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Netanyahu's latest rant
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 12 - 03 - 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave one of his typical speeches at this year's AIPAC (American Israel Public Affair's Committee) convention in Washington. Before he delivered his usual sermon about Iran and the other “terrorists” in the region, he implored the friendship and alliance between Israel and the United States. This time, neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden showed up.
Netanyahu's main purpose of coming to Washington was, however, to strengthen the forces of opposition to talks between Iran and the five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. For Palestinian negotiators, he erected insurmountable political obstacles in order to prevent a durable peace agreement by demanding that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state — for the Palestinian leadership a non-starter. Netanyahu also rejected international peacekeeping forces in the occupied Palestinian territories, and insisted on a future military presence in the Jordan Valley. In addition to Iran, he also criticised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. According to him, it's the “latest chapter in a long and dark history of anti-Semitism”. And “those who wear” the BDS label should be “treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite”.
After he had distinguished himself as a champion in the drawing of “red lines”, he attacked the “forces of terror” sharply — Iran, Bashar Al-Assad, Hizbullah, Al-Qaeda and many others. He drew Israel in the best colours and praised the country as a palladium of humanity and charity. “Israel is humane; Israel is compassionate; Israel is a force for good,” he said. Whether the Palestinians under occupation would agree may be doubted. However, there is no doubt that Israeli physicians provide medical help for some of the oppressed in Palestine who make it across the borders or emergency medical assistance for refugees from Syria in the Golan Heights.
Again, Netanyahu demonised Iran as the “worst terrorist regime on the planet” whose leaders can't be trusted. “If we allow this outlaw terrorist state to enrich uranium, how could we seriously demand that any other country not enrich uranium?” He said Iran had “violated multiple UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting enrichment”. Not Iran but Israel has violated for the last 46 years scores of UN Security Council resolutions by preventing their implementation to solve the Middle East conflict.
Beyond that, Israel's huge nuclear arsenal, and its biological and chemical weapons, is off limits for inspectors, whereas Iran has granted the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) full access to all nuclear installations. It is not Iran that is a threat for its neighbours in the region but Israel, which not only politically and economically strangles a helpless people, but also bombs some of its neighbouring states on a regular basis. Netanyahu seems hell-bent to even prevent Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, to which every nation has a right. “We will make sure it does not happen,” he said.
Conversely, this means that if the negotiations can't be derailed by “Israel's US troops”, like AIPAC lobbyists, the neo-cons, or members of Congress, the Israeli government might attack Iran's nuclear facilities single-handed. Netanyahu even called for more pressure instead of relieving it. The more pressure is applied, he argued, the less likely is war. The more credible the threat of force, the smaller the chance that force will ever have to be used, he continued. According to this logic, the Iranians and the Palestinian Arabs only understand the language of force.
In his short appearance before the press with Obama, Netanyahu put the blame on the Palestinians for not having advanced the prospects of peace. For the Israeli leader, security is paramount. He called on the Palestinians to compromise; in reality, however, they are already naked. The Israeli government has all the political bargaining chips in its hands. Nevertheless, it demands the last shirt of a prostrate beggar. Before the US government imposes an agreement on the Palestinians their negotiators should end this charade and leave the “peace talks”. When Israelis and Palestinians negotiated “peace” under the Ehud Olmert government, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, expressed to Tzipi Livni the desperate plight of the Palestinians as follows: “The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism.”
To recognise a Jewish state would mean for the Palestinians to recognise the Zionist narrative about “Eretz Israel” in which there is no place for the Palestinian people. Arafat, Abbas and their ilk have already recognised the State of Israel several times. According to international law, it is irrelevant whether the leadership of a state considers its state being Jewish, Buddhist, Christian or atheist. In his letter of recognition, President Harry Truman crossed out “Jewish State” and replaced it with “State of Israel”. Why should the Palestinians offer more than the Americans?
In order to be successful in the negotiations with Iran and the Palestinians, the US government must abolish its weird image of the Iranians and the Palestinians, which is strongly determined by Israel and its friends from the Zionist lobby. If one stigmatises the elected Iranian or Hamas Palestinian leadership as “terrorists”, as Netanyahu does, negotiations are meaningless. To exclude the legitimate and democratically elected Hamas-run Palestinian government from the “peace talks” means to push half of the Palestinian population aside. Since David Ben-Gurion, it's an old tactic of the different Israeli governments to caricature the Arabs as terrorists in order to conceal its own rejectionist attitude towards peace.
This rejectionist attitude of the Israeli leadership is documented by Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit in their book Israeli Rejectionism, which sets the record straight. For the authors, Israel is not interested in peace “unless such a peace was totally on its own terms”. The Israeli leadership constantly proclaims its commitment to peace, like Netanyahu did in his AIPAC speech. But its real political strategy has been to thwart any real possibility of peace. Its leadership has been convinced “that peace is not in Israel's interest”. This peace-rejecting attitude can be traced back to the first Zionist leaders such as Theodor Herzl and especially Ben-Gurion, the authors argue. It is not that Israel lacks a viable “partner for peace”, as Israeli propaganda tells the public. It is the other way around: the Palestinians have no reliable and serious “partner for peace”. Even the Americans are not honest brokers, because they have strong links to Israel.
The time for an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is running out. To gain more time, the Americans will perhaps come up with an interim agreement, which will set a new timeframe till the end of the year. To date, no American government has been able to accomplish peace in the Middle East. Why should the Obama administration be successful, considering that Netanyahu dislikes the US president? In order to have success, the Americans must firmly insist on the implementation of international law, because in the implementation of UN resolutions lies the answer to the conflict. Should international law again be pushed aside, there will be peace without justice; and so no peace.
The writer is a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany.

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