Monday, June 15, 2009

A Coda On The Speech

Perhaps the most depressing thing about it is how much it reminds one of Menachem Begin's response to Anwar Sadat in 1977. You get the feeling that the words are not simply tactical but come from Netanyahu's deepest convictions. Yes, he has declared a willingness to entertain the idea of a Palestinian state, so long as it is demilitarized. (For the record, Palestinian leaders in Fatah and the West Bank have never made an issue about having an army big enough to pose a threat to Israel--again, read the Geneva Initiative--and have often called for international forces to replace the IDF.) But he couched the point in Revisionist historical rhetoric that seems more an effort to wrest key Congresspeople from Obama than address the Arab world. My friend Sam Bahour in Ramallah told me he thought perhaps Hamas had written the speech, for all the good it would do Abbas.

Netanyahu has put, as Begin put, so many conditions on getting to a Palestinian state that one can understand the reluctance of Palestinian negotiators to get back in the room: recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people (readers of this blog do not require me to elaborate on why, as stated, this is impossible), Jerusalem, united, as the capital of Israel, natural growth of settlements, and so forth. Television commentators here immediately pronounced the speech a concession to Washington, at the same time as wondering if Washington will buy it. My unsolicited advise to Obama and Mitchell: put the speech in your pocket, declare it a breakthrough, and (as I said yesterday) start presenting details of a deal without imagining that negotiations will produce one.


Y.Ben-David said...

The Palestinians don't want a state, at least not now. This is from Robert Malley and Mohammed Agha who can not be accused of being "hasbaraniks" or "pro-Israel":

Y. Ben-David said...

I am still waiting to hear how Obama is going to force the so-called "imposed agreement" on the Arab side. What leverage does he have to use on the Palestinians, backed by the Arab/Muslim world, which happans to control a lot of oil?

Potter said...

Y. B-D. you mischaracterize the Malley Agha article into a bumper sticker that appeals to you.

That lengthy article does not say that Palestinians do not want a state.

Y. Ben-David said...

It says they don't want a state such as the one that Olmert repeatedly stated must be created in order for Israel not to be "doomed". They said the state must be created in a way that addresses "1948", not just "1967", in other words, in a way that historically delegitimizes Israel as a criminal state. They said that the US must reach out to Palestinians who consider themselves HAMAS supporters, a organization that says it will never make peace with Israel. At the moment, there is no support in Israel, the US or Europe for a settlement on the terms that will satisfy these requirements. So the Palestinians can wait, which disproves the myths that they are undergoing "unbearable suffering" and "starving to death". Abbas himself told the Washington Post that he is in no hurry, he can wait a few years until Obama can out Netanyahu and that the situation in Judea/Samaria is "good" (his words).
This means they are not interested in a Palestinian state under current conditions.

Sagredo said...

Sure, neither side would prefer a two-state solution. Both want all the land. The Palestinians want a state where, of course, they would end up as the majority. Israel wants all the land provided it can avoid enfranchising all the Arabs that live there, or else expel them again.

The two-state solution is a compromise: Palestinians have to give up the right to return to the places they came from, while Israel has pull the settlers out.

Potter said...


Nowhere in the article does it say that Palestinians do not want a state. The rest is what you add, imagine, embellish and extrapolate based on your strong views. I suggest any reader here without such deeply colored lens go to the article and read it. Essentially it's advice to Obama and it attempts to provide some fresh thoughts.

Hamas has to be included lest they be spoilers. The article does not say Hamas is any more hopeless than Netanyahu for instance.

The article also says that Palestinians do not want a state that is inauthentic which would not end the conflict- that there are other issues/interests that are as important as Israeli interests that "mere" borders cannot resolve.

For Palestinians, the most primal demands relate to addressing and redressing a historical experience of dispossession, expulsion, dispersal, massacres, occupation, discrimination, denial of dignity, persistent killing off of their leaders, and the relentless fracturing of their national polity.

These Israeli and Palestinian yearnings are of a sort that, no matter how precisely fine-tuned, a two-state deal will find it hard to fulfill. Over the years, the goal gradually has shifted from reaching peace to achieving a two-state agreement. Those aims might sound the same, but they are not: peace may be possible without such an agreement just as such an agreement need not necessarily lead to peace. Partitioning the land can, and most probably will, be an important means of achieving a viable, lasting, peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. But it is not the end.

further down: ( I can't quote the whole article and go point by point)

The two-state concept has been further tarnished by what has become of its Palestinian promoters. Today, many Palestinians no longer see their leaders as carrying out a national project but rather as instruments of foreign designs aimed at bolstering one faction of Palestinians against another. When the Palestinian Authority seeks guidance, it appears to look outward: to the US to judge whether the program of a putative national unity government would pass muster or to help devise a security plan; to Israel for assistance coping with the Islamist challenge; to Egypt and the rest of the world for how to deal with Gaza.
In all this, the PA's policy choices pose less of a problem than the method through which they seem to be reached—based not on an indigenous Palestinian notion of national self- interest, but rather on a foreign concept of what it ought to be. On their own, Palestinian leaders might opt for confrontation with Hamas, for unity, or for something else. The decision might work or it might backfire. At least it would be theirs

Anonymous said...

The Haaretz daily said 71 percent of Israelis surveyed in a poll agreed with the content of the speech, though 67 percent said they do not think it will bring peace any closer. It said Netanyahu's approval rating jumped to 44 percent after the speech, from 28 percent a month earlier. The poll was conducted by the Dialog company and surveyed 504 people with a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

A second poll published in the daily Yisrael Hayom found 61 percent support for Netanyahu's position on a Palestinian state, with only 23 percent opposed. In the poll, 58 percent said they opposed the U.S. demands to freeze settlement construction. The poll surveyed 501 people and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Potter said...

Robert Kaplan, in an article making what is to me a very flawed argument, also suggests that Palestinians don't want a state. This is the new mantra, the new catchy idea and talking point, the companion to "the settlements are not the problem".

Y. Ben-David said...

What a prominent Israeli Arab religious leader thinks about Jews and Israel (and he is considered relatively “moderate”). Note how Jews were barred from attending an event at Haifa University:

Tell me Dr Avishai, is he dying to become a "Hebrew" citizen in your "Hebrew Republic?"

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