Yesterday brought the much-awaited arrival of the first two F-35 stealth fighters to Israel from the United States. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the Israeli luminaries at the ceremony at Nevatim Air Force Base, where he made the following remarks, ending with words from the psalmist:
I want to thank you, Secretary of Defense Carter, for coming here with your wife to mark this important milestone with us. It's a sign of both your personal friendship and your personal commitment to the US-Israel alliance and, I want to add, to Israel's security in many fronts.
And I wish to thank as well, on behalf of all the people of Israel, President Obama, the American Congress and the American people. Israel is your best and your most reliable ally in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East. We will always remain so.
Thank you! Thank you Secretary Carter.
In a few minutes the F-35s will land on Israeli soil. Today, the building up of our military strength will receive a very significant addition of power. The F-35s and their pilots will be able to act in any arena – more and less near. I am called, almost on a daily basis, to approve missions by Israel's long arm, and every day I and all citizens of Israel put our trust in you, Israel's pilots. Today, I would like to tell the people of Israel that this long arm just became a little longer, and more powerful.
I would also like to make it clear: Whoever thinks to attack us – will be attacked. Whoever thinks to destroy us puts himself in existential danger. This is necessary to ensure our future. History teaches one simple thing: Weak countries do not survive. They invite attacks upon themselves; they are destined to collapse. The weak are trampled underfoot, the strong are respected. Only strength creates deterrence; only strength inculcates respect. Only strength gives rise to alliances – and only strength brings peace. Therefore, we will continue to boost our security and build up our strength.
It is the test of responsible leadership to identify the dangers before they become overt and prepare for them accordingly, first and foremost by building up strength over time. This is what has guided us – myself, the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff, GOC Air Force and all heads of Israel's security services. Our goal is to achieve supremacy in every sphere – on land and sea and in the air, and in the cyber sphere. We are building up strengths and are honing abilities – defensive, offensive and deterrent. And if it is necessary to be decisive – the F-35s will greatly increase all these abilities.
It is no coincidence that Israel is the first to receive these planes – after the US itself. I think that this symbolizes the very significant character of the strength of the alliance between us and the US. We appreciate this steadfast alliance, the American commitment to Israel's security, and the continuity from administration to administration, from decade to decade.
My friends, I see several Air Force veterans here. There are decorated pilots here with wars, operations and endless flying time behind them. And I also see that they are moved, and they know why. Israel is taking off to new heights and as our pilots and the F-35s take wing, we will observe them from the ground with great pride, as it says in the Book of Psalms (68:35), "His majesty is over Israel, and His strength is in the skies."