When one looks back on the annals of humanity over thousands of years, one sees a very sad history. Basically, it is a story of wars, of killing, of overpowering the enemy. It is a history that was replete with wars of existence, because the sources of life, of wealth and strength depended so much upon land, upon fertility of the land, upon its size, upon natural resources. People formed armies, took to arms, and went to war either to defend their land, or to extend it; either to protect their natural resources or to win more. Thus, one can understand why, in the past, wars were so frequent.

Not a Question of Size

Today, we live in a world where there is no longer any need to make our living dependent upon territory. Today, what makes a country strong or weak, rich or poor, is science, technology and information. It has nothing to do with the size or wealth of your own land. As an Israeli, I always compare our country to other countries. It we compare Israel, say, to Japan, we see that the Japanese have a country which is not more than 15 times the size of Israel. They don't have oil, they don't have gold, they don't have silver; the only thing they really have are their human resources. With these human resources they became the second-largest economic power in our time. All was the result of science and technology.
When I compare Israel to the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union is a thousand times the size of Israel. We are 24,000 sq. km and they are 24,000,000 sq. km. Not only is their land vast, but they also have abundant water. The Soviet Union has three million lakes; we have two lakes, one dead. They have 100,000 rivers, 4 of them among the largest in the world, like the Volga and the Dnieper. Israel has a single river which has more history than water. It is a river for public relations. The Russians really have everything, including an extremely intelligent people.
Yet Russia does not have enough food, and Israel exports food. This is not because we are a vast land with wealth, water and minerals, but because our agriculture is based upon science and technology. When we renewed our relations with Russia, the first thing the Russians did was to buy cows from Israel. Why cows? Because it turned out that the Israeli cows produce three times more milk than the Russian ones. The difference is not in the animals, but in the system.
And the moral of the story is that it is the system that counts. Armies can't conquer wisdom; armies can't defend stomachs, and nations can't make science and technology an exclusively national matter, for they are international. We are talking so much about globalization, but globalization was not a purpose, but a result. Nobody can control the flow of knowledge or information. You can't really have a national economy; the only thing that can be national is poverty. If you want to remain poor, have a national economy. If you want to advance, you have to be global. Today, science, information and technology are global. They don't have any sovereignty or any borders. Thus, all the reasons to stop fighting, to stop bloodshed, are manifest. And when our children and grandchildren ask us what we were doing, we should not be able to say: Well, we were fighting. They will ask us: What for, why weren't you learning, why weren't you teaching, or researching, or renewing, or inventing, or creating, that's what you should have done.

Dangers Instead of Enemies

I am not talking about the future; I am talking about the present. Unfortunately, people prefer to remember, to remember the things they already know, rather than to think. Thinking means confronting the unfamiliar. It demands making assessments for the sake of the future. I believe that we have to change much familiar thinking in our own country.
In the world today, instead of enemies, we have dangers. We have dangers of intercontinental ballistic missiles, of nuclear, chemical and biological warheads. We cannot necessarily confine them to a certain place. They are neither limited by borders nor defined by national passports. They are all over the place. From a world of enemies, to a world of dangers.
And when we begin to look straight into the face of the future, we have to make some very clear choices. We have to make four major decisions:
One, to continue war or to make peace. Outwardly, it looks as if this is not a choice. Sometimes it is easier to go to war than to make peace. When you are at war, the people are united; when you have a dialogue with yourself, you are brilliant, you win all points.
When you make peace, you have to make concessions; you have to make compromises. And then some people say: Why are you making compromises, why are you making concessions? We can do it cheaper and better. If we want to have peace, we have to understand that you can't have peace without the Palestinians. And you can't have peace with the Palestinians until you take into consideration their interests and not only ours.
The second choice is, should we go for one state without giving back land, or should we go for two states? If we do not give back anything, and if there won't be a Palestinian state, Israel will immediately become a binational state - a binational state where the two nations are not ready to live together, and where they will fight and accuse one another, trying to overcome each other, trying to win on every point of controversy. And we shall hand over to our children a binational tragedy. That is why I believe that it is better to have two states, an Israeli state and a Palestinian state.
And we must understand that the Palestinian state has to enjoy freedom, as we have to enjoy security. We cannot have a 100-percent security without them having a 100-percent freedom. If we are serious, and if we are honest with ourselves, it is in our interest to help the Palestinians build their own independence. In Oslo, two things happened, not one. Not only did we try to reach peace with the Palestinians, but also a legitimate Palestinian identity was formed. When we negotiated with the Egyptians, they had existed for a long time. The same goes for Jordan. In the past, we tried to solve the Palestinian problem without a Palestinian partner. And in Oslo, I think it was clearly established that there is a Palestinian partner.

Borders - A New Role

Here I get to the third point. If there are going to be two states, and I am sure there are going to be two states, then I would not like to see one state extremely rich and the other extremely poor. If there will be a difference in the level of economic and social development, if there will be discrimination and inferiority, it will corrupt the horizons of our children. What used to be national conflict, will emerge also as an economic conflict. It is because of this, I believe, that it is in our interest to see the Palestinian state become modern, flourishing and democratic, on the same level as ours.
The fourth and last point is that borders were needed when you had to defend the country against the mass influx of cheap labor, or cheap commodities. Today, borders no longer determine economic order. If you want the world to be open to you, you have to be open to the world.
We no longer need the old partition among nations, and we don't have to build barbed wire alongside the borders or to plant mines there. Borders can become a factor for cooperation, for joint ventures to enable people from all walks of life to come and work together and live together. I got excited when I visited Venice for the first time in my life, and I saw the bridges across the canals. You have probably noticed that over every bridge you have shops and workshops, so the bridge is both a link and a good venue for business. What is happening over the bridges of Venice can happen on the borders between us. Between us and the Palestinians and the Jordanians and the Egyptians. I think we have to look at reality and understand where we have to compromise, and where we have to insist. And we must remember that we do not have the right to hand over to our children an impossible situation of hatred, of arms, of sickness, of fear, of misunderstanding. History changes; we are marching towards a different world, towards a peaceful world.