"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Monday, 15 June 2009

Binyamin Netanyahu Calls for Demilitarised Palestinian State

Yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a speech in which he set out the peaceful vision of Israel, the Israeli government and the Jewish people.

In order to achieve lasting peace between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of calling for a viable Palestinian state - provided it was a demilitarised one.

Given the waves of violence against Israel and its citizens from the Arab world, his wariness makes much sense. If an independent Palestinian state was created, Israel would have to give up something in the way of tangible security and defence for promises - promises which have been hollow and pointless in the past.

Speaking at Bar Ilan University, here is an extract of Mr Netanyahu's speech:

“I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions,” he said. “Israel is committed to international agreements and expects all the other parties to fulfill their obligations as well.”

In an apparent reversal of Israeli policy, Netanyahu also declared that he was prepared to see the creation of a Palestinian state, so long as the international community can guarantee that it not have any military capabilities.

“Israel cannot agree to a Palestinian state unless it gets guarantees it is demilitarized,” Netanyahu said. He also said that Jerusalem must remain the unified capital of Israel.

He also promised that Israel would halt the building of settlements and expand existing ones only in line with natural growth.

So how is this, a watershed moment in which Israel yet again bows to the pressure of the 'international community' to compromise its own safety and existence for airy talk of peace, reported in the British press?

The Times:

'Netanyahu defies US with hardline speech':

Netanyahu defies Obama with harsh conditions for Palestinian 'entity'.

The Telegraph:

'Israel: Palestinians reject Netanyahu speech':

"Palestinian leaders have rejected Benjamin Netanyahu's terms for a two-state solution, claiming he has "sabotaged" the peace process."

But of course, sending horses packed with explosives at an Israeli town, trying to kidnap soldiers and firing Qassams - that's just terrorist horseplay, as it were, and does not violate the peace process - or even sabotage it.

These papers are not the staples of the liberal Left such as the Guardian or Independent - they are seen as centrist in the case of the Times and Right-wing in the case of the Telegraph.

It begs the question - what could Netanyahu do right?

Do the 'international community' really want peace - or is their actual goal far more sinister than that?

Netanyahu must speak for those who elected him first and foremost. It is his job to look after the safety of Israeli citizens and the integrity of his nation's borders and self-defence capabilities.

Yet still, the press expect him to stand and humiliate himself and undermine his electoral mandate - and for what, exactly?

The peace process? That currently mythical thing may be highly desirable, but it is not realistic - a genuine peace process must be mutual and about compromise. The world at large only seems to demand compromise from one party, Israel.

When are governments in the West going to find the intellectual honesty to demand concessions from both sides?

Take this reaction to the speech:

A top Palestinian official dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy speech as “a zero” on Sunday.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said the speech was empty of any content and pointless.

He explained that the speech would impede any progress toward a balanced peace settlement. He said Netanyahu is “a swindler, a fraud, and a liar who makes up tricks [about] achievement of this peace.”

Why was this not widely reported? Ah, yes.

The current narrative goes thus; the Palestinians and wider Arab world may say or do anything they like, and they will not be held to account. It is up to Israel to stop them from acting in an undesirable way by giving in, surrendering some more, and then giving in again.

There can only be peace when this attitude changes.

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