Netanyahu at US Congress hints at Israeli action against Iran, may leave some settlements out of borders
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won a standing ovation from both sides of the packed joint US House meeting in Washington, May 24 when he said: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. This is the land of our forefathers." Nonetheless, he said, "we accept that we will have to give up parts of ancestral Jewish homeland for a genuine peace."
He made it clear that if necessary, Israel would act alone to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, while lauding President Barack Obama for applying sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu's welcome by the joint House meeting was exceptionally warm and festive. His 50-minute address was interrupted by 30 standing ovations from both sides of the aisle, especially when he ruled out a return to 1967 borders as indefensible while pledging that in talks with parties truly committed to peace, Israel would make far-reaching compromises for an accord that "does not continue the conflict but ends it."
"But first, Abbas must do what I did: I accepted a Palestinian state; he must accept a Jewish state."
While praising President Obama on some issues, the prime minister made light of their differences in the fourth round of their speech contest since last Thursday and won broad congressional applause for his side of their argument. Despite those differences, Netanyahu has said he is determined to work with the president in the quest for peace talks.
Continuing his perception of peace, Netanyahu said: "Israel will be generous about the size of the Palestinian state but very firm on where the borders are."
He stressed that the final accord must reflect dramatic demographic change since 1967 and include within Israel's permanent borders other places of strategic importance. The status of the settlements will be determined in negotiations, he said. He became the first Israeli leader to publicly pledge that some settlements "will end up outside the borders."
debkafile adds in this regard: In private conversations, Netanyahu has listed West Bank settlements with more than 100,000 inhabitants for potential exclusion outside Israel's final boundaries.
It is absolutely vital that the Palestinian state be fully demilitarized and Israel maintain a long-term military presence on the Jordan River, he said. "In the unstable Middle East, no one can guarantee that the peace partners of today will be around tomorrow."
The Palestinian refugee problem must be resolved outside Israel's borders. "They will have the right to immigrate to a viable, prosperous Palestinian state which I support."
On Jerusalem, the prime minister said: The only time in history when all three faiths have enjoyed unfettered access to their holy places and freedom of worship was when Jerusalem fell under Israel sovereignty.. The city will therefore remain the undivided capital of Israel. Solutions will be found for Palestinian difficulties with creativity and good will.
Netanyahu won loud cheers when he said Israel will not negotiate with Hamas, "the Palestinian version of al Qaeda," and called on Mahmoud Abbas to tear up his pact with the group committed to kill Jews everywhere.