The IRIS blog has offered a valuable analysis of prime minister Netanyahu’s Sunday night speech set in contrast with then-MK Netanyahu’s impassioned plea in 2002 to the Likud central committee against a “Palestinian state”, the position of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. With his speech on Sunday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu has capitulated on his previously-held principles concerning “two states”.
What everyone may be overlooking are these points;
1/ By his endorsement of “two states”, Hashem, history and the Jewish Divine legacy connected to Eretz Yisrael is nowhere in the equation.
2/ The distinct possibility that the old adage “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss and opportunity” may no longer hold. Although the Arabs jumped to totally reject Bibi’s speech, check out Obama’s low-key words which downplayed Netanyahu’s speech;
Obama… downplayed the immediate criticism from Arab neighbors of Netanyahu’s conditions as predictable. “Well, first of all, I think it’s important not to immediately assess the situation based on commentary the day after a speech,” said Obama, whose aides distributed glowing reaction to his US-Muslim speech the day after he delivered it in Cairo.
“I think any time an Israeli prime minister makes a statement, the immediate reaction tends to be negative on one side. If the other side is making a statement, oftentimes the reaction is negative in Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu refused to freeze existing West Bank settlements, while demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Palestinians refugees give up their goal of returning to Israel.
He insisted that a Palestinian state be demilitarized, and demanded that Jerusalem remain the capital of Israel.
Obama emphasized points of Netanyahu’s speech he found agreeable – specifically the call for two states- but not the caveats.
In short, Hussein Obama’s strategy seems to be to make demilitarization, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and Israel’s other caveats disappear. And Bibi’s capitulation may be the first step in the process. For, if Bibi lacked the backbone, Torah rooting and strength of his convictions to remain firmly against any concept of “two states”, one can realistically look for him to cave-in to Obama’s subsequent pressure to delete the caveats one-by-one; i.e. demilitarization, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, etc. And one can realistically project that a leader soo lacking in the above values will also capitulate on points such as “natural growth” construction in the Yishuvim as well as major “settlement” blocs having already capitulated ordering the destruction of outposts and hilltops with his ever-willing accomplice Ehud Barak doing the dirty-work.
Obama, via his Moslem roots and the expectations arising from his speech, may embolden the Arab world to not take Netanyahu and Israel seriously, and to, therefore, not immediately reject his terms, but to watch Obama try, chas v’chalillah, to whither away Bibi’s caveats and to emasculate (and I could use stronger language than that) Israel. When faced with the possible scenario which Obama poses, it would have been best for Bibi to stick to his guns, and his principles. A Netanyahu speech responding to Obama where he (Netanyahu) restated and reiterated the points of his 2002 address to the Likud central committee where he spoke against “two states”, even a demilitarized neighboring state, would have done fine. And he could have put Obama on the defensive by asking for Jonathan Pollard’s clemency.
But then again, mentioning Pollard in his speech would have bound Bibi to bring up Pollard’s matzav in future face-to-face meetings with Obama, a prospect that assuredly Bibi wouldn’t relish. MB
Time for a New Ally? (Jerusalem Post Opinion)