Both Israeli Arab and nationalist political leaders blasted the speech as political spin.
“There is no such thing as a demilitarized state, Netanyahu knows very well that no political force on earth can prevent a country from arming itself or signing military treaties like any other country.”
MK Zevulun Orlev, of the Jewish Home party, said that the policy represented a drastic change in stance and was an affront to the coalition agreement.
“Netanyahu offered lip service by agreeing to a demilitarized Palestinian state, thus disappointing most of his coalition partners,” he said. “Netanyahu’s speech requires a serious coalition discussion to ensure that the democratic resolution as it was manifested in the elections will be represented in the government’s policy.”
Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said that the address was full of contradictory policy, and essentially a “ploy” to close the rift growing between Netanyahu’s government and the Obama administration.
“Netanyahu’s mountain turned into a mole hill,” said Tibi. “The speech manifests an intellectual fixation which sees a non-sovereign Palestinian state together with continued settlement construction. I hope that the White House will blow the cover from Bibi’s [Netanyahu’s] public relations ploy. The PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] doesn’t need to, and never will, recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
MKs from the opposition Kadima Party, however, said that the speech represented a long-awaited step toward regional peace.
An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the speech “sabotages” regional peace efforts, due to Netanyahu’s refusal to accept an influx of Palestinian refugees into Israel and his unwillingness to compromise on the status of Jerusalem.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Netanyahu “unilaterally ended the negotiations” and took the possibility of peace talks off the table.
- “[Netanyahu] spoke about a Palestinian state, [but only] after he removed from it the issue of Jerusalem, placed the issue of refugees outside negotiations, placed security outside negotiations when he spoke about a demilitarized Palestinian state.”
Erekat also said that there was no chance of Palestinian ever approving Netanyahu’s vision for their state. “He will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him with this feeble state.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said talks with Israel cannot resume until Netanyahu halts settlement and accepts a two-state solution.
Haaretz: What you are trying to say is that once Israel is clear about Oslo and a two-state solution, it will force Hamas to take a clear decision?
President Carter: I’m not sure about Netanyahu, but I remember when Oslo was announced, Sharon declared it was a death sentence for Israel. And I would presume at that time that Netanyahu and Sharon were compatible in their denouncing the Oslo agreement. But I can’t vouch for it – you would know better than I.
Haaretz: Obama keeps mentioning the Arab peace initiative. Would you make the initiative a prerequisite, or a pillar, for a comprehensive agreement that will put forward, to Hamas and Israelis, a package deal?
President Carter: Yes I would. I don’t see any substantive incompatibility among the Arab peace proposal and the Geneva recommendation and the final stage of the Quartet Road Map and the United Nations resolutions. I think they’re all completely compatible. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – I spoke to him last year – he indicated some flexibility on withdrawal to pre-67 borders, in that if Israel and the Palestinian leaders can negotiate a modification to the borders, a swap, that he would be willing to accept that.
President Carter: Netanyahu was never friendly toward me because of the peace treaty with Egypt. He accused me of giving away the Sinai. Both he and former PM Olmert criticized me for the peace treaty that I negotiated.