PM Netanyahu addresses Congress fist 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Molly Riley)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that there is no way to stop the UN General Assembly from recognizing a Palestinian state.
“No one can stop the decision to recognize a Palestinian state in the UN, but they would even vote in favor of a declaration that the world is flat,” Netanyahu said.
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The prime minister’s comments came during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
He added that it is “impossible” for a Palestinian state to be founded without the approval of the UN Security Council, “and that will not happen.”
Netanyahu also addressed the “immense upheaval” in the Arab world.
“Demonstrations and events in the Middle East are expected to continue, and according to my estimation, other states will become a part of this wave,” he said.
He mentioned specifically the instability in Egypt, citing the two recent explosions on the gas pipeline to Israel.
“What was in Egypt, and what we became used to in Egypt, will not return,” he said. “Egypt is having trouble maintaining its sovereignty in Sinai, and as proof, we saw the gas line explosion.
“The events in Sinai have a direct effect on Gaza. The greatest danger is that Sinai will turn into a no-man’sland.”
The prime minister explained that while the Hamas leadership faced troubles in Syria, the movement was growing stronger in Egypt.
“Hamas is strengthening its base and its cooperation in Egypt. It is clear today that the current Egyptian government is more attentive to Hamas’s demands,” Netanyahu said.
He said the government was “concerned about what is happening around us, especially on the peaceful fronts with Egypt and Jordan.
“We do not have the ability or the pretension to try to influence the upheaval in the Arab world,” he said, although he hoped that “moderation and progress” would be brought to the region.
According to the prime minister, the current situation in the Middle East led Fatah to “embrace Hamas,” adding that “Israel is a small country; we have very little room to make mistakes.”
Netanyahu said that the most important points in today’s reality “unite most of the parties” – the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, keeping a military presence in the Jordan Valley and the problematic nature of Hamas-Fatah unity in light of Hamas’s rejection of the Quartet’s conditions.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction.
That is the reason that on my visit to the US, I did not emphasize the Quartet terms,” he said, adding, “I am not ruling out the possibility that the unity agreement [between Hamas and Fatah] will unravel. If the tiger changes its stripes, we will agree to a dialogue,” Netanyahu said in reference to Hamas.
Netanyahu explained that his refusal to accept a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 lines was “not just a matter of security, but a demographic issue.
“I said we are willing to be very generous with territory that we will transfer to the Palestinians, but this requires recognition of our right to exist. Some places will not be under our sovereignty, even if some people don’t like the idea,” he said.
Netanyahu said his meeting with US President Barack Obama was “respectful.”
The prime minister said US support of Israel “rises above any political interest. This support is based on shared values such as Israel has with no other country. This deep connection influences whomever sits in the White House; it’s a rare strategic asset.”
Following his remarks, MKs expressed serious criticism of Netanyahu’s leadership.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni told the prime minister, “You know how to give speeches, but you don’t know how to get the world to commit to Israel’s interests.”
“What’s worse,” Livni added, “you’re wearing out Israel’s national and strategic interests.”
The Kadima leader said she ended her tenure as foreign minister with “excellent relations with the US, a world that supports not giving the right of return [to Palestinian refugees], keeping settlement blocs in Israel.”
Livni accused Netanyahu of damaging her good work and “cynically starting a public argument with Obama over something that was never said.”
She said, “Your megaphone and your heartwarming speeches may be good for politics, but they create serious diplomatic damage to the State of Israel.”
MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also slammed Netanyahu.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister said sentences that we all know, but as far as I understood we didn’t hear his intentions for Israel’s future and the direction in which he wants to lead the country,” Mofaz said.
Though the US erred in trying to force another West Bank construction freeze on Israel, Netanyahu should have said, “There won’t be a freeze, I have a plan,” Mofaz added.
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) called for a national unity government after hearing Netanyahu’s briefing.
“There is widespread agreement on the way to find a solution and untangle the knot Israel is in,” Schneller said. “It’s not every year that so many people are on the same side, that the heads of Kadima and Likud are in agreement. Why don’t we leave political interests aside?” he asked.
MK Amir Peretz (Labor) took issue with Netanyahu’s demand for the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state.
“Does he think he’s better than Begin or Rabin, who signed peace treaties? Does he think he’s more Jewish, more Zionist?” Peretz asked reporters.
“We don’t need Abbas’s recognition.
If there isn’t a Palestinian state, there will be a binational state here, with a Palestinian majority.”
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) commended Netanyahu on reiterating “important principles” during his trip to the US, but said the prime minister was “making concessions that the Likud does not support.”
She implored Netanyahu to think of Israelis who would “remain on the other side of the border.”