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Photo: Reuters
Applause from the galleries
Photo: AFP
Netanyahu: Applause constitute US confirmation
Prime minister returns to Israel triumphant after warm reception in Congress, but admits to acting late on Palestinian UN recognition bid; hopes to improve coordination with Obama

After a successful Congress address Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns to Israel and the complex reality of a prospective declaration of a Palestinian state in September.

 

He estimates that Israel's status has improved ahead of the challenge but regrets not acting earlier to draw support for his positions. He also says that improvements can be made in coordination with US President Barack Obama.

 

In his Congress address, Netanyahu expressed willingness to make "painful compromises" on parts of the "ancestral Jewish homeland" but stressed that Jerusalem will never be divided and refugees will not return to the Jewish state.


'Hamas not a partner.' Written speech (Photo: AP)

 

He added that Israel will maintain military presence along the Jordan River and will not negotiate with Hamas. The prime minister believes that the congressmen's response shows the US approval for his positions.

 

"The prime minister laid the foundations needed for Israel's existence," a senior official in the PM's entourage said after the speech." He believes his address is of historic significance amid attempts to undermine Israel's status."


Sara Netanyahu with Joe Biden (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)

 

Netanyahu also believes that one of his most prominent achievements is the US's endorsement of Israel's call for the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state.

 

Netanyahu does not regret his stern response to President Obama's Middle East speech and believes he has managed to tone down his rhetoric as evident in his AIPAC address.

 

Referring to the dispute on the 1967 lines, he said: "It was very important to solidify this issue. I'm glad that President Obama made the issue clearer." He nevertheless does not believe that the issue has been resolved completely.

 

In his speech, Netanyahu appeared certain that he made the Palestinians a generous offer, which will allow them to return to the negotiating table. But while he said that Israel will have to give up its settlements, he sounded vague on the issue, refusing to specify whether he would be willing to forgo all of the settlements outside the blocs.

 

He stressed that some "places of critical strategic and national importance will be incorporated into the final borders of Israel."

 

More refusals than concessions

There were more refusals than concession offerings in the speech; the prime minister said no to the return to 1967 borders, to the division of Jerusalem, to the refugees' right of return and to negotiations with Hamas.

 

Netanyahu also wanted to convince other nations to adopt the concept that the PA must get rid of Hamas, and recognize a Jewish state. Hamas is not a partner in peace, he said, and the exclusion of the terrorist movement from the future Palestinian government is a precondition to negotiations.

 

Netanyahu's speech is now over, but it's unlikely that this was the last word in the faulty dialogue between Obama and Netanyahu. And with the well-covered confrontation at the White House behind him, Netanyahu believes that his office must better coordinate matters with the US in order to prevent similar debacles in the future.

 

"It is preferable to better coordinate the agreed upon stances with the United States," a senior official from the Prime Minister's Office said. "It's a critical issue, ahead of September and in general."

 

 

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