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Bennett: Obama Visit was Like Oslo Revisited

Minister says Obama's peacey-feely statements reminded him of euphoria preceding terror war. This time, he vows, things will be different.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/30/2013, 9:20 PM

Bennett meets Obama
Bennett meets Obama
Photo: PR

Minister of Economy and Trade, Naftali Bennett , Chairman of the Bayit Yehudi party, wrote a Facebook post Friday in which he spoke of his feelings during the visit to Israel by U.S. President Barack Obama. The feelings were not good ones.

"Last week I took part in the events in honor of President Obama and I even got to talk to him," Bennett wrote. "The general atmosphere reminded me of the Oslo era. The feeling as if… 'if we only will it, if we are only able to cede enough ground, the long-awaited peace will come.'"

"'One must take chances for peace,' 'people on both sides want peace,' 'a Palestinian state next to Israel is the only chance for peace' – all of these are nice statements, but they are divorced from reality."

"I was reminded of the Second Intifada," he wrote, using the Arab term for the massive terror war launched by Yasser Arafat in 2000, sometimes also referred to as the Oslo War. "Hundreds of murdered victims every month from suicide attacks in coffee shops and buses in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. March 2002 was a black month. Hardly a day went by without a terror attack: at Café Moment in Jerusalem, at the Beit Yisrael neighborhood [in Jerusalem], at Ofra, at the Atzmona pre-military academy, at Megiddo.

"The attack that broke the camel's back was on the Seder Eve at the Park Hotel in Netanya. Thirty Israelis were killed – including married couples, a father and his daughter, elderly people and more. 160 people were wounded, some very badly. They said it them too: 'You can't defeat terror by force.' 'There is no military solution to terrorism.' 'Only diplomatic negotiations will bring about calm.'"

"And then we launched Operation Defensive Shield and it turned out that everyone was wrong. Only force can be used against terrorism. The IDF – and not diplomacy – defeated the terror.

"At the time," Bennett recalled, "I was in the U.S. as director of my hi-tech company. Immediately after the first holiday [of Pesach] I boarded a plane and returned to Israel, and I joined the fighting in the Tul Karem region. I remember the drive to our base of departure near Yad Hana, and the great fear mongering, 'You cannot enter the Palestinian cities.' But I also remember the great warmth we, the combat soldiers, received from the Israeli public: piles of socks, chocolates, letters from kindergarten children and more."

"We defeated the terror machine. The IDF took out hundreds of terrorists, took control of the infrastructures, and in a short time the terror attacks diminished sharply (even before the separation fence was built). In the course of last year, 2012, there were zero (!) killed by Palestinian terror, as opposed to hundreds in the month of March 2002. Against all the theories, the IDF defeated terrorism by force.

"Eve-ry-one turned out to be wrong. Yes – the politicians, the pundits, the media people and the experts – were simply wrong. Today, 11 years later, they are going back to the same perception. Today I am in an official position and on a mission to serve the Nation of Israel, as a minister in the Israeli government, and as a member of the Cabinet for Diplomacy and Security. This time, I will act with all of my strength to prevent another catastrophe, even if it is not popular to do so. I will not let myself be swept up by the commonly held opinion, but rather consider things with common sense. I desire peace with the Arabs no less than anyone else does, but the path of handing over territory to our enemies is not right. I told President Obama: 'It is time to explore new avenues, which are different and creative.' He said that it is important for him to meet and listen.

"My great lesson," summed up Bennett: "I will never be silent even if everyone thinks otherwise. I suggest you do the same."