“Conflict with Iraq – An Israeli Perspective”.
12 September 2002
(Mr. Netanyahu address in a hearing hosted by the House Committee on Government Reform )
Though I am today a private citizen, I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a preemptive strike against Sadaam’s regime. We support this preemptive American action even though we stand on the frontlines, while others criticize it as they sit comfortably on the sidelines. But we know that their sense of comfort is an illusion. For if action is not taken now, we will all be threatened by a much greater peril.
We support this action because it is possible today to defend against chemical and biological attack. There are gas masks, vaccinations and other means of civil defense that can protect our citizens and reduce the risks to them.
Indeed, a central component of any strike on Iraq must be to ensure that the Israeli government, if it so chooses, has the means to vaccinate every citizen of Israel before action is initiated. Ensuring this is not merely the responsibility of the government of Israel, but also the responsibility of the government of the United States.
Let me repeat: The governments of Israel and the United States must jointly ensure that the people of Israel have all the available means of civil defense before action begins.
But no gas mask and no vaccine can protect against nuclear weapons. That is why regimes that have no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction, and who will not hesitate to give them to their terror proxies, must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. These regimes must be brought down before they possess the power to bring us all down.
If a preemptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries and the United Nations, all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the United States must be prepared to act without it. International support for actions that are vital to a nation’s security is always desirable, but it must never constitute a precondition. If you can get it, fine. If not, act without it.