Two prominent Knesset lawmakers petitioned on Wednesday for US President Barack Obama to address the Knesset during his upcoming visit to Israel.
Acting Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is holding the post during the post-election period before a governing coalition is formed, reportedly asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to invite Obama to speak before the Knesset.
“The Israeli people are eager to hear the president of the United States speak to them directly,” he said, according to Israel Radio, and added that a speech by the US president in the Knesset would be “very important.”
Also on Wednesday, outgoing and soon-to-be returning Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin issued a press release to the same effect.
“If President Obama wants to talk to the people of Israel, he can only do so in the Knesset,” the release said. “All the world leaders who came to Israel who visited the Knesset — including US presidents and Egyptian president Sadat — had the understanding that it is the parliament of the people of Israel, and the source of Israel’s strength and power as a democratic state.”
“The Knesset is the scene of debates and decisions on programs and policies that have crucial implications for Israel. An appeal to the Israeli public, even from heads of friendly countries, should be done in the Knesset, and there is no doubt that the Knesset members respect and appreciate the effort,” the press release concluded.
The planned visit by Obama to Israel, to take place “within weeks,” was announced Tuesday night, although no official dates have been released.
On Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon reported that Obama wants to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and intends to host a meeting between Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to the region.