I was invited along with other presidential candidates to be at the AIPAC conference in Washington, but obviously I could not make it because we are here.
The issues that AIPAC is dealing with are very important issues and I wanted to give the same speech here as I would have given if we were at that conference.
Let me begin by saying that I think I am probably the only candidate for president who has personal ties with Israel. I spent a number of months there when I was a young man on a kibbutz, so I know a little bit about Israel.
Clearly, the United States and Israel are united by historical ties. We are united by culture. We are united by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights and the rule of law.
Israel is one of America's closest allies, and we -- as a nation -- are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel's survival, but also to make sure that its people have a right to live in peace and security.
To my mind, as friends -- long term friends with Israel -- we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.
Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.
But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have.
America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face a very daunting challenge and that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel.
But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.
So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can't have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.
The road toward peace will be difficult. Wonderful people, well-intentioned people have tried decade after decade to achieve that and it will not be easy. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look -- I do not believe anyone can -- but I firmly believe that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution.
The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations.
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