Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Israel Endorses Palestinian Statehood

Under pressure from the US Administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for the first time endorsed a two-state solution in the Middle East, drawing praise from the West but flak from Palestinians who rejected the offer citing the tough conditions attached. The move was aimed at pleasing the US.

In a policy speech that came a week after US President Barack Obama’s address to the Islamic world, Netanyahu said the “Palestinian state” would have to be demilitarised and recognise Israel as a state of the Jewish people.

The hardliner Israeli Prime Minister has resisted agreeing to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict all through his political career and his veiled acceptance was couched under several other conditions, including refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to settle in Israel and keeping united Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state.

Step in Right Direction
With all these conditions, Israel “will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarised Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.

The address at Bar Ilan university, considered the bastion of Israeli right, came in the wake of Obama’s insistence that Israel impose a complete freeze on West Bank settlement construction and recognise the two-state solution.

The White House said Obama welcomed the speech as an “important step forward” while the European Union described it as “a step in the right direction”.

However, the Palestinians were skeptic and angry. “Netanyahu’s remarks have sabotaged all initiatives, paralysed all efforts being made and challenges the Palestinian, Arab and American positions.

Israel does not have any desperate need, to say the least, for more unilateral concessions. Time is on Israel’s side. It is the other side which faces disaster-social breakdown, economic stagnation, high levels of civil conflict.

Real Danger Point
The greatest danger confronting Israel, West Asia, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons. The greatest danger confronting Israel, etc, is not the Palestinian problem, nor is it Islamophobia, nor an insufficient supply of American apologies and empathy.

There is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza. In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hezbullah and Iran… Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another Hamastan.

There must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel’s borders. For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel’s continued existence as the state of the Jewish people.

Two-State Solution
However, the fact is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the two-state solution back in 1997 when he took over in the midst of the Oslo agreement peace process and committed himself to all preceding agreements.

This is not the real issue. The real issue is this: Much of the world wants Israel to agree in advance to give the Palestinian Authority what they think it wants without any concessions or demonstration of serious intent on its part.

The most important is the demand that any Palestinian who lived or whose ancestors ever lived on what is now Israeli territory can come and live in Israel. This is correctly seen as a ploy to destroy Israel. The other is that borders must be precisely those of 1967. If there is room for discussion then Israel will discuss this plan; if it’s take-it-or-leave-it, there is no alternative but the latter.

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