When Netanyahu Invalidated Camp David and Wadi Araba By Ahmad Barqawi

19 June, 2009 – Palestine Think Tank

Netanyahu-2.jpg“The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been and remains – the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state on its historical homeland”. Never have I heard the entire Arab-Israeli conflict summed up so concisely yet so deceptively.

Of course those were the words of Benjamin Netanyahu during his latest speech which was delivered –ever so eloquently- last Sunday; the 30-minute Israeli foreign policy speech that laid more damage to an already frail and worn out peace process, was a clear demonstration of Tel Aviv’s right winged government’s profound sense of political tyranny and down right immaturity; and what astounds me the most is this seemingly inexhaustible ability of Israel’s successive governments to sensationalize the opinions of a bunch of right winged religious fanatics and Zionist nationalists and easily get away with it appearing rather praiseworthy in the eyes of western leaders.

In its essence, the speech was no different than the sheer bigoted and “uncompromising” rhetoric that seems to characterize the common Jewish settler, it showed a complete distrust of Arabs and disdain for their efforts to reach a just peace settlement (or any peace settlement for that matter); it was no different than countless of speeches that Netanyahu and his cohorts of neo-fascists and extremists made while campaigning for the latest parliamentary elections, which garnered them the support of the majority of Israelis and ultimately led to the rise of his own party; the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and the rest of their allies to power.

True that he tried to sugarcoat it with a couple of carefully chosen phrases scattered here and there, but that actually resulted in the whole thing being mired in contradictions and falsehoods, in one instance he appealed to the Palestinian people to start peace negotiations “immediately without prior conditions” and in the other; he expressed that The “fundamental condition” for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People.

If the recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people was and still is such an unavoidable and essential prerequisite for reaching a peace settlement and that the Arabs’ refusal to meet that condition “has been and remains the root” of this 60-year long and historic conflict; shouldn’t the peace treaties that Israel signed with both Egypt and Jordan be immediately and completely negated given that neither the Camp David accords nor the Wadi Araba Treaty recognized that very same “fundamental condition”?

But Netanyahu’s audacious and confrontational “twisted” logic was indeed something to be seen when he said: “I call upon the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world, to come and invest here, to assist the Palestinians and us, to give the economy a jump-start. Together we can develop industrial zones, we can create thousands of jobs, and foster tourism that will draw millions…” ….so in short; Arab leaders could go on all day about the niceties of the Arab peace initiative until they go blue in the face; but for Netanyahu it is total and complete normalization of relations first, then –in the far distant and uncertain future- the possibility of demilitarized Palestinian cantons on whatever land that Jewish settlers will approve of granting to the Palestinians could be negotiated.

In his first official reaction to Netanyahu’s speech, U.S. president Barack Obama said the there was a positive movement in the Prime Minister’s speech and that he (Netanyahu) acknowledged the need for two states.

That was the final nail in the coffin of what little hope the Arab world might have had for a “real change” in the United States’ approach with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be brought about by the new “brave” American administration and it shouldn’t come as a surprise either, Obama’s vision of a Palestinian state is akin to that of Netanyahu’s and he can definitely relate to it; after all, it was the United States that first practiced that very same logic and contained native Americans into segregated reservations (read demilitarized and heavily populated cantons) with no territorial integrity or control over their own natural resources.

And even if that was not the case; the truth of the matter is that the current status quo is what preserves this comfortable equilibrium that world leaders and regional regimes have grown so habituated to; because evidently it is far “safer” for them than the alternative in many cases, and from the looks of it; this status quo is –and will be- dearly nurtured in safe hands, at least for the next four years, and no “pacifying” speech (whether from Cairo or elsewhere) will distract the common Palestinian in besieged Gaza from realizing that.