“The Prime Minister’s Talk”
Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a talk in the Knesset last night, in recognition of the 107th anniversary of the death of Theodore Herzl, father of the Jewish State.
This talk is widely considered to have set the tone for what we can expect when Netanyahu addresses Congress in a few days.
He said much that was good, as he addressed issues of national unity, but made one very serious misstep. A misstep that had been much worried about and anticipated.
Portions of that speech (with all emphases added):
“…two days ago at the demonstration in Bil’in [an Arab village that demonstrates ostensibly because of the security fence], the cat was let out of the bag – more precisely, the key was let out of the bag. At the procession in Bil’in, a young girl was walking along holding a large symbolic key. Every Palestinian knows what that key symbolizes. This is not a key to their homes in Bil’in, Ramallah or Nablus. It is the key to our homes in Jaffa, Acre, Haifa and Ramle. My friends, the root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. The root of the conflict is, and always has been, their refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel.
You must have noticed that yesterday’s events did not occur on June 5, the anniversary of the Six Day War. They occurred on May 15, the day the State of Israel was established. The Palestinians regard this day, the foundation of the State of Israel, their nakba, their catastrophe. But their catastrophe was that they did not have a leadership that was willing to reach a true historic compromise between the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.
“Regrettably, since then until this day, they have not had a leadership that is prepared to recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. That has not happened yet.
“My friends, we must not bury our heads in the sand. We must face reality, as it is, with our eyes wide open. We must stop self-flagellating and blaming ourselves. We must call a spade a spade: the true reason the Palestinians refuse to recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people…
“I believe that most people are united regarding the standpoints that I will point out.
“First, the people is united in our need to defend the country and its borders. Second, it is united in our need to maintain peace with Egypt and Jordan. Third, it is united faced with the threat of a nuclear Iran.
“I…believe that most people are also united in regard to my viewpoints on the issue that seems to be in dispute, the political process with the Palestinians. The citizens of Israel are much more united than is commonly believed, and much more united than the political parties that are supposed to represent them here in this house. There are consensuses regarding the basic issues:
First, about my demand that the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
Second, about my view, which is shared by many here, that the agreement between us must end the conflict and end the demands from the State of Israel
Third, that the problem of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved outside of Israel and not within its borders.
Fourth, that a Palestinian state only be established under a peace treaty that will not compromise the safety of Israel. I believe there is agreement on this, and I stress that this state must be demilitarized, with practical security arrangements, including long term IDF presence along the Jordan River.
Fifth, we agree that we must maintain the settlement blocs. Many of us agree that the settlement blocs must remain inside the borders of the State of Israel.
Sixth, that Jerusalem remain the united and sovereign capital of the State of Israel.
These are the principles that guide my path, our path.
I know that a huge majority of people understands that we can only make peace with those who want to make peace with us. Those who wish to obliterate us are no partners for peace. A Palestinian government with half its members declaring daily that they plan to annihilate the Jewish state is not a partner for peace. Those who say, and I am familiar with the saying, that you only make peace with your enemies, must complement the statement with a small but important remark. You only make peace with an enemy, but with an enemy who has decided to make peace.
“…if they choose to recognize the State of Israel and abandon terrorism, they will find a unified people that is willing to make peace and is prepared for peace with concessions, but it must be real peace. That is what we want.
These compromises, by the way, will be hard to make because, no matter what, they are parts of our homeland. It is not a strange land, it is the land of our forefathers, to which we have historic rights as well as security interests.
OK. He said that we don’t have a partner for peace — that they want us destroyed, which is the crux of the matter. The world needs to hear this. Just as it needs to hear that we have stipulations, such as settlement of refugees outside of our borders and a united Jerusalem, and that we have an historic claim to the land.
However, this was not the place to say what territorial compromise we would be willing to make if the situation were to radically change. What is being assumed from this speech — in which he claims our right to the settlement blocs — is that he is saying whatever is outside of those blocs would ultimately go to a Palestinian Arab state.
(The exception would be the long term military presence he is demanding in the Jordan Valley, but this is sorely insufficient.)
Now especially, when there is so much pressure on us to surrender all that we are, it is not the job of our prime minister to show how much we might give. To rush to show the world that we’d be willing to make painful sacrifices in the right circumstances.
It is his job to state our case, and our rights, as forcefully as possible. To show the world what painful sacrifices we’ve already made and what we’ve gotten in return.
In fact, if there is any assumption of negotiations in the future, it is prudent not to show our hand, in terms of what we “might” do. For then, if that is our opening hand, we are pushed to give even more. It is a far wiser to come to the table from a position of maximalist strength.
In the far distant future — maybe two or three generations from now — if there are Palestinian Arabs sincerely wishing to live in peace with us, there will be time enough to discuss what we might, or might not, be willing to concede. Now it is time to communicate a hard-nosed stand that says the land is ours and no concessions will be discussed until Israel is genuinely accepted. Period.
The broad consensus with regard to this talk is that Netanyahu has shifted further left. I wince internally as I write this.
He will now be facing considerable anger from the large number of nationalists within his own party.
It might be argued that Netanyahu, as he makes these theoretic concessions, knows that this is not going to happen because the stipulations — united Jerusalem, no acceptance of “refugees,” etc. etc. — will never be accepted by the Palestinian Arabs. We will not come to a situation any time soon in which we would be required to make those concessions as a final act at the negotiating table.
Indeed, this is the case. Already PA leaders have declared that Israel is setting conditions that make negotiations impossible (their goal being the UN route in any event).
But this is an insufficient argument at this point. Because Netanyahu has gone on record with a position that can set the stage for what happens in the future.
What is more, there is the danger that pressure might be put on us to demonstrate “good faith” with regard to our willingness to withdraw from some areas by doing so now to encourage “peace talks.” The world has a way of forgetting our stipulations and only looking at what we say we might do.
The US is blaming Syria and not Israel for the violence at the Syrian border with Israel on “Nakba day.” Said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:
“We regret the loss of life, and our thoughts are with the families…
“Israel, like all countries, has the right to prevent unauthorized crossings at its borders. Its neighbors have a responsibility to prevent such activity…
“We are also strongly opposed to the Syrian government’s involvement in inciting yesterday’s protests in the Golan Heights. Such behavior is unacceptable.”
An Arab truck driver — whose name is being withheld — on Sunday generated carnage with his vehicle on Bar-Lev Street in Tel Aviv, as he crashed into several cars, and then into a bus in the on-coming lane. One person was killed and 17 others injured.
Authorities — who strongly suspect a terrorist attack but will not label it as such until an investigation is complete — have him in custody. The mother and the lawyer of the accused are saying it was just a tragic accident, that he lost control of the truck when a tire exploded. There are witnesses, however, who claim that they heard him cry “Allahu Akbar.”
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has now “explained” that the suspension of funds to the PA was only intended to be a temporary measure, serving as a warning of what would come if a unity government between Hamas and Fatah were actually formed — in which case there would be no money forthcoming at all, it would all be put in escrow.
My response is to label this a not completely successfully “cover your rear” maneuver.
The family of Gilad Schalit put out a statement that said, “The Schalit family regrets that the Israeli government folded so quickly.” In a letter sent to the prime minister in the name of the Schalit family, the question was asked as to whether Gilad’s fate was factored into the decision to release funds.
Many of you, especially in the US, already know that the NYTimes has relinquished all efforts to be objective, as it shamelessly seeks the role of advocate for the Palestinian Arabs.
Yesterday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas wrote an op-ed for the Times entitled “The Long Overdue Palestinian State.” (With thanks to Bob G. for calling this to my attention.)
It so thoroughly distorts and misrepresents facts, that I must provide at least a brief response here in an effort to separate truth from dangerous falsehood.
“SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria…That story…is mine.”
I have an article in my possession in which Abbas admits that he and his family left Safed voluntarily.
Abbas writes (outrageously):
“It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened.”
Let’s start with the phrase “our homeland.” Palestine is historically a Jewish area. Many of the Arabs who lived in Palestine at the time of Israel’s founding had come from different areas within the two years prior, looking for work made possible by Jewish development. We know this in part because UNRWA — the agency that tends to Palestinian Arab “refugees” — defines a “refugee” as someone who had lived in Israel for the two years prior to the state’s founding (not someone whose traditional homeland was there).
Arabs didn’t have to be expelled for there to be a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel: The recommended partition was done on a demographic basis, with a Jewish state recommended for the area with Jewish population. The position of the soon-to-be state of Israel was that Arabs who lived in peace within her borders were welcome. Witness the fact that 20% of Israel’s population IS Arab. Arab armies did NOT “intervene.” Rather, they attacked the Jews to prevent the formation of their state. The bulk of Arabs who left Israel fled at the instruction of their leaders or out of fear, and not because of expulsion. In the cases where Arabs were driven out it was because they served as a hostile fifth column, seeking to undermine the new state from within, as it fought the Arab armies.
“…this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.”
There is no “1967 border.” That line was an armistice line that no longer exists.
The United Nations does NOT recognize the existence of a new state — only individual states can do this, after the state has declared itself as a political entity. Not every state has the same guidelines for recognition of a new state.
The General Assembly does NOT admit states to membership to the UN. A new state that wishes membership must apply to the Security Council, which then makes a recommendation to the General Assembly.
“The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.”
I doubt that my readers need me to belabor the issue of whether a Palestinian Arab state would be “committed to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” This is a mockery of the reality.
As to a “just solution” for refugees “based on Resolution 194,” the General Assembly only makes recommendations — which have no standing in international law. For six decades the Arabs and their supporters have been misrepresenting the implications of Resolution 194.
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Abbas’s Times article with anger, accusing Abbas of “distorting known and well-documented historical facts.”
“Arab armies assisted by Palestinian forces were those who attacked the Jewish state with the aim of destroying it. There is no mention of this in the article.
“One can deduce that the Palestinian leadership views the establishment of the Palestinian state as a means to continue the conflict rather than end it.”
Meanwhile, Obama, after a meeting with Jordan’s King Hussein, declared that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are more vital than ever. He said that the US has an enormous stake in the outcome, and would continue to seek an “equitable and just solution.”
The only positive here is that if Obama is committed to negotiations, he’s likely to veto any issue regarding Palestinian statehood that comes before the Security Council.