"I have basis to hope, in a realistic way, that in the coming weeks we will resume the peace process with the Palestinians, without preconditions," the prime minister told the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center on Wednesday evening.
"I have been saying for a long time that the international community has matured into understanding that Israel wants and is ready to resume the peace process. And from the moment this recognition has matured among the key elements in the international community, the practical feasibility of this move is also maturing."
"There is a saying that it takes two to tango," Netanyahu added. "In the Middle East, it sometimes takes three, at least at the beginning. Then we can continue to a dance for couples.
"I hope there if is willingness on the other side, not only to build the Palestinian economy and the Palestinian institutions, but also to start building peace itself, we will see a resumption of the process in the coming weeks."
'It takes three to tango in the Middle East' (Photo: Ori Porat)
After the short introduction, the prime minister devoted most of his speech to the education issue. "I know that one of my predecessors, Ariel Sharon, spoke on this stage about the disengagement. Today I ask to talk not about disengagement, but about connecting – to our heritage, to Zionism, to our past – and to our future.
"Here in our fatherland, which is also the land of our children and grandchildren. In order to continue controlling our fate, we must base our collective ability on three main areas: Security, economy and education."
Before moving on to the education issue, Netanyahu asked to say a few words about security and economy. "We will have to continue nurturing the strengthening our military power. The weak do not survive in the tough geographic space we are in, and you don't make peace with the weak. I would like to clarify that our security needs will grow throughout the coming decade, and I believe that in the next two decades."
"We are entering a different world, where the attacker has certain advantages," he explained. "He can launch… it's not missiles, it's just metal parts with quite a primitive engine, fuel and explosives. We, in order to hit this airborne ball, must invest a lot. Sometimes the attacker has an advantage, and we must invest a lot in order to remove that advantage. We have the power to do so, but it costs a lot of money.
"Security requires a strong economy, and a strong economy brings strong security. Therefore, there is no way to meet the State of Israel's security needs in the coming decades, just like there is no way to meet the needs of education, health and the war on crime and drugs and alcohol. It all requires money. Where will the money come from? It will only come from economic growth. There is no other reliable source to finance these needs, which can reach billions."
Addressing conference (Photo: Ori Porat)
As for the economic issue, the prime minister said the government will be presented in the coming weeks with a plan including two main components: A national transportation plan, which will connect the entire country through a train and road network; and a "revolutionary" reform in planning and construction, which will allow entrepreneurs "to build anywhere".
"It won't take years. It can take months," he promised. "It won't go through government workers and nerve-racking counters. It takes place on the internet. We will base and deepen our position as a global technological power.
"It's a necessary condition, but it's not enough," he said, "because a strong army and a strong economy are not a sufficient guarantee for our existence here if we don't have the commitment to be here in the first place. That can only be created through one thing – education. That is the melting pot in which our national strength is created. And in my vision, we will establish Israel as a global technological power."