The curious case of Bibi’s missing speech

Whatever happened to Netanyahu’s proposed speech? An open plea to the PM to cease fluctuating between opposing policies and be forthright with his citizens by informing them once and for all in which direction Israel is headed: a one, two or three state solution?

Netanyahu has a point 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner)
Netanyahu has a point 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner)
I could hardly abate my enthusiasm with all the buzz filling Israeli newspapers a couple of weeks ago regarding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposed new speech about peace, soon to be released. Consulting with colleagues and advisers to assist in formulating its content, the prime minister is working on what the media has promised will be a “dramatic” and “historic” speech. Media pundits have also heralded it as the “Bar Ilan II” speech, indicating that it will be a sequel to Netanyahu’s famous “two states for two peoples” speech held in Bar Ilan University in 2009.
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So excited and hopeful was I, I took the liberty of openly complimenting the prime minister in these pages, praising his acute political understanding – not least of all for proposing a speech that will pre-empt the wave of international criticism that Israel will inevitably face later this year.
I waited patiently, but not a word escaped our prime minister’s lips.
Some say it was the attack in Itamar that prevented it. Others say that matters changed when the Victoria – an Iranian ship stocked with weapons bound for Hamas – was intercepted by the navy. In any case, not a word so far.
IN LIEU of the missing speech, I tracked down something that can be described as a mini-speech – or Bar-Ilan 1.5 if you will. In an interview with CNN, Netanyahu fiercely objected to the unity efforts between Fatah and Hamas. Such unity, Netanyahu opined, will not enable the continuation of the peace process with Israel.
He posed the following “rhetorical” question to the interviewer: How can one side (namely, Mahmoud Abbas’s) be in favor of peace with Israel while simultaneously being in favor of peace with Hamas?
I would like to pose the following “rhetorical” questions to the prime minister: Who are you, Mr. Netanyahu, to instruct the Palestinians on how to build their internal coalition? Like the rest of us, you also despise it when foreigners instruct Israelis on their internal affairs. And the far more pressing question is, whatever happened to your “two states” speech? Are we to assume you now support a three-state solution (Israel, West Bank and Gaza)? After all, once you take measures to prevent Palestinian unity, this is what we will face.
It seems to me, Mr. Prime Minister, that you really have no idea what you actually want. You display no clear vision for both our immediate and long-term futures because you change it with every local event that occurs. While current affairs are important and indeed, you seem to aptly handle day-to-day issues, a country in conflict still needs to know which direction it is headed in.
Do you not believe in a two-state solution? Your body language during the Bar-Ilan speech belied your words and your actions (or lack thereof) since, confirm that you were coerced into making the speech by Washington.
The time has come to look into our eyes and finally tell us the truth: What is it that you are after? The three-state solution you proposed on CNN, or a one-state solution that you yourself recently said would be a disaster?
Unfortunately for this country, it isn’t enough to feed the population, provide jobs and boost its resources or even its education. A country like Israel with no fixed borders and no friends in the neighborhood desperately needs to know where it is heading.
So, Mr. Netanyahu, stop keeping this a close-guarded secret and let’s have it.
The writer, a former chargé d’affaires in Turkey and ambassador to South Africa, was director-general of the Foreign Ministry between 2000 and 2001. Today he lectures at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University and the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.