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Israeli lawmakers criticise Netanyahu US Congress speech

Israel Materials 25 May 2011 04:17
Hawkish and nationalist Israeli lawmakers criticised Tuesday night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress that outlined his vision of a future peace deal with the Palestinians, dpa reported.
Israeli lawmakers criticise Netanyahu US Congress speech

Hawkish and nationalist Israeli lawmakers criticised Tuesday night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress that outlined his vision of a future peace deal with the Palestinians, dpa reported.

In his speech, Netanyahu said that while Israel would be "generous" with the size of a Palestinian state, there would be no Israeli return to the borders which existed in June, 1967, before Israel captured the West Bank, and Jerusalem would not be divided.

The Israeli leader also said Israel should retain a presence along the Jordan River.

Danny Danon, a voluble backbencher from Netanyahu's own hawkish Likud Party, told Israel Army Radio that the premier's positions, as outlined in the speech, did not represent the views of his party.

"We were elected to safeguard, not hand over," he said of Netanyahu's comments about settlements remaining outside of Israel after a future peace deal.

Hardline opposition lawmaker Ariyeh Eldad, of the ultra-nationalist National Union Party, voiced similar sentiments.

"There was no real need for Netanyahu to declare that he is ready to give the Arabs large pieces of the homeland, and nothing aside from weakness and defeatism required him to announce that in a peace deal he will abandon Jewish towns outside the borders of the state," he declared.

The main opposition block, the centrist Kadima party, also scorned the premier's remarks, saying he would ultimately be judged by his actions, not by his oratory.

"Netanyahu's speech to Congress was an election commercial," Kadima legislator Yoel Hasson said, adding that it was an attempt to create a "false impression" that the premier was willing to enter into negotiations.

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