On Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered his awaited speech at the Begin-Sadat Centre at Bar-Ilan University, on his vision for the future, including the issues of Iran and peace with the Palestinians.
The full text of the speech is shown here and well worth reading.
David Horowitz, from the Jerusalem Post, provides a reasoned analysis of the speech, and concludes that it matches the consensus in Israel pretty well.
Netanyahu’s comments are also consistent with the international will, including Pres Obama, in regards to calling for a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel, and reaffirming that Israel would build no new settlements and take control of no more West Bank land. However, Netanyahu reaffirmed that natural growth in established settlements would continue.
PM Netanyahu stipulated that he could accept Palestinian statehood only if, first, philosophically, the Palestinians publicly acknowledged Israel’s essence as the homeland of the Jewish nation (which practically includes no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel) and, second that Palestine would be demilitarized. “We don’t want missiles on our cities,” he said simply. “We want peace.”
US President Barack Obama welcomed the prime minister’s speech, calling it an important step forward. “The president is committed to two states, a Jewish State of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement. “He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel’s security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu’s endorsement of that goal.”
In the speech, which was carried live in Israel and in much of the Arab world, PM Netanyahu made clear that the Jewish people’s attachment to Israel is a deep and continuous one for 3000 years, and far richer than had been stated by Pres Obama. Rather than the country being formed as a result of the Shoah, Israel’s presence would have helped prevent the Shoah. Also, Netanyahu affirmed that Jerusalem would remain the united capital of Israel.
The initial response by the Palestinian Authority to the speech was a negative one, but as stated by Horowitz, the ball is now in Pres Abbas’s court.
The more right wing in Israel was also not happy, but all in all, Netanyahu delivered a realistic, middle of the road, forthright speech, which in 30 minutes, tackled the important issues, and seemed to resonate well with mainstream Israel.
From a timing point of view, the speech, while staking Israel’s position, will receive less publicity than expected, because of the current protests in Iran amid claims of election fraud following the reeelection of President Ahmadinajad.