MKs on Right: Netanyahu 'celebrated prematurely'

MKs on Right PM celebr

US President Barack Obama's statements to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday about "not accepting the legitimacy of West Bank settlements" and "ending the occupation that began in 1967" proved that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "prematurely celebrated" what he thought was an American policy shift in Israel's favor, MKs on the Right said Wednesday. Netanyahu and his political allies and advisers expressed satisfaction on Tuesday when Obama called for Israel to merely "restrain" the settlements. They said they were surprised to see that the president had abandoned his previous demand that Israel completely freeze all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. MKs on the Right said that Netanyahu had misinterpreted Obama and had wrongly given an adversarial president the benefit of the doubt. "The president of the United States wants to force upon Israel a Palestinian state in pre-1967 borders, which Netanyahu was elected to prevent," National Union MK Arye Eldad said. "Netanyahu must take action now to prevent this from happening or he will enter Israel into the trap that Obama is setting and we won't be able to escape." Eldad called for Netanyahu to use his connections with Congressmen and Jewish leaders against Obama. He condemned the prime minister for accepting a Palestinian state and a settlement freeze before negotiations began. "Bibi must be taught that he can and must say no to the president of the US," said Eldad, warning him that he could be toppled from the Right as he was from his first term as prime minister in 1999. Likud rebel MK Yariv Levin said that Netanyahu had succeeded in easing some of the American pressure on Israel and correcting some of Obama's misperceptions about the Middle East, but the president's speech on Wednesday proved that the prime minister still had work to do to persuade Obama to endorse Israel's views on the settlement issue. "The policies of the president and his advisers are still mistaken, so we still have to stand up for our interests," Levin said. "Obama's statements about the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are unfortunate and don't advance peace. Over time Obama will realize that he was wrong. Until then, we are still in the middle of a complicated struggle."