Upon Return From Washington Netanyahu Says Israel Found U.S. Support

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman says Netanyahu's warm welcome in Congress affirms Israel is a close partner of the United States.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he found "wide American support" during his visit to Washington, after arriving back in Israel on Wednesday.

"It was an important visit," Netanyahu said after landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

"We found wide American support for Israel's basic demands," the prime minister said, "first and foremost, the recognition of the state of Israel as a nation for the Jewish people, the need for borders, security and the complete renunciation of Hamas."

Netanyahu continued to speak about his visit, where he made several important speeches, including one on Tuesday to the U.S. Congress.

"In the U.S., I suggested a broad political outline which most of the people in Israel support. The time has come for the Zionist parties to unite around these principles. The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to also recognize Israel's justified demands."

U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner commented Wednesday on the warm reception Netanyahu received at Congress, saying obviously Israel is a close partner with the United States, and the rousing reception that Prime Minister Netanyahu received in addressing Congress was in keeping with the strong relationship that many in this government, in this Administration and on the Hill feel towards Israel."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2011.Credit: AFP

Toner said U.S. President Barack Obama has been clear about outlining certain principles that the United States believes provide a foundation for negotiations going forward, "and we're going to continue to make efforts to get the parties back to the table to discuss those.

When asked whether the Congress aligning with Netanyahus position on the peace process complicates things for the U.S. Administration, Toner said that it's always a complicated process. I don't think any of us are Pollyannaish about the challenges and what it's going to take to address them. But the President spoke earlier today in London, and both the president and Prime Minister Cameron talked about the achievements of Northern Ireland in overcoming years of strife, and that this is something that you have to keep hard at work at and continue to lay the foundation for negotiations moving forward.

The spokesman provided a vaguer response regarding whether the Administration agrees with Netanyahus position on the right of return, saying these are all issues to be addressed at the negotiating table.

In his speech to Congress Tuesday, Netanyahu said that Israel "will not return to the indefensible borders of 1967." He added that "Israel will be generous on the size of a Palestinian state, but will be very firm on where we put the border with it."

Netanyahu said he seeks a peace in which the Palestinians "will be neither Israel's subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state. They should enjoy a prosperous economy, where their creativity and initiative can flourish."

On the day Netanyahu made his way back to Israel, the speaker of the Knesset and several other government ministers attended a dedication ceremony for the new Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Zeitim, in East Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and Information Minister Daniel Hershkovitz all participated in the ceremony – this despite the fact that the Jewish neighborhood has already been inhabited for several years.

A group of tens of left-wing activists gathered outside the site of the ceremony, shouting "Jews and Arabs against Ma'aleh Zeitim" and "There is no shame in the holy city."



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