As if to illustrate the polarity of opinion within Israel over its government’s foreign policy, both hardline settlers and those against them demonstrated on opposite sides of the street at the venue for the premier’s address.
One Jewish settler activist said: “We are here to tell Netanyahu that he was elected by a majority of people that wanted him to guard the land of Israel, and if he betrays us again we will take him down again.” A member of the “Peace Now” settlement watchdog group activist said: “Netanyahu is a right-wing leader and I don’t think that we can see some action toward a two state solution.” Even among Palestinians watching in the town of Khan Younis, there was a difference of opinion. Mahmoud Jaaber, who lives with his wife in the town, said: “We don’t need promises, we need something on the ground. What they say they should implement in reality. We’ve given up on promises.” But his wife, Umm, was more positive. “We have hope, with the help of God, that we will have peace, because Netanyahu is a political leader and not a military man, and a politician knows how to lead better than military leaders,” she said. Now Israel has set out its conditions for returning to the negotiating table, and Netanyahu has announced his willingness to talk with Arab leaders, it remains to be seen if there is enough common ground to give the stalled peace process a much needed boost.