A speech on policy by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be careful and ambiguous, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday. He expressed hope that the speech "would lead to a renewal of the political process" but told ministers, prior to a weekly cabinet meeting, to lower their expectations.
In contrast, during the cabinet meeting itself, Netanyahu asserted that "the speech this evening will be clear," but did not elaborate about its content.
He told Likud ministers prior to the cabinet meeting that he was pleased that there had been no leaks about it and he himself decided not to speak to reporters at all ahead of the cabinet meting. No explanation was given for his aberrant decision.
'Trying to play both sides'
Officials in the Palestinian Authority expressed curiosity as to the unspecified content of Netanyahu's speech, but, like Barak, said they do not expect it to be ground-breaking.
"We understand that this is going to be a speech in which Netanyahu will try to play both sides – to appease the Americans and to appease the right-wing," a senior PA official told Ynet.
"This is why, as far as we're concerned, the keys were and remain in President (Barack) Obama's hands. Everything depends on the amount of pressure the Americans will put on Netanyahu," he said.
Saturday night, Netanyahu met with President Shimon Peres about the content of the speech, in an apparent effort to allow for dialogue with the Palestinians while maintaining the interests as the current government has elucidated them, including the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.