own eyes, the blood and the bodies. You know, I don’t have to watch television, and when I cam in there were thousands of people shouting at me “traitor, killer, look at what you did to us!”
You must, there are many details you need to know. Israel is sixty-years old, do you know any other country, that in sixty-years has had to go through seven wars, two Intifadas, an ongoing boycott? What, why?
And in spite of it, we made peace with Egypt. I have the highest respect for President Mubarak. By the way, President Mubarak accused Hamas, not us. And President Mubarak knows the situation not less as you Mr.Prime Minister. And President Abbas knows the situation not less than you do, and he accused Hamas not us.
And then mothers and children came to the government and asked what will happen? A million people every night have had to hide themselves in shelters, mothers with sleepless nights, what do you really mean? By the way, I have never seen anyone demonstrating against those missiles!
That was ok?
Nobody said a word. And we didn’t answer, a day in and a day out, a year in a year out, there’s a limit to it. And by the way, I have much respect for the Secretary General, I hope that he’s still a friend, I appreciate very much their initiative, but there is a problem in it, I don’t want to hide it. The problem is not the Arab world, the problem is the Iranian ambition to govern the Middle East.
They supplied the rockets to Hezbollah, they supplied the rockets to Hamas, they are controversially the Arab making, and you know we didn’t have no choice! The leader of Hezbollah, Nasrallah says: “would have I known that Israel will react so strongly, we wouldn’t have started”. Thank you very much.
And then come Mashaal, the leader of Hamas and said:”Israel reacted too strongly.” What did you expect us to do, I don’t understand? What would any country do? What would you do (pointing at Erdogan) if it happened in Istanbul every night ten rockets, a hundred rockets?
And we never gave up, all my life as you said Mr.Chairman, I appreciate it, I am fighting for peace, what we did is not…the thing that we wanted to do,… It’s not our choice, our choice is peace. What we did is because the lack of a choice, we were threatened with a choice. Would you vote for such a convention, to kill the Jews?
Ok, those are words, but to kill the Jews and send rockets to kill them. (To Erdogon) What do you want us to do?!
We started to negotiate with Mr.Arafat, with much respect, it wasn’t simple. The PLO was in the beginning a terroristic organization, Mr.Arafat agreed to stop terror and go on to negotiations. By the way, what ever was achieved, positively, was achieved not by rockets, nor by force not by power, but by negotiations. It takes time, it takes time. It’s a very complicated country. It’s a small country with three religions, with a lot of history. With different ethnicities, it’s not simple.
We made peace, once, twice, now we are negotiating with the Palestinians. There was a crisis among the Palestinians, we don’t intend to be the one who decides that the Palestinians be united or not. As long as Hamas did not rebel against the Fattah, it was not our business, we didn’t say a word. You know what? I am talking about Israel, look what the people, of the Palestinian people, the Secretary General of Fattah is saying about Hamas, three days ago.
His name is Yasser Abdel Rabbo, a Palestinian, a secretary general of the PLO, of the executive committee, and I quote him, three days ago:
“Hamas has turned Gaza, Gaza schools and mosques, all universities into centers of detention, interrogation and torture. Dozens have been shot in their legs, beaten savagely, and had their bones broken. Hamas plundered trucks bringing …and distributes it only to…the food.. only to the supporters of their movement.”
They didn’t give the food to the people of Fattah. They killed hundred leaders of Fattah in full daylight. They throw them from the roofs.
(Turning to Erdogan) What do you really mean? Is that the matter of definitions? Israel does not want to shoot anybody, for us all children are as important as one can think of. I created the Peres Center, all the money we have collected, went to the cure of children. Palestinian children. They didn’t have insurance, they didn’t have hospitals, in five years we have brought to Israel 5500 Palestinian children and they are others to be cured. By the way, there is no hospital today in Israel that does not have Arab doctors, so the children can communicate with the doctors in the Israeli hospitals.
That is our choice, to touch a child. But if you put a child, if you put bombs in the kindergarten, and if you hide yourselves behind innocent families, and before we shell, before we try to shell anybody, we try and telephone the people, we say, please leave the place. We don’t want to hurt you. We made during those twenty days, 250 000 telephone calls before we shoot. What could we do, what was our choice? And what would any government do?
I am very much sorry Mr.Secretary General (turning to Ban Ki-Moon) about the United Nations’ building, according to our records, not by your knowledge, they started to shoot from there, and by the way, Europe bombed Kosovo, and you hit the Chinese embassy, did you want to? And hundreds of civilian people were killed in the bombing to, Ok? so please, I want to speak clearly, Israel does not need a ceasefire, because we never started a bullet and we shall never do it.
And the minute they will stop shooting there will be a ceasefire, we don’t need anything else. Every moment every day, we are not interested in fire, we are not interested in hurting or killing anybody.
Now about the peace process.
First of all I want to say that, it was a great move on the side, of the secretary general of the Arab League to introduce the Arab initiative, I think that was a very positive move in a bitter history of misunderstanding and confrontations. The problems we were facing well, were the following, (a) we started negotiating directly with the Palestinians. President Mubarak told me, look, finish your negotiations with the Palestinians, we will consider as the first move of an overall peace. We are negotiating, and I think that we made headway in extremely complicated issues,
Take the issue of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not a piece of land, Jerusalem is fire. There are three different religions, and there are different streams in every religion and the people are fighting about every window, every door. It’s easy to say make an agreement, we are trying to find the way.
We told the Palestinians we are ready to accept free trade, which means to return most of all of the West Bank to them. Gaza we left completely. What is there to fight? So the ceasefire as far as Israel is concerned is not a problem for us. We never started, we shall never start fire, and when they fired against us, we replied, but after a great restraint and after thousands of people were killed to. They weren’t killed in a concentrated manner, so what? It doesn’t matter.
And now I think what we have to do, and by the way, I am for the restoration of Gaza, (to Ban Ki-Moon) there wasn’t a day we didn’t supply water and oil. I personally read every week a report about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. If something is missing, the government and myself are intervening to make sure that there will be enough food and fuel. The tragedy of Gaza (to Ban Ki-Moon) is not Israel, it’s Hamas, who created a dictatorship, a very ugly one, and they build the problem of the crossing now, is not because we want to control the supply of food and building material or medical, they build tunnels to bring in those missiles.
And they build an underground system of tunnels whereby the leaders hide themselves there, and they forgot the people. I think yes, we would like to see Gaza flourishing, Gaza is a small place, it’s an intelligent people, when they start to talk with missiles, (unclear) we took for an example Singapore, Gaza together with the West Bank, are nine times larger than Singapore, and in Singapore, there are more people than in Gaza and in the West Bank.
Today the problem is not about land, but really education, and Gaza is not our enemy, and the people in Gaza are not our enemy, and we want to live with them in peace, that we don’t have hatred and we don’t have (unclear) for the reason we left Gaza, and we are for restoring the life in Gaza, but without dictators and without shooting, not only us but the people of Fattah. And we want to renew the negotiations with the authorized Palestinian Authority. We made headway, we want to start right away, we want to do it with the Quartet, we want to do it straight away, we don’t want to waste time.
Our aim is peace, not war, and when we win a war, we don’t consider it as a victory, for us victory is peace, not war. We have power, we shall never use power unless we don’t have another choice, and when we have a choice, we want peace. And I think that Hezbollah has learned a lesson, they stopped shooting, nobody stopped them to shoot, but by our reaction. I hope that Hamas will also have a lesson, they will stop shooting and start talking. Everything we can achieve is by talking not by shooting. And that was, that is and will remain the position of Israel.
Atlas has the full story here.