While I do welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement at the White House today that he is still committed to "two states for two peoples" and that he has not given up hope for peace, I am not naive. I am still concerned that his government’s actions continue to erode the basis for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu is a master communicator. Bibi knows how to tell an audience what it wants to hear.
But actions always speak louder than words. For example, it is quite deflating to hear that Israel has moved to green light around 2,200 new homes in existing West Bank settlements and is legalizing two previously unauthorized outposts that were established without the approval of the government. It is moves like this that make a two-state solution even more difficult to achieve.
Netanyahu may have walked in to the White House and declared that he remains committed to two states, but anyone who has been paying attention can look back to last March when Bibi is on record as saying that there would never be a Palestinian state established while he was Prime Minister.
If we weigh these two contradictory statements in terms of his government’s actions, we can only conclude that Netanyahu's actions since March are more closely aligned with his election pledge than in pursuit of what he said today at the White House.
The most important thing is to avoid actions that close the door permanently to a two-state peace agreement. Netanyahu’s statement today needs to be followed up by effective action that demonstrates that he means what he says.