I address you tonight not as the leader of Likud and the new right-wing government but as the head of the government of the State of Israel and Am Yisrael.
This past November 1st, the Israeli people cast their ballots for the 25th time. Here are the facts:
- 70% of the eligible population voted.
- The turnout represented the highest number of votes cast in the history of our country.
- For the 10th time in the 75 years of the State of Israel, we had a peaceful transfer of power between opposing ideologies.
The people have spoken — both in the November elections and on the streets of our country in the last few weeks.
My message to those who voted for the Likud-led current government: Democracy in Israel is alive and well. The people made their choice of whom they want to represent them and which policies are a priority to them. This is our mandate in a democracy. I say to you, without hesitation, we will do the job you hired us to do.
My message to those who did not vote for the Likud-led current government: Democracy is alive and well in Israel. You took to the streets in peaceful protest, I hear your voices loud and clear. Your job in our democracy for the duration of the 25th Knesset will be an active participant in the opposition and a voice for your beliefs, causes and concerns. You have a civic responsibility to do this.
I know this role personally. On more than one occasion, I have served in the opposition in Knesset. During these times, I worked hard, stayed involved, and made my voice heard. There will be a time in our vibrant and healthy democracy that the pendulum of power will once again swing to the left, and you will carry the burden of leadership, of governance, and the trust of our people, but that is not today.
Today, as your prime minister, I ask all sides to take a deep breath.
Regardless of whether we agree with each other on these very important issues, we must have respect for each other and we must respect the rule of law. We are all citizens, equal in our voices in our imperfect journey together.
We all learned a very horrible lesson from the murder of PM Yitzhak Rabin ob”m. While there is a place in our democracy for a vocal opposition to government, there is no place in our society for hatred. None. Let me repeat this. There is no place for hatred in our society and we on the right and we in the center and we on the left will not tolerate it. We all stand together against hate.
Now I speak to everyone to the right, to the center, to the left and to everyone. The lessons of Oslo are clear. While the Labor government had the democratic right to push the Oslo deal through the Knesset, it was not the right thing for the country as a whole at the time. Oslo was such a major initiative, such a major process, and such major decisions, we as a people, as a country needed a broader consensus that a one vote majority in the Knesset represented. I believe if Labor had stepped back and taken more time, maybe we would have seen a different outcome than the bloodshed that came out of it. Working together, maybe we would have found the path then to a lasting peace together, as a nation.
I am announcing tonight that after speaking with President Herzog and the leader of the opposition, that the government has put into place the process to review the changes we were elected to bring in order to find common ground and build a consensus.
There is a word for this, it is called good governance. Good governance is not having the right to do something, good governance is about getting it right when you do something. As your prime minister, I am committed to getting it right.
My name is Binyamin Netanyahu, I am not the “prime minister of the right” or of the Likud. I am your prime minister and proud citizen of the State of Israel, I am an IDF combat veteran, and I am your prime minister, equally, for all of you, regardless of who you voted for.