Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to congratulate His Excellency, the Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, upon his assumption of the presidency of the General Assembly, and wish him much success.
Until just one month ago, every person in this hall and every member of this organization joined us in the hope that the Middle East peace process might finally be back on track, and that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be on the horizon.
The establishment of a new Palestinian government promised an end to terror and a new beginning.
This glimmer of hope was darkened on August 19th by the extremists who blew up a bus full of Jewish families on their way home from prayers at the Western Wall, the holiest site in the Jewish religion. Twenty three people, young and old, mothers and babies in their cradles, were slaughtered in this attack. This attack was carried out by Hamas, a terrorist organization, which under the Roadmap should have been dismantled by the Palestinian Authority.
Failure to dismantle Hamas has brought our diplomatic efforts to a standstill. Rather than acting to fulfill its obligation, the Palestinian Authority has chosen the route of inaction, and complicity in terror.
We cannot allow this to continue. We must bring back the hope that we can build a better future for our children. The infrastructure of terror must be dismantled so that we can put our peace efforts back on track. There is no other time. There is no other way.
For many years it was thought that terrorism in the Middle East was Israel's problem, not the world's. Today, the world knows otherwise.
Today, it is not only Israel which mourns the loss of its loved ones, women and children and babies, at the hands of the terrorists. We have sadly been joined by peoples from across the globe - from Mombassa to Casablanca, Moscow to Bali.
Even the United Nations, that for so many is a symbol of peace and goodwill, is not immune.
Standing here today in New York, just two short years after September 11th, the community of nations knows - that those who seek to advance their political agendas through killing innocents, are ready to strike at anyone or anything that represents the values of freedom and human life.
Terrorism has declared war on us all.
Israel has often stood alone in this battle. A country which has suffered more than any other from terrorism, we have always understood the danger it poses to democracy and freedom everywhere, even when others refused to see, and condemned us for our actions. We have always understood that terrorism - no matter what cause it claims to serve - seeks only to destroy, not to build.
There can be no neutrality in the war against terrorism and there can be no immunity for those who engage in it. Abstaining is not an option.
This is not a war of choice. Terrorism will not be eliminated until the world unites against it. Our only choice is to win. Every member of the international community must take concrete and proactive measures to cut off all channels of financial, moral and political support to this common enemy.
States - members of this institution - that sponsor terrorists and give them shelter, are accomplices in the acts of terror themselves. They must be held accountable for their crimes. It is no coincidence that states that sponsor terrorism like Iran and Syria, are also striving to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction. Their hostility to freedom and the rule of law puts the very future of humanity in jeopardy.
I know that for many in this place Yasser Arafat is seen as the symbol of the Palestinian struggle. Tragically - for his people and for ours - he is one of the world's icons of terror.
In the ten years since Arafat declared his commitment to Israel - and the world - that he would no longer use terror, 1,126 Israelis have been killed and thousands wounded in 19,000 separate Palestinian terrorist attacks.
In relative numbers, this would be the same as 11,000 French or 56,000 Americans dying from terrorism in the same period of time.
This carnage must stop. Its impact on both societies is devastating.
Yasser Arafat bears direct responsibility for this terrible suffering. He has led his people on the path of terror - from hijackings to suicide bombings - for more than thirty years. Always preferring Israeli pain over Palestinian gain.
He has been - and he remains - the greatest obstacle to peace between our peoples. For as long as he controls the levers of power - no moderate leadership can emerge.
To vote for Arafat - like we saw in this Assembly just last week - is to vote against the Palestinian people. When Arafat wins - terrorism wins, and we all lose.
Instead of rallying around Arafat, the international community must rally around the genuine interests of the Palestinian people.
They must do so now, before he leads them even further down the path of terror and destruction.
When a responsible and empowered Palestinian leadership finally emerges - a leadership ready to join the war on terror - it will find us a willing partner for peace.
Israel is committed to the vision for Middle East peace laid out by US President George Bush on June 24th, 2002.
Israel will not compromise on the safety of its citizens. But we will go the extra mile - as we have proven before - to bring peace and security to both our peoples.
We are ready to work with the Palestinians and the international community to make this vision a reality. For this to happen, the Palestinian leadership must take the moral and strategic decision to abandon terrorism once and for all, and make peacemaking possible.
They must guide their people to build their own society, rather than seeking to destroy ours. They, too, must understand that it is not poverty that breeds terror but terror that breeds poverty.
We cannot stop only at dismantling the infrastructure of terror. We must also build an infrastructure of peace. It is up to political and moral leaders, everywhere, to foster an environment which rejects extremism and empowers the peacemakers.
This is particularly so in the Arab and Muslim world, where incitement against Israel closes hearts and minds to the possibility of peace.
Leaders must guide their people away from the culture of hate, and replace it with a culture of tolerance. Concrete expressions of cooperation and exchange must be built - in media and government, education, science and business - to reinforce the message of tolerance and acceptance.
For the sake of our collective future, voices of moderation must be heard.
This culture of peace must permeate not only the borders of the Middle East. It must permeate the walls of the United Nations as well.
In the past, the United Nations has shown that it can play a positive role. This Assembly was key in the founding of the State of Israel, fifty-five years ago. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 are our guideposts, to negotiations and peace.
To play such a constructive role in the future, the UN must reform. It must move away from the partisan hostility that has taken over its Middle East agenda.