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(photo credit: Courtesy of the Knesset)
Ministers and MKs on the Right expressed outrage on Thursday at US President Barrack Obama's comparison of the suffering of the Palestinians to what Jews endured in the Holocaust.
In his Cairo speech, immediately after talking about the Holocaust, Obama said that "on the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."
"Obama shockingly equated the destruction of European Jewry to the suffering Arabs brought upon themselves when they declared war on the nascent state of Israel," National Union MK Arye Eldad said. "If he doesn't understand the difference, perhaps he will when he visits the Buchenwald concentration camp [on Friday]. And if he still won't get it then, the Muslims will teach him a painful lesson that his predecessor learned on September 11."
Diaspora Affairs and Public Relations Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) blamed Obama's comparison between the Holocaust and the Palestinians' plight on previous Israeli governments for accepting the Palestinian narrative. He singled out Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, who he said emphasized Palestinian interests over Israel's as foreign minister.
Eldad's National Union colleague, MK Michael Ben-Ari, compared Obama to Pharoah and said that just as the Jewish people overcame one, the Jewish state would overcome the other.
Likud MK Danny Dannon wrote a letter to members of Congress criticizing Obama for his "new and disturbing trend of intensifying pressure on Israel," and asking them to join him in highlighting the dangers of Obama's policies.
While Netanyahu asked his ministers not to attack Obama after the speech, some refused to remain silent.
"Obama ignored the fact that the Palestinians have not abandoned terror," Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Herschkowitz said during a tour of settlements south of Hebron. "The government of Israel is not America's lackey. The relations with the Americans are based on friendship and not submission, and therefore Israel must tell Obama that stopping natural growth in the settlements is a red line."
By contrast, Kadima MK Ze'ev Boim used the opportunity to both laud the speech and criticize the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"Obama's speech is further proof that Netanyahu did not properly gauge the policies of the United States," he said. "The policies of the president on the Palestinian issue are identical to those of Kadima, and it is unfortunate that Netanyahu is unable to accept the idea of two states for two peoples for narrow political reasons."
Labor rebel MK Eitan Cabel also had words of praise for the president and condemnation for the prime minister.
"The president's words made it very clear that in Washington they are unwilling to turn a blind eye," he said. "Time is working against us, and the Israelis' interest in not being a serial rejector means accepting two states for two peoples and stopping construction of settlements."
United Arab List MK Ahmed Tibi said that while he agreed with the speech, there was "no Israeli partner to implement" it.
"Obama presented a new and balanced approach and semantics in his speech, and reiterated that the settlements are not legitimate," he said. "This approach requires active steps that will be the test of his policy."
"His words of praise for Islam are a counterweight to Islamaphobia, and what he said about Palestinian suffering is an important basis for diplomatic progress," Tibi added.
Outside of the Knesset, reactions were also mixed. Aliza Herbst, spokeswoman for the Ofra settlement in Samaria, said that modern history has shown that the Muslim world was at war with the West. Obama's vision of peace sounded nice but was not realistic, she said.
The citizens committees of Judea and Samaria said the speech was an expression of Israel "paying the price for the defeatism of its leaders."
"Hussein Obama chose to adopt the lying versions of the Arabs, which were always stated persistently and brazenly, over the Jewish truth, which is stated in a weak and stuttering voice," the settlers said in a statement.
It was time for Netanyahu to join the ranks of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, "arise as a proud Jewish leader and declare that he rejects with repugnance the rewritten history that Obama attempted to dictate today," they said.
A Shvahkim Panorama poll broadcast on Israel Radio a few hours ahead of the speech found that 47.1 percent of Israelis believed that Obama preferred the interests of Arab countries over Israel's. Those who disagreed with that statement numbered 28.9%, and 21.7% said they did not know.
Matt Zalen and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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