June 18, 1996
I am honored to present the new government today before the Knesset and
the citizens of Israel, a government which will lead the State of Israel
on a new course.
I was fortunate to be the first among Israel’s prime ministers to be born
after the establishment of the state.
The founding generation struggled to establish the state and build its
foundation. Our generation faces other challenges.
This is a turning point in our history. During more than 2,000 years of
exile, generations of Jews fought and struggled to get back the homeland
Now, after the founding of the state, our main task is to secure, re-
establish, and develop the homeland we got back.
The torch has been passed on to us, the generation born with the
founding of the state in 1948 and in the 1950s, the generation which broke
the siege of the Six Day War and repulsed the joint assault of the Yom
We have the responsibility to carry the age-old hope of generations into
the next century. We have the privilege to turn the dream into reality.
We promised this would be a government of renewal, of a new way.
We are not talking of cosmetic changes, of the same package in different
wrapping, but of a fundamental change, deep and substantive, that will
march Israel forward to its goals.
Indeed, the new government will be a government of a new way. First in its
approach to security and peace.
It is possible to reach a real peace with our neighbors. This is not an
easy task, but it is within reach. We need patience, determination and
persistence to achieve this goal.
We want a stable and lasting peace, not a temporary, fleeting agreement.
We want peace that will last for our children and our grandchildren, not
just for tomorrow’s newspapers.
Such a peace is based first of all on the security of Israel and its
The test of peace agreements is security, and on this we shall not
compromise. We will not compromise on the security of Israel’s citizens,
and we will not countenance attacks on our children — be it in Jerusalem
or Hebron, Tel Aviv or Ariel, Kiryat Shmona or Kfar Darom.
The reality we are inheriting is not simple. In the last years, the
security situation has deteriorated throughout the country and its
borders. To stop this deterioration we will have to wage a continuous
battle against terror.
The participants in terror should know that they will encounter a harsh
response. I refer not only to the terrorists themselves but to their
patrons and those who sent them, to their operators and collaborators.
Security is essential if we are to make progress towards real peace
arrangements with our neighbors.
Our interlocutors must know that if they wish to advance to this end, they
must diligently fulfill all their obligations. They must also know, that
if necessary, the IDF and security forces will have full freedom of
action, whenever necessary, to fight against terror.
I want to call today to our neighbors in the Palestinian Authority and say
to them: on this basis of ensuring security, we are ready to start a real
partnership with you for peace, cooperation and good, neighborly
The government of Israel will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority on
the condition that it will fulfill all its obligations. The negotiations
will deal with the implementation of the interim agreement and the issues
of the permanent arrangement, which will allow both sides to live in peace
I believe that the permanent status arrangement will be lasting if a
balance is created between two basic needs: minimal Israeli involvement in
the lives of the Palestinians, and maximum security for Israel in the face
of terror and threats of war.
We must build a new reality, which will grow from the shared lives of
Israelis and Palestinians.
It is the lack of security which causes closures, paralysis and economic
stagnation. With security, we will be able to create freedom of movement,
an open economy and prosperity for all.
Mr. Speaker, Members of Knesset,
Clearly, we must first reinforce the primary circle of peace.
The government of Israel will act to strengthen its ties with Egypt and
Jordan. In my discussions with President Mubarak of Egypt and King Hussein
of Jordan, we expressed our mutual desire to work together to deepen,
broaden and strengthen the cooperation and mutual ties between our
We will work to raise the level of relations with other Arab states which
have ties with Israel: Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania.
Broadening the circle of peace with all our neighbors, while safeguarding
the vital interests of our country is a foremost goal of the
From this podium I address the leaders of all Arab countries with a call
for peace. I call especially on our immediate neighbors, Syrian President
Hafez Assad, Lebanese President Elias Hrawi, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia,
and all other Arab leaders.
Come, let us conduct direct negotiations for peace, negotiations without
pre-conditions which will advance the Middle East to an era of stability
This is the key: no pre-conditions. Each side will be able to present its
views and position without requiring that the other side agree to these
positions in advance.
We will not dictate our views to you and you will not dictate your views
to us. We will sit and negotiate seriously, prudently and responsibly to
reach an agreement.
I declare here, that we oppose the description of Islam as the enemy of
Israel and the West, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Along with
political discussions between Israel and the countries in the region, we
must add a parley between Judaism and Islam. We extend our hand in peace
not only to our Arab neighbors, but to all Muslim countries and Islamic
We have no conflict with Islam. We have a struggle with militant forces,
who use their distorted interpretation of Islam as a tool for violence,
hatred and bloodshed.
The new government will work to strengthen our international ties. Our
relations with the United States will continue to be the cornerstone of
our foreign policy.
We view positively the contribution of Europe to the political process and
we look forward to continued, broad cooperation between Israel and Europe
in the political, economic and social spheres.
Concomitantly, we will deepen our ties with the Russian Federation and the
other CIS states, as well as the countries in East Asia and Latin
Since the Madrid Conference we have found many partners in Asia and
Africa; we will act to advance our relations and cooperation with them.
Israel views positively the contribution of many countries to the
political process between Israel and its neighbors. Yet, only the partners
to the negotiations can determine their substance, because it is they who
will have to live with their consequences.
The government I am presenting today to the Knesset will be a government
of a new way in the socio-economic sphere, too. No more talk about
privatization, free market and fair competition — but real, meaningful
steps in this direction.
Without a free economy, we will not be able to take advantage of the
enormous wondrous human potential we possess, enhanced qualitatively and
quantitatively by the large immigration of the last years.
Only encouraging private enterprise and utilizing the full abilities of
each and every citizen will enable us to continue absorbing immigrants.
Only through a free market economy can we solve Israel’s social problems
because only a free, healthy, thriving economy will give us the resources
to solve the serious social problems, which have worsened in recent
The problems are grave: there are development towns which have succeeded
in moving forward, but I have visited in development towns where I found
severe problems of poverty and unemployment.
I have been to Arab villages in the Galilee where I saw sewage flowing in
streets without sidewalks or lighting.
The problems exist not only in the periphery. On a recent visit to an
established city in the center of the country, I met an elderly lady who
couldn’t buy food.
We cannot countenance this situation.
We cannot go back to business as usual after witnessing such phenomena.
Members of the House, there is a solution. We can reduce the hardships; we
can give a real future to people without hope.
But first, we must solve the basic problems of the Israeli economy:
unbridled spending, national debt at record levels, inflation which has
raised its ugly head and threatens to get out of hand.
Just as a family cannot live with an uncontrollably growing debt, so a
country can’t continue with a steadily growing national debt.
We must tackle these problems. As a prime minister, I see addressing
economic problems as a central task. We shall shape a policy which will
stabilize the market and bring real growth and prosperity. This requires
wide-ranging privatization, dismantling monopolies, encouraging initiative
and creating a competitive climate.
The problem is not only how to divide the pie of national resources. The
real challenge is to make that pie bigger.
Therefore, our policy will be first of all to prevent further
deterioration, staunch the growth of the national debt, and put the
economy on a new forward-moving track. We can turn Israel into one of the
world’s leading economies.
Gentlemen, Members of Knesset,
This will be a government of a new way also in the sphere of education and
In recent years, much has been said about democracy, justifiably so. It is
our duty to nurture the values of tolerance and mutual respect; to foster
a culture which accepts the decisions of the majority, while respecting
the rights of the minority.
The Jewish Bible has given the world the great ideal of human dignity. “In
the image of God, He created man.” The few who failed to learn this turned
to extremism and violence, and finally to the horrible crime of the murder
of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory.
We will deepen our dialogue among all sectors of the nation; we will get
to know one another and to learn to respect and understand each other.
Along with accepting the decision of the majority, we will honor the right
of the minority to demonstrate without hesitation and without fear.
But most of all, we must remember that a people unites and coalesces
around its culture, its heritage, and national values. The new government
will nurture the values of the Jewish heritage in education, culture and
The values of the Jewish heritage must serve a powerful source of
inspiration in all facets of our life.
The strengthening of our bond with the eternal values of the people of
Israel, while emphasizing the values of democracy, freedom and human
decency, will enable us to create a healthy society, able to confront
formidable challenges and realize Zionist goals.
Zionism is not dead, even though in some circles it has been relegated to
quotation marks. We have a wonderful youth, willing to mobilize for
We will encourage this spirit. We will encourage pioneering settlement in
the Land of Israel: in the Negev, the Galilee, Judea and Samaria, and the
Golan. The settlers are the real pioneers of our day, and they deserve
support and appreciation.
But above all, we will guard and strengthen Jerusalem, the eternal capital
of the Jewish people, undivided under the sovereignty of the State of
Members of Knesset,
During the term of this Knesset, we will mark the 50th Independence Day of
the State of Israel and the beginning of the 21st century.
Achieving the national goals which the people of Israel placed before
themselves in the last generations — the ingathering of exiles and their
absorption in the homeland, settling the land and building it,
establishing economic independence and a healthy society, achieving peace
with security — realizing these goals depends on our faith, our will, and
We, the generation born after the founding of the state, bear a great
responsibility: to continue the Zionist project and bring about its
fulfillment. Let us pray that we are worthy of the great responsibility we
We have reached the days generations of Jews have hoped and prayed for.
The Jewish dream has been realized, the Jewish people has renewed its
independence. In us, the words of the prophet Amos have been fulfilled:
“And I shall establish for them David’s fallen tabernacle.”
And it will, with God’s help, stand for ever and ever.