Bibi’s slightly-anticipated speech to the Israeli public in response to Obama’s Cairo speech surprised in a few minor ways. But it didn’t surprise much overall and ended up being essentially a non-starter. The biggest news is that Bibi has finally managed to utter the T-word: two-state solution. But that’s with so many caveats that the concept becomes virtually meaningless.
The problem isn’t the demand that it be demilitarized. That’s probably workable as long as their are international monitors to protect Palestinian borders. The real problem is Bibi’s foolhardy demand that Jerusalem remain “undivided.” So where would you put the capital of a putative Palestinian state? In Ramallah? Please. Would Bibi agree to housing Israel’s capital in Ashdod or Pardes Hana?
The other non-starter in the speech was his clinging to the notion of “natural growth” being permitted in the settlements. That, of course, leaves a hole big enough for a Mack truck to drive through. Since 1993 there has been a virtual settlement freeze throughout the West Bank and yet population has grown from 111,000 just after Oslo to nearly 300,000 now (and that’s excluding Jerusalem which contains about another 100,000 over the Green line Jewish residents).
Netanyahu also laid down a marker for future negotiations in which he put the U.S. on notice that he would reject any demand for settlement withdrawals:
Israel would not accept any situation in which it was forced to exist beside a terrorist state. Every withdrawal from settlement territories would contribute to such terror, said Netanyahu.
Yet another non-starter demand is that the Palestinians essentially sing Hatikvah on bended knee:
The prime minister also said that Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state, and cited the root of the regional conflict to “even moderate” Palestinian elements’ refusal to do so.
“When Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, we will be ready for a true final settlement,” the prime minister said.
We should remember that no such demands were made of the PLO before the two sides negotiated & recognized each other. So Bibi’s new condition is nothing more than a wrench introduced into the works to wreck the plumbing of a potential agreement.
Bibi also rejected the Right of Return, even the mild formulation of it offered in the Geneva Accords:
He emphasized that the Jewish people have been linked to the land of Israel for over 3,000 years and ruled out the option of granting Palestinians refugees the right to settle within Israeli borders.
Someone will have to explain to me why a Jewish link to the land of Israel precludes an Arab link to it as well. Clearly, one doesn’t negate the other except in the mind of Jewish/Israeli nationalist/rightists.
And Hamas? Fuhgedabodit:
Netanyahu said that Israel would not negotiate with terrorist who wish to destroy it, and said that Palestinians must choose between path of peace and Hamas.
What’s also laughable here is this statement from Bibi:
“I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions.”
So what preconditions HAS he demanded? Undivided Jerusalem, natural settlement growth, recognition of the Jewish state, no to Hamas, no to Right of Return. If that’s what he calls “without preconditions” then what would he call conditioned negotiations?
Some of my readers might argue that he was calling for negotiations at which these issues could be discussed. Well, what use would that be. He’s said that these are non-negotiable. That’s what I call a precondition.
This speech was literally a no-brainer and a non-starter.