Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Washington entourage were not the only ones anxiously awaiting US President Barack Obama's AIPAC speech. Netanyahu's fellow parliamentarians were just as anxious, although they seemed encouraged by Obama's overall tone.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar welcomed on Sunday Obama's clarification about the role of the 1967 borders in the peace talks, saying the American president's tone and phrasing at AIPAC – unlike during his Mideast policy speech – "were much more convenient, from our point of view."
"It is still wrong to predetermine the result of the core issues' negotiation, which the borders are part of," he added, "and even though the change in rhetoric was largely semantic, stating that Israel will not return to 1967's borders is better for us. It will help avoid any misunderstanding with our neighbors."
Sunday's speech, Sa'ar continued, included "several key and positive factors as far as Israel is concerned, such as opposing a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood, the statements against the delegitimization of Israel and speaking against Hamas.
"Still, it would be incorrect to isolate the question of borders from other issues that have to be determined by negotiations – they should encompass all of the elements without predetermining the result."
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau was also pleased with Obama's speech: "I think the tone was excellent. Obama spoke of common values, the importance of Israel and the United States' commitment to Israel's security."
Meanwhile, the Opposition warned Netanyahu not to squander the chance: "Obama has offered Netanyahu a golden opportunity. He cannot waste it," MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) said. "He has to accept Obama's premise. It is in Israel's best interest."
"Israel must lead in partnership with the US... the world looks up to the US' relationship with Israel, so the message coming out of Washington these days is very important," Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni (Kadima) added.
Earlier, Netanyahu expressed his satisfaction from the speech: "I share the president's wish to promote peace and I appreciate his past and present efforts to achieve this goal. I am determined to work with President Obama in order to find ways to resume the peace negotiations. Peace is a vital necessity for us all," the prime minister said.
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