President Bush with Prime Minister Olmert
President Bush with Prime Minister OlmertIsrael News Photo: GPO (archive)

In reaction to the speeches of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George Bush at a special Knesset session on Thursday, Knesset Members from right-wing and religious parties had far more praise for the US President than for the Prime Minister.

Minister of Communications Ariel Atias (Shas) declared Bush's speech to be more "right-wing" than that of Olmert. The American premier "emphasized God's name several times, as well as God's giving of the Land of Israel to the People of Israel," Atias noted.

Chairman of the Likud faction in Knesset, MK Gideon Saar, said, "Bush's speech was important because it clarified the damage and the errors of the policy of concessions, especially when he referred to the right of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel. I would like to hear Israel's leaders speaking more often in those terms."

MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said, "In contrast to the Prime Minister, who is ready to concede in the blink of an eye the vital interests of Israel for various reasons, the US President appears as someone fulfilling the Zionist dream and as someone unwilling to concede a single Zionist principle."

In a joint statement, Knesset Members Tzvi Hendel and Uri Ariel (National Union), who got up and left the Knesset hall in the midst of Prime Minister Olmert's

"Perhaps it would be possible to suggest that Bush serve as a temporary replacement for Olmert." -- MK Eldad

speech, said, "The Prime Minister is using a celebratory occasion in which we are honoring the President of the United States to emphasize disputes in our society and to promote a political agenda which most of the Israeli public disagrees with."

MK Hendel added that it would be best if Olmert would learn national pride and Zionism from President Bush.

MK Arieh Eldad even suggested that, "since Olmert will soon be ending his term and in light of Bush's Zionist speech, perhaps it would be possible to suggest that Bush serve as a temporary replacement for Olmert."

More seriously, MK Eldad commented that in his speech, Prime Minster Olmert "continued behaving like a bankrupt criminal, signing bad checks, while President Bush publicly put him to shame when he said that there is no need to make concessions to terrorism and to negotiate with organizations that declare their intention to destroy Israel."

Chairman of the National Religious Party (NRP), MK Zevulun Orlev, said that "Bush taught Olmert a lesson in Zionism and leadership. His speech was that of an NRP member and his unconditional support for Israel is moving. I hope that he will act to free [Jonathan] Pollard towards the end of his term."