Friday, June 19, 2009

The end of 'defeatism'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech June 14 which has been equated to a response to President Barack Hussein Obama’s Cairo Speech.

Netanyahu’s speech can be summed up thus - The Likud led Israel is prepared to accept the notion of a Palestinian if:

Whoever it is representing the Arabs that call themselves Palestinians agree to a demilitarized State.

This Palestinian State must recognize the Jewish nature of the State of Israel.

Palestine does not force the Jewish settlements to leave which would be within a Palestinian authority.

David Parsons of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has written an essay about the Palestinian response to Netanyahu’s speech. Yet again all the terrorists that are the ruling elites of the Arabs that call themselves Palestinians rejected Netanyahu’s offer. The message to Israel being: We the Arabs want everything we want without giving in to anything Israel’s desires for its National Security.

JRH 6/19/09
The end of 'defeatism'

By David Parsons
18 Jun 2009
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Even by Palestinian standards, the swift and complete rejection of an Israeli peace overture was baffling.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just delivered his landmark policy speech on June 14 in which he had finally come to terms with the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. This should be cause for rejoicing on the Palestinian side.

Granted, his acceptance was saddled with stiff preconditions – such a state must be demilitarized and the Palestinians must also recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. But these were quite reasonable opening demands by any objective measure. Even US President George W. Bush had set out stringent criteria for American recognition of a future Palestinian state. So why the sudden, hysterical invective from the Palestinian camp?

Within minutes of Netanyahu concluding his address at Bar-Ilan University, Saeb Erekat and the other professional complainers in the employ of the Palestinian Authority were lashing out at him in the media with personal insults and threats of a third intifada. Bibi was branded a “con-man and a liar” who had just buried the peace process alive. They mocked Netanyahu, insisting that in a thousand years he could not find a single Palestinian who would want to negotiate with him.

Even their friends in the leftist Israeli press were scratching their heads at the unusually “impulsive,” “frantic” and “petty” reactions of PA officials. After all, there was little new in Netanyahu’s stated positions. On Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security concerns – he stuck to familiar red lines that surprised no one. So the guessing game began – was it a pre-planned ambush or a spontaneous vent.

Some surmised that the PA’s brusque response stemmed from their acute disappointment that the recent pressure applied on Netanyahu by US President Barack Obama had apparently not squeezed him hard enough. They were riding high following Obama’s own historic address to the Muslim world from Cairo just ten days earlier, in which he had identified so strongly with Palestinian “suffering,” while demanding that all Israeli settlement activity must stop. Calling his administration the “friendliest in decades” to the Palestinian cause, one PA official had confided, “We can be calm; it is the Israelis who should be worried.”

So when Netanyahu deftly managed to extricate himself from the ropes in a half-hour speech that was very “Zionist” at that, the Palestinians were livid.

But while most observers were busy analyzing Netanyahu’s sober address in comparison to Obama’s lofty oratory in Cairo, the real focus should have been on contrasting his text and tone with the policy statements of his predecessor-in-office, Ehud Olmert. For herein lies the real source of Palestinian consternation.

They had grown accustomed to an Israeli leader who maintained, “We are tired of fighting. We are tired of winning.” Last summer, Olmert insisted, “Israel’s problem is that it has no borders.” He told his cabinet, "The vision of a 'Greater Israel' is over.” In a farewell interview at Rosh Hashanna last fall, Olmert conceded, “we have no choice but to… withdraw” from the West Bank. And in one of his final official comments before stepping down, Olmert went further than any Israeli leader before him in expressing “sorrow” for the “suffering” and displacement of Palestinian refugees. His critics had summed up such public rhetoric as “defeatism.”

Meanwhile in private talks with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert had offered over 97% of the West Bank for a Palestinian state and reportedly opened the door to a ‘symbolic’ return of thousands of refugees. His proposals went well beyond the generous offer of Ehud Barak at the failed Camp David summit of July 2000. Once again, the Palestinians said “No!”

Yet now, in one fell swoop, Netanyahu had cleared the air of the defeatist approach, restored Israel’s red lines, deflected American pressure, and thrown the ball back into the Palestinians’ court. It swiftly sunk in that they were indeed facing a much tougher bargainer, and in a thousand years will never get a sweeter deal out of Netanyahu than they could have wrested from other recent prime ministers.

The onus is now on Abbas and his PA colleagues to not only answer why they are unwilling to sit down for talks with Netanyahu. They must also explain why they are always the ones saying “No” to a Palestinian state whenever it is within reach.


The writer is media director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;

This article was first published in the July 2009 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition.

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