From the Wall Street Journal, JUNE 18, 2009:
Israel's PM gets no credit for bending on a two-state solution
... having a "hardline" Israeli Prime Minster call for a freeze on new settlement construction and propose immediate negotiations in order to create a Palestinian state might be seen as a breakthrough...
...Mr. Netanyahu broke with much of his own Likud party's rank-and-file to acknowledge Israel's interest in an independent Palestine. ... "... two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor's security and existence."
To this, the Palestinian reaction was to say the speech was "worthless," "nothing but a hoax," that it had "destroyed all peace initiatives and [chances for] a solution," and that Mr. Netanyahu was "a liar and a crook." And that was the reaction among the Palestinian moderates. Only Hamas and the Huffington Post were more withering.
...Mr. Netanyahu ... insisted the state be demilitarized; that Palestinian refugees not be resettled within Israel; and that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
...The transformation of the Gaza Strip into an armed and hostile Hamas enclave is evidence enough of why any future Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized. And that was after Israel uprooted its settlements.
Nor should the thought of Israel as a Jewish state be controversial: That's how it was conceived by the U.N. resolution that helped bring it into existence, and that's how it was recognized by Harry Truman minutes after it declared independence. The idea that a state can privilege a certain religion isn't strange, either -- witness the Church of England -- and needn't be invidious as long as it respects the religious traditions of all its citizens, as Israel does. As for the refugees, it's hard to understand the logic of simultaneously demanding a Palestinian state, free of Jewish settlements, while also insisting on Israel itself as a second Palestinian homeland.
Responding to Mr. Netanyahu's speech, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called it an "important step forward," but offered little more than that. The Administration could help matters more by providing the Israelis with greater assurances that they won't simultaneously demand further Israeli concessions while doing nothing serious to stop Iran -- a leading patron of Hamas -- from getting nuclear weapons. A Palestinian state poses enough challenges to Israeli security without it being an atomic spearpoint.
As for the Palestinians, for too long they have practiced a kind of fantasy politics, in which all right was on their side, concession was dishonor, and mistakes never had consequences. It hasn't earned them much. Mr. Netanyahu's speech now offers them the choice between fantasy and statehood. Judging from early reactions, they're choosing wrongly again.