Israeli PM to Propose Peace Deal in Congresshttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704547604576263310885103424.html
TEL AVIV—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to unveil a new Middle East peace initiative in an address to the U.S. Congress next month, in a bid to counter a unilateral Palestinian drive for international recognition of statehood.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Mr. Netanyahu made separate announcements Thursday of the planned appearance—which doesn't yet have a specific date—confirming weeks of speculation that the Israeli prime minister would deliver a major policy address in the U.S.
Speaking to members of his Likud party Thursday, the Israeli prime minister said he would use the address to discuss a way to "bring a secure peace between us and our neighbors. Not a peace on paper, not a peace of ceremonies and lawns, but a peace that will last and ensure our future and security."
No more details on the Palestinian portion of the speech were available. But Mr. Netanyahu said he would also address Iran's nuclear program and recent domestic unrest across the Middle East.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently signaled the Obama administration's intention for a renewed push on Arab-Israeli peacemaking after a months-long hiatus. The U.S. last year failed to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations after Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank prompted the Palestinians to boycott the talks.
Mr. Boehner said in a statement that "we look forward to hearing the Prime Minister's views on how we can continue working together for peace freedom and security."
Mr. Netanyahu has come under growing pressure in Israel and the U.S. to develop a diplomatic initiative to undercut a Palestinian campaign to obtain a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly that would recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is opposed to the campaign, viewing it as an attempt to sidestep bilateral negotiations and dictate the terms of a peace settlement.
The Israeli press is comparing Netanyahu's upcoming Congressional address in importance to his June 2009 speech at Israel's Bar Ilan University in which he first threw support behind the idea of a Palestinian state.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a close ally of the prime minister, has warned of a "diplomatic tsunami" facing Israel if the Palestinian drive for recognition succeeds.
This week, the Palestinian Authority got endorsements from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, declaring it ready to function as a sovereign state. Plans to convene this week the so-called Quartet of peace process sponsors scheduled for Friday were postponed, Israeli news reports said, because of disputes over a European proposal to adopt a series of principles for a peace deal opposed by Israel.
Dan Meridor, a cabinet member from Netanyahu's party, told reporters and diplomats last week that he believed regional unrest has shortened the time frame for a peace deal because it could strengthen militants from Hamas at the expense of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
Yet, Netanyahu and others in his government maintain that regional instability requires Israel to be even more cautious in making concessions for peace.
In recent weeks, the Netanyahu government has proposed an interim peace proposal to establish Palestinian state in temporary borders, but the Palestinians swiftly rejected that.
The Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday that the prime minister also is mulling an initiative that would trigger peace progress by withdrawing forces unilaterally from parts of the West Bank, but not from Jewish settlements.
An Israeli government official said Mr. Netanyahu is studying possible unilateral steps to encourage progress with the Palestinians if peace talks cannot be restarted, but wouldn't comment on exactly what.