Speech draws varied responses
Photo: Reuters

Likud members say PM gave in to US pressure

Likud hardliners slam Netanyahu speech as too soft, Arab MKs say it was too right-wing, and Labor appears largely content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address drew varied remarks from both left and right-wing officials Sunday. Rightists responded warmly to his attitude towards the settlements, but were apprehensive about his support of a Palestinian state.


MK Danny Danon said other members of the Likud would work to strike the words "Palestinian state" from the address.


"I will attempt to cause this sentence, which was said under American pressure, never to come into being. The speech was brilliant, but Netanyahu has given in to American pressure," he said.

MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) said Netanyahu's inclination towards the establishment of a Palestinian state could have "dangerous consequences".


MK Zevulun Orlev, also of the right-wing party, said he was "aggrieved that Netanyahu paid lip service to the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state".


In contrast the Labor Party expressed satisfaction. MK Daniel Ben-Simon said, "I can't remember Netanyahu ever having been so appeasing towards the Palestinians since I've known him. At Bar Ilan he established a Palestinian state. It's an historical event."


Government ministers were also pleased. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said Netanhyahu had given a "positive speech that compliments coalition agreements with the Likud, leading to a Palestinian state".


Interior Minister Eli Yishai expressed his support for the prime minister. "He stressed his commitment to plausible peace and security," the minister said. "The Israeli people have always been peace-seeking and we must hope that the Palestinian people will abandon the way of terror and stick to the way of peace."


'PM proved he is not a peace partner'

However Arab MKs were less enthusiastic. Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh said Netanyahu's speech indicated that he was "once again choosing the peace of the settlements, which collides head-on with the peace of the region and all of its nations".


"Netanyhau spoke like a chameleon about a Palestinian state, with conditions and dimensions no Palestinian would ever hear of," he said.


United Arab List-Ta'al Chairman Ahmad Tibi said, "The speech displayed the same fixation on a Palestinian state with continued construction in settlements. We should hope the White House will expose Bibi's public relations scam. The PLO does not have to and won't recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu has proved he is not a peace partner."


Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Netanyahu's speech was "a step in the right direction, however due to his conduct and even the way in which he presented his speech tonight, his test will be in action and not in words".


Settlers' responses vary

Meanwhile the Yesha Council seemed pleased, and Director-General Pinchas Wallerstein said he was "relieved" by the speech. "I am proud of the high level of Zionism displayed by the prime minister," he said.


"The speech made no mention of the evacuation of settlements or the freezing of construction. I hope this will allow the continuation of settlement."


However the Binyamin Settlers' Committee took a different tack, saying the speech lacked inspiration and that the prime minister had betrayed his public.


"Instead of standing firm behind his pre-election announcements Netanyahu prefers vague statements that compliment Meretz's political platform very nicely. It's sad to see a representative of the fighting family adopting the rhetoric of Yossi Beilin and Shimon Peres," the committee stated.


פרסום ראשון: 06.14.09, 21:52
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