Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a rousing speech to a joint session of Congress, in which he praised the strong ties between America and Israel, warned of the dangers of a nuclear Iran, and laid out his vision for peace with Palestinians when they’re ready to negotiate.
He received an overwhelmingly positive reception from Congress, with C-SPAN reporting 26 standing ovations.
At one point, his speech was disrupted by a protestor who unfurled a banner about “occupation” and shouted “End Israeli war crimes.”
Without wavering, Netanyahu celebrated the fact that there were protesters in true democracies, unlike the “farcical parliaments” of Tehran and Tripoli.
Netanyahu argued that in a region of 300 million Arabs, Israeli Arabs were the only ones who were truly free.
“Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East,” he declared. “Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”
Netanyahu reiterated that all options must be on the table for stopping a nuclear Iran.
“We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust,” he said. “When we say never again, we mean never again.”
As for the conflict with the Palestinians, Netanyahu explicitly endorsed a Palestinian state. His proposal called for a peace that would involve Israeli withdrawal from areas in the West Bank, with defensible Israeli borders that reflect that hundreds of thousands of Jews live beyond the 1967 lines. He also said the descendants of Palestinian refugees would have to settle in a new Palestinian state if they choose, thus rejecting the concept of the so called “right of return.” The idea of letting all descendants of Palestinians into Israeli is a way to destroy the Jewish state through other means — by flooding it with Arab populations.
Netanyahu also made clear that he would not negotiate with any government that includes the terrorist group Hamas.
As he put it: