Regional lawmakers laud Israeli premier

Regional lawmakers laud Israeli premier

May 25th, 2011 By Matt Laslo/Correspondent in News

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Lawmakers around the region are eagerly taking the side of Israel's leader over that of President Barack Obama.

In a joint address to Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again rejected Obama's call for Israel and Palestine to use the pre-1967 war borders as a starting point of today's peace negotiations.

"The border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967," Netanyahu said in his address.

He went on to say that Israel is willing to be "generous on the size of the Palestinian state but will be very firm on where we put the border with it."

During the address, a bipartisan throng of lawmakers rose to their feet in standing ovations more than two dozen times, lavishing one of America's closest allies with sustained applause and undeniable support.

Local lawmakers say the address highlights that Obama's earlier remarks were an overreach.

"I think it was errant for the White House to make that statement in the way that they did," said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. "Israel needs to be in the position where Israel negotiates the peace process, not President Obama."

Netanyahu also said Israel is willing to submit to "painful compromises" in order to negotiate a peace treaty with Palestine. For the first time, he said that will eventually mean ceding some of its settlements in the West Bank to Palestine.

But he also put his foot down and demanded that Palestine recognize Israel as a legitimate nation as a precondition for any peace deal.

"I was very impressed with, as were many members of Congress, at how bold he was just to lay out a very simple plan, but No. 1 was that Israel would be recognized as a sovereign state itself," said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga.

Contact Matt Laslo at 202-5104331 mlaslo@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MattLaslo.