Jonathan Tobin is a neoconservative staff writer at ‘Commentary’ magazine whose article in yesterday’s online edition outlined why neoconservatives support Netanyahu’s stance about a future Palestinian state.
The problem with the article is that it’s now too late for Netanyahu to actually be able to do anything to stop there being a Palestinian state that has been ‘negotiated’ with Israel. Let’s take a look at Tobin’s article to see why.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the Knesset today, in which he outlined his conditions for a peace pact with the Palestinians, is already being interpreted as being to “hawkish” to create the proper atmosphere for peace. That’s the word the ‘New York Times’ Ethan Bronner used to describe a speech in which the Israeli leader made it clear that Israel is prepared to give up almost all of the West Bank and recognize a Palestinian state.
Surely it must be obvious to Netanyahu and his neocon supporters in the US and elsewhere that the Palestinians are not interested in ‘conditions for a peace pact’ with Zionist Israel because they know that it will never happen; it is not part of Zionist policy. And besides, the Palestinians want a state of their own, not a ‘peace pact’. It is the reason why the Palestinian people, as represented by the Hamas and Fatah factions, have united and decided to look to the UN for recognition of a state that is unilaterally declared without further ‘negotiations’ with Israel that have always proved futile in the past. Israel does not want to give up their settlements and Israel will not allow the refugees to return to their homelands. Neither side are going to budge on this. The difference now, however, is that Israel’s position has now eroded to the point where Palestinians assuredly have the ultimate moral high ground. This brings us to the second point which is, of course, the fact that none of the West Bank is Israel’s to ‘give up’ in the first place. They might occupy it but they don’t own it.
Tobin goes on to write:
For years, Israel’s critics have chanted that its government had to give up the dream of a “greater Israel.” But now that even the leader of the supposedly hard right-wing Likud has stated that all Israel wants is to retain control of its capital Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs (which take up a tiny portion of the West Bank and which President Bush agreed in 2004 will remain part of Israel), this is still too “hawkish” a position for the Palestinians to be expected to return to the negotiating table.
‘Supposedly hard right-wing Likud’? There’s nothing ‘supposed’ about it at all. The Likud party was founded on a policy that dedicated itself to the founding of a Zionist Greater Israel based on expansionism and annexation into areas of Palestine that were not part of any originally mandated plan for a nation of Israel.
The settlement blocks are hardly a ‘tiny portion’ of the West Bank; they are sprawled all over various hillsides across the West Bank and are connected to each other via highways that ordinary Palestinians are not allowed to use. Massive tracts of buffer zones are also part of the settlements that have illegally been built on Palestinian lands.
And what has George W. Bush got to do with it? Bush had no power or mandate from the Palestinian people to agree what should or shouldn’t remain part of Israel.
Tobin continues with:
Indeed, as Bronner noted, Netanyahu’s program for peace included items that no Palestinian leader has ever stated a willingness to accept. These include: recognition of Israel as the home of the Jewish people; a peace agreement that spells the end of the conflict; and acceptance of the unalterable political fact that the descendants of the 1948 Palestinian Arab refugees must be resettled inside a Palestinian state and not on Israel’s territory. But if, as the Palestinians and many in the cheering section abroad insist, Israel must concede every inch of disputed territory even before peace talks begin, and the Palestinians will not give up the right of return or recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s existence even in the context of peace, then what could Netanyahu possibly do that would make him seem any less “hawkish” to his legion of critics?
While the Zionists of Israel live on and continue to covet the lands of the Palestinian people, why on earth should the Palestinians recognise these places as ‘Israel’ the home of the Jewish people? They are on lands stolen from Palestinians; recognition of ‘Israel’ as the home of the Jewish people would mean giving away their claim to lands stolen from them. The Palestinian people are not likely to do that.
The biggest issue of all, of course, is the question of the right of return of the refugees and their descendants.
Zionist Israelis have always tried to twist the stories that relate to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine during the creation of Israel. Only yesterday Netanyahu while accusing Abbas of distorting historical facts distorted them himself by saying:
Some Palestinian leaders themselves urged the Palestinians to vacate the land in order to make it easier for the Arab armies to fight for the destruction of Israel.
Palestinian leaders did indeed advise Palestinian civilians to leave certain areas temporarily in order to allow Arab armies to defend against Israeli expansionism but it was Israel that eventually displaced these people into places they didn’t want to be outside of what is now claimed to be Israel. The Palestinian people either fled before a murderous Jewish army intent of cleansing Palestine of Arabs or moved aside in order to allow the Arab defenders to fight the Israelis; they certainly didn’t exile themselves voluntarily in order for the Jewish armies to create an Israel at their expense as some Zionist historians, politicians and commentators often imply.
The reality is that Netanyahu and his Zionist and neoconservative supporters have no intention of ever allowing a Palestinian state to exist. Netanyahu’s problem now is how to create a crisis situation that will dwarf his predicament and allow him to crush all Palestinian aspirations of statehood. War against Hamas and Hezbollah is now his only way out of his predicament – and war against Hamas and Hezbollah can only mean a confrontation against Iran. The alternative is a unilateral declaration of independence coupled with UN recognition that will leave Israel isolated and without any hope of ever realising the Zionist dream of a Greater Israel. The only answer now is for there to be one state that includes Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where both Jews and Arabs have equal rights and are free to move and live wherever they please.