Why such a warm reception for Benjamin Netanyahu at US Congress?
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu drew a line in the sand Tuesday during his speech to the US Congress, regarding future borders with any new Palestinian state. The applause was enthusiastic.
(Page 2 of 2)
“The president clarified that when he spoke [on Sunday] to AIPAC, and I think the vice president recognized that,” Mr. Hoyer added.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Other senators were not convinced. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah and Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut plan to introduce this week a draft resolution in support of Israel that calls it “contrary to US policy and national security” for Israel to return to the borders of 1967 or 1949.
“The resolution says that we in Congress agree that we’re not taking this back to the borders of 1967 or 1949,” said Senator Hatch, who wants to put all lawmakers on record on this issue. “That’s just the way it is.”
Biden, commenting as he exited the House chamber, said he did clap at that point in the speech – and meant it. “There’s no difference between what Bibi said and what the president said [on this issue],” he said. “The president believes very strongly that there has to be significant negotiations and swaps. No one suggested that the territory around Tel Aviv doesn’t have to remain in Israel. Bibi said this has to be negotiated between Israel and Palestine.”
Presidents who cross the pro-Israel lobby typically do so at their peril. In 1991, Congress pushed back against a bid by President George H.W. Bush to withhold $10 billion in loan guarantees to pressure Israel to curb new settlements in “occupied territories." President George W. Bush also had to roll back threats to reduce US loan guarantees to Israel over construction of a wall on contested soil.
In Netanyahu's nearly hour-long speech, interrupted frequently by cheers and ovations, the prime minister invoked a deep friendship with the United States and the new struggle for freedom “from the Khyber Pass to the Straits of Gibraltar.” He warned lawmakers that Iran’s nuclear aspirations threatened the US capital as well as Israel, and he rejected calls to impose a Palestinian state through the United Nations. He called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to tear up his pact with Hamas, stand before his people, and say, “I will accept a Jewish state.”
“Those six words will change history,” Netanyahu said. “They’ll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end – that they’re not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel but to end it.”
In a nod to Obama, Netanyahu said both leaders agree that the 1967 borders will not be the end of any negotiations with the Palestinians.
“In any real peace agreement, in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders,” Netanyahu said. “Now the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We’ll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”