Syria: Netanyahu's Policy Has Everything but Peace

Egypt leader rejects call for PA to recognize Israel as Jewish state; Hamas: PM speech 'racist.'

The foreign policy speech given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu elicited negative response across the Arab world, with Syria saying Monday that the Israeli premier's plan "contains everything but peace."

Click here for the full text of Netanyahu's foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan.

"The statements that were made were like placing the cart before the horse," said an editorial in the official Syrian newspaper Tishrin. "This is the principle that always guides Israel when approaching the Zionist-Arab conflict. The Israelis see themselves as victims rather than the aggressors."

Laying out his Mideast policy on Sunday, Netanyahu bent to U.S. pressure and backed down on decades of opposition to Palestinian statehood. He invited the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world to resume peace talks.

However, he removed from the negotiating agenda the fate of Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel's 1948 creation and said Israel would retain sovereignty over all of Jerusalem - two issues previous Israeli governments had agreed to negotiate.

Netanyahu also said he would keep building in Jewish settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians, despite a U.S. demand for a complete freeze. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not resume talks unless Israel honored previous pledges to halt construction.

In his speech, Netanyahu declared that he would be willing to travel to any Arab capital to talk peace. The first capital he mentioned was Damascus, the Syrian capital, but the Syrian article failed to acknowledge Netanyahu's offer, neither negatively nor positively.

Furthermore, the article dismisses Israel's overtures and adopts a sarcastic tone, saying "Netanyahu's plan contains everything but peace? the only things that Israel is offering is a willingness to take Arab oil money, willingness to establish joint industrial zones with the Arabs, willingness to welcome Arab tourism, and a willingness to visit Arab capitals or welcome Arab leaders in Jerusalem."

Mubarak: Netanyahu speech 'scuttles chances for peace'

Earlier Monday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak echoed the Syrian sentiment, saying that Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people "scuttles the chances for peace."

Mubarak made the comments in a speech to Egyptian army commandos, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

The president said he had informed Netanyahu of his position, according to which Israeli-Palestinian peace talks must be renewed from the point at which they were broken off, and that the call for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would only complicate matters.

"You won't find anyone to answer that call in Egypt, or in any other place," Mubarak was quoted as telling the troops.

Mubarak added that the problems in the Middle East would not be solved until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved. "The solution to the crises in the Arab and Muslim world lies in Jerusalem," he said.

Hamas, meanwhile, dismissed Netanyahu's speech as a "racist" attempt to deny Palestinian national rights.

"[Netanyahu wants] to recognize Palestine as pure Jewish land, denying the Palestinian people any rights in their land," the Palestinian news agency Ma'an on Monday quoted the Islamist group as saying in a statement.

In the address, Netanyahu also vowed that Israel would not build any new West Bank settlements, or expand existing ones, but refused to stop accommodating for their natural growth.

According to Ma'an, the Hamas statement added: "Netanyahu attempted to play with words in order to mislead people, claiming he wants peace.

"However, his racial attitudes when he stipulates that the Palestinians recognize Palestine as land for the Jews, indicate that Netanyahu is a liar when he talks about peace. This speech increased hatred and spitefulness."

PA: Netanyahu 'sabotaging' peace efforts

On Sunday, 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.

"Netanyahu's remarks have sabotaged all initiatives, paralyzed all efforts being made and challenges the Palestinian, Arab and American positions," said Nabil Abu Rudeinah.

Netanyahu pledged in the address that Jerusalem be the undivided capital of Israel and that Palestinian refugees not be allowed into Israel.

"This will not lead to complete and just peace," Abu Rudeinah said. "His remarks are not enough and will not lead to a solution."

"Our main demand is the end of the occupation and finding a fair solution for Palestinian refugees and halting settlements," Abu Rudeinah said. "Other details should be resolved in negotiations."

A senior Palestinian negotiator, meanwhile, called on U.S. President Barack Obama to intervene to force Israel to abide by previous interim agreements that include freezing settlement activity in the West Bank. The alternative, he said, was violence.

"President Obama, the ball is in your court tonight," Saeb Erekat said. "You have the choice tonight. You can treat Netanyahu as a prime minister above the law and ... close off the path of peace tonight and set the whole region on the path of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodletting.

"The alternative is to make Netanyahu abide by the road map," he said, referring to a U.S.-sponsored document under which Israel agreed to freeze settlement activity and Palestinians agreed to rein in militants hostile to Israel.

"The peace process has been moving at the speed of a tortoise," Erekat added. "Tonight, Netanyahu has flipped it over on its back."