(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks today (Sunday, 10 June 2012), at the memorial ceremony for the fallen of the Altalena, at the Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery:
"My friends; Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, former Defense Minister and my teacher Moshe Arens, MKs Ofir Akunis and Tzipi Hotovely, Irgun Soldiers Alliance Chairman Yair Osiskovitz and Deputy Chairman Eli Shetrit, World Zionist Organization Israel Department Chairman Yaakov Hagoel, bereaved families, members of the Irgun, Betar Movement members, students and youth, and honored guests.
We gather here every year and bow our heads in memory of the fallen of the Altalena. We gather here every year and salute those members of the Irgun who have passed on. They were dear people, pure of heart, who loved the Land of Israel to the end, who were prepared to sacrifice body and spirit for our homeland and for the independence of our people.
More than a few of you were on the Mt. of Olives. I stood with you four months ago, at the memorial ceremony for the commander of the Irgun and one of Israel's great prime ministers – the late Menachem Begin. During the tragedy of the Altalena, at the worst of the tragedy, Begin determined a clear and simple principle: There would be no civil war. He knew that civil war would be the end of the State of Israel. I hear the pain and feel it; for over 60 years, the pain still cuts. Think of what justification Begin had to act differently – the death of dear fighters who only wanted to defend the homeland, a ship laden with weapons that could have helped in the defense of the homeland, in liberating the homeland, in defending Jerusalem, in defending the Jewish communities – today we would say "the settlement movement', what justification he had! But Begin did not think twice. He did not hesitate for a moment. He determined a clear principle: There would be no civil war. And this principle that he determined at the dawn of our independence has stood for 64 years. It is valid today. It will always be valid.
We have one state, one government, one army. In the State of Israel, the Government, and only the Government, sets policy. In the State of Israel, all are bound by the law, including the Government and the Prime Minister. The Government's policy is clear – we maintain the settlement movement while upholding the law. We maintain the settlement movement against a wave of pressures from at home and abroad. We maintain the settlement movement and we do so while upholding the law and I tell you my dear friends – there is no contradiction between the two. On the contrary – undermining the rule of law will hurt and weaken the settlement movement while upholding the rule of law strengthens it. Menachem Begin understood this at the time of the Altalena and we understand it very well today.
May the memory of the fallen of the Altalena be blessed and enshrined in the hearts of the people forever."