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      Op-Ed: So Bibi Wants to Trade Land for Peace

      Published: Friday, May 03, 2013 6:23 PM
      If that is the case, the Prime Minister is making a fatal mistake. Been there, done that.


      In response to the alleged Arab League softening, Netanyahu said:

      “The root of the conflict isn’t territorial. It began way before 1967. The Palestinians’ failure to accept the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict. If we reach a peace agreement, I want to know that the conflict won’t continue – that the Palestinians won’t come later with more demands.”

      Thus he is embracing “land for peace”. He is saying that he would rather have an end of conflict agreement and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state than Judea and Samaria or east Jerusalem.

      You will recall that when Pres Obama was here he said “The Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. I wondered at the time why he would make such a gratuitous remark out of the blue. But now that Netanyahu has said virtually the same thing, one wonders if some kind of deal was cut.

      I think he is making a big mistake in taking this posture. Let us say he did the reverse and claimed 20% of Judea and Samaria and all of Jerusalem. Thus land would be front and center in negotiations. Of course our security needs must be satisfied and and we would stand by our rejection of the Right of return. And we could still demand recognition.

      Thus negotiations would commence with both sides stating their territorial demands. That’s as it should be. It goes without saying that an end of conflict agreement would be part of the deal.

      As for the “right of return”, our posture could be that any token return that we might agree to would have to be accompanied by recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

      Instead, by saying that recognition is at the root of the conflict, he is in effect saying our territorial claims will not be a deal breaker but they should be. Would you rather get to keep all of Jerusalem and all the settlement blocs of get recognized by the PA as a Jewish state?

      Of what possible value does such recognition afford. It wouldn’t stop the world from opposing it nor would it stop the left in Israel and the Israeli Arabs from opposing it. Abbas is right, it is a matter of Israel’s internal politics only.

      What Netanyahu has done is to get Israelis to focus on recognition, rather than on retention of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. In so doing he is distracting us from what really matters.

      And that may be his purpose.