News / USA

US Congress Gives Netanyahu Speech An Enthusiastic Response

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 24, 2011
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 24, 2011

Multimedia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received an exuberant welcome from a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.  The Israeli leader told lawmakers his vision of how to achieve a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was happy to return to the U.S. Capitol, where he gave his first speech to a joint meeting in 1996.

He emphasized the strong bonds between Israel and the United States. "In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability.  In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America's unwavering ally.  Israel has always been pro-American, Israel will always be pro-American," said the Israeli prime minister.

Netanyahu's speech was interrupted at least 29 times for standing ovations, and once by a young woman protester who unfurled a banner and shouted, "No more occupation, end Israeli war crimes."  She was quickly removed from the House gallery.

Netanyahu said the Middle East now stands at a crossroads, and commended the courageous Arab protesters who have taken to the streets in a number of countries.  He pointed out that Israel has long had a robust democracy and that its citizens enjoy civil liberties denied elsewhere in the Middle East.

"In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different," he said.

The Israeli Prime Minister singled out Iran as one of the most powerful forces opposing democracy in the region, and warned of the ongoing danger he said Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons poses.  

"After six million Jews were murdered, Iran's leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people, while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state.  Leaders who spew such venom should be banned from every respectable forum on the planet," he said.

Since arriving late last week in Washington, Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have publicly clashed about the basis for reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected returning to the pre-1967 war borders.  President Obama told a pro-Israeli lobbying group on Sunday that Israel must "make the hard choices" necessary to reach a peace agreement.  He said they include basing the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps.

 Map of Israeli pre-1967 borders

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, spoke to the same group late Monday, and gave support to Netanyahu's stance and not to President Obama's.  Senator Reid said negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must take place at the negotiating table - and nowhere else - not in speeches.

“No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building, or about anything else,” he said.

In his address to Congress, Netanyahu emphasized the points of agreement with President Obama and praised him repeatedly, without giving any ground on his own position on the borders in a future peace agreement.

"We will be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state, but as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967," he said. "Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.

Netanyahu also called for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stand before his people and declare that he will accept a Jewish state, and to tear up his unity pact with the militant organization Hamas.  He also said Israel must continue to have a military presence in the Jordan Valley, and that Jerusalem must never be divided.

A spokesman for the Palestinian president quickly responded to the Israeli leader's speech to Congress, saying Netanyahu had put more obstacles in the way of a Middle East peace agreement by imposing impossible conditions.

The two-decade old Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been at a standstill since September due to a dispute over Jewish settlement building on land captured in the 1967 war.  Palestinians say peace must be based on the 1967 boundaries and they will not accept any Israeli military presence in their future state.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid