I don’t know which is more occupied by Israel, the West Bank and its millions of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, or the US Congress which consists mostly of American politicians who are more pro- Israel than most Israelis.
How else can you describe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “tour” which began with a deep-freeze meeting with President Barack Obama, an uncompromising speech to his base constituency at AIPAC and his climactic pro-Israel rally at a joint session of the US Congress?
Netanyahu’s speech was intentionally insulting to Obama in a very personal manner, as demonstrated by the lengthy applause that Netanyahu received that exceeded any applause that Obama has ever received from the Congress.
Any American watching Netanyahu’s rock concert-like performance at the
Joint Session of Congress recognized right away that his priority was to
politically slap Obama in the face, rather than outline, as his aides
had promised, a peace plan with the Palestinians.
There was no peace plan. The only plan Netanyahu offered was a plan for
continued conflict, telling Palestinians that they have no future, while
demanding that they recognize Israel’s right to exists (as the
Palestinians did in 1988, and six times since).
Netanyahu’s vision is a declaration that the only option before us is
conflict, telling Palestinian moderates like myself that peace is
impossible with Netanyahu’s Israel and that we are headed towards a
future of worsening conflict.
It was the most stunning example of a Middle East leader intentionally missing an opportunity to bring about a peace accord.
Netanyahu's speech was replete with one-sided claims and exaggerated
reviews of history. Most insulting was his reference to the West Bank as
“Judea and Samaria” which is no different, insultwise, to how Arab
extremists often describe Israel as the “Zionist Entity.”
For moderates who believe in peace, there was nothing to cheer in
Netanyahu’s statements. If he can’t have the blind support of the
president, he is happy to have the backing of Congress, Israel’s
greatest cheerleader, judging by the 26 standing ovations Congressmen
and women gave him during the speech.
Netanyahu basically rejected any negotiations with the Palestinian
Authority, much as he has done in the past. This time, his excuse was
the unit deal with Hamas.
Nowhere in his speech did Netanyahu acknowledge that in his own
coalition holds some vicious extremists, people who refuse to recognize
the rights of the Palestinian people.
Netanyahu’s speech was the clearest declaration that the future of peace does not lie in negotiations.
The only option the Palestinians have to achieve statehood is by taking
their case to the United Nations in September, come what may.
Palestinians should be prepared for an angry backlash from Israel, but
declaring statehood and receiving UN recognition is the only road left.
The prime minister believes wrongly that the prodemocracy protests in
the region show that the Arab world does not care about Israel’s
Palestinian problem. But it does. And Israel’s confrontational reaction
to the move will only serve as the catalyst to refocus the Arab street
against Israel in a more powerful way than before.
The prime minister’s actions make it impossible for Palestinians to believe that Israel is sincere in its desire for peace.
Israelis can choose a future based on peace and two states, or they can embrace Netanyahu’s fatalistic strategy.
The writer is an award-winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.hanania.com