Rebuttal to AP's Unprecedented Rebuttal of Netanyahu's Speech
Someone named Josef Federman has written a rebuttal for the Associated Press - said to be an unbiased, international news source - to points made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his speech before the U.S. Congress this week.
Federman wrote that the Prime Minister's address reflected only the world view of "Israel's nationalistic right wing" - though a full 47% of Israelis said they were pleased with the speech.
The points with which Federman/AP wished to take issue appear below, followed by Federman/AP's rebuttals, followed by Israel National News commentary.
NETANYAHU: "In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo."
The rest of the quote (not provided by Federman/AP): “This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”
Federman/AP: While the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, is promised to the Jewish people in the Bible, the international community considers the West Bank occupied territory. Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war but has never annexed it. Its occupied status is underscored by the presence of tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers who protect Israeli settlements and control the movement of Palestinian residents in the name of security.
INN: Some in the international community do consider this land occupied, but in fact, the last nation in history to be both sovereign in Judea/Samaria and inhabit it was the Jewish People – in the year 68 C.E. Since then, the area has been under occupation a number of times, with Israel ultimately reclaiming it during the Six Day War from Jordan - the country that illegally invaded the area in 1948, and followed this up with an occupation and annexation recognized by no one in the world other than Britain and Pakistan.
Israel's legal claim to these areas, on the other hand, stems not from illegal invasion, but rather from its victory in a defensive war.
In fact, jurist and international law expert Stephen Schwebel - later the president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague - wrote in 1970 that "Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."
NETANYAHU: "You don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves."
Federman/AP: Israel is a leading recipient of American foreign aid, including more than $1 billion in military assistance each year.
INN: Netanyahu meant to contrast Israel and its independent defense forces to the countries where US Army troops are deployed and risk their lives to help the local armed forces, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
His statement was made in the context of a comparison to other Arab states, and was followed by an expression of deep thanks.
Here is the full quote: “In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American. My friends, you don’t need to do nation-building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. You don’t need to send American troops to defend Israel. We defend ourselves. You’ve been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel’s security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this."
Federman/AP also did not mention that ahead of Israel in U.S. foreign aid are Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that in fourth place is Egypt.
NETANYAHU: "You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it."
Federman/AP: Israel does give its Arab minority full civil rights, including participation in elections. But Israeli Arabs suffer from systematic discrimination in housing and the workplace. Also, more than 2 million Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship and therefore cannot vote in Israeli elections.
INN: Yes, Israel does give its Arab minority full civil rights, including participation in elections and Arab MK's, precisely as Netanyahu said, and in sharp contrast with minorities in many Arab countries. The claim of systematic discrimination is groundless, as is evidenced by the number of Arab judges, lawyers, doctors, as compared to their population figures. The number of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria is nowhere near 2 million, and is in fact closer to 1.3 million; unlike their brethren in Israel, they do not have Israeli citizenship and do not vote because they are citizens of the Palestinian Authority.
NETANYAHU: "Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda."
Federman/AP: While Hamas and Al-Qaeda have killed hundreds of people in religious holy wars, they have no connection, and Hamas has in fact come under criticism from the global terror network for being too moderate. Al-Qaeda preaches global jihad. Hamas says its struggle is solely against Israel, not the West at large. In its Gaza stronghold, Hamas has violently clashed with smaller armed groups that claim inspiration from Al-Qaeda.
INN: Yes, Hamas and Al-Qaeda sometimes differ and even clash; does this mean that Hamas is not a murderous organization bent on Israel's destruction, just as Al-Qaeda is? And if Hamas wishes to concentrate its murderous intentions on Israeli Jews, or on Jews in general, and not on other Westerners, does that make Hamas an acceptable negotiating partner for Israel – or for any country?
NETANYAHU: "The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv."
Federman/AP: Nearly all of these communities were built in the face of overwhelming international opposition and are considered illegal settlements by the world, including the U.S. There are 300,000 Israelis living in the West Bank and 200,000 in east Jerusalem, making a total of 500,000.
INN: Much of what Israel does, and even its very existence, is not applauded by all “the world.” The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were and are built not only in strict accordance with Israeli law, but in accordance with the British Mandate that recognized the right of the Jewish people to "close settlement" in the whole of the Mandated territory. As Eugene Rostow has written, “That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors. And perhaps not even then, in view of Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, the 'Palestine' article, which provides that 'nothing in the Charter shall be construed... to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments...'"
In addition, though some governments interpret the Geneva Convention of 1949 as forbidding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, for one, did not agree, and specifically said that though the settlements pose a psychological obstacle to the peace process, they are legal.
For the record, over 300,000 Israelis live in Judea/Samaria and another 300,000-plus live in the Jerusalem areas liberated in 1967.
NETANYAHU: " The Palestinian economy is booming. It's growing by more than 10 percent a year."
Federman/AP: The West Bank economy is indeed growing rapidly. But the World Bank has noted that the growth comes after years of contraction during fighting with Israel and has been fueled by huge amounts of foreign aid. It warns the growth is unsustainable unless Israel does more to encourage the Palestinian private sector.
INN: Netanyahu actually followed the above by saying, “Palestinian cities … have shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, banks. They even have e-businesses. This is all happening without peace. Imagine what could happen with peace. Peace would herald a new day for both peoples. It would make the dream of a broader Arab-Israeli peace a realistic possibility. So now here is the question. You have to ask it. If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us? … Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.” [emphasis added]