Address to AIPAC by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Excerpts)

March 13, 2007

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First and foremost, the threats to Israel from Iran. Iran is the main threat to the State of Israel. There has never been such a brutal, explicit and direct threat to the very existence of the State of Israel by any nation since Israel was proclaimed, as today is the threat of Iran to very lives of our country. This is the first time since the Second World War that a leader of a nation, member of the United Nations, stands up publicly and explicitly and talks about the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Not only this, but this country is creating a very sophisticated weaponry system, with ballistic missiles, that can deliver bombs to the very heart of the State of Israel, as well as to the very heart of many European cities and many other major cities across the world. But not only this. This country tries to create a nuclear capacity and they explicitly and publicly and brutally talk about the need to wipe Israel off the map. Not since the Second World War did we hear such words coming from a leader of a nation against another nation. And you people gathered here in Washington tonight, you know that when it comes to this, when we hear such threats, we lose our sense of humor. We take it seriously. We have no choice but to take it seriously. And we must address ourselves to these threats and make sure that no one really has the capacity, the means and the opportunity to exercise their hatred against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, particularly not those who might have nuclear capacity.

Naturally, the preferred solution for the Iranian issue is the diplomatic one. Israel is very much in favor of the diplomatic approach that can be useful and that can be helpful. Sanctions which were already taken by the UN Resolution 1737 and hopefully additional measures which will have to be taken soon by countries across the world - economic measures, diplomatic measures, political measures - will all be effective and will be felt and will help force the Iranians to reconsider their position and to decide whether its worthwhile for them to carry on this challenge without additional restraint. But at the end of the day, I think we all know and have to recognize that President George W. Bush is the only leader and the United States of America is the only country that can be of enormous influence on what the Iranians will do. They are the only ones that can confront effectively the aggressiveness of the Iranians in their attempts to build up nuclear capacity. I know that all of you, friends of the State of Israel, well wishers for the State of Israel, all of you who are concerned about the security and the future of the State of Israel, understand the importance of a strong American leadership addressing the Iranian threat, and I'm sure that you will not hamper or restrain the strong leadership unnecessarily.

I also want to add, what might be the consequences of premature action in Iraq. What these might create, to Israel's security, to the security of the Gulf States, to the stability in the Middle East and to the ability of the United States to cope with threats emerging in different parts of the world, particularly those threats emerging from Iran.

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