Unease, a restive sense — within the nation and within the hearts of many of us. For we are on the edge and very few, if any, are certain which way we are about to go.
It is possible that Prime Minister Netanyahu feels the greatest disquietude most of all, as he balances many factors in preparing his major speech, scheduled for Sunday. Today it was reported that he hasn’t completed it yet.
We see the vast pressure on him of the Likud right wing, not to go with a “two state solution.”
There is Benny Begin, who, delivering a speech at Likud headquarters, said:
“There won’t be a Palestinian state. The realities of the past 15 years gravely harmed the concept of two states for two peoples. The state they want is only intended to destroy Israel. The Palestinians are not interested in the two-state solution. They want the two-stage solution, after which there would be only one state: Palestine.
“…if the only solution is two states for two peoples, then there is no solution.
“…these communities [the settlements] are implementing the Israeli nation’s right to Israel, not only in the Sharon [coastal plain] but in Judea and Samaria. Our pioneers are living there in complicated conditions. But this melody cannot be stopped.”
Other MKs echoed these sentiments in their own words.
Then, Heaven help us, we have President Shimon Peres, who met earlier today with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and told him it’s time to move to Phase 2 of the Road Map and establish temporary borders for a Palestinian state. Is this man out of his gourd? This sort of politicking is beyond his ceremonial mandate as president. Tonight several MKs informed him of this and the need to cool it.
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin (Likud), today said that Netanyahu doesn’t believe in a “two state solution”:
“…the prime minister needs to say only what he believes in and tell the Americans – as they asked – the truth. I think that when the prime minister speaks of an arrangement, he really wants to reach an arrangement. But I am not sure that the prime minister believes in two states for two peoples.”
Rivlin, bless him, also said:
“We have a right to build here. I think the term ‘natural growth’ is apologetic and does not embody a principled stance. We live in these places out of a faith in the justice of our cause and also because we see these areas as Israel’s belt of security.
“…we are here to stay in Samaria (which is where he visited today to plant trees) and despite some discordant voices we are not considering any other possibility.”
At the meeting at Likud headquarters, Netanyahu himself refuted a recent prediction by Mubarak that he had decided to embrace a “two state solution.” But then he added:
“I will be considering a lot of challenges that come from different directions, that will impact generations. There are strategic threats facing Israel that require us to balance them out.”
This echoes statements he has made several times recently. It suggests in vague terms that because of the threat of Iran and positions we have to take with regard to our self-defense, he may have to make concessions that he wouldn’t otherwise make.
Because I’ve covered this ground before, to the very best of my ability, I will be brief now. Can I be certain that this is not simply a cover for concessions to Obama he has decided to make? I cannot. But neither can I be certain that he’s not on to something, and that there’s not a trade-off or a genuine need he sees to secure a certain modicum of international good will because of our broader situation. Not a one of us is in his shoes, or privy to all the factors that will weigh into his decision.
Perhaps most comforting at this point is a Reuters report that American diplomats are quietly saying that Obama is not going to be satisfied with Netanyahu’s speech.
One top diplomat quoted said: “The Americans are not satisfied with what they have been told.”
The prediction of another diplomat is that Netanyahu will stop short of coming out for a state, and will talk in more general terms about Palestinian governance.
This is what we’ve been hearing from him. If he goes no further than this, we’re OK.
It is also encouraging, and of no little significance, that the people of this country are behind Bibi and do not want him to comply with Obama’s demands.
For the full Maagar Machot poll, see:
There’s one other approach that Bibi may utilize and which I want to mention here: That the issue is not resolution of an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather the readiness of the broader Arab world to accept Israel in its midst. There are statements he has made of late that suggest he might touch upon this, even if obliquely. He is looking for broader Arab involvement.
There is no question — whether or not this would be verbalized — that the so-called Palestinian issue would dissipate were the Arab states to accept us. For the entire Palestinian issue, with regard to refugee “return” and all the rest, was promoted by the Arabs as a weapon against us.
And there is a great deal the Arab world might do, from accepting refugees to pressuring Abbas to moderate more genuinely. Might do…but won’t.
The Arab idea of assisting with the problem goes as far as the Saudi “peace plan,” and no further. That plan is just one more weapon: Withdraw to the pre-’67 lines, take in the refugees and allow the formation of a Palestinian state, and then we’ll talk about normalizing relationships with you. Very recently the Arab League determined that this plan was fine as it was and that no modifications were called for.
US envoy Mitchell, in meetings just completed with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo, raised this same issue of Arab involvement:
“Proposing the initiative was just the beginning; it brings with it responsibilities to join in taking meaningful steps and important actions that will help us move towards our objective.”
Aboul Gheit’s response:
“There must be a substantial Israeli act which consists of a complete end to settlement activity and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from all [West Bank] towns and the end of the [Gaza] blockade.
“If we see serious and real Israeli steps we think that Arab parties will also be prepared to return to the situation existing before 2000.”
The situation before 2000? That will put us way ahead.
Let’s face it: Obama’s speech, his blatant kissing-up to the Muslim/Arab world, will not have had the effect of making the Arabs more conciliatory in seeking peace.
Then too, Mitchell’s vision of a more regional peace includes our withdrawal from the Golan.