When discussing matters pertaining to Israel one of the challenges is how to differentiate between rhetoric and reality.
In a nutshell, broad based opinion in Israel, from Tzippi to Buji to Lapid to Bibi see the immediate establishment of a Palestinian State, as an existential threat to Israel – for reasons of security and safety. This is reality.
However, President Obama, Hollande of France, much of United States Jewry and even some of our own community here – see the non-establishment of a Palestinian State immediately, as an existential threat to Israel. This is rhetoric.
This is for reasons of optics, of how they want to look and hope to be received by others.
It is certainly not for the safety and security of the people of Israel.
And Tzippi and Buji and Lapid and Bibi all have pretty much plus/minus, the same view on how the borders should look, when/if at all it can be done safely.
True – and now here is the difference – Tzippi, Buji and Lapid appear to look keener to want to do the deal, ergo President Obama likes them better.
Not because they can make a deal.
But again because of the optics. Rhetoric.
In the real world it is generally so called ‘right wing’ governments that can make a deal as only they can carry the majority of the people with them on these sort of issues.
If the ‘right’ make significant concessions, who will object?
And think back, who made the deal of territory for peace with Egypt? Menachem Begin.
Who took Israel out of Gaza? Ariel Sharon.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position bears closer scrutiny.
Not with standing Bibi’s one solitary heat of the moment election eve comment, he has been remarkably consistent and frequent in his statements and policy in favour of a Palestinian State since his landmark speech at Bar Ilan in 2009 where he crossed his own rubicon.
Of course he has also insisted on some very reasonable and cross-political conditions. Mainly that the Palestinian quid pro quo is that Israel be recognised as the Jewish State and that any so called Palestinian refugees go, if they so choose, to a future Palestinian State and not to Israel.
Just last Sunday in his phone call with President Hollande, Bibi reiterated his commitment to the 2 State for 2 People formula.
And on Tuesday this week, at the Herzliya Conference Netanyahu said as follows:
“I remain committed to a solution of two states for two peoples as I said at Bar-Ilan”
The problem is that the Palestinians do not want negotiations.
To negotiate means to compromise, to give something up.
Well Netanyahu has outlined what he is willing to give up, the land for the establishment of a Palestinian State on most of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinians however, are not willing to agree to a Jewish State of any size.
Indeed the supposedly moderate Fatah insist that all of Palestine will be free – “from the river to the sea”
Mahmoud Abbas has not crossed his own personal rubicon.
Let alone would he dare tell his people even if he did.
The very people who he has educated to believe that the ‘Zionist Entity’ is but temporary and will disappear.
Netanyahu expanded further on this theme in his Herzliya Conference speech this week:
“I again call on President Abbas to return to negotiations without preconditions. But I also know he has very little reason to talk. Why should he talk? He can get by without talking. He can get by with an international community that blames Israel for not having talks. In other words, the Palestinians run from the table. They ran away from Prime Minister Barak. They ran away from Prime Minister Olmert. They ran away from, before that, from Prime Minister Sharon. And they ran away from me.”
So all of this international action by the Palestinians whether it be at FIFA, the International Criminal Court or where ever, is simply designed to be a political weapon in their attempts to distract the world from the Palestinian failure to enter face to face negotiations, which for them, as they see it, would mean a lose lose situation because of the need for compromise.
At Herzliya Bibi expressed it perfectly:
“But the Palestinians have a nifty trick up their sleeve – they refuse to negotiate and then get international pressure, sanctions, boycotts on Israel for there not being negotiations. It’s a perfect Catch-22. And there are those who attempt to impose terms on Israel in the Security Council because there are no talks and some of them pretend that the dangers we face are not real dangers at all.”
I have written and spoken many times before about what the Palestinians want, which is 2 States but effectively for 1 People – and how that is so different from what Israel seeks, which is 2 States for 2 Peoples.
Our issues with President Obama are multiple and complex, but there is no doubt that he does set a moral tone for large numbers of people around the world for reasons that often defy any logic.
But that is the reality.
On one issue in particular though, Israel as the Jewish State, his support is strong and we should encourage all people who oppose the concept of Israel as the Jewish State, people like Di Natale for instance, the new leader of the Greens here in Australia, to listen to Obama.
In Obama’s State of the Union address in January 2014 he said:
“As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.”
And just a couple of weeks ago on the 21st of May:
“There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law,” Obama said. “These things are indivisible in my mind.”
But also cause for at least some optimism.