Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told American Jews that he and the Trump administration are moving ahead with plans to remap the West Bank to give Israel sovereignty over large portions of occupied territory, and Palestinians are going to have to live with that plan “whether they accept it or not.”
Netanyahu’s discussion of Palestinian submission to the “radical” and “historic” terms of the Trump “peace plan” including annexation of all “Jewish communities” and military control of the West Bank sounded very much like surrender.
He spoke in Jerusalem two days ago to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a rightwing Israel lobby organization:
For the last three years I’ve worked very closely with a good friend of mine, President Trump, we’ve never had a better friend of Israel in the White House– I worked with President Trump and his team to fashion a different plan for peace in the Middle East. This is a different one altogether…
A few weeks ago I stood as an Israeli prime minister in Washington next to the president of the United States, who said that the United States will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea and all the… Jewish communities large and small, in Judea and Samaria [biblical terms for West Bank]. This is a breakthrough.
And this is not conditional in any way on Palestinian acceptance of the Trump plan. Whether they accept it or not, it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen once we complete the mapping process, which we’ve begun in earnest– this man among others– [Ronen Peretz, acting director general of Netanyahu’s office] you should applaud this man because he’s doing a mitzvah– and an American team. We’re working together to finish this as fast as possible. That’s important.
Now, what is the position of the Palestinians? Well, they have to consider the elements of the Trump plan that are not involved at all in this matter between the United States and us. In order to enter the negotiations they have to fulfill certain conditions. By the way this is a historic change. In all previous plans, submitted by previous American administrations, it was Israel, Israel, that had to make concrete concessions in order to enter the negotiations. And the Palestinians were asked to do nothing. Nada in English. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. OK? And in fact we were asked time and time again to freeze construction in the settlements or to release Palestinian prisoners.
This time it’s reversed, the Palestinians are required, to enter negotiattions to do two things. To stop paying terrorists and to withdraw all their claims against Israel at the ICC, in the Hague.
That’s the first two conditions. To complete the negotiations the Palestinians have to– Do you know all this? No?… I suggest you fasten your seatbelts, because this is going to be some ride. The first thing they have to do is recognize Israel as the Jewish state, recognize the united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, give up completely the right of return. Completely!
Recognize Israel as the power responsible for security everywhere west of the Jordan. Recognize our sovereignty in the places that I mentioned [West Bank and Jerusalem]. And also adopt a democratic constitution that assures democratic rights, free speech, free elections, freedom of religion, and a few other things. This is a short list. It’s longer… By the way they also have to disarm Hamas and demilitarize Gaza. These are some of the conditions, not all of them, in order for the Palestinians to complete negotiations.
Do you like these conditions? Yeah.
Now who’s to say that they fulfill these conditions? Two powers. The United States and Israel.
So I think this is a radical departure from everything we’ve seen in the past. This is a plan that is realistic. It doesn’t seek to take us back to the indefensible 67 lines. It doesn’t seek to take us back to the impossible ’47 lines. It doesn’t seek to take us back as the Palestinians seek, to the pre 1917 lines. That is, they want to nullify the Balfour Declaration.
This is a plan that says to the Palestinians and to the world, This is it, Israel is here to stay.
The prime minister, whose trial on corruption charges is set to begin two weeks after the Israeli election next month, celebrated Israeli might in the speech. “The weak don’t survive. Only the strong survive.” He said that Israel’s military and economic strength would lead Arab neighbors to accept Israel “gradually,” echoing the ideas of his father’s mentor Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the seminal Zionist essay “The Iron Wall” of 1923.)
Netanyahu applied the same principle to Palestinian acceptance of the one-sided terms of the Trump “peace plan.”
He also said that American Jews depend on Israel. “Without the state of Israel, there is no future for the Jewish people,” he said. “With the state of Israel– secure, powerful– there’s no limit.”