Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may have received 26 standing ovations from Senators and Congressmen during his speech to them on Tuesday but MKs from across the political spectrum were much tougher on him.
His political opponents on the Left and hard Right urged Netanyahu to stay in Washington, where he could continue to receive nearly unanimous affirmation from American politicians, with the exception of US President Barack Obama.
Read the full text of Netanyahu's speech to Congress
PA on Congress speech: PM's policies won't bring peace
Analysis: Applause heard in White House, around world
One of the
only MKs who released a statement praising Netanyahu was Otniel Schneller of
Kadima, who said the prime minister had succeeded in speaking for a consensus of
Schneller urged his faction to put politics aside in favor of
the national interest.
But a Kadima spokesman accused Netanyahu of
unnecessarily harming relations with the United States and said he would be
judged by his actions and not his oratory capabilities.
Kadima MK Yoel
Hasson accused the prime minister of staging an election campaign from
“Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was an election commercial,”
Hasson said. “It was an attempt by Netanyahu to present a false impression that
he is willing to enter negotiations.
The people of Israel should not be
enticed and should understand that Netanyahu’s policies will lead not only to
international isolation, but also to a binational state.”
Further to the
Left, MK Zehava Gal- On of Meretz called Netanyahu “dangerous” and “extremist”
and rejected his statement that Israel would never return to the pre-1967
“Even Netanyahu knows that there is no such thing as peace that
is not based on ’67 borders and dividing Jerusalem,” she said.
minister received even harsher criticism from MKs on the Right who were upset
about his statement about some settlements being left outside of Israel. MK
Tzipi Hotovely from his own Likud party said the speech was “a dangerous
precedent from a right-wing prime minister.”
National Union MK Michael
Ben- Ari slammed Netanyahu for offering the Palestinians a state, saying that he
had become the Palestinian Herzl.
“Netanyahu received the greatest
applause when he said that Israel is the land of our forefathers and that
Jerusalem will not be divided, so there was no need for him to declare that he
is willing to give up large portions of our homeland to the Arabs,” Ben-Ari’s
National Union colleague MK Arye Eldad said. “Saying that he is willing to
abandon settlements will only encourage the Arabs to ask for more and we are
liable to pay for this in blood.”
Likud ministers Gideon Sa’ar, Limor
Livnat and Yuli Edelstein praised Netanyahu for presenting Israel’s case well.
They said the Palestinian reaction to the speech proved that there was no
partner on the Palestinian side. Likud officials expressed confidence that
Netanyahu’s coalition would not be endangered by the speech.
Institute poll broadcast on Channel 2 Tuesday night found that 38 percent of
Israelis found Netanyahu most fit to be prime minister and 35% opposition leader
Tzipi Livni. The poll found that the Likud had grown in support at Kadima’s
Since the last poll taken by the institute during a crisis over
gas prices, Kadima fell by five seats and Likud rose by four. The poll found
that if an election were held now, the Likud would win 34 seats (up seven from
the last election in February 2009), Kadima 29 (up one), Israel Beiteinu 14
(down 1) and Labor eight (down five).
A Geocartographic Institute poll
broadcast on Channel 1 Tuesday night predicted that the Likud would win 33
seats, Kadima 22, Israel Beiteinu 17 and Labor nine.