Tuesday, May 05, 2009

How Far Will Netanyahu Scale Back His Rhetoric?

Apparently, when it comes to Israel we are reduced to having to analyze not only what is said but also what is not said--especially when it comes to the thorny issue of the 2 state solution.

Prior to the Israeli elections, much was made of the fact that Netanyahu was pushing the idea of an economic as opposed to a political solution to the Palestinian Arab issue. Then came Ayalon's statement that Israel would address the 2 state solution.

Now we are supposed to believe that a sign of Netanyahu's strength in the face of US pressure is that he does not actually say the words "Palestinian State":
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday night addressed delegates to the pro-Israel AIPAC convention currently taking place in Washington, D.C. Netanyahu related to several main points in his address, which was broadcast by satellite from Israel. Most prominent was his call for negotiations with Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders.

“We are prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay or any preconditions. The sooner, the better,” he stated.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu did not make mention of “a Palestinian state” during his speech. He clarified that a permanent arrangement for peace with the Arabs could only be possible if the PA Arabs recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish People.
Netanyahu also said there would be no pre-conditions, while at the same time implying that there kind of was one...
Although the Prime Minister stated that no preconditions would be necessary to begin negotiations, he stated earlier Monday that recognition of Israel is a “necessary basis for a true peace.” In an address in honor of the birthday of 19th century Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, the Prime Minister stated, “Whoever does not feel – and does not respect – the Jewish people's deep connection to its Land, does not really respect the Jewish People's legitimate rights; therefore, recognition of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People is a necessary basis for a true peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors.”
No preconditions, but a "necessary basis for true peace". There is an underlying battle of rhetoric going on--and Israel is on the defensive, practically begging for something that other countries take for granted: being recognized.

The real absurdity is highlighted by Bibi's comment about negotiations:
Netanyahu announced that negotiations would need to be conducted on three tracks: political, security, and economic. “Economic negotiations are no substitute for political negotiations,” he said.
While the world is pushing for the political track, there is at best lip service paid towards Israel's security, and no one else--other than Netanyahu--is really addressing out in the open the long term economic foundation needed. Even so, Netanyahu--who before the election emphasised the economic solution above the political one--is now towing the line when he says now that the economic negotiations are not a substitute for the political negotiations.

When Netanyahu arrives in Washington, the question will be if his capitulations so far will be enough.

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