Israel FM Tzipi Livni (in the centre, seen here with her counterpart Jordan FM Salaheddin Al-Bashir and Egypt FM Ahmed Aboul Gheit): "In my view, seeking peace is one of the sources of our national strength. It is integral to our children's education, it is the most popular word in Jewish prayer, in our songs, in our literature and poetry and in the speeches not just of our politicians but of our army generals."
FM Livni addressed the President of Israel, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other distinguished guests on the occasion of Israel 's 60th anniversary
Your Excellency, The President of the state of Israel Mr. Shimon Peres
Mayor of Jerusalem , Mr. Uri Lupoliansky,
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honorable Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Thank you for joining us for this celebration of Israel ’s 60th anniversary of independence.
Israelis celebrate each and every year of independence because each and every year is a gift of our own making. Each year we celebrate the return to our ancient homeland after 2000 years of exile.
Israel has been an independent state for 60 years, but being part of the international community is of great importance to us.
For us, independence also means partnership with the global society in which we all live: partnership in promoting democratic values, partnership in facing common challenges, and partnership in sharing the knowledge and experience we gained throughout the last 60 years of developing our historic homeland – despite the lack of natural resources. )
It is true that Moses was promised that Israel would be a land of milk and honey– and indeed we have plenty of milk and plenty of honey, but what about some water or at least oil? – they were, unfortunately, forgotten in the promise…
Israel in its 60th year is proud to be a part of the free world. Our wish is to continue and contribute efforts in promoting the free world’s values on the one hand, while on the other hand confronting those who wish to harm the free world and its values.
The extremists – including, Iran as a state and Hamas and Hizbullah as terror organizations –are watching all of us.
Israel is often the excuse they use, and we are surely on the frontlines of this struggle, but it the values and future of us all that are threatened.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have shown determination in this difficult struggle – standing up to Iran 's hostile agenda, seeking to prevent Hizbollah's rearmament and denying legitimacy from Hamas for as long as it rejects the Quartet principles and embraces terror.
We are proud of our achievements, but if you will ask a typical Israeli - and I do hope that you get to meet our citizens and not just our politicians; they are much nicer: - the first complaint that you will hear is that “The world does not understand us..”.
I have to say that I as the Israeli Foreign Minister often feel the same way - although I am not allowed to complain since it is against the advice I get from our diplomats..
I am not referring to the understanding our foreign policy. The audience gathered here has, of course, heard countless speeches about this.
I am talking about something deeper- about the nature of Israel and about who Israelis are. I would like to share with you some things that I am proud of, that are not always understood:
Israel is a country whose celebrations are always touched with some sadness. One eye cries for the terrible loss of life we have had to pay and may still have to pay in the future - while the other eye smiles and is proud of the miracle we have created.
Israel is a country with one of the strongest armies in the world – an army determined never to target civilians even if our enemies never cease to do so.
We are a country that feels incomplete, that has a hole in its heart because 3 of its soldiers, Ehud, Eldad and Gilad are not home or free.
Israel is a country that looks from the outside as one unit, but inside is combined with people from all over the world: from the Middle East to the Far East, from Africa to Europe, from North America to South America.
We all came to Israel , mixed together, creating together a new and wonderful culture that blends the unique and special from each and every foreign culture.
Israel is a country with a world renowned legal system and a strong, vibrant and stable economy - (and this is perhaps a good moment to thank all those supported Israel ’s joining the OECD.)
Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people, but it is also a democracy committed to respecting the rights of all its citizens, and all minorities, even in difficult times.
Israel is a country blessed with a generation of young people bursting with life - who help shape global trends in art and music, who squeeze every minute to enjoy their own life before they join the army and contribute to a larger cause.
Israel is a country where many of its citizens and their parents were born in Europe, still remembering the trauma of the Holocaust, yet seeks to upgrade its relationships and ties with a new Europe (- And here let me thank all those who have supported this upgrade in furthering the Essen declaration – and understand that this relationship is about values and bilateral ties that are not connected to external parties or external events.)
In all this and more I am proud.
Above all, I am proud that despite all the challenges Israel is a country that seeks peace with all its neighbors since its foundation. Generation after generation living in this land has prayed for such peace – and we are ready to sacrifice for it.
In my view, seeking peace is one of the sources of our national strength. It is integral to our children's education, it is the most popular word in Jewish prayer, in our songs, in our literature and poetry and in the speeches not just of our politicians but of our army generals.
It is this same peace that I am fully obligated to achieve. It is the same peace that will end the conflict and not remain another disappointing slogan in this conflict.
You can fail in making peace, and you can make a failed peace – the price in both cases is tremendous.
We need peace to answer a terrible reality of terror, a peace that will protect our fundamental interests because without those there will be no peace.
Two nation states living side by side in peace and security – each providing the answer to the national aspirations of its people.
A peace with security - because security is not an empty word or an excuse, just as peace is not only a piece of paper – peace and security must be seen on the ground.
In this Independence Day I would like to ask the world to respect our aspiration to make peace in the right way, in a real way - a peace that would last for generations to come.
The Israeli leadership is the one that will have to take the tough decisions, to look in its citizen’s eyes and say “We are confident that this is the right thing to do".
This is our own responsibility and we cannot share this responsibility with anyone else.
And we will continue to make Israel a better place to live, because it is our home – we are proud of it and we love it.