Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Thursday rejected the idea of a bi-national state during a memorial for Theodore Herzl in Jerusalem.
"We do not want a bin-national state," said Netanyahu, adding "but let's not delude ourselves, even if we sign an agreement with the Palestinians it won't end the wild defamatory accusations against the Jewish state."
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Peres warned that a bi-national state "contradicts Herzl's vision. It threatens the State of Israel's Jewish and democratic character."
Netanyahu at Herzl's grave (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
Netanyahu was primarily concerned with international criticism of the Jewish state. "Israel is rated as a country with a negative influence on the world, alongside Iran, and it doesn't matter what we do.
"Because it's not about the facts, it's about the defamation of Israel and our portrayal as peace rejecters, war mongers instead of an enlightened nation that is fighting against aims to destroy us."
The prime minister said that the accusations leveled at Israel's policy are "exaggerated and groundless but they still – and it doesn't matter whether we're at the height of a peace process. We want peace because we want to live in peace."
'We can't miss this chance' (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
Netanyahu stressed that any peace accord that may be reached must be based on Israel's ability to defend itself. "Without security and the army that Herzl envisioned we cannot defend ourselves. Security is a fundamental condition for the existence of peace. I think that most Israeli citizens understand this and I believe Herzl understood it very well."
Peres on his part said, "The chances for the renewal of the peace process must not be missed. We welcome the arrival of Kerry to Israel in an effort to renew peace and we shall all help him along."
The president stressed that Herzl's Zionist vision was based on values of peace. "Herzl was right when he said that a Jewish state was absolutely necessary.
"Herzl was also right when he defined the establishment of a Jewish state as historic justice. The Jewish people, as all other peoples, have a right for self determination."
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