So my friend and ace commenter Rich made the following comment on the blog the other day:
Finally, I have to ask why you haven’t written about Bebe Netanyahu’s outrageous ‘betrayal’ of Israel yesterday. I remember how excercised you got when Obama did the unthinkable a few months ago and said what every U.S. President since Nixon had said about the 1967 borders being the starting point for negotiations with Palestine. Do you think Netanyahu and Obama are in on this together.
Well, at first his question beat my pair of jacks, as P. J. O’Rourke used to say. But then I figured out the source material:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to resume peace talks with the Palestinians using pre-1967 borders as a baseline in exchange for Palestinians agreeing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Israeli prime minister’s acquiescence to a demand he has long rejected – most recently at the White House in May – appears to be an effort to head off a Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations in September.
The concession is part of a formula being floated in meetings with Israelis, Palestinians, the United States, European Union, and Russia in an attempt to secure a deal that would preclude a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, the Jerusalem Post reports. As part of the deal, Palestinians would accept that the final goal of talks is two states: one Palestinian and one Jewish. That could be problematic for people on both sides: Some 20 percent of citizens in Israel are Arab, and roughly 20 percent of the 2.5 million people living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are Jewish.
If you look at the report from the Christian Science Monitor, there’s more than a little wiggle room there. Netanyahu has “reportedly agreed” to the plan. The decision “appears to be an effort to head off a Palestinian statehood bid.”
So it’s not 100% solid. And as the CSM report continues, there’s doubt on the Palestinian side:
Palestinian Authority officials, who have expressed skepticism about the reported concession because Netanyahu has not announced it publicly nor contacted them directly, rejected the possibility of giving up their UN bid, however.
No surprise there — given the infamous UN declaration that Zionism is racism, there’s little reason to doubt that the UN would look favorably at whatever initiative the Palestinians bring forth.
Now, there have been other, more pressing issues that have had my attention in recent days. But since Rich wanted a response, and a keen attention to customer detail is something we espouse in this feature, I offer a few thoughts:
- I would hope it’s clear to everyone that there is a difference between the leader of a sovereign nation making a decision about his nation’s security, which is what Netanyahu may or may not have done, and having the leader of another country attempting to impose an outcome, which is what President Obama’s speech in May was about. I bet Rich gets the distinction, too.
- When you talk about the 1967 borders, it’s worth remembering that there were 3 fronts in the war. Israel was attacked by the Egyptians, the Palestinians (via Jordan) and by Syria. Israel gave the land it took from Egypt back to the Egyptians a long time ago, when it became evident that the Egyptian government was sincere in wanting peace. Do you sense that the Palestian leadership is sincere?
- While the West Bank remains the primary bone of contention, the Israeli capture of the Golan Heights in the 1967 war is quite another matter. Given the nature of the Syrian regime, I would say that holding the Golan Heights is pretty crucial to Israeli security.
- Not to put too fine a point on it, but on most matters I think the UN can pretty much go to hell as far as I’m concerned. They haven’t had credibility for decades now.
I don’t dispute that there should be a Palestinian state, at some point in the future. Nor would I dispute that it would be a desirable outcome, at some point in the future. At this moment, there’s little reason to believe that the individuals who would ostensibly be the leaders of this state are capable of leading a peaceful nation. Which is why, no matter what is reported, Netanyahu will continue to be cagey in how he addresses the matter. My two cents. Hope that helps, my friend.