Sunday, June 14, 2009
Kol Hakavod, Bibi! Congratulations!
The long-awaited and much fretted about foreign policy speech Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu gave last night was something of a masterpiece.
In terms of overall policy, he didn’t really say anything new. Start with that.
Every “concession” he made – the AP, at least, is calling his reference to “two states” a concession to American pressure – had already been articulated by several different Israeli officials, including Ehud Olmert. Bibi didn’t say anything new there.
What he did was make it absolutely clear that the real threat to ‘peace’ in the world is a nuclear Iran, not Israeli “settlements”, and in fact, not the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict at all. “"The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons," he said.
Regarding the Middle East, he said, “The root of the conflict was, and remains, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own, in their historic homeland."
Good words. Clear, unequivocal. And, needless to say, absolutely correct.
He even managed a slap on the wrist to the Community Organizer: “Israel is obligated by its international commitments and expects all parties to keep their commitments.” In other words, don’t you even think of trying to renege on previous US commitments, Barry. We’ll operate honorably, and we expect you to do so, too.
Then he made some demands of his own. By any objective standard (assuming there are any objective people around these days) what Bibi demanded was perfectly rational:
That the Arabs (Hamas, the ‘Palestinian Authority’, Hezbollah, whatever. they’re all part of the same thing) recognize that "a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people."
That the Arab refugee problem is not Israel’s problem and must be "resolved outside Israel's borders."
And that “territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel."
Now comes the good part: Bibi set new and dramatic preconditions on even negotiating with the Arabs: “The Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction.”
How’s that for chutzpah? If “sitting at the negotiating table” won’t happen until the Arabs establish the rule of law in Aza and “overcome” Hamas, then there will be no negotiations, no immediate solution via “two states” or otherwise. There’s no way in the world Israel’s alleged ‘peace partner’, Abu Mazen, could accomplish those things, even if he wanted to.
Which he doesn’t.
Look – the Arabs don’t want a “state” as such. They don’t want to have to run an economy, establish police, courts, schools and hospitals, tax themselves, and accept responsibility for their own citizens. They are much happier being the objects of the world’s largesse – and the thorn in the side of Israel. What the Arabs want is for Israel to be gone. Demanding a “two state” solution is just the next step toward that goal.
In any event, Bibi used the same tactic as did Foreign Minister (and delightful loose cannon) Avigdor Lieberman several weeks ago. Lieberman himself lives in Nokdim, which is in Gush Etzion, in Samaria – see yesterday’s blog. Lieberman told Haaretz, a left-wing Hebrew daily, that in return for peace, he was even willing to leave his home in Nokdim -- but only if there is reciprocity from the Arabs.
“We will conduct talks with the PA, but we want to make sure their 'checks' don't bounce,” Lieberman said. “The Palestinians must first of all confront terror, take control of Gaza and demilitarize Hamas. Without these, it will be difficult to move forward."
How could Lieberman say that? That he’d give up his own home? Because he knows darn well that the Arabs will never confront terrorism, will never restore the rule of law to Aza, nor could they demilitarize Hamas even if they wanted to. Day by day, Hamas is gaining in popularity among the Arabs, not losing. It’s getting stronger, not weaker.
That’s pretty much what Bibi reiterated last night: yes, we’ll agree in theory to “two states”. But certain conditions must be met first – demilitarizing Hama, retaking control of Aza, and stopping terror.
Both Bibi and Lieberman know none of that is going to happen. Not until the lion is lying down with the lamb, anyway.
So by setting a precondition of “establishing the rule of law” in Aza, and “overcoming Hamas” before negotiations can even begin, Bibi carved out as safe a position for Israel as was possible to do, given today's world situation.
What all this means is that Bibi effectively took the ‘two state’ solution – which Israel knows is the Final Final solution – off the table.
It was pretty crafty statesmanship. Bibi gave Obama the two little words he wanted to hear – “two states” – and by doing that, he permitted his adversary to save face. But at the same time, he removed the possibility it will ever happen.
Would I have been happier if he’d rejected the “two state” solution firmly, said, “No way in hell are we ever going to agree to that”?
Well – that would have been fun to hear, that’s for sure. But it would not have been wise. After all, America is still, at this moment, striding the world waving its big stick, issuing dictates left and right to allies, while making insane concessions to America’s most dangerous and dedicated enemies. Given the volatility in the White House for the next 3.5 years, waving a red flag at the Obama Bull would not have been a good idea.
Not that Bibi didn’t throw a sop to the leftists yesterday.
On his way to make the speech, he ordered an “Obama hut” torn down.
You’ve heard about the ‘Obama Huts’? Our stalwart residents of Judea and Samaria – true heroes if there ever were any – had been building “Obama Huts”, shacks named after the Community Organizer, to openly defy his order to halt all construction in Judea and Samaria. If you want to see the photos, check Tamar Yonah’s blog on Israel National News:
Word is, our heroes are out rebuilding the “Obama Hut” again, at this moment. It’ll be standing again before nightfall.
You gotta love those kids – they’re the spirit of Israel. If we can just hang until those teenagers are a little older and running this country, we’ll be just fine. It’s the next ten years that are going to be critical.