What is muted is the criticism of Netanyahu’s speech from the right wing of his own party.
Minister of Information Yuli Edelstein, for example, said:
“I think PM Netanyahu proved last night why he is the one who should be leading the country during these difficult times; his speech reflected the complex situation we are currently in.”
While Edelstein didn’t agree with Netanyahu’s reference to a Palestinian state, he said he understood “the pressure he is facing.”
And Minister Benny Begin, who said he had some reservations about the speech, praised Netanyahu’s “important remarks regarding the root causes of the conflict.
“In his speech Netanyahu presented a number of facts that are sometimes absent from public discourse in Israel and the world, such as why are we here. We are here because we have a historic right to be here, as opposed to those who claim Israel was established on account of the Holocaust.”
MK Danny Danon said the allusion to Palestinian statehood was “one unnecessary sentence in a brilliant speech… [The] sentence was added as a result of American pressure.”
Less muted was the criticism of Habayit Yehudi (The Jewish House), which is part of the coalition, while MK Aryeh Eldad of Ehud Leumi (National Union), which is not in the coalition, was pointed in his attack on the speech.
As I had indicated yesterday, Likud members are beginning to work from inside of Likud to block the formation of a Palestinian state. Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara said the Likud Central Committee would be convened as quickly as possible to vote on policy with regard to this issue.
Kara, who is convinced that a majority of Likud members are opposed to a Palestinian state, said that while the party respects Netanyahu, he, in turn, must respect the democratic processes of the party. He referred to the White House as “a branch office of the [Israeli Arab] Balad party.” (Kara is Druze.)
The work of the Likud party and others in the coalition to block action to establish a Palestinian state will be all important in preventing the slide further down that slippery slope.
In actuality, his reference to “a Palestinian state” aside, Netanyahu didn’t actually lay out parameters for a sovereign state for the Palestinians (who fully recognize this). A political entity that cannot have an army, cannot make the treaties it chooses, cannot control its own air space, etc. etc. is not a sovereign state.
The problem is that the world is all too ready to forget the restrictive parameters that were part of the political plan espoused by the prime minister, and to simply latch on to the fact that he uttered those words, thereby ostensibly endorsing a state.
So when the world demands that he proceed, now that he has voiced “endorsement,” he will be blocked by his coalition. In truth, I don’t believe he will be sorry about this, and he may actually have counted on it. It gives him an out: I cannot do more or the government will fall.
Obama responded positively to the speech, already doing just what I described: He grabbed ahold of the phrasing, and ignored the provisos that went with it.
White House Press Secretary Gibbs said:
“The President welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech. The President is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples.
“He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel’s security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu’s endorsement of that goal.”
Excuse me, Netanyahu did not endorse “the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state.” Let us not put words in his mouth.
Part of the challenge that Netanyahu leveled last night was against the US government:
“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, Obama has conveniently ignored.
As NewsMax pointed out, what complicates Netanyahu’s stipulations is the fact that the US, via the office of General Dayton, is currently training PA security troops. How can the US work towards guaranteeing a demilitarized Palestinian state if this is the case? Would the US ever come out for a policy that requires Palestinian demilitarization? And what would then happen to the troops that had been trained?
There has already been controversy about these troops, who are theoretically being trained to defeat Hamas. First because Dayton is alleged by reliable sources to have said that if the Palestinians don’t get their state in a couple of years they may turn on Israelis. Besides which, there are still attempts to forge a unity government that would embrace an unrepentant Hamas. In which case there are serious questions regarding who would command these forces Dayton is training. All of which leads to the most serious of questions regarding the priority of rushing pell-mell to train these troops in an unstable situation.
It is unlikely in the extreme that a Muslim/Arab-tilting Obama will grapple with these issues with seriousness. Easier to make glib, pie-in-the-sky statements and reach for the quick fix.
As one of many indicators of what a non-starter the whole proposition of a state with the stipulations outlined by Netanyahu is, we have this:
Jimmy Carter, former US president and spokesman for the Arabs, says that a demand that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state is “an obstacle to peace.”
Doesn’t this perverse statement say it all?
Even more pertinent: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has made precisely the same charge: “Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state is ruining the chance for peace.”
To those who don’t understand the true root of the conflict, such a statement is astounding. For Israel as a Jewish state side-by-side with Palestine as an Arab state would be a given, one might think.
But “peace” in the Arab lexicon means destroying Israel as a Jewish state. We’ve hit a sore point and must hold fast to our rights.
Mubarak is now hinting that there will be violence if there is not a comprehensive peace agreement.
“The solution to the major problems of the Arab and Islamic worlds is through Jerusalem,” he insisted, meaning that we would have to surrender all of eastern Jerusalem, at least.
The solution to the major problems of the Arab and Islamic worlds? What garbage.
The EU has decided not to proceeding with the upgrade of ties with Israel, which had been in the planning stage, because Netanyahu’s talk was deemed insufficient. “We need a few steps more,” declared Luxembourg’s foreign minister.
They should live so long.
The PA saluted this action. An aide to Abbas is calling for isolation of Israel within the international community.
So here it is, my friends. In his speech, Bibi told the story of our heritage and our legitimate claim to this land. I cannot remember another leader of the State referring to our links here that go back to Abraham and to Isaiah. He spoke of the settlers as Zionists and patriots. He insisted that Jerusalem will remain eternally undivided, under Israeli sovereignty. He identified the true roots of our conflict with the Arabs. And then he asked for the help of the Almighty in finding peace.
He did us proud.
Yes, he uttered the term “Palestinian state,” which makes many of us cringe. But he set out parameters that provide for our rights and security needs — including the absolute right to be recognized as a Jewish state, as well as the right to live in Judea and Samaria, and to not be threatened by terrorists. He demanded a cessation in PA incitement, and demilitarization; and he categorically refused to accept a single Palestinian Arab refugee.
He did all this in the face of enormous pressure from Obama, reacting in a way that I believe he is convinced is in our best interest.
Because he didn’t turn into an eager Olmert clone, running after the Palestinian Arabs to show how many concessions we can make…because he had the audacity to make demands on behalf of Israel, he is facing an enormous amount of hostility from the international community, and most specifically from the Arabs.
And so at this point Bibi deserves our support. We owe it to him, and to our nation, which must present a united front now.
Once again, I ask you to contact him. Tell him what you appreciated about his speech. Let him know that you want him to continue to speak for our strength — that this is the only way to go, and that you will stand proudly with the nation whatever the difficulties.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (underscore after pm)
Is this a glimmer of light?
According to an interview Malcolm Hoenlein gave to NewsMax, American Jewish leaders “are expressing concern about what was said [in Obama’s Cairo speech]. I’ve heard it from some of his strongest
supporters. It’s expected from his detractors. Even people close to him have said to us that there were parts of the speech that bothered them.
“…There’s a lot of questioning going on about what he really believes and what does he really stand for.”
Hoenlein, is executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represents major Jewish mainstream organizations such as B’nai Brith, American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League. While he insists these are simply his observations, he has his finger on a lot of pulses. Until now the discontent that has been present among Jewish leaders — including and especially those on the left — has been expressed only privately.
Not only do we need to hope he’s reading the situation correctly, it seems to me there are those who are lay members of these various organizations who might now begin to ask hard questions regarding the positions of their leadership.