JERUSALEM, Israel -- Speaking at a ceremony marking the 109th anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a bi-national state and said security is paramount.
"We want peace because we want to live in peace," Netanyahu said. "We don't want a bi-national state, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking that if we strike an agreement with the Palestinians, it will end the wild denigration of the Jewish state."
"Peace is founded on security, not goodwill," he continued. "Without security, we will not be able to defend ourselves and any peace we have will unravel."
Netanyahu said he believes most Israelis understand that and Herzl understood it was well.
"We remain faithful to Herzl's vision to establish here an exemplary state, a modern state, a state that is rooted in our land, the land of Israel, but also a state that above all is able to give the Jews what was lost to them in their years of exile: the ability to defend themselves, by themselves, against any threat," he said.
Netanyahu said Herzl did not believe Israel's contribution to the nations would end centuries of anti-Semitism, saying that "a people cannot be delivered by anyone except themselves and the Jews' problem can only be resolved by the Jews."
The prime minister then spoke of the annual BBC poll rating countries on their positive and negative contribution to humanity.
"Israel was included in the poll in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and to this day features at the bottom of the list, together with Iran," he said. "And it doesn't matter what we do and it doesn't matter what we contribute. It doesn't matter because it is not about facts."
"The tarnishing of Israel, the description of us as rejecters of peace, as pursuers of war, as a dark state that aspires to conquest, rather than as an enlightened state that fights like no other state in the world in the most enlightened way imaginable against the desires to destroy it," he continued.
"All the charges against us are overdone, exaggerated and absurd, but they still take hold."
Israel Hayom contributed to this report.