Congress Applauds Netanyahu as Dems Break with Obama

May 26, 2011 04:32

[N]ot even the Democrats in Congress would side with President Barack Obama’s attempt at pressuring Israel to accept the pre-1967 war borders in order to obtain a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

From The Americano

Thirty times Republicans and Democratic members of Congress stood up and applauded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It was clear that not even the Democrats in Congress would side with President Barack Obama’s attempt at pressuring Israel to accept the pre-1967 war borders in order to obtain a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Senate President Harry Reid (D – Nev.) said in a speech Monday that was “premature.”

“The parties that should lead those negotiations must be the parties at the center of this conflict – and no one else,” Reid told thousands of pro-Israel activists gathered in Washington for the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“The place where negotiating will happen must be the negotiating table – and nowhere else,” Reid said.  “Those negotiations will not happen – and their terms will not be set – through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media. No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building or about anything else. ”

At AIPAC Reid brought the audience to its feet with his comment.

On Tuesday it was Congress who applauded Netanyahu and Israel. Conservative analyst Pat Buchanan said the Israeli president last Friday scolded Obama in front of the international press.

“Not since Nikita Khrushchev berated Dwight Eisenhower over Gary Powers’ U-2 spy flight over Russia only weeks earlier has an American president been subjected to a dressing down like the one Barack Obama received from Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday,” Buchanan said.

On Tuesday Netanyahu told Congress that peace between Israelis and the Palestinians will be possible only when the Palestinian Authority accepts a Jewish state.

According to Associated Press, Netanyahu, who was repeatedly interrupted by applause from members of both parties during his 45-minute address, said his country could be “generous” about the size of a Palestinian state as long as its borders did not threaten Israel’s national security.

“Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state, it’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state,” Netanyahu said in a speech at the conclusion of a five-day trip to Washington. “This is what this conflict is about.”

One of the prime minister’s biggest applause lines came when he underlined that his country would not accept a peace deal that forced it to give up territory it won during the 1967 war. House and Senate members attending the speech leapt to their feet to offer an ovation when Netanyahu said: “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.”

There was little doubt that if the Obama White House had made it difficult for Netanyahu in this and other visits to Washington, Congress has a different view. It is clearly pro-Israel. A message that even in Europe, Obama probably heard.

“It’s time for [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to stand before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’ Those six words will change history,” Netanyahu said.

Speeches by foreign leaders to both chambers of Congress are not always well attended, but most senators and House members appeared to make time for Netanyahu’s high-profile address. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had invited him to speak to the joint meeting.

Another condition for a peace deal, Netanyahu said, is Jerusalem should never be divided. He called it “absolutely vital” that the Palestinian state be fully demilitarized and that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River. And he continued to reject the idea of negotiating with the Palestinian Authority as long as it maintains its pact with Hamas.

“So I say to President Abbas, ‘Tear up your pact with Hamas,’” Netanyahu said. “Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with a Jewish state. And if you do, I promise you this: Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so.”

Netanyahu issued a stiff warning about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran, calling Iran “foremost” among the forces that are working against democracy in the Middle East.

“A nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads in the sand,” he said, adding that a nuclear Iran has repercussions far beyond the Middle East. “I want you to understand what this means,” he said. “They could put a bomb anywhere. They could put it on a missile. They’re working on missiles that could reach this city.”

The Americano/Agencies

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