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Netanyahu tells US Congress 1967 borders are -

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Netanyahu tells US Congress 1967 borders are indefensible

Jane Cowan reported this story on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 08:00:00

PETER CAVE: The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won an exceptionally warm reception
with a speech before the US Congress.

He said that Israel was prepared to make "painful" compromises to achieve peace with the
Palestinians.

But in outlining his plan he said very little new and a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority
said Mr Netanyahu's statements in Congress presented obstacles to peace.

North America correspondent Jane Cowan reports.

ANNOUNCER: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.

(Applause and cheering)

JANE COWAN: It couldn't have been a warmer welcome.

American politicians from both sides of the aisle leapt to their feet more than two dozen times in
the 45 minute speech. Standing before an applauding Congress, the Israeli Prime Minister blamed
Palestinians for blocking peace.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: It's time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say I will accept
a Jewish state.

JANE COWAN: He said those words had the power to change history.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: The Israeli people will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise. I will
be prepared to make a far reaching compromise.

(Applause)

JANE COWAN: But Benjamin Netanyahu proceeded to lay out an uncompromising vision for peace.

He said Palestinian refugees would be resettled in a future Palestinian state, not inside Israel
and he rejected any division of Jerusalem.

The Israeli leader refused to negotiate with the Palestinian Government unless it tore up a
power-sharing deal with Hamas, which he called the Palestinian version of Al Qaeda.

He returned to the question that caused so much tension when Barack Obama mentioned it last week -
the borders that existed before the 1967 war.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We'll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state but as
President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th 1967.
Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.

(Applause)

JANE COWAN: In the Middle East the reaction was swift. One senior Palestinian official said the
speech amounted to a "declaration of war".

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's aide Saeb Erekat condemned it.

SAEB EREKAT: The prime minister's Netanyahu's speech proved tonight with no doubt that we, as
Palestinians, as Arabs, we don't have a partner for peace in Israel.

JANE COWAN: There was this from the Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri.

SAMI ABU ZUHRI (translated): We will not give up one inch of our land and we will never recognise
the Israeli occupation under any condition.

JANE COWAN: Almost as Netanyahu spoke hardline Jewish settlers took over a home in the West Bank
city of Hebron. Their leader seemed to dismiss both the Israeli Prime Minister and the US
President.

"They can babble, talk, make illusionist peace," he says, "but these teenagers are the ones who
determine reality on the ground. Obama and Bibi babble - we act."

Analysts like Aaron David Miller from the Woodrow Wilson International Center saw little new in the
speech.

AARON DAVID MILLER: This was not a negotiator speech. This was a politician's speech. Nothing new
on the peace process for sure - but an affirmation of a willingness to negotiate with the
Palestinians. This advances the Arab-Israeli peace process not a whip.

JANE COWAN: So after a week of Middle East diplomacy, there's still no sign of any concrete plan to
reawaken a peace process that's been described as "comatose".

This is Jane Cowan in Washington for AM.