Bennett: A nation cannot occupy its own land

Obama's speech was met with mixed reactions; MK Miri Regev believes it was "offensive to Netanyahu."

Obama speech in Jerusalem 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Obama speech in Jerusalem 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Reactions from MKs to US President Barack Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on Thursday ranged from excited support to condemnation.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned the rockets fired at Sderot in the morning, saying they were the result of the previous withdrawal from land, as were thousands of victims over the years.
Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel
“A Palestinian state is not the right way,” the Bayit Yehudi chairman said. “The time has come for new ideas and creativity to solve the Middle East conflict.”
“Anyway,” he added, “a nation does not occupy its own land.”
Still, Bennett said he recognized that Obama’s words came from concern for and true friendship with Israel.
Bayit Yehudi opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, but is willing to remain in the coalition even if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu starts talks on the issue with the Palestinian Authority.
“Netanyahu knows Bayit Yehudi’s red lines. We trust him in negotiations,” the party’s MK Ayelet Shaked said before Obama’s speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
After the US leader spoke, Shaked said he was a true friend of Israel, but “at the end of the day we would have to absorb the tragic and destructive results of the formation of a Palestinian state. That is why the nation chose a government that does not include support for a two-state solution in its guidelines, and the US president, for whom democracy in a guiding principle, must respect that.”
Likud MK Miri Regev considered Obama’s speech “offensive to Netanyahu.”
“I was surprised by his words about a Palestinian state, that he didn’t mention the word ‘Jerusalem’ and that he said, ‘Leaders must bring peace,’ as if Netanyahu doesn’t want peace,” she said.
According to the MK, Obama should have spoken to Israeli leaders in the Knesset and not “gone over their heads.”
Regev added: “I thought Obama arrived with a greater understanding of the diplomatic process between us and the Palestinians, but I see that he hasn’t changed his stances, not about settlement construction and not about two states for two nations, and decided that the young people must influence their leaders to put public pressure on the government so it will implement [Obama’s] agenda.”
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz, also from the Likud, took a more positive view of Obama’s speech, praising it in an interview with Channel 10 News.
Steinitz said he was glad Obama said there should not be preconditions for peace talks, did not mention pre-1967 lines and said he would not push Israel.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) called the speech “important and inspiring.”
“It is our job to implement our Zionist vision as is reflected in his eloquent words for the young people of Israel – those who were in the congress center [where Obama spoke] and those at home,” she said.
MK Itzik Shmuli (Labor) attended Obama’s speech, saying the US president “wanted to speak directly to the young people of Israel about a peace treaty and responsibility for Israel’s security.”
“They must take his words about pressuring the leadership as a demand, and not just a recommendation,” Shmuly said.
Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer expressed joy that “finally someone is breaking the nationalist brainwashing that conquered the Israeli public in recent years.”
“Now it is our mission to demand the government make progress in the peace process,” he said.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List- Ta’al) had mixed feelings about the speech.
“There is nothing new about Obama’s words on a Jewish state. That is the American government’s stance in recent years, which we oppose,” Tibi explained.
However, he approved of the second half of the speech, in which Obama “clearly mentioned the Palestinian suffering under the occupation and showed understanding of the suffering of Palestinian prisoners’ families and creating a Palestinian state together with doing justice.”
Tibi also lauded the “refreshing” development of Israeli students clapping when Obama spoke about ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state.
“We need a clear plan of action so that the result of his Jerusalem speech will not be the same as that in Cairo [in 2009],” he said.
“Obama strongly attacked the Israeli Right’s political narrative, which is expressed by occupation and expulsion.”