While the pressure from the US is still relatively mild, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already capitulated to the idea of a Palestinian state in his speech at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University. What will happen when he begins to slide down the slippery slope, his preconditions are bypassed one-by-one and the US government really begins to tighten the screws?
In my vision of peace... Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other...
This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.
I have already stressed the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.
Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza.
We don't want Kassam rockets on Petah Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion Airport. We want peace.
In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hizbullah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel.
It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized.
On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.
Nice words, but naive in the extreme. Perhaps no one can rebut them better than Netanyahu himself did in another address made to the Likud Central Committee in May, 2002. Then-MK Netanyahu took a position against a Palestinian state, the position of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Always a clear and eloquent spokeman for Israel's security when someone else is in power, Netanyahu has once again betrayed his principles and his constituency almost immediately after being elected, when the time came to put his money where his mouth is:
"The biggest mistake that can be made is to promise [to the Palestinians] the establishment of their own independent state." So said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu exactly seven years ago, in a strong warning against giving in to international pressure on Israel in "final status" talks with the Palestinian Authority.
...The Likud Central Committee held a stormy session in which it voted overwhelmingly for then-MK Netanyahu's position against the formation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, and against the position of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon had in the months beforehand implied his support for a demilitarized PA state, prompting Netanyahu and other party leaders to put the issue to a vote – and a PA state lost.
"The biggest mistake that can be made is to promise the greatest prize for Palestinian terrorism: the establishment of their own independent state. Most people now feel that a state under Arafat would be a terrorist fortress dedicated to our destruction.
"But some say that without Arafat, with a different leadership and with all sort of reforms, things will be different. Let's see if this is true. We want to ensure that such an entity does not receive more than self-rule. But it will demand all the powers of a state, such as controlling borders, bringing in weapons, control of airspace and the ability to knock down any Israeli plane that enters its area, the ability to sign peace treaties and military alliances with other countries. Once you give them a state, you give them all these things, even if there is an agreement to the contrary, for within a short time they will demand all these things, and they will assume these powers, and the world will stand by and do nothing - but it will stop us from trying to stop them...
"We will thus have created with our own hands a threat to our very existence. On the day that we sign an agreement for a state with limited authorities, what will happen if the Palestinians do what the Germans did after World War I, when they nullified the demilitarized zone? The world did nothing then, and the world will do nothing now as well. Even now, the Palestinians are removing all the restrictions to which they agreed in Oslo – they are smuggling in arms, polluting the water sources, building an army, making military deals with Iran and others, and more... But when we try to take action against this, the world opposes us – and not them...
And this is exactly what has happened in Gaza already, as everyone knew, deep-down, that it would.
"Arafat said it best when talking to reporters the day he signed the Oslo Accords: 'Since we can't defeat Israel in war, we must do it in stages, we must take whatever area of Palestine we can get, establish sovereignty there, and then at the right time, we will have to convince the Arab nations to join us in dealing the final blow to Israel.' Self-rule, yes. But a state with which to destroy the State of Israel - no...
"Throughout the years, all the Likud governments objected to a Palestinian state, and on that platform we were voted into power, and to this mandate all Likud leaders are bound. And yet something strange happened here: Without anyone approving it, without any democratic process - not in the party, not in the government, not in the Knesset, and certainly not in the country - but only with some ill-advised remarks [by Sharon in favor of a PA state], one of the foundation stones of our national security has been shaken, and suddenly the position of Sarid and Peres has become the official policy of the Government of Israel - and as a result, also that of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, is this how critical decisions on our national existence are made?
Apparently it is when Bibi is in power, as he has just done the exact same thing.
"...We need not be concerned that the international community does not agree with us on this matter. Did the international community foresee the Holocaust? And if it did, did it do anything about it? Did it even lift a finger? It also did nothing about the threat to our existence that faced us from the Iraqi reactor – except to condemn us when Menachem Begin’s government destroyed it... On matters vital to our existence, we always took clear action, even if others didn’t agree with us. Because the bottom line is that saying 'Yes' to a Palestinian state means 'No' to a Jewish State, and vice-versa.”
What is so surreal about this discussion is that the whole thing has already been tried in totally independent and unoccupied Gaza and it has failed on every point. Gaza is not demilitarized (despite a partial blockade by Israel), it has long since fallen to Hamas and Iranian influence, weopons pour in and then are used against Israel. Why is that forgotten? Why would a 2nd Palestinian entity in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") be any different? What exactly would happen to Gaza if a second entity came into being in Judea and Samaria? Would it be subsumed into the new entity and magically demilitarize?