Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the growing international standing of the Jewish State among the nations of the world, a heartening reality reflected earlier this week during the historic trilateral security summit in Jerusalem between Russia, the United States and Israel.
In an address to the Israeli Air Force pilots’ course graduation ceremony, Prime Minister Netanyahu – who also serves as the country’s Defense Minister – gave an example of Jerusalem’s improved global-standing. In contrast to the past, in which Israeli and Russian fighter-jets battled each other in the Egyptian skies during the war of attrition in the late 1960s; current bilateral-relations between the Russian Federation and the Jewish State have brought about mutual respect and efforts to assure deconfliction in the region, most notably in the skies above Israel’s northern neighbor, Syria. Netanyahu said: “I remember that on the banks of the Suez Canal, I remember that there our pilots were fighting Russian pilots, I remember how the Russians fired at our planes. Today, during the course of over a dozen meetings with President Putin – we brought about close coordination between the Israeli and Russian air forces. And, in order to prevent accidents and unnecessary clashes, we established a hotline between the Israel Air Force and the Russian Air Force – which serves this purpose.” He went on to say “it is a huge difference in comparison to what it was in the past. It is a dramatic change in Israel’s status and I’m proud that we are leading it.”
While Netanyahu welcomed the apparent shift, he also underscored a simple and obvious truth, that Israel’s alliance with the United States can never be equated to any other diplomatic partnership. The Israeli leader said: “We welcome the good relations with Russia, but of course it is clear that our most important political, military, economic, and value-based alliance, which is unparalleled, that there is no replacement for, is the alliance with the United States.”
The Israeli leader went on to list a series of reasons for the unparalleled alliance between Washington and Jerusalem, which go well beyond the sectors of security, economy and diplomacy.
That said, notwithstanding Israel’s everlasting gratitude for the unwavering support of the United States and its President, Donald Trump; Netanyahu emphasized that no alliance provides an alternative for Israel’s vital ability to defend itself by itself against any threat. “President Trump recently recognized that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, moved the US Embassy to it, recognized our sovereignty over the Golan and implemented sanctions, harsh and strong sanctions, against Iran that seeks our destruction. We cannot be thankful enough. Despite that, I say here, during the completion of the [IAF’s] flight course, that we should always remember that we need to be prepared to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat.”/ “those who threaten to attack us should know that we are determined to move the battlefield to their territory and make them pay in full. With crushing blows,” Netanyahu said.
With regard to the Bahrain “economic workshop” earlier this week, during which the U.S. Administration unveiled the fiscal dimension of President Donald Trump’s peace initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Prime Minister Netanyahu underscored the imperative necessity for Israel to maintain a presence in areas of strategic importance. He stressed that while “There are those who say that peace will not materialize unless (Jerusalem) hands over the Jordan Valley (to the Palestinians),” Israel’s meager strategic depth cannot permit such a demand based on security considerations. According to him: “all of Israel’s strategic depth is approximately half of the radius of the beltway encircling Washington. We do not have too many spaces. We do not have too many spaces that separate between the country’s borders and the densely populated areas within it. There are therefore two conclusions. The first is that security control over the territory west of the Jordan river will always be in our hands. We will never ever abandon our security or hand the control over the to a foreign entity. There are those who say that peace will not materialize unless we hand over the Jordan Valley, and I say that if we hand over the Jordan Valley – we guarantee war. We will not do that.”