INN Op-Ed:PM Must Respectfully but Clearly Reject Obama's Speech
Predictably no sooner had Barack Obama finished his speech on the Middle East, then Americans for Peace Now, via its CEO Donna Delee, endorsed it on the spot.
It is uncertain whether the greater motivation was Pavlovian salivation over the word 'peace', Obama worship, reflexive Bibi bashing or an equal combination of the three.
What Ms. DeLee overlooked was that the Obama speech went further in the direction of the Palestinians than even the extremely delusional Geneva process mounted by the Israeli left.
The position of the Israeli left at Geneva was that a grand bargain (as if a withdrawal to indefensible lines and making Jerusalem the nation's capital even more vulnerable than Sderot could be considered a bargain) would be struck:
In return for an Israeli territorial surrender of Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian side would accept closure and would sign away its demands for a "right of return " of the perpetual Palestinian refugees to the territory of sovereign Israel. Another assumption of the left was that a Palestinian state would be demilitarized, although we have already seen how effective promises of demilitarization have been in South Lebanon and in the Palestinian Authority.
Now Barack Obama has handed a posthumous victory to Yasser Arafat. Arafat at Camp David in the year 2000 spurned Ehud Barak's grand bargain of total Israeli withdrawal in return for renouncing the right of return in the belief that ultimately he could secure an Israeli withdrawal without conceding anything.
Barack Obama has now prioritized Israeli withdrawal while leaving the Arab refugee issue unresolved. If this would happen, it means that Israel will have surrendered the territories while the Arabs retain a casus belli and can still invoke dead relics such as resolution 194 from 1949 calling for the return of the refugees.
This, as any simpleton knows, is tantamount to Israel's extinction. For the Israeli and Jewish left to endorse this formula proves that the left has no red lines.
Obama's speech also includes a "creative term" that is not recognized by international law. Instead of demilitarization the Obama address speaks of non-militarization. This admits plenty of undefined room for the Palestinians even before their expected evasion of the treaty. Under Oslo, the Palestinians were already allowed a strong police force which became a de facto army of 40,000 men. This was under demilitarization, so what can we expect under the nonexistent term of non-militarization?
I normally accord a great deal of respect to Hagai Huberman's views published in the Hebrew edition and translated here on Israel National News. Huberman advises Netanyahu to wait for a Palestinian rejection because some terms will be rejected by them.
In this case I must disagree with Huberman. Hamas has already rejected the speech but Mahmoud Abbas is temporizing. I expect the Palestinians to endorse it, but even if they reject it so what?
The entire negotiations history, from UN Security Council resolution 242 on, has demonstrated two things: when the Palestinians reject a compromise proposal they are eventually offered an even more attractive deal; when Israel offers major concessions, as Binyamin Netanyahu did in his recent Knesset speech, these are damned with faint praise and the call is for further concessions.
The "price" that the Palestinians paid for rejecting the Clinton proposals in 2000 is an Obama speech that goes further in their direction and does not exact a penalty for their perfidy and launch of the Oslo war a.k.a. the Second intifada.
One should also pay attention to the subtext. "The world is tired of the conflict". It wants a fix - any fix - and since the Arabs won't budge, the obvious policy is to lean on Israel.
Netanyahu has no alternative but to respectfully but vigorously reject the terms of the address. From the roadmap on, words and Israeli policy of yes have eventually become yes with no if's or but's.
Finally, if Netanyahu, in order to create the illusion of harmony refrains from challenging the address and confronting Obama head on, he would be undercutting Israel's allies in the United States. Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have already harshly condemned the administration sellout of Israel, with Romney calling it "throwing Israel under the bus".
It would be one thing if they were wrong and were merely grandstanding for political gain. But Romney's description is dead right and Israel must back up its friends. What politician will prove willing to stick his neck out in the future, only to see Israel cave in and make him appear ludicrous.