Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netanyahu Steps Up To Bat

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu just finished his long awaited speech.

His goal, in a way, was to dance along enough cracks to do his best to avoid deepening the rift with the Obama administration while not alienating his government..and to state some basic truths while appearing reasonable. I think he largely succeeded, and in a most eloquent way.

Yes, he did endorse a second Arab Palestinian state, but with common sense conditions that the Arabs will absolutely never agree to...thus putting the ball back in their court. And in Obama's.

Netanyahu said he supported President Obama's call for regional peace, saying:

"Peace has always been our people’s most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace.

We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision."

But he made it quite clear that the major challenge to that peace is dealing with Iran, which he referred to as "..the convergence of Islamic extremism and nuclear weapons."

While he said he recognized that it was not a substitute for political peace, he called on the Arab leaders to meet with him and pledged that he would travel anywhere to meet with them to discuss regional peace .And he called on them help bring economic peace to the Palestinians as an important component, and for the Sunni oil billionaires to invest and help the Palestinian economy. Knowing what absolute thieves Fatah are and that Netanyahu is absolutely correct that improving the economic lot of the Palestinians is a key element is a final peace with Israel, their fellow Arabs will probably not want to be bothered.

Bibi was also very straightforward in correctly naming the main reason the conflict has gone on for as long as it has - the Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish homeland.He pointed out that Arab attacks on Jews started long before Israel was even a state and that had the Palestinians actually wanted a state of their own alongside Israel, they could have had one a long time ago:

"If the advantages of peace are so evident, we must ask ourselves why peace remains so remote, even as our hand remains outstretched to peace? Why has this conflict continued for more than sixty years?In order to bring an end to the conflict, we must give an honest and forthright answer to the question: What is the root of the conflict? {...}

Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality, to the truth. And the simple truth is that the root of the conflict was, and remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own, in their historic homeland.

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing.The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence.

The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the six-day war, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria.

Fortunately, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of enmity. The signing of peace treaties have brought about an end to their claims against Israel, an end to the conflict. But to our regret, this is not the case with the Palestinians. The closer we get to an agreement with them, the further they retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end the conflict.

Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles.

We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement. We tried a partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal. In 2000 and again last year, Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the conflict, and twice our offers were rejected.

We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted tens of settlements and evicted thousands of Israelis from their homes, and in response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children.

The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality.

In addition to this, Hamas in the south, like Hezbollah in the north, repeatedly proclaims their commitment to “liberate” the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Beersheba, Acre and Haifa.

Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way."

And then Netanyahu laid out his conditions for accepting a Palestinian State...complete demilitarization, an acceptance of Israel as the Jewish homeland, recognition that Jerusalem is going to remain Israel's undivided capitol and that the Palestinians are going to have to solve their refugee problem within their own borders just as Israel did with its reugees from the Arab world, without being expecting to swamp Israel with a fifth column of 'refugees':

"In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other.{...}

These are the principles that guide our policy.

This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.

I have already stressed the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.

Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza.

We don’t want Kassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion airport. We want peace.

In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel.

It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized.

On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.

Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory – real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts.

This has precedents by the way, in places like Andorra and San Marino in Europe.

He also said that Jerusalem will remain Israel's undivided capitol, " with continued religious freedom for all faiths", that he's not going to prohibit Jews in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria recognized as part of Israel by the Bush Administration from building homes - aka natural growth - and that the so-called Palestinian 'right-of-return' to Israel is not going to happen. He cleverly mentioned the forgotten refugees of the 1948 conflict, the almost 1 million Jews who were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world and were resettled in Israel:

"For this recognition to have practical application, the 'Palestinian refugee problem' must be solved outside Israel's borders. Resettling them in Israel contradicts the idea of a Jewish state. The problem can be solved and we have already proven it by resettling refugees from Arab countries who came with nothing. All Israelis agree on this. I believe that with goodwill it is possible to solve this humanitarian problem once and for all."

The end result? The Arabs are likely not to budge one iota from the Saudi peace ultimatum, and especially not the Palestinians, which shows exactly how serious they are about co-existing with Israel. Actually the last thing Fatah and Hamas want is an actual end to the conflict, and they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

And the Arab failure to compromise in the slightest degree is proof, if anyone needs it that the problem is not the lack of a Palestinian state, but a refusal to accept Jews living in the Arab world in conditions of peace and equality.

Nevertheless, expect continued pressure on Israel to give in to each and every one of the Arab's demands, even if it ultimately means national suicide.

The other thing is that while Netanyahu's call to the international community and the United States for guarantees is to be expected, the Israelis are fools if they rely on 'international guarantees' for their security. That particularly applies to the Obama Administration, who've already proven they can't be trusted to keep their word where Israel is concerned.

All in all, a pretty good effort by Netanyahu. We'll see what develops.

1 comment:

Rosey said...

Bibi is the man...I'm so glad I am no longer reading about Olmert in these pages...