May 24th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Netanyahu speech: A Middle East conversation


Check out some excerpts from the conversation on the Middle East, with CNN's Elise Labott and Josh Rogin from Foreign Policy magazine's blog The Cable talking with Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev.


Thanks for following Netanyahu's speech on, and for sending excellent questions to's Elise Labott and The Cable's Josh Rogin for their interview with Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev. The interview will be posted on this afternoon.

Also, throughout the afternoon there will be posts from across the political spectrum and around the world on Netanyahu's speech and the prospects for Middle East peace.

Also, check back this afternoon for Elise Labott's interview with the Chief Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission to the United States, Maen Areikat.


1:29pm: Elise Labott says benefits of peace are clear and the deal is clear, why can't the two sides just agree on it? Regev says we have to negotiate and we need to have a deal based on two fundamental principles.  Regev says Israel needs to hear Jewish aspirations are legitimate. Secondly, peace has to be based on security, says Regev.

1:27pm: "How does Hamas run Gaza? They rule with an iron first" says Regev.

1:26pm: Elise Labott says the Arab Street is setting pace and tone of change. You don't have dictators that were willing to look after Israeli interests. Regev says Israel has nothing to fear from democracy in the Arab World.

1:23pm: Regev says there are many examples of sovereign states with foreign forces on their territory.

Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev answers your questions live here now.

1:20pm: Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) says can't you commit to specific areas where you can't build? Regev says "Israel will play its cards in the process of negotiations."

1:19pm: Josh Rogin(@joshrogin)  asks why Netanyahu doesn't  limit settlement expansion.  Regev saying Netanyahu should be given credit for restraint on settlements  here.

1:18pm: Regev explains why West Bank settlements necessary for Israeli security here.

1:14pm:  Regev answers the question of iReporter Hao Li of Atherton, California - How can Israel and the United States be serious about a "2 state solution"  if it is not willing to engage with a essential political player–a democratically elected Hamas party–regardless of their political position?

1:12pm: Mark Regev, Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesperson is discussing land-swaps here. He is saying that Israel cannot agree on a final position of a border without guarantees.


Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke for nearly 50 minutes to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. He received 26 standing ovations.  We will have lots of analysis on in the minutes and hours ahead. What did you think?

Do you have a question for Netanyahu? At 1pm, Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev (@israelipm) will answer YOUR questions live.

Submit your questions now via iReport, through the Global Public Square and on Twitter with the hashtag #BibiSpeech.

Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) of CNN (@natlsecuritycnn) and Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) of Foreign Policy (@fp_magazine) will interview Regev live at 1pm today using your questions.


12:07: Netanyahu concludes to standing ovation. "May God bless you and may God forever bless the United States of America."

12:07: Netanyahu to Abbas: "Tear up your pact with Hamas....Make peace with the Jewish state."

12:06: Netanyahu reaffirms Hamas is the Palestinian version of al Qaeda.

12:05: "Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction and terrorism....Hamas' leader condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a holy warrior."

12:05: "Peace cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated." Netanyahu urges all to resist Palestinian push for statehood at the United Nations this September.

12:o3: "There is an America beyond the beltway but Israel on the 1967 lines would be only 9 miles wide. So much for strategic depth. It's therefore absolutely vital that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized...and that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan river."

12:o1: "In the Middle East, the only peace that can hold is a peace you can defend. Peace must be anchored in security."

12:oo: Jerusalem must remain the united capitol of Israel."

11:58: Netanyahu says Israel will incorporate certain new population centers and "other areas of national strategic importance."  This is likely a veiled reference to areas Israel has a keen security interest in, chief among them the Jordan Valley.  The future of the Jordan Valley, and whether it would be under permanent Palestinian or Israeli security control, has long been a source of tension and disagreement.

11:57: "Israel will be generous on size of the state, but very firm on where we put the border with it."

– Disturbance in House chamber during Netanyahu's speech by Deirdre Walsh: A woman was removed from the House Chamber by U.S Capitol Police Tuesday after interrupting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a  joint meeting of Congress. Police escorted her out of the chamber and she was heard screaming "equal rights for Palestine" loudly on the third floor of the Capitol outside the chamber. She also yelled, "The occupation of Palestine is indefensible." U.S. Capitol Police appear to be taking her out of the building for processing

11:55: Netanyahu says the issue is about recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

11:53: Calls on Mahmoud Abbas to stand before his people and say, "'I will accept a Jewish state.' Those six words will change history."

11:53: "The continue to educate their kids to hate....They continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees. My friends, this must come to an end."

11:51: "The Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it. Our conflict has never been about the existence of a Palestinian state. It is about the existence of a Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about." Netanyahu laying blame for lack of peace at the feet of the Palestinians.

11:51: "If benefits of peace are so clear, why has peace eluded us?"

11:50: "Peace could make the regime of a broader Arab-Israeli peace a realistic possibility."

11:47: "In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers." Acknowledges Israel will have to give up elements of "historic homeland."

11:46: Calls for economic and political support for those committed to peace - Egypt and Jordan. "We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians."

11:43: Netanyahu now turns to peace, drawing on his own background. "I lost my brother, so no one in Israel wants a return to those terrible days."

11:42: "The more Iran believes all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation."

11:41: "History will solute you, America!" says Netanyahu.

11:40: "In much of the international community, calls for our destruction are met with utter silence. It's even worse because their are many who condemn Israel for defending itself against Iran's terror proxies. Not you. Not America."

11:37: Case against Iran: (a) spur nuclear arms race; (b) give terrorists a nuclear umbrella; and (c) empower nuclear terrorism. "Threat to my country cannot be overstated."

11:36: Says democracy has begun to take root in the Arab World. Says a Middle East that is genuinely democratic will be truly at peace. "But while we work for the best...we must also recognize that powerful forces oppose this future....Foremost among these forces is Iran."

11:34: "Of 300 million Arabs, less than 1/2 of 1% are truly free and they're all citizens of Israel. This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East. Israel is what is right about the Middle East."

11:33: Quotes George Eliot, who predicted "'The Jewish state will shine like a bright star of freedom amidst the despotism of the East.' She was right."

11:31: "Today, the Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads... I pray the people of the region choose...the path of liberty."

11:30: Netanyahu says "This is real democracy" because unlike "farcical parliaments" in Tehran or Tripoli, there is no such free speech. Very strong riposte to the protester.

11:29: Someone in the audience shouts and interrupts the PM's speech. The audience rises and cheers to drown her out.

11:28: Netanyahu is now addressing the Arab Spring, saying it evokes 1989 Berlin and Prague.

11:27am: Thanks President Obama for his commitment to Israel. Making the case for why America is Israel's best ally.

11:27am: "We defend ourselves." Netanyahu is delivering a number of punchy applause-lines.

11:26am: "Israel has always been pro-American; Israel will always be pro-American."

11:25am: Netanyahu congratulates President Obama for getting bin Laden. "Good riddance."

11:24am: "Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel." Again a standing ovation.

11:24am: Netanyahu notes friends of Israel in the audience, "Democrats and Republicans alike." This gets a standing ovation.

11:23am: Netanyahu begins address saying he's "deeply moved by this warm welcome" and by the honor of addressing Congress a second time.

11:22am: Speaker Boehner introduces Netanyahu to sustained applause.

11:21am: Netanyahu is at the podium.

11:20am: Netanyahu enters to sustained applause. U.S. Rep Eric Cantor follows.

11:17am: Secretary Clinton and Gates are not in the audience. CNN's Dana Bash says not to read into that.

11:12am: Here's some of what to watch for in the speech:

– What does Netanyahu say about the Palestinians? About Mahmoud Abbas? About Hamas?

– What does he say about President Obama, the '67 lines and swaps?

– What does he say about  Iran?

– What does he say about the United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood in September?

– How does he explain why peace hasn't come to pass?

11:07am: Vice President Joe Biden also introducing members of Congress.

11:06am: Speaker John Boehner is speaking now introducing members of Congress.


The Council on Foreign Relations lists a number of must-reads on Netanyahu's Policy Options and Challenges:

Must Read: Michael Herzog: Israel Must Set Its Parameters for Peace
Israel's failure to offer its own peace initiative means that it will struggle to gain international support in calling on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to choose peace with Israel over a deal with Hamas, writes Michael Herzog in the Financial Times.

Must Read: Ehud Barak: Netanyahu Must Take 'Daring' Steps toward Peace
In a recent interview, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak argues that Israel needs to make a "daring proposal," including a willingness to "deliver an answer to all core issues."

Must Read: Dore Gold: Israel's 1967 Borders Aren't Defensible
Before the Six-Day War, the 1967 boundaries in the West Bank "only demarcated where five Arab armies were halted in their invasion of the nascent state of Israel nineteen years earlier. Legally, they formed only an armistice line, not a recognized international border," argues former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold in the Wall Street Journal. No Palestinian state ever existed that could have claimed these prewar lines.

Must Read: Peter Beinart: Netanyahu's Bizarre Response to Obama's Palestinian Proposal
Netanyahu's rejection of Obama's parameters for negotiation suggests a blind intransigence on the issues facing Israel and ignorance of the "diplomatic tsunami" Israel is about to face, Peter Beinart writes on

Must Read: Neve Gordon: Netanyahu and the One State Solution
Israel's unwillingness to compromise on key issues might annul a two-state solution, making only power-sharing viable, writes Neve Gordon on al-Jazeera.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will lay out his vision of a settlement with the Palestinians in a speech to Congress on Tuesday.

Watch the speech live on CNN and and follow the live blogging here, all beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

And do you have a Mideast peace question? Right after the speech at 1pm, Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev (@israelipm) will answer YOUR questions.

Submit your questions now via iReport, through the Global Public Square and on Twitter with the hashtag #BibiSpeech.

Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) of CNN (@natlsecuritycnn) and Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) of Foreign Policy (@fp_magazine) will interview Regev live at 1pm today using your questions.

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