He spoke at the Begin-Sadat center at Bar Ilan University in a highly anticipated speech that was considered a response to the recent assertions and demands of the US administration from Israel.

His key statement, important for him because it is a change in policy, is that he accepted the principle of a Palestinian state residing next to Israel.

The provisions he requires that have to be met for such a state are not going to go down well with the Palestinians.

* The Palestinian state has to be demilitarized with international and US guarantees to that effect
* Their air space must remain open and accessible
* The Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state
* There is no right of return to the descendants of Palestinian refugees
* Jerusalem must remain the indivisible capital of Israel

Netanyahu also asserted the right to natural growth of the settlements.

The Palestinians, of course, rejected it immediately, keeping Abbas’ strategy of doing nothing until Obama causes the downfall of Netanyahu’s government in a couple of years.

Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University

Honored guests, citizens of Israel.

Peace has always been our people’s most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace.

We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.

Two and half months ago, I took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of Israel. I pledged to establish a national unity government – and I did. I believed and I still believe that unity was essential for us now more than ever as we face three immense challenges – the Iranian threat, the economic crisis, and the advancement of peace.

The Iranian threat looms large before us, as was further demonstrated yesterday. The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this issue with President Obama during my recent visit to Washington, and I will raise it again in my meetings next week with European leaders. For years, I have been working tirelessly to forge an international alliance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Confronting a global economic crisis, the government acted swiftly to stabilize Israel’s economy. We passed a two year budget in the government – and the Knesset will soon approve it.

And the third challenge, so exceedingly important, is the advancement of peace. I also spoke about this with President Obama, and I fully support the idea of a regional peace that he is leading.

I share the President’s desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region. To this end, I met with President Mubarak in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan, to elicit the support of these leaders in expanding the circle of peace in our region. I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: “Let us meet. Let us speak of peace and let us make peace.” I am ready to meet with you at any time. I am willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place- including Jerusalem.


I call on the Arab countries to cooperate with the Palestinians and with us to advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a political peace, but an important element to achieving it. Together, we can undertake projects to overcome the scarcities of our region, like water desalination or to maximize its advantages, like developing solar energy, or laying gas and petroleum lines, and transportation links between Asia, Africa and Europe.

The economic success of the Gulf States has impressed us all and it has impressed me. I call on the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world to come and invest here and to assist the Palestinians – and us – in spurring the economy. Together, we can develop industrial areas that will generate thousands of jobs and create tourist sites that will attract millions of visitors eager to walk in the footsteps of history – in Nazareth and in Bethlehem, around the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee and the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is an enormous potential for archeological tourism, if we can only learn to cooperate and to develop it.

I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors, led by the Palestinian Authority, and I say: Let’s begin negotiations immediately without preconditions.

Israel is obligated by its international commitments and expects all parties to keep their commitments. We want to live with you in peace, as good neighbors. We want our children and your children to never again experience war: that parents, brothers and sisters will never again know the agony of losing loved ones in battle; that our children will be able to dream of a better future and realize that dream; and that together we will invest our energies in plowshares and pruning hooks, not swords and spears.

I know the face of war. I have experienced battle. I lost close friends, I lost a brother. I have seen the pain of bereaved families. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war.

If we join hands and work together for peace, there is no limit to the development and prosperity we can achieve for our two peoples – in the economy, agriculture, trade, tourism and education – most importantly, in providing our youth a better world in which to live, a life full of tranquility, creativity, opportunity and hope.

If the advantages of peace are so evident, we must ask ourselves why peace remains so remote, even as our hand remains outstretched to peace? Why has this conflict continued for more than sixty years?

In order to bring an end to the conflict, we must give an honest and forthright answer to the question: What is the root of the conflict?

In his speech to the first Zionist Conference in Basel, the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl, said about the Jewish national home “This idea is so big that we must speak of it only in the simplest terms.” Today, I will speak about the immense challenge of peace in the simplest words possible.

Even as we look toward the horizon, we must be firmly connected to reality, to the

truth. And the simple truth is that 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.

In 1947, when the United Nations proposed the partition plan of a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the resolution. The Jewish community, by contrast, welcomed it by dancing and rejoicing. The Arabs rejected any Jewish state, in any borders.

Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence. The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria.

Fortunately, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of enmity. The signing of peace treaties have brought about an end to their claims against Israel, an end to the conflict. But to our regret, this is not the case with the Palestinians. The closer we get to an agreement with them, the further they retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end the conflict.

Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles.

We tried to withdraw with an agreement and without an agreement. We tried a partial withdrawal and a full withdrawal. In 2000 and again last year, Israel proposed an almost total withdrawal in exchange for an end to the conflict, and twice our offers were rejected. We evacuated every last inch of the Gaza strip, we uprooted tens of settlements and evicted of Israelis from their homes, and in response, we received a hail of missiles on our cities, towns and children.

The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality. In addition to this, Hamas in the south, like Hizbullah in the north, repeatedly proclaims their commitment to “liberate” the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Beersheba, Acre and Haifa.

Territorial withdrawals have not lessened the hatred, and to our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way.

Achieving peace will require courage and candor from both sides, and not only from the Israeli side. The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: “Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace.”

I am yearning for that moment, for when Palestinian leaders say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be. Therefore, 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. To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel’s borders. For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel’s continued existence as the state of the Jewish people.

The Palestinian refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, as we ourselves proved in a similar situation. Tiny Israel successfully absorbed tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries. Therefore, justice and logic demand that the Palestinian refugee problem be solved outside Israel’s borders. On this point, there is a broad national consensus. I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved.

So far I have spoken about the need for Palestinians to recognize our rights. In am moment, I will speak openly about our need to recognize their rights. But let me first say that the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived, are not alien to us. This is the land of our forefathers.

The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. True, for 2000 years the Jewish people suffered expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, and massacres which culminated in a Holocaust – a suffering which has no parallel in human history. There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occured.

This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense. But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged.

As Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence: “The Jewish people arose in the land of Israel and it was here that its spiritual, religious and political character was shaped. Here they attained their sovereignty, and here they bequeathed to the world their national and cultural treasures, and the most eternal of books.”

But we must also tell the truth in its entirety: within this homeland lives a large Palestinian community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them.

In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other. These two realities – our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it – have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us.

I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli society. These are the principles that guide our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.

I have already stressed the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel. Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza. We don’t want Kassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion airport. We want peace.

In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hizbullah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel. It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized. On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.

Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory – real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts. Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another Hamastan. And that we cannot accept.

I told President Obama when I was in Washington that if we could agree on the substance, then the terminology would not pose a problem. And here is the substance that I now state clearly:

If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitirization and Israel’s security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state.

Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths. The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement. In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements.

But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere. The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace. Rather, they are an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public.

Unity among us is essential and will help us achieve reconciliation with our neighbors. That reconciliation must already begin by altering existing realities. I believe that a strong Palestinian economy will strengthen peace.

If the Palestinians turn toward peace – in fighting terror, in strengthening governance and the rule of law, in educating their children for peace and in stopping incitement against Israel – we will do our part in making every effort to facilitate freedom of movement and access, and to enable them to develop their economy. All of this will help us advance a peace treaty between us.

Above all else, 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. Hamas will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents, his family and his people. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy and safe.

With a Palestinian leadership committed to peace, with the active participation of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a breakthrough to peace.

Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible. Over the past 61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed wonders.

Our microchips are powering the world’s computers. Our medicines are treating diseases once considered incurable. Our drip irrigation is bringing arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. If only our neighbors would respond to our call – peace too will be in our reach.

I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the Palestinian leadership, let us continue together on the path of Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let us realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2700 years ago said: “nations shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall learn war no more.”

With God’s help, we will know no more war. We will know peace.

About the author

themiddle

29 Comments

  • Of course the Palestinians rejected it. Bibi is still the same unrealistic crook he was the last time he was in office.

    A solution where Israel’s far right get all of their demands and the Palestinians get none of theirs is *not* solution.

    When will the Israeli political right stop thinking of Palestinians as less worthy of rights than Jews?

  • This applies to not sharing Jerusalem but where else are they being treated as inferior?

    I understand if you say they are being treated like hostile, dangerous enemies of the Jewish state, but this is a reflection of the reality not some plot to treat them as inferior.

  • themiddle:

    “The Palestinian state has to be demilitarized with international and US guarantees to that effect.”

    So the Palestinians aren’t allowed to have a military for their sovereign right to defend against invasion… But Israel is?

    “There is no right of return to the descendants of Palestinian refugees.”

    Bibi’s story is that none of them, even those forcibly removed, deserve anything. Whether or not one believes it is practical or feasible for Palestinian refugees to physically return to the places their ancestors lived, anyone who is interested in peace would agree that those whose relatives were forcibly expelled form Israel deserve at least monetary compensation.

    I’d say those two points are pretty important and paint a drastically different status for Palestinians than Israelis.

  • This is not about making the Palestinians “inferior” but about a realistic assessment of what would work and might keep the peace in the long run.

    “The Palestinian state has to be demilitarized with international and US guarantees to that effect.”

    So the Palestinians aren’t allowed to have a military for their sovereign right to defend against invasion… But Israel is?

    Right.

    Gaza is example number one.

    The War of 2000 is example #2.

    The numerous refusals to agree to partition plans (1937, 1947, 2000), not to mention the targeting of civilians – not soldiers, civilians – in numerous terrorist actions over the years are example #3

    The charters of both the PLO/PA and Hamas are example #4.

    These examples make clear why a militarized Palestine would be dangerous from day 1.

    On the other hand, if they want peace, why do they have a problem with being demilitarized? Israel is offering peace that will be supervised by the international community and Jordan abrogated its claims to the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1988. The Palestinians will have no enemy to fear so why do they need a military?

    “There is no right of return to the descendants of Palestinian refugees.”

    Bibi’s story is that none of them, even those forcibly removed, deserve anything. Whether or not one believes it is practical or feasible for Palestinian refugees to physically return to the places their ancestors lived, anyone who is interested in peace would agree that those whose relatives were forcibly expelled form Israel deserve at least monetary compensation.

    Compensation is on the table and they will be able to return to the new Palestine. All international conventions about refugees – except the ones the UN created just for the Palestinians by creating UNRWA – apply here. The children of refugees are not refugees.

    I’d say those two points are pretty important and paint a drastically different status for Palestinians than Israelis.

    Israeli refugees from Arab lands and their children lost most of their possessions and can’t go back.

    Israel has had to face the armies of the entire Arab world and has been continuously threatened by militias and by leaders of the Arab world. This explains their need for a military. The Palestinians have never been threatened with attack since becoming the PA, other than when they fight with Israel or among themselves.

    You would rather challenge peace over the issue of demilitarization than pursue it with demilitarization. Why? Give me an example, since 1920, when the Palestinians have ever agreed to live in peace without war against the Jews. You can’t because such a time has not existed. So here is an offer of peace and a state that ensures stability by removing a key element of friction and you would rather scream about how it’s unequal instead of seeing the opportunity for peace.

    It’s fair as far the circumstances go. People who are challenging it would rather yell and scream than achieve peace. Netanyahu is right by saying that at some point the new militarized state will become another Hamastan and there is nobody who can claim otherwise because of what happened in Gaza. By the way, most pro-Palestinians continue to justify the violence out of Gaza, which simply indicates they will also support the violence that will emanate from a militarized Palestine that has a West Bank presence.

    Demilitarize and it’s not an issue.

  • The people who keep attacking Israel for its supposedly violent approach to the conflict are now upset the Palestinians won’t have the tools of a military so they could inflict violence upon Israel. How funny.

  • Kari,

    The Palestinian People as you refer to them are a figment of your imagination. They do not exist and they never did. The fact that the anti semitic Nations of the world promote it, is indicative of their hatred of the Jews and nothing else.

    As to your 2 points

    Israel will never allow your terrorist friends to posses an army on its borders. Why should they? Would any other country in the world accept a border in a war zone that is 10 miles wide?

    Point 2
    You conveniently ignore the fact that your Arab brothers in arms raped and pillaged the residents of hundreds of Jewish villages and neighborhoods in Arab countries. Almost half of Israels current population (Close to 3 million Jews) are Jewish refugees of Arab Countries.
    Your allies raped, pillaged, robbed and then deported them and/or their parents.

    I suggest that before you demand money from the Jews perhaps you should consider compensating the 3 million Jewish Refugees that you so kindly robbed and deported.

    “I’d say those two points are pretty important and paint a drastically different” picture than the one you paint

  • themiddle:

    Part of being a sovereign body is ability to defend one’s borders. A completely demilitarized Palestinian state would not be sovereign as it would have no ability to do so unless it was able to arrange some kind of defense agreement with Jordan, Egypt or Israel.

    I doubt it could work anything out, as defense agreements generally take either the form of a mutual defense pact or some sort of payment-for-defense. The former is impossible if Palestinians are demilitarized. The Palestinian economy is in shambles (Israel is partly but not completely to blame for that) and would not likely be able to support anything like the latter.

    Why would they reject being demilitarized? Maybe because there are realistic concerns of invasion? The Jordanians don’t love the Palestinians much more than the Israelis do; it wasn’t until the 90s that Jordan revoked its own territorial claim to the West Bank.

    Would Israel demilitarize if the Palestinians did? You and I both know the answer is no. Why? Because Israel has other threats to its existence. And so do the Palestinians. Jordan to the East and anti-peace militias domestically. Probably Syria and Lebanon too.

    Yes, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands deserve compensation too. What does that have to do with the Palestinians, specifically, though? Why should the Palestinians particularly pay the price for the hatred of Arabs in other countries? That doesn’t make any sense.

    The Palestinians have never been threatened with an attack since becoming the PA because Israel defends them. Whether good or bad, it’s Israeli tanks, trucks, soldiers, planes, boats, etc. defending the Palestinians from outside attack. Another country invading the West Bank or Gaza would be viewed as an act of war by Israel and responded to accordingly. Most other countries aren’t stupid enough to try that bad idea waiting to happen.

    There is no opportunity for peace with demilitarization because “peace” in this situation is generally accepted to mean a sovereign Palestinian state. A Palestinian state not allowed to have its own military is by definition not sovereign. Consequently, such a “peace” would be in name only.

    Galit: I never said anything about a Palestinian “people”. RTFP. Thanks. What sociological group type we want to apply to the Palestinians is irrelevant. There is a group of people living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They are Arabs, predominantly Muslim, but some Christians. They are not Israeli citizens. The Israeli government calls the Palestinians. Understood?

    I can’t think of another country that would be OK having an at best ambivalent army on the other side of its borders and not that far away either. But if we are forming a Palestinian state, why should that state be forced into that situation and not Israel?

    I’m Jewish. My brothers and sisters were the ones raped and pillaged by the Arabs. But I’m historically honest enough to acknowledge that there was some of that going on our side as well.

    We are to be a light upon the nations. We have made mistakes here. We are not the *only* people who have made mistakes here (and honestly, I’d say we’ve made less mistakes than those we’re locked in a struggle with). But if we are living in line with the Torah, we should be an example for others and not sink to their level.

    You’re sinking to their level. And that’s all I have to say to you.

  • I’m sorry, but I prefer a demilitarized Palestinian state after what has happened in Gaza. If that feeds into “inferiority” or “unfairness” then I guess those things are preferable to war and ongoing “occupation.”

    Jordan is 65% Palestinian so the odds of an attack are minimal, at best. Actually, they’re infinitesimal. The only likely source of an attack is Israel…and since you’re going to have peace, there will be nothing to worry about. Right?

    If they don’t get the benefits of full sovereignty because they can’t have an army, isn’t that a small price to pay for statehood and self-determination? Sure it is.

    But they won’t pay it. They didn’t agree before and they won’t agree now. This time the excuse will be demilitarization and Jerusalem, last time it was the Temple Mount, next time it will be that little brown spot on the moon. You’re defending people who don’t want peace and compromise and who will do everything in their power to stall. I’m not sure Netanyahu has a different objective here, but he has thrown the ball into their court and they (and you among their defenders) are trying mightily to throw it back into Israel’s court.

    Note, however, that if they don’t move on this offer either, eventually this will be the fifth time in the past 70 years that they will have passed on an opportunity to found a state.

  • themiddle: I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I would prefer a demilitarized Palestinian state too. But it’s just not a realistic expectation.

    Even when countries have formally demilitarized due to peace treaties they still start up military programs eventually. Japan? Germany? It doesn’t last because no country can realistically be expected to be denied its own right to self defense.

    You seem to be neglecting the domestic militia problem. There are groups within Palestinian society that would take advantage of a demilitarized government to seize power. Part of effectively installing a friendly government in a generally unfriendly state is empowering them to put down those who would change the tone of relations. That cannot be accomplished without a military force.

    Otherwise the leaders will be assassinated, extremists will take control of the government, Israel will invade, again, and we’ll be back where we started.

    I don’t think I said anything about Jerusalem here, though.

    Who cares if it’s the 5th or 50th time the Palestinians have not formed a State? Israel has much to gain and little to lose by recognizing a Palestinian state. It’s in Israel’s economic and social interests to have a working peace, and it should not expect the Palestinians to make all the sacrifices for it while making none itself.

  • Israel is making sacrifices. Israel is giving up the heart of the Jewish soul. The cradle of Jewish civilization is Judea and Samaria. And let’s not forget that Judea and Samaria were part of the British Mandate to create a home for the Jewish people. The British were also supposed to give what is now Jordan to the Jewish people but they unilaterally gave it to the Hashemites and it was lost to the Jews.

    This may seem like a small sacrifice, but it isn’t. It isn’t from a religious and historic perspective and it isn’t because it makes Israel into a very narrow country and as some of my right wing critics point out, by leaving the West Bank, Israel creates a very narrow middle for itself, around 9 miles long.

    Don’t forget that while the rhetoric coming from the Left and the Palestinians is that this is stolen land, in actuality this is contested land that was hard-won with the blood and tears of Israeli soldiers. Fathers, sons, husbands who went to war to DEFEND their families and home and in doing so conquered land from enemies who ATTACKED.

    This is the compromise Israel is making and it’s a big one.

    The Palestinians have a right to self-determination and Israel has essentially consented that they may exercise that right despite the clear knowledge by the people extending the offer that war may ensue and that this is a very big gamble. But it’s a gamble for peace and everybody has come to agree this is the best way forward. The question is how do you make it as safe as possible not just in terms of preventing war but in terms of preserving the peace for as long as possible. A demilitarized state is the response.

    You may say it’s not realistic, but that’s not true. They can have a trained police force and an armed force to defend the leadership – the Americans have already begun to train that force, led by a fairly anti-Israel officer who has predicted that one day this force may attack Israel out of frustration. That should be enough to protect the Palestinians from themselves. The idea that they need tanks, jets or missiles to defend themselves from violent groups or clans is not true.

    And it matters quite a bit that this would be the 5th time they’ve rejected a state. The conclusion is they don’t want one. If they don’t want one, then what are you fighting about? Shouldn’t you be fighting the Palestinians to want a state…that doesn’t cover the land of Israel?

  • Blah blah heart and soul blah blah blah. Israel doesn’t own the lands we’re talking about here. Israel isn’t ‘giving them up’ because they were never annexed or otherwise legally integrated into the country.

    Have I called it stolen land? No. It’s dirt. We Jews place more importance on it than we should. The Palestinians do too, for that matter. Frankly, their claim to the dirt isn’t much weaker than ours if we acquired it in ’67 and never really added it to the country. Had Israel annexed it we’d be having a different conversation. But she didn’t.

    Frankly, I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t think the Palestinians need a state most right now. Sovereignty would probably hurt them more than most realize because the Palestinian economy is extremely weak.

    Extreme political views are only embraced by the public in times of severe economic downturn (Fascist Japan, Nazi Germany, the Bolsheviks, etc.). In a certain sense, the rise of extremists in Palestinian society is partly Israel’s own fault. Israel needs a PR facelift in the eyes of the Palestinians, and helping the Palestinian economy get back on track is the best way to do it.

    Want Palestinians to lay down their weapons and demiltarize? Give them a reason to. Having a sovereign government on its own won’t magically make their lives better… And most of them know that, regardless of whether or not they are willing to say it aloud.

  • Israel used to have plenty of Palestinians working in its midst. That ended up in terrorism. Israel offered the Palestinians a state. That ended up in war and terrorism. Israel left Gaza, down to the last Jew (well, Amira Hass returned) and it got an even more extreme government and even more terror.

    When there were 10,000 Jews in Palestine and 500,000 Arabs, the Jews got terror.

    When there were 50,000 Jews in Palestine and 650,000 Arabs, the Jews got terror.

    When Israel fought a war to found itself because the local and regional Arabs refused to accept it, it got terror after winning that war.

    What exactly do you know about the Palestinian psyche that enables you to promise peace if Israel helps the Palestinian economy get back on track? What do you mean get “back” anyway, it was never on a track except when the Palestinians sent many of their workers into Israel. We can’t return to those days because the terrorists used that freedom of movement to their advantage. Maybe Israel can get rid of the roadblocks, but then they will complain about the Fence. If Israel gets rid of the Fence, they’ll complain about the settlements. If Israel gets rid of the settlements, they’ll complain about the border crossings. If Israel opens the border crossings, they’ll complain about the theft of land and Jerusalem. If Israel offers east Jerusalem, they’ll demand the Temple Mount. If Israel offers to share the Temple Mount, they’ll say “no.” It sounds like a fucking Passover song. Had gadya updated for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    Let’s not be naive. The Palestinians will have to accept what they have. They can struggle to build their economy once they have a state and the resources of a state. They can have trade relations with Jordan and Israel. They can have tourism. They can open the doors to Israelis to come and visit. But to do this they need a state. Please forgive me because I don’t mean to discount their poverty, but there are other Arab states that have as much or more poverty and they are not under Israel’s military regime. The Arab world has to catch up to the West and that’s a fact. Arabs in Syria are just as impoverished as the Arabs of the West Bank, if not more. When Hamas blew up the border fence with Egypt a couple of years ago, there were stories about Egyptian brides marrying Palestinians and stories about Palestinian purchases of all sorts of objects because their per capita income was higher.

    And had Israel annexed the West Bank, the annexation would have been rejected by the world just as Jordan’s was, but it would have taken on the toll of an Arab nation joining its ranks. That doesn’t mean that this “dirt” doesn’t contain the cradle of Jewish history. It does. Reality forces Israel to compromise as it did after 1967. And that was my point. You said Israel sacrifices nothing, but it does. This area contains its history and the roots of its culture.

    And by the way, just as Israel doesn’t own the lands under discussion here, neither do the Palestinians. To own them, they have to first get a state.

  • “Blah blah heart and soul blah blah blah.”

    That is always the reaction from the anti-Israel camp to any reasoned arguments against their position. But then they go ahead and advocate for a new military enemy for Israel.

  • I think Kari was saying it wasn’t a reasoned argument. How can one talk about “dirt” like it actually possesses some importance.

    I guess it’s only important if it’s Palestinian dirt. Then it takes on an entirely different dimension.

  • Kari,
    I will keep my response brief and respectful.
    You are both misguided and naive.

    You are gambling with my life.
    No matter how guilty it makes you feel I will not commit suicide for you.
    A militarized Palestinian entity is suicide for Israel.

    As for your contention that the Torah as YOU see it commands ME to commit national suicide, go join Jim Jones.

    If your main point is palestinian land and money, I am certain that we can swap Jewish lands in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morroco, Libya….. for Arab owned land in Israel.

  • I suggest reading A Framework for a Palestinian National Security Doctrine, by Hussein Agha and Ahmad S Khalidi It is written in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, for easy reading for all involved parties. In it, they acknowledge that it is highly unlikely that an armed Palestinian state would be allowed to come into existence. yet, they lay out mutliple security strategies, as well as a security doctrine which would defend the Palestinian national soverignty. In fact, one of the concepts is a Docrtine of Non-agression, in which the Palestinians would not use agression, and would not have a first strike capability, but rather would use popular resistance against an attack, and to prevent an attack in the first place, it is suggested the defense treaties be forged with other nations, such as the U.S., who will not fear war with Israel. Therefore, disarmament ought not be a hinderance to peace. Should it prove to be, I believe it is clear that the disarmament itself is not the hinderance, but rather the excuse.

  • With regards to the Palestinian economy, both the Japanese and the Turks have been trying to set up industrial estates in the West Bank, and there has been some promise. However, given that, at present, under the Palestninian legislative system, property rights are not secure, and therefore the Coase theroem is inapplicable, it is quite difficult for a foreign power, or even a local indigenous businessman, to establish a sucessful business, as there is no guarantee of protection from either governmental aquisitoin such as by nationalization or or aquisition but a local “strongman,” in the name of himself, his clan, his party, or his religion. As such, it would be folly to get involved in such an economy. This is something that the Palestinian Authority, themselves, have the power to change. Investment in third world countries tends to have higher yields and thus is greatly attractive to foregin investors. However, investor tend to be weary of such investment if they cannot be sure of the securty of their investment., Should the PA pass laws, and enact/enforce them, which do, acutally, protect property rights, then investment and economic establishment would soon follow, to the great improvement of the Palestinian economy, and Palestinian entity as a whole.

  • Terrorism happens. As Jews, it’s probably our lot in life. I don’t understand why Palestinians as a group must suffer for the actions of a handful of extremists.

    “What exactly do you know about the Palestinian psyche that enables you to promise peace if Israel helps the Palestinian economy get back on track?”

    Absolutely nothing besides the fact that I’m an economist and that strategy has worked just about everywhere else. It you want people to be more friendly to you, give them money. It’s a very simple economic model used on both the small scale (person to person) and the large scale (society to society).

    “Happiness” of a population is innately tied to its overall welfare, which is itself a result of the economy of the country.

    “What do you mean get “back” anyway, it was never on a track except when the Palestinians sent many of their workers into Israel. We can’t return to those days because the terrorists used that freedom of movement to their advantage.”

    Create incentives for entrepreneurship. Subsidize the creation of new industry. Enact trade laws that enable goods, if not people, to flow more freely into and out of the Palestinian Territories. I know these aren’t things any RW Zionist wants to hear, because they’d love to continue watching the Palestinians starve for their own amusement, but they need to be done if any real attempt at a non-imposed peace were to be made.

    “Maybe Israel can get rid of the roadblocks, but then they will complain about the Fence. … If Israel offers to share the Temple Mount, they’ll say “no.””

    I don’t like slippery slope arguments. The settlements and roadblocks have to go for a peaceful solution *anyway*… The fence will probably stay, although the route may change.

    “Please forgive me because I don’t mean to discount their poverty, but there are other Arab states that have as much or more poverty and they are not under Israel’s military regime.”

    I am aware. Compared to several other Arab countries (e.g. Yemen), the Territories are still a better place to live. But in those cases it’s self-imposed. With the Palestinians, it’s partly self-imposed and partly a result of Israel’s own policy on the subject. That makes Israel complicit, and gives it a certain responsibility to correct.

    “That doesn’t mean that this “dirt” doesn’t contain the cradle of Jewish history.”

    So what? Jewish historical sites exist all over the world in plenty of countries both friendly and hostile to Israel. Does Israel have to have sovereignty over all of them? Other than some extremely vague religious Zionist reasoning, I can’t see any justification for the ‘Israel should have sovereignty over all of Jewish history’ argument.

    LB: I don’t place any magical importance on it. It’s land, and at that, not even particularly good land. Israel does not and has never really claimed ownership of it. Ergo, it does not see the land as fully its own. Is having the West Bank and the Gaza Strip providing any real benefit to Israel? Note that “real” means something tangible, not the feel-good factor that we have all of the Land of Israel under our control.

    No, it’s not. If anything, it’s causing us problems. So why waste time in divesting ourselves of it?

    Galit: Your approach of “us and them” racial hatred will be the death of our people. I’m not asking you to commit suicide. But if peace means death to you, I suppose there’s no sense attempting to reason. Because the only peace you’ll accept is one where all the Arabs are gone. Suffice to say, that’s not very neighborly.

    dahlia: I’m pretty sure the laws are there, but there has historically been no one to enforce them. I’ve been told that the situation of enforcement is getting better in the last 3 or 4 years, though. Still not there yet, but improving.

  • Um, Kari, the “improve their economy” model has been attempted. It was attempted back in the ’90s and was proven difficult to maintain because terrorists used the openness of Israel as a funnel for attacks.

    It is entirely misleading to suggest that what we’re talking about when we talk about terrorists who are Palestinians is just a “handful of extremists.” If you need to consider what I mean, you simply have to look at the results of the Gaza elections. Not good enough for you? Take a look at Khalil Shikaki’s polls of Palestinians support for suicide bombings during the ’90s and into the early part of this grand new century. Palestinians tended to support suicide bombings handily, often scoring over 70% in their support for these heinous actions. To suggest that this isn’t a societal phenomenon and to dismiss it as a handful of extremists is to turn a blind eye to Palestinian tactics, strategy, leadership, charters, groups and history. You want to dismiss “dirt,” go right ahead, but dismissing terrorism and its manifestation in Palestinian society weakens any case you make because it indicates that you’re willfully turning a blind eye to the hard facts.

    Your argument about dirt leads me to ask the simple question, Why not move all the Jews to Kansas? I mean, I’m sure considering the many contributions American Jews have made to this country, I would think many Americans would be glad to absorb another few million. This will remove the Arab-Israeli conflict entirely. In fact, Jews won’t care because Kansas dirt is more peaceful than Tel Aviv dirt.

    By the way, you’ll forgive me but I’m not a right wing Zionist. I’m a centrist and probably lean more to the left. Bibi doesn’t impress me very much and never has. I hold him at least partly responsible for the failure of Oslo.

    However, I also recall very well how Oslo evolved into a war started under the most cynical circumstances by the Palestinians. If anything changed my political views and moved me from the left to the center, it was their rejection of Oslo. Launching a war in light of Camp David and Taba was the height of dishonest, immoral behavior. It provided a clear lesson about who we’re dealing with here.

  • “anyone who is interested in peace would agree that those whose relatives were forcibly expelled form Israel deserve at least monetary compensation.”

    Where in his speech did Bibi rule out monetary compensation?

  • dahlia, very interesting. “With regards to the Palestinian economy, both the Japanese and the Turks have been trying to set up industrial estates in the West Bank.”

    You mention property rights – correct, which is why they keep pushing for construction in Area C, on state lands – or west of the green line.

    Without getting too much into detail, the Japanese who work in the region are horribly inefficient, take years to do anything. Their plan for the Jordan Valley – was way too ambitious (an AIRPORT?), and the Turkish plan was interesting, but was also too far-reaching (if I remember correctly, a large academic campus was to be built west of the green line – sort of like a pseudo-official university town for people from all over the world, etc etc).

  • Kari Sweety,

    You are once again applying your extremely warped sense of morality on me.
    You take the liberty of applying some sort of familial relationship with me and as such feel free to expect me to follow your orders.
    You wrongly accuse me of having an “us or them attitude” while you yourself apply an even more repugnent and repulsive approach that obligates me to harm myself against my will.

    While You claim without basis of fact that I am not neighborly, your own behavior is not very brotherly to say the least.

    If you were really my brother I would expect you to be more concerned about my survival than my moral fiber,

    I assume therefore that you are not my brother at all!!

  • Kari: the laws are sort of there, but not really. by this, i mean, read the laws. the situatoin improved under Fayad and technocrat government, but if you read the laws you’ll notice that they are lacking. (one of my areas of research last year was Palestinian economics).

    Wtih regards to Palestinian support of terrorism. You should check out the Palestine Center for Policy and Survey Research. It’s a Palestinian organization, based in Ramallah, and has polls showing how much the Palestinian people are actually pro-Hamas, pro-resistance, and pro-terrorism.

    I notice that you’re line of reasoning stands that Israel does not have a right to its land based upon its religious history. Thus, I think the question needs to be posed: Do you, or do you not, believe that the Jews have a right to a free, independant, and defendable, Jewish State in their historic homeland? (Note: it’s a yes or no question).

  • themiddle:
    Occupation generally isn’t peaceful. Being resolute and having a spine is important. The United States kind of proved this with Iraq, although personally I think that war was a bad idea from the moment it was proposed.

    Only a handful of extremists are suicide bombers. Whether the public supports them is another story. Only a few are truly willing to do it. There will be blood while you court the opinion of those who are just passive supporters who will say “yes” on an opinion poll.

    I don’t dismiss the terrorism, but violence only begets more violence. To many Palestinians, rocket attacks suicide bombings aren’t any different from what the Israelis are doing besides the lack of a spiffy uniform and IAF attack jets.

    As for moving the Jews to Kansas, I wouldn’t want to move there. Any state that considers creationism “science” is a state I wouldn’t want to live in. I don’t advocate for moving all the Jews anywhere. If Jews want to live in Israel, more power to them. If Jews want to live in Brooklyn, be my guest. If Jews want to live on the moon that’s fine by me. (Jews in Space… Sounds like a bad sci-fi movie…) I don’t see the inherent need to move the Jews anywhere.

    If anything, it’s probably better if we have people living in different places. It’s easy for us to be viewed as the ‘other’ if we’re totally concentrated in one area.

    Some have some kind of religious attachment to the Land of Israel. I won’t deny I do as well. But objectively, it’s dirt. And objectively, I can’t see how our claim to it is more legitimate than the Palestinians. It’s more legitimate than the French, the Koreans, the Indians or the Columbians… But not more legitimate than the Palestinians. So we arrive at an impasse. We should be willing to compromise more than just the land because at least a significant amount of the land is a compromise for both sides. If the Palestinians are to be expected to compromise their domestic security, we should be willing to do the same. Terms should not be overly heavy on one side and overly light on the other. They don’t have to be exactly equal, but they should be fair.

    I know you’re not a right-wing Zionist. If you were we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I generally identify myself as being a left-wing Zionist who refuses to endorse or support any Israeli government that isn’t genuinely interested in resolving the Palestinian problem in a mutually beneficial way that treats both sides as equals.

  • Just a note that Dahlia linked to Palestine Center for Policy and Survey Research which is indeed the same source run by Shikaki that I mentioned above.

    Kari,

    Israel wouldn’t use its attack jets at all if there weren’t violence from the other side. There would be Palestinian terror, in large part because they don’t accept Israel as a Jewish state as Netanyahu points out.

    As to the legitimacy of claim over land, the point is that Israel HAS OFFERED land to the Palestinians. 100% of Gaza and 97% of the West Bank plus a 1:1 land exchange on the remaining 3%. They refused.

    Israel offered to participate in reparations as well. They refused.

    Israel offered to take in original refugees (the ’48 refugees). They refused.

    Israel offered control over east Jerusalem and all the Muslim and Christian holy places. They refused.

    Israel asked for shared sovereignty over the Temple Mount. They refused and made this into the issue that broke all the others.

    Demanding that they become a demilitarized state has been on the table for years. It’s a simple given that they have to be demilitarized. Demanding that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state is also a simple and just request and one that indicates the seriousness of their commitment to permanent peace.

    In other words, the parameters of the deal are on the table and have been for years.

    The ball is in their court. Every one of their defenders needs to think about whether yelling about Israel in this situation is the right approach. How about placing the pressure on the Palestinians? After all, if these terms are not acceptable, then what are they looking for?

    One more point: Israel has lost the lives and limbs of many of its soldiers and civilians in these past 100 years fighting over this home for the Jewish people. I realize that you believe the Palestinians have equal claim to the land, but that claim was severely impeded when they attacked Israel and the Yishuv and lost. You can’t attack and expect impunity as well. There are consequences to launching a war and losing and if you’re not willing to accept the consequences, don’t attack. It’s good for PR, as we see with Gaza, but ultimately the people who are to blame are those who kept attacking Israel and then lost the resulting war.

  • Anyone who writes the following:

    “I don’t understand why Palestinians as a group must suffer for the actions of a handful of extremists.”

    Is not worth wasting your time on, TM. The majority of Palestinians support extremist, maximalist policies and political organizations. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either not paying attention, delusional or a propagandist for the Palestinians. Yes, it is that simple. When *they* change their political position away from wanting to destroy Israel and lunatic aspirations (right of return), Israel can think about peace. Until then, no dice.

  • Sorry for the double comment but this comment is lunacy and not supported by history:

    “…violence only begets more violence.”

    History is replete with examples of places and instances where peace was accomplished by vanquishing the enemy. Jabotinsky was right:

    http://www.liberal.org.il/peace.htm

    “Jabotinsky did not have any illusions about a peaceful return of the Jews to their historic homeland. It was clear to him that neither the historic bond of the Jews to their homeland nor the legal status conferred by the San Remo Conference and later ratified by the League of Nations would convince the Arabs to relinquish even a minimal part of their extensive territory.

    In order to avoid a conflict between its Marxist anti-nationalist and Zionist-nationalist ideologies, the Left had to ignore the presence and legitimate rights of the Arabs. However, for Jabotinsky, who was identified with the nationalist Liberalism of the nineteenth century, this conflict did not exist. In his view, the reconquest of the historic Jewish homeland was morally justified by virtue of a people’s right — one deeply-rooted in the liberal tradition (1) — to wage war and conquer, if this is necessary for the survival of the people.

    Therefore, Jabotinsky had no ideological need to ignore either the presence of the Arabs or their legitimate rights. In his understanding, the armed conflict between the two peoples was inevitable, simply because no people on earth will relinquish any part of its land without fighting (2). The hope of a peaceful realization of Zionism is, therefore, a dangerous fallacy. Nevertheless, Jabotinsky, guided by his liberal ideology, demanded a final, equitable solution for both peoples (3).”

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