Photo: AFP
What's with the double standard when it comes to Netanyahu?
Photo: AFP
Ben-Dror Yemini

Take Netanyahu at his word on negotiations

Op-ed: Why do so many people rush to believe Abbas' peace declarations but not his comments to the Palestinians but the opposite when it comes to the Israeli PM?

In a meeting a few days ago with EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed holding a series of talks about the "settlement borders." Gilad Erdan, whose new titles make him one of Israel's six foreign ministers, added in response that "the negotiations will involve territorial concessions."



Like with any proposal linked to Netanyahu, the regular choir broke out into its well-known chorus: He's fooling everyone; he doesn't mean it; it's simply another move to buy time; he's deceiving us again.


Interestingly, when Netanyahu says something in the opposite vein, the likes of the statement: "There won't be a Palestinian state during my term in office," he becomes the most trustworthy individual who truly means every word he says – even if the statement came in the heat of the election campaign and was designed to attract voters right of the Likud.


Why the hell is Netanyahu viewed as a con artist only when he says something that rings of moderation? And how come those very same leftists know that every rejectionist statement from Mahmoud Abbas is made "for internal purposes," only, whereas every moderate statement is "proof that the Palestinian leader wants peace" and should be taken seriously?


The settlement enterprise is the biggest bone of contention between Israel and Western leaders. They are under the impression that Israel is expanding and stifling any possibility of a Palestinian state. This isn't true. The expansion is taking place primarily within the large settlement blocs.


Netanyahu's proposal comes to resolve the ongoing disputes with Europe and the United States. After all, the Clinton peace plan, the Geneva Initiative and Olmert's proposal all include settlement blocs. So why does construction in Ramat Shlomo, which will never be ceded under any peace arrangement, spark responses that sound like we are dealing with settlement building in the heart of Jenin?


It was Abbas who rejected peace without the right of return, not Netanyahu. (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
It was Abbas who rejected peace without the right of return, not Netanyahu. (Photo: Reuters)


US Secretary of State John Kerry ran back and forth between Ramallah and Jerusalem. He prepared a draft proposal, which wasn't very different to the Clinton plan. Netanyahu appeared inclined to respond positively to most of its clauses. He didn't agree to the division of Jerusalem.


At a crunch meeting at the White House on March 17, 2014, Abbas and his team rejected the offer – in the exact same way that the same Abbas rejected Ehud Olmert's offer in 2008; and in the exact same way that Yasser Arafat rejected Clinton's proposal in late 2000.


Tzipi Livni, in all fairness, made it clear that the talks mediated by Kerry didn't fail because of Netanyahu, but primarily due to Abbas. The moderate, so very moderate, Palestinian leader has already said no, and will continue to say no, to any and every proposal that does not include the right of return en masse.


Against this backdrop, the Zionist left should have seized on Netanyahu's initiative to determine the "borders of the settlements" because in light of Abbas' positions, and also due to the current geopolitical situation and the make-up of the new Israeli government, there is no chance of securing a peace deal. But there is a chance to adopt measures that would ward off the disaster of one big state. And the most important step in this direction is to put a stop to the expansion of the settlement enterprise.


It can be done – because in the framework of the talks with Kerry, Netanyahu agreed to a Palestinian state covering more than 90 percent of the West Bank. Netanyahu's consent came under pressure; it was forced out of him; but he gave it. Thus, a dialogue is possible. There is room for an important step. And when the danger of a takeover of Judea and Samaria by one of the Jihadi offshoots, like Hamas, subsides, we can move on to additional steps. But if nothing is done, if the stagnation persists, then the horrific vision of a single state will begin to take shape.


It turns out that the Palestinians aren't the only ones to miss every opportunity; the new Zionist left, as opposed to the Zionist left of yesteryear, would rather stick with political cattiness than afford a chance, albeit a small one, to taking a step in the right direction.


פרסום ראשון: 05.29.15, 17:31
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