UPDATE: CNN reports that “Netanyahu flip flops” on his Palestinian state remark.
He didn’t flip flop. He is simply being realistic, which is all he claimed to be (see below).
“I’m talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable,” Netanyahu said Thursday. “If you want to get peace, you’ve got to get the Palestinian leadership to abandon their pact with Hamas and engage in genuine negotiations with Israel.”
I don’t see a substantive difference between saying a two-state solution involving a Hamas-Abbas unity government is a no-go, and a two-state solution is not going to happen anytime soon without that caveat. This is exactly what Bibi said and meant.
It’s amazing what CNN can do with creative headline editing, especially when it means that the Obama administration gets to make Netanyahu eat crow while it saves face at the same time.
One of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s last campaign promises was that no Palestinian state would be created on his watch. Haaretz reported his remarks from Monday, just before the election:
“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu said. “The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this, but we are realistic and understand.”
During the interview, Netanyahu declared that if the Zionist Union were to win the elections, “it would attach itself to the international community and do their bidding,” including freezing construction in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements, and cooperate with international initiatives to return Israel’s borders to the 1967 lines.
Of course, he’s right.
He’s right because Israel has, since 1979 ceded land “for peace”, while reaping no peace at all. The entire Sinai is now a breeding ground for Al Queda and Muslim Brotherhood outlaws, who were in past times kept out by Egypt, but now play a continual game of hide-and-seek with Egyptian security forces. This has led Israel to install an Iron Dome battery in sunny Eilat, a resort community on the Red Sea.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, forcibly removing its own citizens in a humiliating public display. The greenhouses, factories and homes left behind by Jews were burned rather than be used by Palestinians in Gaza.
Most Americans, including political activists who opposed Netanyahu, have no idea of what Israel is dealing with when words like “occupation” and “settlements” are thrown around. Palestinian propagandists have managed to convince much of the world that East Jerusalem is an Arab territory, which provokes laughter in Israel. The issue is one of security, not occupation.
Netanyahu despises President Obama’s tactics, which have been completely focused on preventing him from serving another term as PM.
He also slammed Jewish-American businessman Danny Abraham, one of the primary financiers of the V-15 campaign to flip the Israeli government. Netanyahu did not mention Abraham by name, but said that the primary financier of V-15 has come to his office in the past and tried to convince him not to build in East Jerusalem.
“I said to him – have you ever been in Har Homa? He said no, and that it was a dangerous settlement. I suggested he go there and said he would make it in time, that he wouldn’t be late to the meeting. They took him to the car, returned to the office, and rolled on the floor with laughter. The man was prepared to go to Sinai and couldn’t believe that the car stopped after seven minutes and that he had reached his destination. These are the people telling us who needs to be in government, these are the people who think Har Homa is in Sinai.”
Har Homa is in East Jerusalem. If this was Atlanta, we’d be talking about Buckhead versus Midtown. If it was Washington DC, we’d be talking about Arlington. This isn’t some land-grab—it’s apartment buildings seven minutes from the Prime Minister’s office.
With European Jews moving to Israel in ever growing numbers, where does the world expect them to live? Is this 1947—does the world think it can solve a “Jewish problem”? No. Israel is the Jewish homeland, and Netanyahu cemented this understanding by his victory. In fact, his victory was achieved mostly by hammering home to Israelis exactly what was at stake: Israel’s standing as a homeland for Jews.
So what will a new Netanyahu government’s future relationship with the Obama administration look like?
I think we will see open hostility of a kind never before played out on the world stage. From the LA Times:
The U.S. would “reevaluate our approach” based on Netanyahu’s “change in his position,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters as the president flew to Cleveland to deliver a speech on economic policy.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised the possibility that the reevaluation could include a shift in position at the U.N. She avoided the usual U.S. language about vetoing Security Council resolutions that Israel opposes.
“The prime minister’s recent statements call into question his commitment to a two-state solution,” Psaki told reporters. “We’re not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action.”
America has always sided with Israel in votes on Palestinian statehood, using its Security Council veto to block anti-Israel resolutions. The world heard Earnest and Psaki’s remarks, and it’s clear that America’s automatic support of Israel in the U.N. is now off the table.
We can expect a renewed push for Palestinian statehood on the international stage. And we can expect America to remove the last obstacles to it happening. When it does, who will address Israel’s security concerns? Who will negotiate borders? Will U.N. “peacekeepers” be deployed to Jerusalem to stand against the IDF?
President Obama had better watch his step: Jews around the world have counted on America as their ally. The prospect—no matter how remote—of American troops squaring off against the IDF is one no Jew has seriously contemplated.
From Obama’s perspective, negotiations and persuasion have failed to move Netanyahu. Political pressure has failed to move him. And now, open political opposition and manipulation have failed to remove him from office. What appears to be left is open hostility to the only true ally America has in the Middle East.
America has never crossed that line with Israel, but Obama may just be petulant enough, and have nothing left to lose, to cross it. We can only hope he doesn’t wipe out 67 years of cooperation and mutual respect in the next 22 months by playing this dangerous game.