Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it abundantly clear last week in his speech to the American Congress that he has no desire to negotiate for peace. Although Bibi’s talk drew several standing ovations in front of American lawmakers, few were smiling back in Palestine or Israel.
In his speech Netanyahu quickly dismissed virtually all key Palestinian demands for peace. He first shunned Obama’s remarks days earlier when he called for the future Palestinian state to be based on the borders of 1967. He then ruled out dividing Jerusalem, saying “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”
Netanyahu went on to say that Palestinian refugees did not have the right to return to Israel and that they had to remain in any Palestinian state. He also ruled out leaving the Jordan Valley and made no mention of halting settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. All this of course leaves the Palestinians with nothing. Bibi makes for a far better dictator than he does a negotiator.
Netanyahu then asked for President Abbas to tear up his pact with Hamas. Hamas of course was democratically elected back in 2006, but apparently democracy does not count when the victor is labeled a terrorist organization.
Hamas’s military wing has consistently used terrorist tactics and called for the destruction of the Jewish State, but you know what? That’s what enemies do, especially the governors of an occupied land. No one can deny that Israel has called for and even tried to bring about the destruction of Hamas. The only difference between the two militaries is that one side can afford uniforms. Whether a car bomb or a gunship missile, both bring terror and death.
A side note: Common definitions of terrorism refer to those violent acts which are intended to create fear and are perpetrated for religious, political or ideological goals, deliberately targeting or disregarding the safety of civilians. Going by this definition Israel has killed 5 times more civilians and ten times more civilians under the age of 18 than Palestinians in the last 25 years.
Hamas’s refusal to recognize the Jewish State should not hamper Israel’s decision to negotiate, but Netanyahu continually uses Hamas as a roadblock to peace. Imagine the world we might be living in if the US refused to talk to the Soviet Union after Khrushchev threatened to bury them.
Israel has the region’s strongest economy and military by far, complete with an arsenal of (not so secret) nuclear weapons, but we are constantly told by Netanyahu that his policies and positions are for Israel’s security, even though they have maintained a stable peace agreement with half their neighbors for decades.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been opposed to a Palestinian state for most of his life, right up until he was elected for a second term. Are we to believe that he has had a sudden change of heart or had some sort of Islamic epiphany? Nothing he has said or done recently would suggest so, and he’s not fooling as many people as he may think (aside from the American Congress).
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