Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Netanyahu to AIPAC: "Israel can't return to 1967 lines" Abbas: "PA not trying to isolate Israel"

Netanyahu at AIPAC (REUTERS)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the keynote speech at AIPAC's policy conference in Washington DC on Monday evening, receiving many standing ovations as he declared that any agreement "must leave Israel with security, and therefore Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 lines."

"Support for Israel doesn't divide America, Netanyahu said, "It unites America."

The event at AIPAC was the penultimate speech during Netanyahu's crowded schedule for his Washington trip, before his grand finale before the US Congress Tuesday evening during which he is expected to explain his proposals for a peace deal with the Palestinians. More than half of the sitting members of Congress were in the 10,000 seat convention hall Monday night, along with a few hecklers who were escorted out by security guards.

Netanyahu's speech came after strong pro-Israel speeches from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (Republican).

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters on Monday that he is working to build a government composed of technocrats and not a joint Fatah-Hamas cabinet as many in the West fear.

"The Israelis, and sometimes the Americans, have misunderstood the upcoming government," Abbas said. "They mistakenly think that it's a Hamas government. This is not a Hamas or Fatah government."

Abbas recently defended Hamas, saying it was simply a normal, democratic opposition party within Palestinian society. He also denied that the PA was attempting to isolate Israel by seeking recognition for a Palestinian State at the UN in September.

In related news, a PA spokesman announced on Monday that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is in stable condition after suffering a mild heart attack while on a visit to Austin Texas, where his son is graduating from University. Egyptian daily Al-Ahram  reported on Wednesday that Fayyad will not retain his government position in the forthcoming transitional Palestinian unity government.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed representatives from Fatah and Hamas to a meeting in Moscow, telling them how happy the Russian government is with the unity government deal that Israel has denounced and US President Barack Obama recently called an "enormous obstacle" to Middle East peace.

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