Not much in Netanyahu’s speech to Congress came as a surprise, but many were shocked by the thunderous applause.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu must have felt more at home speaking to the US Congress than when he addressed the Israeli parliament: Had he made the same speech at the Knesset, he would have been repeatedly cut off by members – Arabs and Jews alike – objecting to the extremist positions and claims that could only appeal to the Israeli far right.
But in the warm arms of the US Congress, he got away with alleging that Jewish settlers – living in illegal settlements – in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not occupiers, that the West Bank (using the biblical Judea and Samaria) is not occupied territory, that a united Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and that Israel should be recognised as “a Jewish state”.
In Israel, at least, a few of the Knesset members would have interrupted Netanyahu’s rhetorical hubris, reminding him that the West Bank and Gaza are under Israeli occupation, that settlers should leave the illegal settlements and that his talk about recognising Israel as a Jewish state was downright racist. Sure enough, there was more criticism of Netanyahu’s speech in the Israeli media than in any US newspaper. Read more