Netanyahu 311 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Prime Minister Binaymin Netanyahu is expected to fire the opening round at the
Knesset Monday, in what is expected to be the start of a nine-day diplomatic
marathon of key events, stretching from Jerusalem to Washington.
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officials advise that those who want to speculate as to the contents of
Netanyahu’s much-touted speech in Washington before a special meeting of
Congress on May 24th, should pay attention to his words in the Knesset Monday,
when the summer session officially opens.
The most important aspects of
his message will be reserved for Washington, a source in the prime minister’s
office said, but Netanyahu’s address to the Knesset is expected to be a
precursor to his trip to the United States, and to provide some general talking
Along with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and Opposition
Leader Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu is expected to speak Monday evening at a special
Knesset event honoring the 151st birthday of the founder of Zionism, Theodore
Netanyahu’s speech comes amid the backdrop of Sunday’s border
break through by Syrian Palestinians, Palestinians inside Israel demonstrating
on Nakba Day and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza telling Muslim
worshippers to pray for Israel’s demise.
Netanyahu held a number of
security-related meetings, including with the septet, and then issued a harsh
warning that Israel understands very well in watching these demonstrators that
it is dealing with an enemy that is looking to destroy it.
In light of
Fatah’s recent reconciliation with Hamas, Netanyahu is expected in Washington to
clearly issue some already known demands: that Israel wants peace – but only
with a Palestinian government that renounces terror and recognizes its right to
He will warn against divorcing the peace process from Palestinian
statehood, and urge the international community not to cede to the Palestinian
call for unilateral statehood recognition at the United Nations in
At a meeting Sunday with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano,
who arrived Saturday for a four-day visit, Netanyahu said that a “UN resolution
on Palestinian statehood could put the peace process back for decades.” He added
that it would prevent any kind of flexibility in the negotiating
What remains unclear is whether Netanyahu would use the platform
provided to him in Washington to launch a new peace initiative.
Netanyahu has held his
cards so tightly to his chest that many parliamentarians and ministers –
including those in his own party – said they do not know what he is likely to
say. Quite a number were not even aware that he planned to address diplomatic
issues at the Knesset on Monday.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) filed an official
request to Coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) for the party to discuss the
speech as part of Monday’s weekly faction meeting. Danon said that he planned to
raise the issue of the Washington speech during the meeting, which he has also
requested that local government leaders from the West Bank
Separately, the national camp planned to hold a show of force
Monday as well.
MKs Danon and Miri Regev co-sponsored a Likud meeting in
the Knesset, which was expected to include additional MKs, local government
leaders, Likud Central Committee members and field activists.
meeting’s agenda called for Netanyahu to respond to Palestinian attempts for
unilateral recognition of statehood by placing all West Bank settlements under
Israeli civil authority.
Danon began planning the meeting shortly after
reports began to circulate regarding Netanyahu’s intent to make a foreign-policy
speech in Washington.
Likud Minister Yuli Edelstein said that in light of
recent events it would be “irresponsible” for Netanyahu to start talking about
new concessions in Washington.
“We are not at the right moment for a
break though in the peace process,” Edelstein said.
Deputy Premier Moshe
“Boogie” Ya’alon said he has consistently advised Netanyahu – even before the
Washington trip was a possibility – to stick to his already stated principles of
demanding that the Palestinians recognize that Israel is a Jewish state, and
agree to end the conflict.
After Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset on
Monday, Jordanian King Abdullah II is expected to meet Tuesday with US President
Barack Obama in Washington.
On Thursday, Obama will deliver a major
address on the Middle East. It is likely that he will speak after Netanyahu is
already in the air on his way to Washington.
On Friday, Netanyahu and
Obama will meet, then on Monday Netanyahu will address the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee, and on Tuesday he will speak before the special
meeting of Congress.