Exposing Netanyahu

Paul Pillar writes:

Probably the most significant take-away from the past few days of U.S.-Israeli dialog is to shed light on the true intentions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding peace with the Palestinians. Although Netanyahu finally allowed the phrase “Palestinian state” to pass his lips for the first time almost two years ago, this past week in Washington provided further confirmation of what had been apparent all along: that whatever conception Netanyahu may have of such a “state,” it is not a formula having any chance of becoming the basis for—to use Netanyahu’s own words from his joint appearance with President Obama on Friday—“a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure,” or probably even what most of the rest of the world would consider a state. Netanyahu is smart enough to realize this, which is to say he is content to let the status quo endure indefinitely. Israel will maintain that status quo through brute force—military force within the territories, and political force in Washington.

The drop-the-veil moment during this past week was the importunate lobbying by Netanyahu’s government before President Obama delivered his Middle East speech on Thursday at the State Department (and doesn’t that say something right there—where else would one see a foreign government get in the last lobbying licks on a president’s speech, even at the expense of delaying the speech?) to omit any mention of the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiating land swaps and an eventual territorial settlement. The president mentioned that anyway, and in the joint appearance on Friday Netanyahu said nothing about land swaps, instead denouncing the 1967 borders as not being a suitable basis for anything. As Mr. Obama correctly noted in his address to AIPAC on Sunday, there was nothing new in his mention of 1967-borders-with-swaps. It has long been recognized as the only formula that has any hope of being the basis for a successful negotiation. It has been the basis for several official proposals, including one by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. It also has been at the center of several unofficial proposals, including ones from people whose concern for Israel cannot be doubted (such as a plan offered by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy).

So for Netanyahu, not only is the land allotted to the Jewish state in the UN partition plan of the 1940s not enough, and not only is the larger territory that became the State of Israel with what we call the 1967 borders not enough. Even with land swaps that would extend Israel farther into the West Bank and include the large majority of the settlements Israel has constructed on land seized in the 1967 war, that would still not be enough for him. How much would be enough? One can speculate on what crumbs of land would be left to the Palestinians, but speculation is not required to have an idea based on Netanyahu’s own statements of what such a “state” would entail: Israeli control of the airspace, no military of its own, and, as the prime minister mentioned on Friday, a “long-term” Israeli military presence along the Jordan River. It sounds like a bantustan that would make Bophuthatswana look like a paragon of sovereignty. But trying to envision the details of such an entity is pointless because it is a non-starter very likely intended to be rejected.

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6 thoughts on “Exposing Netanyahu

  1. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    9/11 was very good for Israel
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    Théâtre de l’Absurde
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    9/11 was very good for Israel

  2. Mark Cohn

    The Israel/Palestine problem derives from neither side having the foresight,or the moral courage,to desire and develop a multi-cultural state.Whatever the borders,full citizenship for both cultures within those borders,is the only viable solution. The whole Israel-Arab thing is simply the latest refrain of Mid-East Miasma.The very human inability to get along grew out of the Middle East. It has infected the world. One would think that after the Diaspora and the Holocaust, Jews would have learned to express a higher standard for the use of power.The Ottoman Inheritance isn’t serving Islam any better.For all the posturing,neither side is even close to the moral high ground.

  3. rosemerry

    You may be right, but Israel is the one using illegal means, violence and US WMD.

  4. delia ruhe

    Any argument that implies some kind of equivalence between the parties is suspect. I’ve quit listening to those, since they are a waste of time.

    I think Pillar is right about Obama keeping the issue alive. Indeed, I think that Obama should give Bibi regular opportunities to displace his arrogance and insolence. We haven’t seen all the fallout from these past few days: some of the best thinkers are slow to respond, so we should have some interesting reading over the next couple of weeks.

    Did anyone else catch that editorial at Arab News? It’s worth reading:


  5. Nemocity

    “The Israel/Palestine problem derives from neither side having the foresight,or the moral courage,to desire and develop a multi-cultural state.Whatever the borders,full citizenship for both cultures within those borders,is the only viable solution.”
    LOL. LOL.
    Apparently you have never heard of Zionism. You ever notice who is in Israel’s corner all the time, yet pretends to be an honest broker; you ever notice who supplies the Zionist state with weapons? You ever notice who continues to subsidise the Zionist military at the expense of the interests of its own citizens?

  6. Norman

    Too bad for the World, that the “O”, who is supposed to be all knowing, doesn’t possess what is known in the land, as a pair of balls. He holds the most powerful-est office in this World, yet acts like a second rate actor in a disgraceful KABUKI performance. He could be the greatest 1 term P.O.T.U.S. this country perhaps would ever experience, with the outside possibility of even getting reelected in a landslide, by giving the Israelis an ultimatum, “make peace once & for all, for there will be no more back-up by the U.S. Military nor aid, if you don’t”. He is jeopardizing the security of the World with giving in to the present Israeli leadership and their hard nosed ways. If this doesn’t look like what Chamberlain & Hitler did in the late 30’s, then I don’t know what is. When this little minded group comes to this country and tell the Congress & the P.O.T.U.S. that it won’t play fair, which it so far hasn’t done so, then it’s time they were denied.

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