Lots of folks are talking about this. Last Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a press conference in Hebrew in which he stated that he would never accept Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank because Israel’s security needs are too great in an era of Islamic radicalism. His remarks have been summarized by David Horovitz in the Times of Israel, with limited quotations.
“I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” Netanyahu said, leading Horovitz to say: “That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state.” Just Bantustans, what we’ve observed again and again in recent years.
Here are fuller excerpts of Horovitz’s account:
He made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank. He indicated that he sees Israel standing almost alone on the frontlines against vicious Islamic radicalism, while the rest of the as-yet free world does its best not to notice the march of extremism. And he more than intimated that he considers the current American, John Kerry-led diplomatic team to be, let’s be polite, naive.
Netanyahu has stressed often in the past that he doesn’t want Israel to become a binational state — implying that he favors some kind of accommodation with and separation from the Palestinians. But on Friday he made explicit that this could not extend to full Palestinian sovereignty. Why? Because, given the march of Islamic extremism across the Middle East, he said, Israel simply cannot afford to give up control over the territory immediately to its east, including the eastern border — that is, the border between Israel and Jordan, and the West Bank and Jordan.
The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to “take care of Hamas.” But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.” Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
Not relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there. It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands. This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state. A less-than-sovereign entity? Maybe, though this will never satisfy the Palestinians or the international community. A fully sovereign Palestine? Out of the question.
He wasn’t saying that he doesn’t support a two-state solution. He was saying that it’s impossible. This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance….
“If we were to pull out of Judea and Samaria, like they tell us to,” he said bitterly — leaving it to us to fill in who the many and various foolish “theys” are — “there’d be a possibility of thousands of tunnels” being dug by terrorists to attack Israel, he said…
Netanyahu hammered home the point: Never mind what the naive outsiders recommend, “I told John Kerry and General Allen, the Americans’ expert, ‘We live here, I live here, I know what we need to ensure the security of Israel’s people.’”
Earlier this spring, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sparked a storm in Israel-US ties when he told a private gathering that the US-Kerry-Allen security proposals weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Netanyahu on Friday said the same, and more, in public.
Netanyahu didn’t say he was ruling out all territorial compromise, but he did go to some lengths to highlight the danger of relinquishing what he called “adjacent territory.”
These remarks are what Jeff Halper reflected in his great post on our site last week, saying that Israel’s plan for Palestinians is to “submit, leave or die.” They demonstrate that the era of the two-state solution is past, and we have entered a period of full-on struggle for equal rights inside one state that was generated by an ideology of Jewish nationalism–Zionism. It is no surprise that Palestinians quoted by Pam Bailey on our site have cheered the Hamas rockets as a symbol of undying resistance to that discriminatory regime, which doesn’t hesitate to use violence. It is no surprise that Rana Baker at Open Democracy also praises the rockets and says that Palestinians will never yield to the Zionist vision.
The Israeli Jewish public must understand that there shall be no security so long as they do not turn their anger and frustration at their very supremacist privilege and ideological system which is embodied in the Israeli government, left-wing, centrist, or right-wing. No one is asking them to leave, but they must accept Palestinian resistance insofar as they accept the arrogance which characterises the Zionist ideology. The radical potential of Palestinian rockets, of sirens going off, lies in these rockets’ ability to disrupt a system of privilege which Israeli Jews enjoy at the expense of colonised and displaced Palestinians. Rockets, in other words, are a radical declaration of existence and unmediated expression of self-determination.
I happen to disagree with Baker, but the conflict has been freshly envenomed by Israel’s wanton killing of scores of civilians and children; and it is clear that many, many young Palestinians share her belief about the best ways to counter violent enslavement. And who has the right to instruct slaves on the ill-considered nature of their rebellion? Historian David McCullough said on Charlie Rose the other day that more than half the American colonists were against revolution; their sentiments were less important than the determination of idealists who were willing to use violence. Nelson Mandela also endorsed the use of violence at a crucial point in the South African struggle; and the Algerian rebels dedicated themselves to violent revolution after a 1945 massacre. The only argument I’d make to these young violent Palestinians is that help really is on the way: a global nonviolent movement to put pressure on Israel to transform itself is afoot. That’s why I’m for BDS, as actually a conservative outcome here, neither continued ethnic cleansing and periodic massacre, nor violent revolution. BDS has pressured Israel as no other international action before, even actions by the U.N. As Israelis themselves say, it is an existential threat, a threat of delegitimization. Is it possible for Israel to transform itself and grant Palestinian freedom and maintain itself as a Jewish state? I think not; that moment is passed, that was the magic trick of the two-state compromise, and it has patently failed. The ideology of Jewish nationalism won’t pass from the stage without deep grief and violence. Part of the struggle ahead therefore is to convince the adherents of the Jewish state in America, all the Jewish organizations and religious groups who believe that we need a Jewish state even though we are doing fine here, of the historical error in this belief. The record is clear, that the implementation of the Zionist vision has only generated rising violence in Israel and its environs (as the State Department and Franklin Roosevelt predicted in 1940s when plans for such a state were put forward). American Jews can do the greatest service to the future of Israel and Palestine and the broader Middle East by saying they don’t need a Jewish state; they are happy to see the end of Jewish privilege in that land. This is the great work that Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No are doing, preparing the Jewish community for exodus from a false belief.