NETANYAHU'S OPENING DEMARCHE ON SUNDAY: A COMMENT
"I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace.
And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.
This is why we are now asking our friends in the international community, headed by the USA, for what is necessary for our security, that in any peace agreement, the Palestinian area must be demilitarized. No army, no control of air space. Real effective measures to prevent arms coming in, not what?s going on now in Gaza. The Palestinians cannot make military treaties.
Without this, sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan. We can?t agree to this. Israel must govern its own fate and security. I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.
Whenever we discuss a permanent arrangement, Israel needs defensible borders with Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel.
The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters.
Friends, unity among us is, to my view, vital, and unity will help with reconciliation with our neighbors. Reconciliation must begin now. A strong Palestinian government will strengthen peace. If they truly want peace, and educate their children for peace and stop incitement, we for our part will make every effort, allow them freedom of movement and accessibility, making their lives easier and this will help bring peace. But above all, they must decide: the Palestinians must decide between path of peace and path of Hamas. They must overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit down at conference table with terrorist who seek to destroy it....
I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let?s go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let?s go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more".
Benjamin Netanyahu, 14 June, 2009 Speech in www.haaretz.com
"”Overall, I thought that there was positive movement in the prime minister’s speech,” Mr Obama said while noting ”there were a lot of conditions....
Obviously working through the conditions on Israel’s side for security, as well as the Palestinian side... that’s exactly what negotiations are supposed to be about. But what we’re seeing is at least the possibility that we can restart serious talks.”"
"U.S. sees 'positive movement' in Netanyahu Speech," 16 June 2009, in www.ft.com
It would appear that Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu's 'school day speech' (one of those occasions which as the late British Premier Harold MacMillan once characterized as: 'a bit of a bore, but, it had to be done'), has achieved what it needed to do, from the Israeli diplomatic perspective. The reaction of the American President, being the most concrete evidence of this. With any further effort at this time by the Americans to push Tel Aviv any further on the settlement issue being for now torpedoed. Indeed, now as per Washington, it is Israel's Arab neighbors rather than Israel which needs to make concessions. The fact that Netanyahu and his government, are still, post facto to his speech, further away from any concrete settlement, from almost any Israeli government in the past ten years, id. est., from his own last government in 1999, appears to be lost on the Americans. Unfortunately, it has not been lost on the other parties in the region. Indeed, even the Egyptian government was vociferous in its condemnation of the terms that Netanyahu laid out for his proposed Palestinian statelet, with Egyptian President Mubarak stating openly that: "You won't find anyone to answer that call in Egypt, or in any other place" ("Arab Leaders accuse Netanyahu of 'scuttling' peace hopes," 16 June 2009, in www.ft.com)
Indeed, as the unofficial, but influential Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat commented in the aftermath of the speech:
"Every single condition that Netanyahu placed for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state threatens to blast the negotiations from their very foundations, while the sum total of these conditions is the ruin of President Barack Obama’s vision which he set forth in his speech ten days prior to Netanyahu’s. Moreover, this all brings back to memory his lies and deceptive manoeuvres that disrupted the peace process between 1996 and 1999, hence the still ongoing confrontation between Palestinians and Israel. This confrontation is likely to continue for another thousand years as long as the Israeli expansionist thinking and settlement policies are still in place....
More importantly, Netanyahu insulted the intelligence of the whole world, when he said that he wants to immediately and unconditionally negotiate with the Palestinians, then he placed impossible conditions, from recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and accepting settlements to a demilitarized Palestinian state that cannot forge alliances or sign treaties (with the enemies of Israel), with Israel controlling its borders and airspace, while being “generous” enough to grant it its own national anthem and flag".
"There will be no accord with him, neither Today or Ever," in Dar Al-Hayat, 16 June 2009, in www.daralhayat.com
It should be noted however that Netanyahu's speech was not aimed at Israel's Arab neighbors. It was aimed for the most part at the American administration, and, to a lesser extent (I should say a much lesser extent) at Western European governments. And, to no great surprise, Netanyahu's speech did indeed 'do the trick'. The rift, such as it was, with the Americans over his perceived 'extreme' policies has been, `a la magic, healed. With even the issue of the halting of settlements now, no longer on the table apparently. The upshot of all this, is that it would appear that Netanyahu has not lost his ability to diplomatically string matters out, and procrastinate indefinitely. A talent which among other things, helped to ensure that his first premiership, was perhaps the most detested Israeli government from Washington's perspective in the past twenty years. Be that as it may, one does have to admire the man's talent for stalling & delaying. Were that it for a more positive purpose!