Will the “demilitarized state” red line Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
introduced in his 14 June speech at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan
University suffer the same fate as the Palestinian Charter amendment red
line in his previous administration?
Back on October 23, 1998 when Netanyahu signed the Wye River Memorandum,
his team crowed that they had succeeded to explicitly require the
Palestinians to go through the formal procedures of amending the Palestinian
Charter so that it would no longer call for Israel’s destruction.
Nothing would go forward, they promised, until the Charter was amended.
Less than two months after Wye Netanyahu did something worse than drop the
requirement. Facing increasing pressure from America and in order to avoid
a confrontation with President Clinton, Netanyahu decided to accept the lie
that the December 14, 1998 Clinton-Arafat Gaza photo op hand-wave
constituted amending the Charter.
Here is how Netanyahu’s Office put it in a 2 February 1999 review: “On
December 14, 1998, in the presence of President Clinton, the PNC and other
bodies reaffirmed Chairman Arafat’s letter by a show of hands.The PA
fulfilled its Wye agreement obligation regarding the Palestinian Charter.”
A bald-faced lie since the “show of hands” had nothing to do with the
procedures required to amend the Charter.
To this day the Charter remains unchanged.
“The Palestinian national charter has not been amended until now. It was
said that some articles are no longer effective, but they were not changed.”
Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO’s “foreign minister,” interviewed in the Jordanian
Al-Arab April 22 2004 (as quoted by.Khaled Abu Toameh – The Jerusalem
Post – same day).
Will Netanyahu, under pressure, also cut corners with the “demilitarized
state” red line?
So far there is no indication as to what is actually meant by either
“demilitarized state” nor the mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing
Netanyahu talks of a “demilitarized state” while U.S. General Dayton builds
an ever expanding Palestinian army and Egypt lobbies – with the
encouragement of Washington – for the deployments of foreign Arab armies
inside the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu seems to want international involvement in the mechanisms –
apparently ignoring the painful and all too often learned lesson that the
determination of Arab violations is more a question of the national agendas
and interests of the foreign observers than the reality on the ground.
There are those that argue that Palestinian intransigence can be counted on
to keep all this irrelevant since they will never come close to final status
terms that are acceptable to Israel.
But that could be a very dangerous assumption.
The Arabs could still surprise Israel and seize the opportunity created by
an American president who is clearly determined not to let reality interfere
with his shoving his agenda down Israel’s throat.
And in the absence of more substance in the Netanyahu team’s public
discourse of the “demilitarized state” issue, don’t be surprised if – under
American pressure – all that remains is the appointment of an American
compliance monitoring group/
A monitoring group that will always, of course, report the truth.
That is – unless the truth doesn’t serve American interests.