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Ray Hanania

A declaration of no peace

By RAY HANANIA, posted May 30, 2011

Netanyahu’s speech before Congress was the most stunning example of a leader intentionally missing an chance to bring about an agreement.

How else can you describe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “tour” which began with a deep-freeze meeting with President Barack Obama, an uncompromising speech to his base constituency at AIPAC and his climactic pro-Israel rally at a joint session of the US Congress?

Netanyahu’s speech was intentionally insulting to Obama in a very personal manner, as demonstrated by the lengthy applause that Netanyahu received that exceeded any applause that Obama has ever received from the Congress.

Any American watching Netanyahu’s rock concert-like performance at the Joint Session of Congress recognized right away that his priority was to politically slap Obama in the face, rather than outline, as his aides had promised, a peace plan with the Palestinians.

There was no peace plan. The only plan Netanyahu offered was a plan for continued conflict, telling Palestinians that they have no future, while demanding that they recognize Israel’s right to exists (as the Palestinians did in 1988, and six times since).

Netanyahu’s vision is a declaration that the only option before us is conflict, telling Palestinian moderates like myself that peace is impossible with Netanyahu’s Israel and that we are headed towards a future of worsening conflict.

It was the most stunning example of a Middle East leader intentionally missing an opportunity to bring about a peace accord.

Netanyahu's speech was replete with one-sided claims and exaggerated reviews of history. Most insulting was his reference to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” which is no different, insultwise, to how Arab extremists often describe Israel as the “Zionist Entity.”

For moderates who believe in peace, there was nothing to cheer in Netanyahu’s statements. If he can’t have the blind support of the president, he is happy to have the backing of Congress, Israel’s greatest cheerleader, judging by the 26 standing ovations Congressmen and women gave him during the speech.

Netanyahu basically rejected any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, much as he has done in the past. This time, his excuse was the unit deal with Hamas.

Nowhere in his speech did Netanyahu acknowledge that in his own coalition holds some vicious extremists, people who refuse to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu’s speech was the clearest declaration that the future of peace does not lie in negotiations.

The only option the Palestinians have to achieve statehood is by taking their case to the United Nations in September, come what may.

Palestinians should be prepared for an angry backlash from Israel, but declaring statehood and receiving UN recognition is the only road left.

The prime minister believes wrongly that the prodemocracy protests in the region show that the Arab world does not care about Israel’s Palestinian problem. But it does. And Israel’s confrontational reaction to the move will only serve as the catalyst to refocus the Arab street against Israel in a more powerful way than before.

The prime minister’s actions make it impossible for Palestinians to believe that Israel is sincere in its desire for peace.

Israelis can choose a future based on peace and two states, or they can embrace Netanyahu’s fatalistic strategy.


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