On The Pretense of Peace
On Sunday 14 June 2009, hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a statement announcing his expectations of the international community, Israeli F-16 jets dropped several bombs along the southern Gaza border. The Israeli military said it was targeting underground tunnels. Four Palestinians were wounded. (More on the exchange of hostilities here and here.)
As the Palestinians were being treated in hospital, Netanyahu proclaimed, “Peace has always been our people’s most ardent desire. In fact the speech was interwoven with Hallmark-Greeting-Card-messages of tranquil harmony. “If we join hands and work together for peace. . . .”
Cut the violins. In essence, Netanyahu stated that he expected the international community to support his desire to turn his holy land into his Disneyland so as to regain the tourist trade needed to bolster an ailing Israeli economy. We could make this whole Palestinian problem go away, he said, if we simply ignore those we forced out and bend those remaining into complete submission. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, though, we’ll let them keep a flag and a song. Just to prove how civilised we are.
At one point Netanyahu refers* to “Hamas in the south” and “Hizbullah in the north.” In the south? In the north? South and north of what? Hamas is in Palestine. Hizbullah is in Lebanon. But not in the Zionist eyes of Netanyahu: to him, Hamas is in the south of Israel; Hizbullah is in the north of Israel. Yet still Western media provides such headlines as “Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu endorses creation of Palestinian state” Look again, New York Daily News, south of what??
Netanyahu stated ever-so graciously, “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 turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors, led by the Palestinian Authority, and I say: Let’s begin negotiations immediately without preconditions…” [emphasis added].
And then: “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.”
Rather a significant precondition.
He further states that “within this [Jewish] homeland lives a large Palestinian community.” Again a statement that indicates he views the entire territory as Israel, with the Palestinians being intruders. The fate of the Palestinians, he states, depends “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.”
Two more rather significant preconditions.
Just getting warmed up, he adds a few more stipulations “to achieve peace”: “we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able (1) to import missiles into their territory, (2) to field an army, (3) to close their airspace to us, or (4) to make pacts with the likes of Hizbullah and Iran.” [numbering added] With unabashed insistence on these preconditions, he explains that “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.”
And just in case there is any question on what he means by submission to Israeli terms means, Netanyahu reiterates:
“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.”
“Hamastan”? Is that meant to be clever?
The shopping list continues—not only will the Palestinian Authority “have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas,” but it should be remembered that “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.” [emphasis added]
The next day, 15 June, Israeli Rightists responded to Netanyahu’s speech: “We’ll build dozens more outposts” Israeli media Ynet reports that “Right wing activists announced on Monday that they plan to build dozens of new outposts throughout the West Bank, in response to recent statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama. ‘This is the appropriate Zionist response to Netanyahu’s speech and Obama’s speech. The goal is to build new outposts and expand the existing ones,’ the rightists’ statement said.”
But then how much of the history of Israeli aggression has been dismissed as “unintentional”?
Full text of Netanyahu’s statement, as documented by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.