Wednesday, July 08, 2009

‘No, you can’t’

From Ynet news, 8/7/09, by Martin Sherman:

Israel needs leader willing to face Obama and say: ‘No, you can’t’

"…for the first time we have reached a national agreement on the two states for two people concept." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at cabinet meeting, June 5, 2009.

...The stark contrast between Netanyahu's cabinet statement and his first rousing and resolute address to the Likud Central Committee as premier in 1996, evoke feelings of profound sadness, bitter disappointment, and deep concern. His opening words then to the eager crowd were: "There will be no Palestinian State."

... His capitulation – however reluctant - to the notion of "two-states" which he has rejected reflects a failure of will or of intellect - or of both.

... the unvarnished truth is indeed brutal - and binary: In the narrow sliver of land between "The River" and "The Sea" there can prevail – and eventually there will prevail – either exclusive Jewish political sovereignty or exclusive Arab political sovereignty. The side that will endure will be the side whose political will is stronger and whose political vision is sharper.

...Over a decade ago, this writer cautioned that “…the structure of the bargain required to be struck between (Israel) and the Arabs seems inherently irresolvable. For whatever appears to be even minimally adequate…for Israel, seems to be totally inadequate… for the Arabs." Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, made precisely the same point recently: “…the maximum that any government of Israel will be ready to offer the Palestinians and still survive politically is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian leader can accept.”

For while the demands that the Palestinian state be demilitarized, that it be barred from forging military pacts or from controlling its airspace may seem reasonable to Israelis as a minimum requirement for maintaining their national (and personal) security, they are in fact wildly unreasonable, and totally unrealistic by any objective international criterion.

For to condition recognition of nationhood on national defenselessness is clearly absurd – indeed virtually self-contradictory. After all, one cannot profess to a desire to allow the Palestinians to "govern themselves" and then promptly proceed to demand the prerogative to determine in which areas they will or won't be permitted to govern themselves. One cannot purport to recognize the right of a people to statehood and then negate their right to defend their state.

To expect acceptance of such a far-fetched notion is foolish, and to hope that it could be effectively maintained or monitored in the unlikely event of it being implemented, is to be completely detached from reality. For should the Palestinian state be threatened by some adversary other than Israel, who will be called on to protect it? Or are we to assume that Palestinian state will be totally immune from enmity with all other nations? Or would Israeli youth be called on to shed blood to defend Palestinians in some internecine intra-Islamic dispute?

...In the final analysis then, Netanyahu's proposals are either delusional or deceitful; his policy prescriptions foolish, fanciful or fraudulent. Whatever the case, they bestow little credit on himself or his country. He has, in principle, accepted the general outline of the failed Oslo-concept, which he resolutely rejected for almost two decades.

However, as Netanyahu himself has pointed out, and as both the Hezbollah and Hamas have very tangibly demonstrated, even if the Palestinian state was not fully militarized, even without heavy artillery, armor or aircraft, renegade radicals could easily paralyze the country with light and primitive weapons that either are unauthorized or ostensibly not in violation of the stipulated restrictions.

With dizzying speed, the demilitarized-state formula will be exposed - indeed is already being exposed - as unfeasible and ephemeral.

...These are perilous times for Israel. Netanyahu's volte face has made them even more so. Today, the nation needs a leader who has the intellectual power, the ideological commitment and the political will not only remind the Israeli public that in Hebrew "Yes we can" translates in "Im tirzu ein zu agada" (If you will it, it is no dream), but also a leader with the resolve to resist the American administration and say: "No, you can’t.”
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