I am greatly appreciative of the Zionist tone of the just-completed words of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He said things that have very badly needed to be said for a long time:
It’s time we faced the truth of why peace has been so elusive. The root of the problem is not our presence in Judea and Samaria. It is the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the right of the Jewish people in its historic homeland.
There was violence against Jews here before there was a single soldier in Judea and Samaria.
Even those referred to as the moderate members of the Palestinian Authority won’t say, “Israel is the nation of the Jewish people.”
Every time we have gotten close to an agreement with the Palestinians, they have retreated and raised their demands. We have tried many things.
Claims that withdrawal from land will lead to peace have not proven to be so. “Every retreat by us was met with thousands of suicide terror bombings and rockets. We vacated the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter and received a rain of missiles on our communities and our children.”
For 3,500 years there has been a connection between our people and this land. This is the land of our forefathers. Abraham walked here, and Isaac and Jacob, David and Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Here our identity was forged.
Our legitimacy does not derive from the catastrophes that have befallen us historically, leading to the Holocaust. (This was a direct response to Obama!)
This is the homeland of the Jewish people. It is our right to build here.
But we must face realities. There is also a Palestinian community living in our homeland. We don’t want to rule over them. We should be two free peoples living side by side.
He is willing to start negotiations immediately to improve conditions, to develop entrepreneurship and more. This enhances peace.
Before we can approach the idea of a Palestinian state, however, certain issues must be addressed:
 The Palestinians must acknowledge that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.
 An Palestinian entity must be demilitarized. They cannot close their air space to us or import missiles or make treaties with the likes of Hezbollah. There must be iron-clad security provisions.
 Jerusalem must remain undivided.
 Not a single Palestinian refugee can be settled inside of Israel, as this would be incompatible with our existence as a Jewish state. This can be accomplished, as we absorbed our Jewish refugees. (The settlement of the refugee issue is huge — as it’s been used for 60 years as a weapon against us.)
Netanyahu said that we will continue to build for natural growth in our settlements. The settlers are not enemies of the state, he declared, but pioneers, Zionists, and principled people. (Good to have this said!)
Further, said Netanyahu, the Palestinians must stop incitement, create law and order in their communities and decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. We will never sit at the table with the terrorists of Hamas. (Which precludes a unity government as Abbas and Obama envision it.)
Other issues Netanyahu touched upon were the overriding danger of Iran, and the need to expand the circle of reconciliation for regional peace.
Yes, he said “Palestinian state.” He might have/should have referred to an entity less than a state, as he did previously. This was his caving to Obama and the international community in the face of extraordinary pressure. And on this I expect to hear from some of my readers because there is an issue of principles that should not be enunciated, even if they will not be fulfilled. Better Benny Begin’s statement that if the “two state solution” is the only solution then there is no solution.
The fact, however, is that he attached so many provisos to this, that it is clear that he does not believe this will ever come to be. What is more, early statements from the right wing of his coalition make it clear that they will make sure none of this comes to fruition. (They are something less than happy with what he has said in this regard.)
And if truth be told, what he has described is less than a sovereign state, even though he used the word “state.”
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat has said that we can wait a thousand years for them to sit at the table with us, given these conditions.
Khaled Abu Toameh is reporting that in Ramallah they are saying the speech is worse than they had expected and may trigger a new intifada. Netanyahu is being called “a swindler and a liar” and the person who buried the peace process.
From the office of Abbas:
“The speech has destroyed all initiatives and expectations. It has also placed restrictions on all efforts to achieve peace and constitutes a clear challenge to the Palestinian, Arab and American positions.”
Surely, as we take the measure of the speech, these reactions are important.
Already I’m reading in various sources that Netanyahu “endorsed” a Palestinian state. Words are important. Olmert endorsed such a state. Olmert couldn’t wait to give up half our country and half our capital so that this state might come into being.
Netanyahu’s message, as I read it, was that, if this and this and this precondition were to be met, he would be willing to consider such a state. But until such conditions are met (they won’t be) we cannot even approach the idea of this state and certainly cannot start negotiations to bring it into being. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
“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.”
And he said:
“The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: ‘Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace.’
“I am yearning for that moment, for when Palestinian leaders say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be.
“Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”
And he said:
“…the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction”.
This says “You want a Palestinian state? OK. But these are my terms up front before I agree to it.” Metaphorically, this is “Put up, or shut up.” And it puts our rights and our security before the “need” to create such a state.
More will follow as there is careful analysis of his words and various reactions are recorded.