Two Cheers for Netanyahu

Analysis:Everybody knows that Netanyahu has the gift of rhetoric. Are the punches he landed worth the concessions that he offered?

Dr. Amiel Ungar , | updated: 7:14 AM

Congressmen welcome Netanyahu
Congressmen welcome Netanyahu
Israel news photo:

Everybody knows that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is a deft and articulate speaker and he proved this once again in his address before the two houses of Congress. The address had a number of good points, stylistically and content-wise, but the very fact that Tzahi Hanegbi of Kadima could find no fault with it means that it could have been delivered -perhaps with less panache and dash -by another politician and even by a party to the left of Likud.

Let us start with the good points. As opposed to other politicians, the Prime Minister used the words Judea and Samaria and termed them parts of the Jewish homeland. Judea and Samaria is not a cancerous limb, the Prime Minister called them a part of the historic Jewish homeland.

The Prime Minister was blunt about putting the blame on the Palestinian side and establishing the fact that the conflict was not over territory, but over the very legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Middle East. He did this well and amplified the passage in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's speech before AIPAC that brought down the house.

Israeli politicians, particularly President Shimon Peres, feel that by describing the Palestinians as they are, they are subverting the peace process. Netanyahu was not shy and did not give Arab anti-Semitism a free pass, but cited the genocidal anti-Semitic approach of Hamas. He also effectively inserted mention of the persecution of Christians by the Moslem world.

In seemingly throwaway remarks, Netanyahu demolished the Europeans, saying "the European observers evaporated overnight." He was probably also referring to the Europeans when he condemned the lack of outrage when Iran threatens to eradicate Israel.

He managed to co-opt president Obama on a number of occasions in support of his position, something that will probably have Obama squirming in protest. He also managed a dig here and there, for example, commending Obama for imposing sanctions on Iran but then adding that the American Congress had passed tougher sanctions.

Where Obama was vague, Netanyahu was explicit - no return to 1967, the Arab refugee problem will be solved outside of Israel, and  there are creative solutions to Jerusalem, although it will stay undivided and united under Israeli control.

So there were many positives.

There were also negatives, such as the promise that Israel would be in the forefront of those welcoming a Palestinian state to the United Nations. There was talk of generous concessions and some settlements outside the boundaries of a Jewish state.

True, the Prime Minister could argue that the Arabs would never agree to the minimal conditions that he had set in the address. In the meantime, the Arab side has pocketed another concession.

If even a so-called right wing Prime Minister can offer such concessions, what is the Arab incentive for making peace? What penalty does the Arab side face for its refusal to engage in negotiations in the expectation that it will get a better deal?

This was the part of the Obama argument that the Prime Minister did not rebut and should have. If, as Obama says,  time is working against Israel, then Israel should snap up every deal that is offered because the world is getting tired of the conflict.