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Well, good morning, everyone. Rosy, thank you for your kind words. I have never seen Rosy on the basketball court. I'll bet alle optionen offen halten would be a treat. Rosy, you've been a dear friend of mine for a long time and a tireless advocate for the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.
And as you complete your term as president, I salute your leadership and your commitment. I want to thank the board of directors. As always, I'm glad to see my longtime friends in the Chicago delegation. I also want to thank the members of Congress who are with us here today, and who will be speaking to you over the next few days. You've worked hard to maintain the partnership between the United States alle optionen offen halten Israel.
I'm glad that my outstanding young ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, is in the house. I understand that Dan is perfecting his Alle optionen offen halten on his new assignment, and I appreciate his constant outreach to the Israeli people. And I'm also pleased that we're joined by so many Israeli officials, including Ambassador Michael Oren.
And tomorrow, I'm very much looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu and his delegation back alle optionen offen halten the White House.
Every time I come to Aipac, I'm especially impressed to see so many young people here. You don't yet get the front seats I understand. You have to earn that. But students from all over the country who are making their voices heard and engaging deeply in our democratic debate.
You carry with you an extraordinary legacy of more than six decades of friendship between the United States and Israel. And you have the opportunity and the responsibility to make your own mark on the world.
And for inspiration, you can look to the man who preceded me on this stage, who's being honoured at this conference my friend, President Shimon Peres. Shimon was born a world away from here, in a shtetl in what was then Poland, a few years after the end of the first world war. But his heart was always in Alle optionen offen halten, the historic homeland of the Jewish people.
And when he was just a boy he made his journey across land and sea toward home. In his life, he has fought for Israel's independence, and he has fought for peace and security. As a member of the Haganah and a member of the Knesset, as a minister of defence and foreign alle optionen offen halten, as a prime minister and as president Shimon helped build the nation that thrives today: But beyond these extraordinary achievements, he has also been a powerful moral voice alle optionen offen halten reminds us that right makes might not the other way around.
Shimon once described the story of the Jewish people by saying it proved that, "slings, arrows and gas chambers can annihilate man, but cannot destroy human values, dignity, and freedom". And he has lived those values. He has taught us to ask more of ourselves and to empathise more with our fellow human beings. I am grateful for his life's work and his moral example.
In many ways, this award is a symbol of the broader ties that bind our nations. The United States and Israel share interests, but we also share those human values that Shimon spoke about: A belief that freedom is a right that is given to all of God's children.
An experience that shows us that democracy is the one and only form of government that can truly respond to the aspirations of citizens.
America's Founding Fathers understood this truth, just as Israel's founding generation did. President Truman put it well, describing his decision to formally recognise Israel only minutes after it declared independence.
He said, "I had faith in Israel before it was established. I believe it has a glorious future before it as not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization. For over six decades, the American people have kept that faith. Yes, we are bound to Israel because of the interests that we share in security for our communities, prosperity for our people, the new frontiers of science that can light the world.
But ultimately it is our common ideals that provide the true foundation for our relationship. That is why America's commitment alle optionen offen halten Israel has endured under Democratic and Republican presidents, and congressional leaders of both parties.
In the United States, alle optionen offen halten support for Israel is bipartisan, and that is how it should stay. Aipac's work continually nurtures this bond. And because of Aipac's effectiveness in carrying out its mission, you can expect that over the alle optionen offen halten several days, you will hear many fine words from elected officials describing their commitment to the US-Israel relationship.
But as you examine my commitment, you don't just have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds. Because over the last three years, as president of the United States, I have kept my commitments to the state of Israel. At every alle optionen offen halten juncture at every fork in the road we have been there for Israel.
Four years ago, I stood before you and said that, "Israel's security is sacrosanct. The fact is my administration's commitment to Israel's security has been unprecedented.
Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer. Our joint exercises and training have never been more robust. Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every single year. We are investing in new capabilities. We're providing Alle optionen offen halten with more advanced technology the types of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies.
And make no mistake: We will do what it takes to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.
This isn't just about numbers on a balance sheet. As a senator, I spoke to Israeli troops on the Lebanese border. I visited with families who've known alle optionen offen halten terror of rocket fire in Sderot. And that's why, as president, I have provided alle optionen offen halten funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes and hospitals and schools in that town and in others.
Now our assistance is expanding Israel's defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles. Because no family, no citizen, should live in fear. And just as we've been there with our security assistance, we've been there through our diplomacy. When the Goldstone report unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it.
When Israel was isolated in the alle optionen offen halten of the flotilla incident, we supported them. When the Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism. When one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them. When Israeli diplomats feared for their lives in Cairo, we intervened alle optionen offen halten save them.
When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to delegitimise the state of Israel, my administration has opposed alle optionen offen halten. So there should not be a shred of doubt by now when the chips are down, I have Israel's back. Which is why, if during this political season you hear some questions regarding my administration's support for Israel, remember that it's not backed up by the facts.
And remember that the US-Israel relationship is simply too important to be distorted by partisan alle optionen offen halten. America's national security is too important. Israel's security is too important. Of course, there are those who question not my security and diplomatic commitments, but rather my administration's ongoing pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
So let me say this: I make no apologies for pursuing peace. Alle optionen offen halten own leaders understand the necessity of peace. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defence Minister Barak, President Peres each of them have called for two states, a secure Israel that lives side by side with an independent Palestinian state. I alle optionen offen halten that peace is profoundly in Israel's security interest. The reality that Israel faces from shifting demographics, to emerging technologies, to an extremely difficult international environment demands a resolution of this issue.
And I believe that peace with the Palestinians is consistent with Israel's founding values because of our shared belief in self-determination, and because Israel's place as a Jewish and democratic state must be protected.
Of course, peace is hard to achieve. There's a reason why it's remained elusive for six decades. The upheaval and uncertainty in Israel's neighbourhood makes it that much harder from the horrific violence raging in Syria, to the transition in Egypt.
And the division within the Palestinian leadership makes it harder still most notably, with Hamas's continued rejection of Israel's very right to exist. But as hard as it may be, we should not and cannot give in to cynicism or despair.
The changes taking place in the region make peace more important, alle optionen offen halten less. And I've made it clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel's security concerns are met. That's why we continue to press Arab leaders to reach out to Israel, and will continue to support the peace treaty alle optionen offen halten Egypt.
That's why just as we encourage Israel to be resolute in the pursuit of peace we have continued to insist that any Palestinian partner must recognise Israel's right to exist and reject violence and adhere to existing agreements.
And that is why my administration has consistently rejected any efforts to short-cut negotiations or impose an agreement on the parties. As Rosy noted, last year, I stood before you and pledged that, "the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations". As you know, that pledge has been kept.
Last September, I stood before the United Nations General Assembly and reaffirmed that any lasting peace must acknowledge the fundamental legitimacy of Israel and its security concerns.