Addressing the U.S. Congress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly rebuked President Obama’s call for Israel to return to its 1967 borders, and he held his country up as a shining example of democracy in the Middle East. Netanyahu was warmly applauded as he talked about his willingness to pursue peace with the Palestinians but not with Hamas, again calling for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to break his party’s new accord with the more radical organization. The Israeli leader, seeking the moral high ground, asserted that Israel is the only country in the region where Arabs can enjoy democratic freedoms. And reinforcing his own power to steer any future deal, Netanyahu reminded his audience: “Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated.” —KDG
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to make “painful compromises” for peace with the Palestinians but said he would not agree to any deal that threatens Israel’s security or its identity as a Jewish state.
Speaking before a wildly receptive joint meeting of Congress that showered him with more than two dozen sustained standing ovations, Netanyahu said Israel wants and needs peace but repeated his flat rejection of a return to what he called the “indefensible” borders that existed before the 1967 Mideast war. He also restated Israel’s refusal to entertain the return of millions of Palestinian refugees and their families to land in Israel. And he maintained that Jerusalem, claimed by both sides as their capital, could not be divided.