Press sceptical on Netanyahu speech

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress as U.S
Image caption,
Mr Netanyahu rejected calls for a peace deal based on pre-1967 borders

Many newspapers in Israel and the Palestinian territories have taken a deeply sceptical view of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech in the US Congress on Tuesday, in which he said he was ready to make painful compromises to achieve peace.

On the Palestinian side, several pro-Fatah commentators challenge Mr Netanyahu's sincerity, with one daily asserting that the Israeli leader has "completely lost his credibility". The media affiliated to Hamas quote Islamist movement officials describing the speech as "exhibitionist, haughty and bullying" and saying the Palestinian factions should respond by implementing the national reconciliation agreement.

Reaction in papers across the Israeli political spectrum ranges from lukewarm support to open criticism, with one daily urging Mr Netanyahu to step down.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, one daily dismisses the speech as "nothing new" and says Mr Netanyahu should not be trusted.

Editorial in Palestinian, pro-Fatah Al-Quds

The speech ... was undoubtedly a new disappointment for US President Barack Obama ... Netanyahu's rejection of any suspension of settlement activity, even for a single day and even if military and diplomatic packages greater than the ones proposed by Obama are presented to him, is an indication of his intention to cement the occupation and intensify the settlement activity.

Adli Sadiq in Palestinian Authority-owned Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

The response that Netanyahu and the Congress deserve is [for the Palestinians] to declare that the former has completely lost his credibility in the peace process.

Editorial in Palestinian, Hamas-run Filastin

The Palestinian government in Gaza said that the speech ... was a falsification of history ... [which] completely disregarded any Palestinian rights and challenged international law ... The speech was full of incitement against Arab people and interference in the Palestinian internal affairs ... The speech was characterised by exhibitionism, haughtiness and bullying using US backing ... the Palestinian practical response to the speech is to accurately implement the national reconciliation agreement.

Ben Kaspit in Israel's centrist Ma'ariv

Netanyahu wrapped his hand with silk gloves yesterday and administered a lethal injection on the twitching peace process… Netanyahu very well knows that the conditions for the peace process he imposed yesterday are a total non-starter, that no Palestinian in the world would accept them, that no Arab state would support them, that no one in Europe would relate to them seriously and that Barack Obama will only be angered by them.

Sima Kadmon in Israel's centrist Yediot Aharonot

[Netanyahu] talked about Israeli generosity in relation to the size of the Palestinian state, and about Israel being the first to recognize it at the UN. However, all this will happen if [Palestinian President] Abu Mazin [Mahmoud Abbas] tears up the agreement with Hamas, if the Palestinians recognize a Jewish state, if they concede [East] Jerusalem, and agree to a demilitarized state and military presence in the Jordan Valley… All the reservations and the nays render the possibility impossible and the opportunity not available.

Editorial in Israel's left-of-centre Ha'aretz

Netanyahu wasted the generous credit he got from his American hosts to cast accusations at the Palestinians and impose endless obstacles in connection with the core issues. Instead of accepting the principle that the border between Israel and the Palestinian state would be based on the 1967 lines, Netanyahu declared that the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. He couched his readiness to make far-reaching concessions within endless conditions that have no relation to reality… He is leading Israel and the Palestinians into a new round of violence, along with Israel's isolation and deep disagreement with the US administration … Israel deserves a different leader.

Boaz Bismuth in Israel's pro-Netanyahu Yisrael Hayom

Has Netanyahu's American week brought us closer to peace? Not certain. However, it also did not distance us from it. The process is stuck exactly at the same place. The big achievement of the week is the fact that in the political confrontation [at the UN General Assembly] in September, Israel will not be alone. Obama's America is going to be with us. Another thing we learned is that it is true that Obama is the strong man, but his power compared with that of Congress is limited - he is not omnipotent.

David Horovitz in Israel's English language Jerusalem Post

If [Netanyahu's recent speech to a Jewish lobby] prompted some to speculate that the prime minister was about to unveil a series of dramatic new policies, then Tuesday's rapturously received oration will have sorely disappointed them. The prime minister put little flesh on the bones of his reiterated two-state vision…This, rather, was Netanyahu shoring up his home base. This was Netanyahu preaching to the choir… The prime minister had relished every moment, telling the political leadership of the United States everything he wished their president was telling America and the rest of the world.

Sami Zakariya in Qatar's Al-Rayah

Netanyahu ... said nothing new. The Israeli positions have not changed… the concessions which Netanyahu offered were eliminated by his announcement that Israel is not ready to go back to the 1967 borders.

Diyaa al-Fahum in Jordan's pro-government Al-Dustur

Netanyahu's latest statements in the USA confirmed that the Jewish influence there is more powerful than the influence of all its officials together.

Editorial in influential London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi

Netanyahu deserves to be thanked, because he revealed the real face of America and its institutions. Newspapers in Israel and the Palestinian territories have dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech in the US Congress on Tuesday in which he said he was ready to make painful compromises to achieve peace.

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