Calling for Palestinian capitulation, not peace and liberation, Netanyahu delivered a litany of lies, fabrications, misstatements, and half-truths to AIPAC members on May 23, saying:
— “Israel is unjustly accused of not wanting peace with the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth.” In fact, he once called the peace process “a waste of time,” governing accordingly to avoid it.
— Peace “can only come through….mutual trust,” he said, adding that he envisions “peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.” In fact, they’re preconditions solely for them, no other states with which Israel has diplomatic relations, including peace treaty terms with Egypt and Jordan.
— “Israel stands ready to make compromises necessary for peace.” In fact, Israel never had a peace camp. For decades, efforts were stillborn, obstructing it, perpetuating conflict, and denying Palestinians a sovereign independent state or a viable one-state solution for all its people.
— “(O)ne thing I will never compromise is our security.”
In fact, claimed existential “security” threats are bogus, a red herring, mischaracterizing Israel as vulnerable, surrounded by hostile Arab states. Nuclear armed, it’s a regional superpower, unthreatened since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Addressing Congress on May 24, he repeated the same canards, including saying he’s ready to “make painful compromises (for) peace,” while remaining obstructionist against it, a viable Palestinian state, Jerusalem as its capital, Hamas/Fatah unity, and the inviolable right of return.
In response, New York Times writers Helene Cooper and Ethan Bronner headlined, “Netanyahu Gives No Ground in Congress Speech,” saying:
“….Palestinians will not get a right of return to Israel…. Jerusalem will never again be divided,” and Israel’s 1967 borders aren’t defensible. New ones must incorporate expanding settlements, an IDF presence along the Jordan River, and Palestinians confined to isolated cantons in ghetto communities or worthless scrubland, an offer no responsible leader will accept.
Moreover, he demanded abandonment of Palestinian unity as a precondition for negotiations, saying Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist. In fact, it accepts it in return for a viable Palestinian state within 1967 borders, 22% of historic Palestine, a major concession Israel rejects, wanting all valued parts of Judea and Samaria.
No matter. Congress treated him like visiting royalty, Cooper and Bronner saying he got “so many standing ovations that at times it appeared that the lawmakers were listening to his speech standing up.”
Rejecting Netanyahu’s Obstructionism
In response, Mahmoud Abbas said he offered “nothing we can build on.” In fact, he “traveled far from peace,” subverting it by dictating terms, remaining obstructionist like all Israeli leaders.
A May 25 Haaretz editorial was just as harsh, headling “Netanyahu wasted his chance to present a vision for peace,” saying:
Instead of new ideas, a constructive vision, and genuine willingness to negotiate equitably, “we were witness to the same old messages,” dictating terms, offering nothing substantive in return.
He ignored all essentials for peace, including “leav(ing) a decisive majority of West Bank territory in the hands of the Palestinians.” As a result, he’s “leading Israel and the Palestinians into a new round of violence, along with Israel’s isolation” at a time of Arab spring uprisings. “The time has come for….Israel(is) who seek peace to be heard. Israel deserves a different leader.”
Like America, in fact, most Israel parties differ little on core issues, including Likud, Kadima, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Shas, endorsing hardline militancy and neoliberal toughness, offering no concessions for equity and peace.
On May 24, an Al Jazeera editorial said “leading Democrats and Republicans….support(ed) Netanyahu in his tricks to justify the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as his incitement against Arabs and Muslims.”
“His speech was a blueprint (on) how (to) defend Israel in refusing to end the occupation, oppression, and subjugation of the Palestinian people. The focus on the Jewishness of the Zionist state has been the new ploy to block any peaceful resolution.” Palestinians reject it as should everyone for equal rights and peace.
If anyone doubts “how Israeli leaders control the US government,” watch congressional and other pro-Israeli groups’ fealty to Israel, subverting any chance for justice.
Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, “Netanyahu’s speech to Congress shows America will buy anything,” saying:
“It was an address with no destination, filled with lies on top of lies and illusions heaped on illusions.” Rarely do foreign leaders address Congress. Perhaps none ever presented “such a pile of propaganda and prevarication, such hypocrisy and sanctimony” as Netanyahu to repeated standing ovations, a bipartisan hallelujah chorus loving it. If most Americans did also, “we’re in big trouble,” said Levy.
Imagine, Netanyahu praises Israeli democracy when he’s hammered it with mortal blows. His coalition Knesset partners passed racist, fascist laws, vilifying anyone not Jewish, denying their basic rights, including treating Israeli Arabs as existential threats when, in fact, they’re citizens like all Jews.
Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said:
“What Netanyahu said does not lead to peace. Peace for us means a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will not accept any Israeli presence inside the Palestinian state, particularly on the River Jordan. (P)eace should be based on international resolutions and negotiations, and not by putting preconditions and more obstacles in the way of the peace process.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his speech “makes the continuation of negotiations with the Zionist entity….wrong and pointless.”
The Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom also reacted critically, saying:
His speech was “composed of dozens of gimmicks and empty cliches, talk of peace which he does not intend to conclude and of a fictional Palestinian state which he has no intention of seeing become reality. (Instead, he intends) to continue occupation rule over millions of people by (brute) force, against their will,” perpetuating decades-long harshness.
Praise from Hardline Israeli-Firsters
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) “praised (Netanyahu) for making clear to the US Congress and the world (about) Hamas’ call for the worldwide murder of every Jew and his reiteration that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian Authority (PA)/Hamas unity government nor return to the perilous 1949 armistice lines.”
Its statement echoed Netanyahu’s lies and racist condemnation of an entire people for their faith and ethnicity.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also applauded Netanyahu’s “commitment to negotiating a lasting peace with the Palestinians,” adding:
“He made a powerful case for Israel’s unique relationship with the US as the only democracy and stable American ally in a turbulent region,” as well as highlighting “Israel’s need for security.”
Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin called his speech “a triumph….eloquent and brilliant (laying) out Israel’s desire for peace,” when, in fact, it spurned it since 1948.
A Final Comment
Instead of embracing peace, Netanyahu spurns it. In his book, “The End of the Peace Process,” Edward Said said:
“(N)o negotiations are better than endless concessions that simply prolong the Israeli occupation. Israel is certainly pleased that it can take the credit for having made peace, and at the same time continue the occupation with Palestinian consent.”
Peace, in fact, depends on evenhanded give and take, resolving divergent issues equitably for both sides. It can’t solely be on Israeli terms, demanding capitulation, leaving Palestinians isolated in a wasteland of destruction and human misery, enduring appalling indignities for their faith, ethnicity and presence.
As a result, their liberating struggle continues for:
— ending occupation;
— a government of their own choosing;
— sovereign independence within 1967 borders, 22% of historic Palestine with mutually agreed on land swaps to assure it;
— Jerusalem as its capital;
— the inviolable right of return; and
— full recognition as a UN member state with all rights and privileges.
On November 15, 1988, the Palestine National Council (PNC) proclaimed an independent Palestinian state. According to the 1925 Palestine Citizenship Order in Council, Palestinians, their children and grandchildren are automatically citizens, including refugees.
Provisionally, Washington recognizes Palestinian independence. Under UN Charter Article 80(1), its position can’t be reversed by vetoing SC resolutions, calling for its UN admission. Doing so is illegal, subject to SC action under the Charter’s Chapter VI, despite Obama telling AIPAC that no UN vote “will ever create an independent Palestinian state.”
The Security Council, in fact, recommends admissions. The General Assembly affirms them by a two-thirds majority. In December 1988, it did so, granting Palestine all member rights except to vote. PA leaders will seek it in September. Washington and Israel object, spurning peace, reconciliation, and potential challenges to their dominance. No longer can that agenda be tolerated.