Naftali Bennett, the newly appointed economy and trade minister and a member of the Political-Security Cabinet, was the first senior politician to respond to US President Barack Obama's speech in Jerusalem.
"The results of our latest withdrawal were felt this morning in Sderot and through the thousands of victims born during the last few years," Bennett said Thursday in reference to the rocket attack from Gaza on the Israeli border town.
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"The time has come for a shred of creativity and innovation in solving the conflict in the Middle East," Bennett said, challenging the wide acceptance of the two-state solution.
"Generally," the new minister added, "there is no occupation within one's own land."
However, he further added: "I am sure Obama's words were said out of sincere concern and true friendship."
Knesset Member Ayalet Shaked, also from Habayit Hayehudi, said "Obama is a true friend of Israel, on this no one can argue. But at the end of the day, we are the ones who have to deal with the tragic and devastating consequences that are part of the establishment of a Palestinian state. That is the reason that just this week, the people selected a government that has no place for a two-state solution within its foundation. And if we are talking about Iron Dome, then the West Bank is our Iron Dome."
During his speech Thursday, Obama called on Israeli citizens to urge their leaders to make peace.
"As a politician, I can promise you this: Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks," the US president said. "Your voices must be louder than those who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward.
"There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turn to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities," he added.
"But", the president said, "the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice must also be recognized.
Obama, during speech (Photo: Reuters)
"Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes," he urged a lively crowd of some 600 students in Jerusalem. "It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own."
Regarding the settlers and the occupation, Obama said: "It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank or displace Palestinian families from their homes.
"Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land," Obama said.
"I believe that peace is the only path to true security," the US president said, claiming that Israeli youths "have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream or you can face a growing challenge to its future.
"Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine."
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