Commentary on Netanyahu’s “No” to a Palestinian state

Saturday-night shoppers crowd Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. Photos: Barbara MoserSaturday-night shoppers crowd Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. Photos: Barbara Moser

Here is a selection of comments and opinions on Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election “no” to a Palestinian state under his watch in the current climate of regional chaos and violence, and his Likud Party winning the largest number of Knesset seats:

Netanyahu, in a post-election interview with NBC, insisted he remains committed to Palestinian statehood – if conditions in the region improve – and to the two-state solution first enunciated in a 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University: “I haven’t changed my policy, I never retracted my speech.”

Marie Hart, State Department spokeswoman in Washington, commented that Netanyahu is hard to read:

“He said diametrically opposing things in the matter of a week. When you say things, words matter. And if you say something different two days later, which do we believe? What we’re looking for now is action and policies.”

Ari Shavit, Politico Magazine:

“In the last four years: all around the Arab world crumbled into chaos… and the Gaza Strip, from which they had withdrawn, became the heavily armed and hostile base of Hamas, raining down a barrage of missiles on Tel Aviv for 50 days in the summer of 2014. The aggregate result of these traumas is an understandable but dangerous shift to the right.

“Because the old peace-idea was not replaced by a new peace-idea, many Israelis fear for their future and are no longer willing to embrace American and European peace initiatives… At the same time, some Israelis have developed xenophobic tendencies, that do not stem from inherent racism but from a deep fear the center-left in Israel and the international community cannot assuage.”

Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post:

“The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership – from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas – has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state.

“Today, however, there is a second reason a peace agreement is impossible: the supreme instability of the entire Middle East… Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, driven by a bitter Fatah-Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability?

“…With or without elections, the West Bank could fall to Hamas overnight at which point fire rains down on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and the entire urban heartland…”

“Any Arab-Israeli peace settlement would require Israel to make dangerous and inherently irreversible territorial concessions on the West Bank in return for promises and guarantees. Under current conditions, these would be written on sand.

“Peace awaits three things — eventual Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state, a Palestinian leader willing to sign a deal based on that premise, and a modicum of regional stability that allows Israel to risk the potentially fatal withdrawals such a deal would entail.”

“…That’s essentially what Netanyahu said in explaining – and softening – his no-Palestinian-state statement.”

David Shulman, New York Review of Books:

“The notion that there will someday be two states in historic Palestine has been savagely undermined. We have Netanyahu’s word for it. If he has his way – and why shouldn’t he? – Palestinians are destined for the foreseeable future to remain subject to a regime of state terror, including the remorseless loss of their lands and homes and, in many cases, their very lives, they will continue to be, as they are now, disenfranchised, without even minimal legal recourse, hemmed into small discontinuous enclaves, and deprived of elementary human rights.

“Secondly, we may see the emergence in the West Bank of a situation like that in Gaza, with Hamas or other extremist organizations assuming power … there is no way a privileged collective can sit forever on top of a disenfranchised, systematically victimized minority of millions.

“…there is an ongoing, intimate, many-layered relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, and what one side chooses to do always has a very direct impact on the other side…If we Israelis fail to cut a deal with the Palestinian moderates, or at least to strive in earnest for an agreement, we will by our own actions bring their extremists to power.

“Thirdly, Palestinians will rightly turn to the International Criminal Court in the Hague … and to international forums such as the UN Security Council, where Israel may soon no longer enjoy the protection of an automatic American veto. The international boycott will intensify to a level far beyond what we have seen.

“Fourthly, and most important, the moral fibre of the country will continue to unravel…there will be more hyper-nationalist, anti-democratic legislation, more deliberate and consistent attempts to undermine the authority of the courts, more rampant racism, more thugs in high office, more acts of cruelty inflicted on innocents, more attacks on moderates perceived as enemies of the state, more paranoid indoctrination in the schools … more war-mongering, and quite possibly more needless war…”

Selection gathered by Irwin Block

2 Comments on "Commentary on Netanyahu’s “No” to a Palestinian state"

  1. Avrum Rosner | April 14, 2015 at 7:55 am | Reply

    It would have been interesting to include some Palestinian commentary in this selection. They don’t get much coverage in our part of the world. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

  2. elizabeth wajnberg | April 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Reply

    “It’s safer for Palestinians here than in the Arab world.” A Palestinian once “moderate” advisor to Yasser Arafat said this of Israel. The New Yorker, Nov. 17, 2014

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