Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of a two-state solution during a 10-minute speech broadcast live Monday to the AIPAC annual conference in Washington, a marked departure from his speech to the same group last year.During a 10-minute address from his office in Jerusalem to the 18,000 attendees of the AIPAC conference, the premier said that Israel’s hand is extended to all its neighbors in peace.“We teach peace to our children, and it’s time the Palestinian Authority does the same,” he said. “It must stop teaching hatred to its children."
"It must stop paying terrorists. It must stop denying our legitimacy and our history. It must, above all – once and for all – recognize the Jewish state.”Netanyahu said that Israel is committed to working with US President Donald Trump to advance peace “with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors.” He reiterated his position that the common dangers faced by Israel and many of its Arab neighbors now present a unique diplomatic opportunity.But what was noticeably absent was a reference to the two-state solution. Not only did he not commit himself to the idea, as he did last year, but he made no mention of it.In his 2016 comments to AIPAC, Netanyahu said, “The best formula for achieving peace remains two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state finally recognizes the Jewish state. Now, I know there’s some skepticism about my views on this. So let me state unequivocally, and here’s the acid test: I am ready to begin such negotiations immediately, without preconditions, anytime, anywhere.” Netanyahu told this year’s conference that the Trump administration has already turned its strong words of support for Israel into concrete actions. This support has been reflected in US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley “standing up for what’s right for Israel and the truth at the United Nations,” he said to loud applause. He added that this support is also reflected in the recent budget request submitted by Trump.This budget, Netanyahu said, leaves military aid for Israel “fully funded even as the fiscal belt is pulled tighter, and we appreciate that. Israel is deeply grateful for the generous support of the president, the Congress and the American people.”The prime minister said that for the sake of both Israel and the US, it is essential that “the forces of militant Islam are defeated.”Netanyahu said that in this battle he is confident that the US and Israel will stand “shoulder to shoulder” to ensure that “light triumphs over darkness, that hope triumphs over despair. That means preventing Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons. That is our policy, it will always be our policy.”This partnership, he added, means also “confronting Iran’s aggression in the region, and its terrorism around the world. It means utterly vanquishing ISIS, not partially. It means building alliances with moderates in the region, those moderates who seek to build a better future and embrace modernity and peace.”Netanyahu opened his remarks by saying that Israel has no greater friend than America, and America has no greater friend than Israel, and ended it by saying that AIPAC helps ensure that the Israeli-US relationship stands the test of time.“Your commitment to Israel makes you part of the rebirth of the Jewish people, the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in our ancestral homeland,” he told the crowd.
Netanyahu hails "new day" in Israel-US relations after meeting with Trump (credit: REUTERS)