Netanyahu Offered Nothing: Israelis

Israeli hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on peace with the Palestinians offered nothing but preconditions, dated clichés and negotiations non-starters that dim any real prospects for peace, Israeli analysts and peace-advocate politicians agreed.

"Netanyahu’s speech is too little, too late," Haim Oron, leader of the leftist Israeli political party Meretz, said in a statement, reported the Jerusalem Post on Monday, June 15.

In a speech laying out his policies on the peace process, Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would accept a "demilitarized" Palestinian state only if Palestinians recognized Israel as a "Jewish state".

Netanyahu also insisted that the Palestinian refugees must be resettled outside Israel and that Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel.

He repeated his rejection to calls for a total freeze of Jewish settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian lands.

Meretz said that the Netanyahu’s set of preconditions and qualifications undermines any hope for a viable Palestinian state.

"The array of reservations that Netanyahu put forth, including the stateless-state condition and his continued support of the settlements, will create difficulties for purposeful negotiations."

Recognizing Israel as a "Jewish state" and a homeland for the Jewish people would kill stone dead any hopes for almost 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their old homes in what is now Israel.

The return of refugees, who either fled their homes or were forced to leave when Israel was created on the rubble of Palestine in 1948, is protected by UN resolutions.

Daniella Weiss, former Mayor of the Israeli Kedumim settlement in the northern West Bank particularly lamented Netanyahu’s defiance concerning settlements.

Weiss said she only heard Netanyahu say "no" to a Palestinian state and "yes" to continued construction in Judea and Samaria.

Under the internationally-backed roadmap, Israel must freeze all settlement activities and dismantle 22 outposts constructed after March 2001.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements on the occupied Palestinian land illegal.

Israeli commentators and political analysts were equally frustrated by Netanyahu’s hawkish conditions.

“The prime minister’s speech last night returned the Middle East to the days of George W. Bush’s "axis of evil",” the Israeli daily Haaretz said commenting on Netanyahu’s speech.

“Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a patriarchal, colonialist address in the best neoconservative tradition: The Arabs are the bad guys, or at best ungrateful terrorists; the Jews, of course, are the good guys.

The paper underlined Netanyahu’s remarks on Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) as particularly damaging to peace prospects.

“The prime minister’s declaration that Jerusalem will remain he "undivided capital" of Israel – only Israel – slammed the door before the entire Muslim world.”

Israel occupied Al-Quds in the 1967 Middle East war, then annexed it in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.

The holy city is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam’s third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Palestinians insist the holy city will be the capital of their future independent state.

Yossi Verter, senior political analyst and writer, slammed Netanyahu’s speech as a “farce” aimed at appeasing his right-wing partners in the coalition rather than making a step towards peace.

“Before the speech was delivered… everything already looked like a farce,” he wrote in Haaretz.

“The atmosphere is more akin to coalition talks than preparations for a breakthrough in regional peace negotiations.”

( and Newspapers)

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