Early reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s major speech Sunday is positive from centrist Jewish groups, while one left-wing pro-Israel group says they want to see the prime minister back up his words with action.
The Anti-Defamation League called the speech "highly significant" because "the focus of talks should not be on whether there should be a Palestinian state but what kind of a state it should be." The group said Netanyahu’s "willingness to talk about a Palestinian state as long as it is based on Palestinian acceptance of the Jewish state and is demilitarized and no threat to Israel should now provide the framework for moving the peace process forward and for easing potential tensions between the US and Israel."
The group also said matters such as settlements should not be discussed in the press, and praised the prime minister for "making clear" that Israel has repeatedly offered peace to the Palestinians.
The American Jewish Committee also applauded the speech, saying "Prime Minister Netanyahu could not have been clearer about Israel’s desire to live in peace and security with all its Arab neighbors, including an independent and demilitarized Palestinian state."
The group did not discuss the conditions Netanyahu put on a Palestinian state, but said that "President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have now expressed the shared U.S.-Israel commitment to achieve negotiated Arab-Israeli peace. Let us hope that Palestinian and Arab leaders will seize the opportunity to join with Israel on the path of peace."
Americans for Peace Now, on the other hand, said they were happy Netanyahu talked about a Palestinian state, but were waiting to be convinced it wasn’t just words.
"Words are important, and talk about a future Palestinian state is positive, but such words must be honest and must be followed up by action," the group said. "Israelis and their neighbors need to see tangible results.
The group also criticized other parts of the speech "Unfortunately, instead of reminding Israelis that peace requires painful concessions, Netanyahu emphasized dated cliches, preconditions and negotiations non-starters, such as an undivided Jerusalem, symbolic Palestinian autonomy and continued settlement construction," the group said.