Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Netanyahu Conditions Denounced as “War” by Palestinians

Inter Press Service

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out what he called his vision for peace with the Palestinians Tuesday, but listed a set of conditions the Palestinians immediately called "a declaration of war".

Speaking before a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress that capped five days of speeches by Netanyahu and President Barack Obama on the Middle East, Netanyahu insisted on a unified Jerusalem as Israel's capital, reiterated his rejection of the borders that existed before Israel began its occupation of the West Bank 44 years ago, and declared that Israel must maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians have repeatedly declared their desire to negotiate a two-state solution where Jerusalem would be the capital of both states, with borders based on the Jun. 4, 1967 lines with agreed and equivalent land swaps, and full sovereignty over the West Bank, of which the Jordan Valley is a large part.

Netanyahu was elaborating on some remarks he had made the previous day, before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobby group described by CNN as "a major force in U.S. politics". Obama had spoken to AIPAC the day before, and his speech was well- received by the audience and observers.

Obama stressed the importance of immediate movement on the peace process.

"There is an impatience with the peace process – or the absence of one," he told the AIPAC audience. "Not just in the Arab World, but in Latin America, in Europe, and in Asia. That impatience is growing, and is already manifesting itself in capitals around the world."

Consistent with his call in a speech three days earlier, Obama then outlined his vision for borders and security, which he had said should be the first two issues tackled.

"The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps… As for security, every state has the right to self- defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat… The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarised state."

The following day, Netanyahu and Obama met in the Oval Office, with the subsequent press briefing featuring comments from Netanyahu that many observers, including leading Israelis, saw as crossing the line.

"Netanyahu understood that he had broken a rule that an Israeli leader must not break – he had come between the two American parties in an election period," Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, two leading Israeli commentators, wrote in the leading Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot.

Staunchly pro-Israel columnist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic called Netanyahu's behaviour at the press conference "pedantic" and "shocking".

On Monday, Netanyahu struck a more conciliatory tone at AIPAC, stressing bipartisan support for Israel among U.S. citizens and in Congress.

He promised that, in his speech at Tuesday's joint meeting of Congress, he would "describe what a peace between a Palestinian state and the Jewish state could look like."

But his vision seemed only to make the stalemate with the Palestinians even more intractable, this time with the overwhelming enthusiasm of both Houses of Congress backing him.

"Rather than committing to a return to negotiations without preconditions, as he demands from the Palestinians, Netanyahu introduced his own preconditions," said Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now.

"Rather than extending his hand to the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table, Netanyahu laid out unyielding positions which he knows cannot serve as the basis for, or be the realistic outcome of, negotiations. Such preconditions are a non-starter and such positions are anathema to reviving negotiations and to achieving real peace and security for Israel."

The speech was "a declaration of war against the Palestinians," said leading Palestinian official, Nabil Sha'ath. "This is an escalation and unfortunately, it received a standing ovation. We have nothing but to continue our struggle in the international arena and to continue building our state and to continue our popular struggle. We don't have a partner for peace."

Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said, "What Netanyahu put in his speech before the U.S. Congress does not lead to peace, but puts more obstacles to the peace process. For us, peace must be the establishment of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital. We will not accept any Israeli presence in the Palestinian state, especially on the Jordan River."

But while many applauded President Obama's speech at AIPAC and his insistence on the 1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations, other observers blamed Obama for the failure to take a strong enough stand with Netanyahu.

"Obama did not call for a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from occupied Palestinian territory," Professor Stephen Zunes, chair of the Middle Eastern Studies programme at the University of San Francisco, told IPS.

"Unfortunately, despite Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas agreeing to reciprocal territorial swaps… Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has refused to consider trading any land within Israel while simultaneously insisting on annexing large swathes of occupied Palestinian territory," he said. "How such 'mutually agreed-upon' swaps will take place without the United States exerting enormous leverage is hard to imagine.

"This raises serious questions regarding Obama's commitment to being an honest broker in resolving the conflict," Zunes said.

Despite the unanimous support Netanyahu's speeches received, at AIPAC and in Congress, both talks were disrupted by protesters.

Five protesters at AIPAC and one in Congress were removed from the proceedings after interrupting Netanyahu's speeches, shouting slogans in defense of Palestinian rights.

Rae Abileah, the protester arrested for her disruption of the Congressional meeting, is a 28-year old Jewish American of Israeli descent.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu says that the 1967 borders are indefensible," Abileah said. "But what is really indefensible is the occupation of land, the starvation of Gaza, the jailing of dissenters and the lack of equal rights in the alleged Israeli democracy. As a Jew and an American taxpayer, I can't be silent when these crimes are being committed in my name and with my tax money."

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Donald Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr is the focus of a growing controversy over the Robert Mueller report because his decision to unilaterally declare that the the president had not obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation.


Gina Haspel is the first woman to hold the position of director of the CIA, winning her confirmation despite her history of involvement in torture during the Iraq War.


United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.


Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is the president’s senior adviser, whose dealings with the Persian Gulf leaders have come under scrutiny for conflicts of interest.


Erik Prince, former CEO of the mercenary group Blackwater, continues to sell security services around the world as controversies over his work—including in China and the Middle East, and his alleged involvement in collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—grow.


Robert Joseph played a key role in manipulating U.S. intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq and today is a lobbyist for the MEK.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

President Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Israeli sovereignty over the western part of the Golan Heights destroys the negotiating basis for any future peace between Israel and Syria. It also lays the groundwork for a return to a world without territorial integrity for smaller, weaker countries.


The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Saudi/UAE-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote marks the first time since the War Powers Act of 1973 became law that both chambers of Congress have directed the president to withdraw American forces from a conflict.


The Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” approach to Iran and North Korea begs the question what the US president’s true objectives are and what options he is left with should the policy ultimately fail.


In the United States, it’s possible to debate any and every policy, domestic and foreign, except for unquestioning support for Israel. That, apparently, is Ilhan Omar’s chief sin.


While Michael Cohen mesmerized the House of Representatives and President Trump resumed his love affair with North Korea’s Kim Jong, one of the most dangerous state-to-state confrontations, centering in Kashmir, began to spiral out of control.


The Trump administration’s irresponsible withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement undermined Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and emboldened hardliners who accused him of having been deceived by Washington while negotiating the agreement. However, the Iranian government could use the shock of Zarif’s resignation to push back against hardliners and take charge of both the domestic and foreign affairs of the country while Iran’s foreign opponents should consider the risks of destabilizing the government under the current critical situation.


Europe can play an important role in rebuilding confidence in the non-proliferation regime in the wake of the demise of the INF treaty, including by making it clear to the Trump administration that it wants the United States to refrain from deploying INF-banned missiles in Europe and to consider a NATO-Russian joint declaration on non-first deployment.


RightWeb
share