Israeli PM Pledges 'Painful Compromises' for Peace

May 24th 2011 – 1:07PM
Text Size

CBC News
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists he is willing to make "painful compromises" to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians amid a purported dispute with President Barack Obama over the boundaries of a future Palestinian state.

But the Israeli leader, in an address before a joint session of Congress in Washington on Tuesday, again vowed his country would not return to its "indefensible" pre-1967 demarcation lines.

During his address, Netanyahu insisted all of Jerusalem and "other places of critical strategic and national importance" would be part of Israel in a future peace deal.

"Israel will be generous on the size of a future Palestinian state but will be firm about where the borders with it are," he told the audience, while also acknowledging parts of the "ancestral Jewish homeland" in the West Bank will be given up in an any agreement.

Netanyahu also called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "tear up" his reconciliation agreement with Hamas, saying the Gaza-based militant faction was not "a partner for peace."

Netanyahu reacted angrily to Obama's declaration last week that the United States supports creation of a Palestinian state based on the demarcation lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War - in which Israeli forces occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza - but with "land swaps" agreed upon by the two parties.

Over the weekend, Obama warned in a speech to a pro-Israeli lobby audience in Washington that the Jewish state will face growing isolation without a credible peace process, but reiterated the United States' support for Israel's security remains "ironclad."

On Tuesday, Netanyahu also challenged Abbas to stand before his people and declare he would accept Israel as a "Jewish state" alongside an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinians have repeatedly balked at Israel's demands to recognize it as a Jewish state because they view it as a rejection of the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees who lost properties in Israel's formation and victory over Arab forces in 1948.

But Netanyahu accused the Palestinian Authority of fuelling a "fantasy" among its people that Palestinians will flood Israel in a future state, as Hamas continues its calls for Israel's destruction.

'Time is running out' on Iran

The Israeli prime minister began his speech by congratulating Obama for the successful military raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, saying "good riddance."

Netanyahu said his country fully supports the recent push for freedom within Arab nations such as Libya and Tunisia, insisting a Middle East "rooted in democracy will be a Middle East of peace."

He added that of 300 million Arabs in the region and in North Africa, only the one million Arabs living in Israel are "truly free."

"This startling fact reveals a basic truth," he said. "Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East, Israel is what is right about the Middle East."

But Netanyahu also warned lawmakers "time is running out" to deal with the existential threat to Israel by Iran and its "terror proxies" in Gaza and Lebanon, warning that militant Islam backed by nuclear capability "threatens the world."

Netanyahu, who received several standing ovations from the audience, was briefly interrupted by a protester in the gallery, who stood and shouted, "No more occupation, end Israeli war crimes" before being escorted out of the gallery.

The Israeli prime minister said the interruption showed the difference between democracies and the "farcical parliaments in Tehran and Tripoli.

"This is real democracy," he said.

U.S.-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have stalled in recent months over continued settlement construction in lands the Palestinians believe should be included in a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu insisted Tuesday that the status of settlements will only settled by negotiations, but acknowledged any real peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel's borders.

Earlier this month, rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas reached a reconciliation agreement following several years of division and fierce fighting - a move Obama has warned poses an "enormous obstacle to peace" because of Hamas's refusal to renounce its calls for Israel's destruction.

Adding to the pressure, the Palestinians intend to launch a bid this fall at the United Nations for support of a unilateral declaration of statehood. But Obama suggested in his speech on Sunday that the United States would use its power to veto any such move at the world body.
Copyright: (C) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,
Your interests, your passions, our brands. AOL has the most engaging network of original content experiences online, inspiring interactions you can only get by building a better web together.

Your interests, your passions, our brands. AOL has the most engaging network of original content experiences online, inspiring interactions you can only get by building a better web together.

What will you discover?


Information from trusted sources –, The Huffington Post, among many more – for news from over 20,000 bloggers from politicians and celebrities to academics and policy experts.


Non-stop entertainment news, music and gaming – watch original web series on AOL On Originals and MAKERS, laugh out loud at Huffington Post Comedy, jam out to AOL Radio and beat the house at

Living Well

Style, health, perspective – get the latest tips, trends and advice from leading tastemakers at AOL’s robust portfolio of blogs like Style Me Pretty, Kitchen Daily, AOL On Health and GPS for the Soul.


Discovery through exploration can always use a bit of direction – find your way with inspiring travel content at Huffington Post Travel as well as apps to get your there with MapQuest Directions and MapQuest Discover.


For the early adopter in all of us, keep up to the minute on what's new in tech with sites like TechCrunch, Engadget and Crunchbase.

Products and Services

Discover AOL products and services that provide convenience, connection, entertainment, protection and more! From AOL Mail and AIM to computer and identity protection that protects you both online and off. AOL offers it all, and it’s right at your fingertips.

Discover AOL Your Way

A pioneer in tech, social and original content, AOL is committed to continuous innovation, growth and creativity. There is always something new to explore. What will you discover at AOL?