[News] Netanyahu's "brilliant" peace plan
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 17 15:10:25 EDT 2009
Netanyahu's "brilliant" peace plan
Hasan Abu Nimah and Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 17 June 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a peace plan so
ingenious it is a wonder that for six decades of bloodshed no one
thought of it. Some people might have missed the true brilliance of
his ideas presented in a speech at Bar Ilan University on 14 June, so
we are pleased to offer this analysis.
First, Netanyahu wants Palestinians to become committed Zionists.
They can prove this by declaring, "We recognize the right of the
Jewish people to a state of their own in this land." As he pointed
out, it is only the failure of Arabs in general and Palestinians in
particular to commit themselves to the Zionist dream that has caused
conflict, but once "they say those words to our people and to their
people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems
between our peoples." It is of course perfectly natural that
Netanyahu would be "yearning for that moment."
Mere heartfelt commitment to Zionism will not be enough, however. For
the Palestinians' conversion to have "practical meaning," Netanyahu
explained, "there must also be a clear understanding that the
Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel's
borders." In other words, Palestinians must agree to help Israel
complete the ethnic cleansing it began in 1947-48, by abandoning the
right of return. This is indeed logical because as Zionists,
Palestinians would share the Zionist ambition that Palestine be
emptied of Palestinians to the greatest extent possible.
Netanyahu is smart enough to recognize that even the
self-ethnic-cleansing of refugees may not be sufficient to secure
"peace": there will still remain millions of Palestinians living
inconveniently in their native land, or in the heart of what
Netanyahu insisted was the "historic homeland" of the Jews.
For these Palestinians, the peace plan involves what Netanyahu calls
"demilitarization," but what should be properly understood as
unconditional surrender followed by disarmament. Disarmament, though
necessary, cannot be immediate, however. Some recalcitrant
Palestinians may not wish to become Zionists. Therefore, the newly
pledged Zionist Palestinians would have to launch a civil war to
defeat those who foolishly insist on resisting Zionism. Or as
Netanyahu put it, the "Palestinian Authority will have to establish
the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas." (In fact, this civil war
has already been underway for several years as the American and
Israeli-backed Palestinian "security forces," led by US Lt. General
Keith Dayton, have escalated their attacks on Hamas).
Once anti-Zionist Palestinians are crushed, the remaining
Palestinians -- whose number equals that of Jews in historic
Palestine -- will be able to get on with life as good Zionists,
according to Netanyahu's vision. They will not mind being squeezed
into ever smaller ghettos and enclaves in order to allow for the
continued expansion of Jewish colonies, whose inhabitants Netanyahu
described as "an integral part of our people, a principled,
pioneering and Zionist public." And, in line with their heartfelt
Zionism, Palestinians will naturally agree that "Jerusalem must
remain the united capital of Israel."
These are only the Palestinian-Israeli aspects of the Netanyahu plan.
The regional elements include full, Arab endorsement of Palestinian
Zionism and normalization of ties with Israel and even Arab Gulf
money to pay for it all. Why not? If everyone becomes a Zionist then
all conflict disappears.
It would be nice if we could really dismiss Netanyahu's speech as a
joke. But it is an important indicator of a hard reality. Contrary to
some naive and optimistic hopes, Netanyahu does not represent only an
extremist fringe in Israel. Today, the Israeli Jewish public presents
(with a handful of exceptions) a united front in favor of a racist,
violent ultra-nationalism fueled by religious fanaticism.
Palestinians are viewed at best as inferiors to be tolerated until
circumstances arise in which they can be expelled, or caged and
starved like the 1.5 million inmates of the Gaza prison.
Israel is a society where virulent anti-Arab racism and Nakba denial
are the norm although none of the European and American leaders who
constantly lecture about Holocaust denial will dare to admonish
Netanyahu for his bald lies and omissions about Israel's ethnic
cleansing of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu's "vision" offered absolutely no advance on the 1976 Allon
Plan for annexation of most of the occupied West Bank, or Menachem
Begin's Camp David "autonomy" proposals. The goal remains the same:
to control maximum land with minimum Palestinians.
Netanyahu's speech should put to rest newly revived illusions -- fed
in particular by US President Barack Obama's Cairo speech -- that
such an Israel can be brought voluntarily to any sort of just
settlement. Some in this region who have placed all their hopes in
Obama -- as they did previously in Bush -- believe that US pressure
can bring Israel to heel. They point to Obama's strong statements
calling for a complete halt to Israeli settlement construction -- a
demand Netanyahu defied in his speech. It now remains to be seen
whether Obama will follow his tough words with actions.
Yet, even if Obama is ready to put unprecedented pressure on Israel,
he would likely have to exhaust much of his political capital just to
get Israel to agree to a settlement freeze, let alone to move on any
of dozens of other much more substantial issues.
And despite the common perception of an escalating clash between the
Obama administration and the Israeli government (which may come over
minor tactical issues), when it comes to substantive questions they
agree on much more than they disagree. Obama has already stated that
"any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's
identity as a Jewish state," and he affirmed that "Jerusalem will
remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided." As for
Palestinian refugees, he has said, "The right of return [to Israel]
is something that is not an option in a literal sense."
For all the fuss about settlements, Obama has addressed only their
expansion, not their continued existence. Until the Obama
administration publicly dissociates itself from the positions of the
Clinton and Bush administrations, we must assume it agrees with them
and with Israel that the large settlement blocks encircling Jerusalem
and dividing the West Bank into ghettos would remain permanently in
any two-state solution. Neither Obama nor Netanyahu have mentioned
Israel's illegal West Bank wall suggesting that there is no
controversy over either its route or existence. And now, both agree
that whatever shreds are left can be called a "Palestinian state." No
wonder the Obama administration welcomed Netanyahu's speech as "a big
What is particularly dismaying about the position stated by Obama in
Cairo -- and since repeated constantly by his Middle East envoy
George Mitchell -- is that the United States is committed to the
"legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a
state of their own." This formula is designed to sound meaningful,
but these vague, campaign-style buzzwords are devoid of any reference
to inalienable Palestinian rights. They were chosen by American
speechwriters and public relations experts, not by Palestinians. The
Obama formula implies that any other Palestinian aspirations are
Where in international law, or UN resolutions can Palestinians find
definitions of "dignity" and "opportunity?" Such infinitely malleable
terms incorrectly reduce all of Palestinian history to a demand for
vague sentiments and a "state" instead of a struggle for liberation,
justice, equality, return and the restoration of usurped rights. It
is, after all, easy enough to conceive of a state that keeps
Palestinians forever dispossessed, dispersed, defenseless and under
threat of more expulsion and massacres by a racist, expansionist Israel.
Through history it was never leaders who defined rights, but the
people who struggled for them. It is no small achievement that for a
century Palestinians have resisted and survived Zionist efforts to
destroy their communities physically and wipe them from the pages of
history. As long as Palestinians continue to resist in every arena
and by all legitimate means, building on true international
solidarity, their rights can never be extinguished. It is from such a
basis of independent and indigenous strength, not from the elusive
promises of a great power or the favors of a usurping occupier, that
justice and peace can be achieved.
Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at
the United Nations.
Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of
<http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/store/548.shtml>One Country: A
Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan
A version of this article first appeared in The Jordan Times and is
reprinted with the authors' permission.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News