Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl, had been right in insisting on a Jewish state that would be strong enough to defend its people from threats.
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Speaking at a festive ceremony in honor of the Knesset's Herzl Day, Netanyahu added that "the recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people is a necessary basis for true peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors".
He said "Zionism has won", and that Herzl's vision of the recognition of Israel as a home for the Jewish people was still relevant today.
"His diagnosis and prognosis were totally correct. The only way to secure the existence of the Jewish people is through a Jewish national, independent, and sovereign state here in Israel that is secure enough in its identity and culture to defend itself," Netanyahu said.
He added that anyone who did not respect the bond between the Jewish people and Israel did not truly respect the rights of the Jewish people.
"What Herzl recognized clearly was the spread of anti-Semitism and the need to leave for a Jewish state in the land of Israel," the prime minister said.
MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima) said Herzl would have been proud of the state that had arisen after his death.
"Despite the will to remove the stains that have stuck to us, and the will to remember the clouds that hover above us, I am sure he would have been amazed at the nation that arose in the tumult of war, a war that still has not ended – a free country that maintains its democratic character and freedom of man despite difficult challenges," she said.