Oren hails PM's 'historic' speech at UNGA

Hamas Netanyahus speec

netanyahu UN September 248.88 (photo credit: )
netanyahu UN September 248.88
(photo credit: )
Israel's ambassador in Washington Michael Oren termed Thursday's speech by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly as "successful and even historic." In the speech, the prime minister took to task the countries of the world that had sat silently and listened the day before to Holocaust-denier Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and then went on to slam the recently published Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in January. Oren told Army Radio on Friday that the address received sweeping support in the UN chamber adding, "All in all, it has been a very successful week for Israeli diplomacy." "The prime minister had a very busy and successful week, one can define is as a historic week regarding Israel-US relations." Oren also commended Wednesday's speech by US President Barack Obama, noting his agreement to peace talks without preconditions, the importance he attached to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and the fact that the US was not insisting that a future peace deal be based on the 1967 borders. Israel's ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev also praised the speech, but said there was little hope it would make a difference to the UN General Assembly's activities. Shalev told Israel Radio on Friday morning that while the UN had shown progress by passing a resolution aimed in part at increasing pressure on Iran to rein in its nuclear program, the fact that its General Assembly was notorious for being the forum in which most decisions against Israel were made overshadowed potential changes in support for the Jewish State. "We have no great hopes for the General Assembly," she said. Shalev agreed with her interviewer that Netanyahu's speech would stay in the memories of those who heard it for a long time. She also commended the prime minister for appealing to the UN to reject the findings of the Goldstone Commission's investigation into alleged war crimes during Israel's Operation Cast Lead. She said the report had already caused considerable damage and she reiterated the importance of such an official response by the government. Palestinians from both Hamas and Fatah criticized the speech. "Netanyahu spoke of the Holocaust but Israel committed the largest massacre of the century," Army Radio quoted a Hamas spokesperson as saying in reference to Operation Cast Lead. Another Hamas representative was cited by Israel Radio early Friday morning as rejecting references Netanyahu made to the Jewish people's claim to Israel, saying that "Palestine has never been Jewish land." Saib Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator with Israel, called Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state unacceptable.