May 24, 2011 - 12:00am

Some members of Israeli Knesset parliament on Tuesday evening praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, while others condemned it as "nothing new."

Gidon Sa'ar, a lawmaker from Netanyahu's Likud faction, hailed the address.

"There's no statesmen in Israel or the world who could present the case for Israel as strongly as Netanyahu could," he was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.

Many members of Knesset (MKs) from the opposition criticized the prime minister's speech. "Netanyahu didn't say anything new," said Shaul Mofaz with the Kadima party. "He has no plan, he is leading us to a conflict with the world in September," Mofaz said, referring to the Palestinian initiative to bring the statehood issue to the UN four months later.

"Netanyahu's speech to the Congress was an election commercial . .. an attempt by Netanyahu to present a false impression that he is willing to enter negotiations," said Kadima's MK Yoel Hasson.

Concerning the U.S. Congress members' general applause for Netanyahu's speech, Zehave Gal-On from the left-wing Meretz party said "they cheer in Congress while in the Middle East the catastrophe goes on."

"Even Netanyahu knows that there is no such thing as peace that is not based on 1967 borders and dividing Jerusalem. (His views) reject peace and will lead Israel to international isolation," Gal- On said, according the Jerusalem Post.

Netanyahu told U.S. Congress earlier Tuesday that he is ready to make "painful compromises" for peace. However, he rebuffed the idea of Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, which the U.S. President Barack Obama and the Palestinians have demanded.

The prime minister reiterated in his speech Israel's stands on further peace talks, including undivided Jerusalem, military presence along Jordan river, and demilitarization of Palestinian state.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017