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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Liveblog: Netanyahu's response to Obama

This is the liveblog of Binyamin Netanyahu's response to Barack Obama.

Israel Radio reports that Netanyahu will say the words 'Palestinian state,' but with a long list of conditions: Demilitarization, no control over borders or airspace, international (particularly US) guarantees. And in return he expects the 'Palestinians' to recognize the Jewish state of Israel (code for no 'right of return' to Israel for 'Palestinian refugees'). The report is based on highlights of the speech that the reporters have been given. The speech starts at 8:10 Israel time.


Channel 1 is reporting that Netanyahu and Livni met at Peres' house on Saturday night. Livni denies it.


We are all partners to Begin's and Sadat's vision of peace.

I promised a national unity government and I established one.

Three challenges: Iran, the economy and peace.

The Iranian threat is still before us with full force as became clear yesterday. It's the convergence of Islamic extremism and nuclear weapons.

On the economic front, we passed a budget in the cabinet and are bringing it to the Knesset.

As to peace, I support the regional peace Obama wants to bring and for that reason I met first with Mubarak and Abdullah. I turn to the Arab leaders and say let us meet and make peace. I am willing to meet with you anytime anywhere.

I call on the Arab leaders to help bring economic peace to the 'Palestinians.' That's not a substitute for political peace. But it's an important component. I invite the Persian Gulf entrepreneurs to come here and help the 'Palestinian' economy. There is a huge potential for tourism here.

I turn to the 'Palestinians' - let's start a negotiation for peace immediately without conditions. Israel is obligated under international agreements and want to live with you in peace without any more wars. Our children should have a better future. I know the cost of war. I went to war. I lost good friends who died and I lost a brother. I saw the faces of families who lost members up close many times. I don't want war and neither does anyone else in Israel.

Let's join hands and work together for peace. [Lists all economic spheres for peace].

My friends, if the principles for peace are so clear, we must ask ourselves why peace is still so far away. Why has this conflict continued for more than 60 years? We must give an honest answer for the cause of the conflict. [Quotes Herzl from the First Zionist Congress in Basle] We have to speak as simply as possible and be attached to reality. The reality is that the root of the conflict was and is the Arab refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

In 1947, the Arabs refused to accept any Jewish state. The conflict has nothing to do with Judea and Samaria. The attacks started in the 1920's and have been continuous since then [lists].

Happily, Egypt and Jordan left the cycle of war. Unfortunately, that is not the situation with the 'Palestinians.' As we move closer to an agreement, they move further away and make new demands. The fact is that every time we retreat, we get terror in return. In 2000 and again last year, Israeli governments proposed retreating almost completely in return for peace and were given a negative answer. In 2005, we withdrew from Gaza and were answered with rocket fire on our children. The idea that a retreat will bring peace has been disproven.

Most frustrating is that even the most moderate 'Palestinians' are not willing to say that Israel is and will remain a Jewish state.

My friends to reach peace one needs strength and honesty on both sides, not just from the Israeli side. The 'Palestinian' side must stand up and say 'enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state in this land.' If they say this simple thing to us and to their own people, everything else will fall into place. This is a basic condition.

For this recognition to have practical application, the 'Palestinian refugee problem' must be solved outside Israel's borders. Resettling them in Israel contradicts the idea of a Jewish state. The problem can be solved and we have already proven it by resettling refugees from Arab countries who came with nothing. All Israelis agree on this. I believe that with goodwill it is possible to solve this humanitarian problem once and for all.

Now I will speak about our obligation to recognize the 'Palestinians' rights. Our connection to Judea and Samaria is 3500 years old. This is the land of our forefathers - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob [listed several more].

The Jewish people has suffered like no other people, reaching its peak in the Holocaust. If the State of Israel had been timely established there would not have been a Holocaust. Our right to establish our state here in Israel is due to our birthright. This is where the Jewish people was born.

As David Ben Gurion said, [cites declaration of independence].

The truth is that there is a large group of 'Palestinians' that has settled in the heart of Israel, and we don't want to rule over them. We and they should each have our own flag, anthem and government. I came to set out the principles of peace and security that we all agree upon. But we have to recognize the reality that has taken place. The first principle is that the 'Palestinians' must recognize Israel as a Jewish state and the second principle is demilitarization because otherwise we can have rockets like in Gaza. We don't want rockets on Petach Tikva and Ben Gurion Airport. We want peace. So we have to ensure that the 'Palestinians' cannot obtain weapons, raise an army or make treaties with Iran and Hezbullah. Therefore, we ask our friends in the international community, especially the United States for an explicit promise that as part of the permanent arrangement of peace there be absolute demilitarization of the 'Palestinians.' No control over the airways.

In Washington, I told President Obama, if we agree on the essence, the terms will not matter. We are willing to reach a solution of a demilitarized 'Palestinian state' next to the State of Israel.

Jerusalem to remain united under Israeli control. No new 'settlements,' but have to let those who are in 'settlements' live normally.

A strong 'Palestinian' economy will strengthen peace. They have to educate their children for peace and stop the incitement against Israel. They have to choose between the way of peace and the way of Hamas.

We are obligated to bring Gilad Shalit home in good health.

There is no reason we cannot break through the pathway to peace. During the 61 year war for our existence we have created miracles. [Lists Israeli scientific achievements]. He calls for the leaders of the Arab world and the 'Palestinians' to continue in the path of Begin, Sadat, Rabin and Hussein to bring about Isaiah's words "nation shall not raise a sword against nation and none shall learn war anymore."

That's the end of the speech.


In case I wasn't clear, Netanyahu called for 'natural growth.'

Likud not happy with the words 'Palestinian state,' but they figure the 'Palestinians' will never fulfill Netanyahu's conditions anyway.

Aryeh Eldad of National Union says Netanyahu crossed his own red lines by saying 'Palestinian state.'

Mohammed Barakeh of Arab parties says no 'Palestinian' can accept Netanyahu's conditions.

The coalition probably will not fall apart over this.

Washington correspondent reports no reactions but Americans will not be happy about 'natural growth.' But what Netanyahu asked from Americans should not be a problem.

In Ramallah, the 'Palestinian Authority's Saeb Erekat says that Netanyahu has put an end to the negotiations over final status and over Jerusalem. When he spoke of a demilitarized state he ended the negotiations. There is no need for any other negotiations. He never said 'two states.' Netanyahu will have to wait 1000 years to find a 'Palestinian' who will go along with this. This is no surprise, by the way.

'Settlers' Council's Pinchas Wallerstein says that no party can be happy with this speech, but in the end said that it was a good speech and were somewhat relieved by what Netanyahu said.

Israel Radio political analyst Hanan Kristal says that what Netanyahu did broke many old Likud rules.

Avi Dichter of Kadima says that what Netanyahu said about a 'Palestinian state' is important. He is asked whether Kadima would have made the same demands of the 'Palestinians' that Netanyahu made. He said some of these conditions have been made in the past, but he believes that asking that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state should be separate from a recognition of the UN partition resolution from 1947.

Ambassador Michael Oren was here for the speech, but they did not get to speak to him.

Likud's Yariv Levin said that Likud will remain unified if there is no 'Palestinian state' and if de facto building continues.

Zvulun Orlev of Jewish Home says his party will consider whether to stay in the government. They are unhappy.


At 9:05 PM, Blogger Michael B said...

Most importantly he placed Iran's nuclear and extremist nexus right at the top, on a straight-forward and factual basis, without exhibiting even a remote hint of bellicosity. Simple, unadorned facticity.

This, in terms of approach if not style, is the speech Obama could have given: vastly more historically/factually grounded, vastly more reality oriented. And, that echoes what may be so pivotally dangerous about Obama, not that he positively and consciously desires less stability, a less realistic basis for prospective peace, rather that he bases his vision upon what might be thought of as a neo-Carteresque approach to underlying principles and realities, reflecting a certain unhinged or unrealistic quality at basic/foundational levels.

People who initiate mud slides and rock slides and avalanches don't typically do so because they're positively desiring those life threatening phenomena to occur. To the contrary, it's because they aren't taking the precarious, fundamentals, the realities and basic principles, fully, consciously and soberly into view.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I don't really think the terminology matters. The Palestinians reject any "state" that does not serve them as a base from which to destroy Israel. What Netanyahu offered them is less than what they got from Barak and Olmert. Nothing will satisfy them short of an Israeli commitment to commit national suicide for them. What the Prime Minister offered is an agreement that really ends the conflict. The other side made it clear it is not interested in doing a deal both sides can live with. That's the bottom line.

There will be no "Palestinian state" any time soon. I don't like that aspect of the speech but I don't think it will go anywhere. The Palestinians quite simply put, are not ready for peace with Israel.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Michael, I think this is as far as any Israeli Prime Minister can go. If the world was looking for Israel to unequivocally agree to Arab demands, that didn't happen. A peace that doesn't protect Israel's interests and her national security isn't a peace worth having. The other side has the fantasy they will get from Israel without having to give in return. Those days are gone.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

"Explicit promises" from the international community that a Palestinian state will be demilitarised? Like the other explicit promises to allow Jews to settle anywhere in historic Palestine, to facilitate Jewish emigration from Nazi-occupied Europe, to provide defensive arms to Israel in 1967 and resupply in 1973, to disarm Hezbollah, to interdict the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?

Explicit promises from the international community are written in disappearing ink. And as I have commented before, demilitarization is a dead letter:


At 9:36 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

My advice to National Home is that while I'm not happy to hear a vision for a Palestinian state, its not worth leaving the government over a speech whose contents are objectively Zionist. The truth is the kind of state the Palestinians want and a state Israelis can live with is a deep divide. Its not going to ever be bridged - and the reason for that is the Palestinians reject Jewish rights to Eretz Israel. Unless that changes, I don't forsee any real change the day after. The speech wasn't "leftist" enough for the Americans and the Israeli media and for those of us who worried Netanyahu would give away the store, its good news indeed.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I just wonder if Netaniyahu will allow the Palestinians to control the air they breath .
NO control over borders , no army,NO airspace , what? is netaniyahu stupid or makes this conditions that the Palestinians would say no , and they certainly will say NO , i would .
mr netaniyahu go and talk to the Palestinians without any pre conditions and sort things out and stop trying to humilate the Palestinians with those insulting offers.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

Very smart speech.
It will be tough to talk about Netanyahu as the "extreme right" or "hawkish" government (although I am sure the press will anyhow!).
Unfortunately, the very premise of the speech, which is that the "Palestinians" want peace is wrong of course, so all the rest becomes a moot point.
I doubt this speech will be remembered. It was just Israel's public response to Obama's speech.
The reaction of the US administration will be interesting.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Jlem said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

My criticism of the speech is about "international guarantees". They are worthless. And any one with half a brain knows its not possible to keep a Palestinian state "demilitarized." I think Netanyahu meant well but its flapdoodle. And I can understand why the nationalist camp is upset. There shouldn't have been recognition of the principle of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians are not interested in one. I haven't the foggiest idea why the Prime Minister mentioned it in what was on balance a good speech.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Joe, Netanyahu already accepted the principle. The other hasn't accepted it. With goodwill and trust, the details can be worked out but the Palestinians are not Andorrans. Netanyahu knows it and the rest of the world knows it. He accepted with caveats, the so called two state solution. For the Palestinians, they can't live with the conditions and the Israelis can't live without them.

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Joe, the 'palis' have had opportunity after opportunity to solve their own problem, with the help of very accommodating Israeli leadership. 'Palestinian' "leader" after 'Palestinian' "leader" has failed their people. They failed them at every step of the way. Thanks to the arab ego, these people dare not accept the responsibility of the failure upon themselves. It would bring shame, and dishonor. So they follow an ever more deadly spiral in to ever more ignominious defeat after ignominious defeat. A death spiral that none of them has the courage to end.

In the late 1800's, arabs started streaming to what was called Palestine, to get work in the jewish factories, farms, and businesses. Michael Oren, now Israeli ambassador to the US, has an excellent book that describes the historical background for the conflict. In the very early 1900's, with the inevitable defeat of the caliphate in the offing, arabs who had been peaceful radicalized. Jews are the enemies of muslims, according the koran. The muslims started acting that way. Riots, massacres, and so forth. Balfour and others were convinced of the need to re-establish the jewish homeland where it had been historically located. They gave it force of international law.

In 1929 arabs massacred jews in Hebron. In 1935-1938, arabs fought a low grade civil war against the jews.

The fall of the Ottoman empire, the caliphate, led to a partitioning up of Ottoman territory. Jews were awarded all of Israel, Transjordan, and parts of Iraq. The UK under Churchill took 80% of this land, everything from the Jordan river east, and gave it to their friends, the Hashemite king, who the Saud family kicked out of Arabia.

This was the first partitioning of 'Palestine'.

Isn't it strange that you don't hear a single arab complain about Jordan existing? Is there a reason for this lack of concern on their part?

The second partioning came in 1947. The world powers realized that not only were the Zionists correct in their concept that only jews would stand up and protect other jews, but that by the delaying tactics they undertook before and during WWII, they were at least tacitly complicit in the devastation of this group of people. They needed to fix this. So they agreed to speed things up.

But the Brits liked arabs far more than jews. Like Obama now. So they were an impediment to solving this. As were the arab states that could never stomach the dishonor of a non-arab ruled country being formed in what they unilaterally decided were their lands.

In 1947 arabs failed to agree to the partition plan. The jews, now Israelis, agreed to the plan.

Yes, the arabs could have had a state, and peace, 61 years ago.

They rejected it. 5 arab states invaded. They were beaten back, at a huge cost them, and to Israel.

Arab ego again. They can't stomach losing. It dishonored them.

So they tried again.

1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 1986, 2000, 2006, 2008

Every time they lose, they paint it as a win. And cry to people who have bleeding hearts, and no knowledge of this history.

They could have had a state. They should have had a state. They screwed up. They caused their people to become refugees.

None of this is Israels problem. Its the "Palestinian's" problem.

I don't think there is much support for giving them anything anymore. As time goes on, as they dig their heels in, they are going to get less and less, until Israel decides enough is enough, and that it is time for others to resettle the refugees, and Israel to be whole.

This also solves the "Palestinian" problem. They are getting very close to that solution. I don't think they quite understand this.

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Netanyahu should have said.

"There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes."
- Bamidbar (Numbers) 13:33

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not state but Land of Israel
How to define the state of Israel 1 Tear down the wall -concept of East /West Jerusalem. Toronto, Montreal, Canada, several years ago, incorporated areas under a single banner. The country is Israel, not Israel with another state included. Listen to new voice coming out of US from recent visits that call for just the land/country of Israel. Allow those in the Gaza who were not born in the land of Israel to leave, they haven't been in the Gaza for more that 8 years.
A Canadian Teacher


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