Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) on Wednesday said in a statement that if Obama “wants to talk directly with the people in Israel, the only platform for that is the Knesset.”
“All the world leaders who have come to Israel, including past U.S. presidents and former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, visited the Knesset because they knew this is the people’s elected chamber and it is from there that Israel draws its strength as a state and as a democracy,” Rivlin said.
“The Knesset, as a venue for debates and decision making is the only place where diplomatic initiatives and other consequential programs should be presented; even in the case of heads of states that are considered friends, plans should be presented in the Knesset,” he added, stating that if Obama does appear at the Knesset, its members “would respect the occasion.”
MK Binyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer of the Labor party echoed Rivlin’s sentiment.
“The nation of Israel definitely thirsts to hear the United States president speak to them directly,” Ben-Eliezer said, Israel National News reported. “There is no more appropriate venue than the Knesset for the U.S. president to speak.”
White House officials on Tuesday announced Obama’s plans to visit Israel for the first time during his presidency. Obama was previously in Israel as a presidential candidate in 2008.