If President Obama is actually serious about an Israeli/Palestinian accord, he better review the speech Benjamin Netanyahu gave before a joint session of Congress today.
He said that to reach a deal, Palestinians must agree to live with a Jewish state that would include areas in the suburbs of Jerusalem and around Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem, he said, “will never be divided,” and Israel’s army would remain along the Jordan River.
While some land where Israelis have settled would lie outside its final borders, he said, the borders would not be identical to those of 1967 and before, which he once again called indefensible. Palestinian refugees and their descendants, he said, would have to find their homes outside these borders, limiting their right of return to old homelands — long a sticking point.
That’s the Israeli bottom line and it isn’t going to change much even if Netanyahu is no longer the Prime Minister. This is it – this is what that state, after years of fighting for its life, has determined is the minimum conditions it must insist on for its self-defense. Essentially, these particular positions aren’t negotiable.
Obama claims his policy and position isn’t new. Obviously the Israelis disagree. There, laid out for everyone to see is Israel’s position. In the meantime, I’d also add, were I Netanyahu, that until Hamas and the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel, that Israel has no interest in any process. That’s such a basic requirement I’m surprised it has to repeated endlessly.
Netanyahu says he is willing to make painful concessions on behalf of Israel – including some settlements in occupied lands. But he’s not willing to concede any of the above – and it it time for this administration to get a clue if it is serious about the peace process. I simply don’t think it is, and the new conditions laid out by Obama are a way of putting the onus and blame on Israel for being “intransigent” in the face of decades of Palestinian intransigence. This is Obama’s way of saying “not my fault that the peace process I so highly touted fell apart”.