First there was “there will be no Palestinian state established on my watch” and “Bar-Ilan is no longer relevant.”
Then there came “we will have to live by the sword forever.” Then suddenly without warning, “I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace, we remain committed to the two-state solution.”
Absolutely amazing what a change of venue can do to one’s state of mind. I guess things look different from the Oval Office than they do in any other room Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped foot in during the past years.
The day after Netanyahu gave his famous Bar-Ilan speech in which he talked about his support for the two-state solution, his father, Benzion Netanyahu, was interviewed on the army radio station, and said “I know my son, he didn’t mean it.” Too bad Benzion is no longer around to assist us to interpret what his son means.
If only the Palestinians were ready to accept a Palestinian state on 40% of the West Bank, with full Israeli control over their borders, their water, their economy, their movement and access. Netanyahu is right, there is no Palestinian partner for the kind of subjugated Palestinian state he is prepared to offer them. Those Palestinians, imagine, they won’t accept anything less than real self-determination, genuine freedom and liberation from Israeli domination and control. Imagine, they believe that when they agreed to Oslo they recognized Israel on 78% of the land and actually thought that they would get 22% of it for themselves.
Such chutzpah. It just proves that they don’t really want a state because they continually turn down every offer Israel has made to them.
Israel has given them so much, look at their universities, they have electricity and water, schools, health services, and they even have the right to elect their own representatives and to have their own self-governing authority.
There’s hardly any place in the world where it is better to be an Arab. Israel even builds industrial zones and big factories and allows those Palestinians to work there – and they have better salaries than they can ever get inside of their own economy. Israel even lets thousands of them to come into Israel every day to work. They have become master builders, carpenters, farmers, factory workers and even the best car washers in the world, thanks to the generosity and benevolence of Israel.
They are living under the control and authority of the most democratic country in the Middle East with the most moral army in the world. They are so unappreciative; of course they don’t have a state, they haven’t earned the right to one, with the way they behave.
Until the Palestinians are willing to accept what Israel offers them, Israel will continue to build settlements for Jews in Area C, which is only 62% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and in which less than 2% of Palestinians live (so they don’t really need that land). Settlements create work for Palestinians, and they need work. This will give them hope for a better future. Their young people need to know that when they grow up they will have jobs. Israel might consider transferring one or two percent of Area C to the Palestinians to connect some of the separate islands which are defined as areas A and B because Israel wants to demonstrate its generosity and stand by its commitment to the two-state solution. If the Palestinians behave themselves, Israel might be willing to transfer Area B lands into Area A – the villages where the Palestinians have civilian control but where Israel has military control.
In Area A the Palestinians have military control, but not really – it is all part of the scheme to let them believe that they have some kind of sovereignty. In Area A they have Palestinian policemen who look like real soldiers. They even carry real guns, but they know that when the real masters show up, the Israeli army and security forces, the Palestinian “soldiers” have to run and hide, while the real soldiers do whatever they came to do. Of course, the main reason for giving them more land is to keep Washington happy. They call it “confidence building measures,” we call it keeping the Americans off our backs.
Israel even lets the Palestinians play the game of real statehood by having a foreign ministry and even a kind of central bank called the Palestinian Monetary Authority, but we all know that they don’t have any real authority at all. They are so lucky that they don’t have external borders of their own because if they did their corrupt system wouldn’t enable the collection of any revenues to pay their teachers and government employees, including the tens of thousands of them dressed up as soldiers. Israel collects custom duties for them and then generously transfers that money to the Palestinians and only takes 3% service charge for this efficient system.
Israel even convinced them to buy goods from Israel so their so-called “self-governing authority” can get back VAT payments to support their budget. And Israel only takes a small fee from that for giving them their own money.
Listen to this: Israel even encourages the international community to donate money the Palestinians so they can build roads, water systems, electricity substations so that Israel can sell them more electricity. Israel is even willing to sell them all of the wonderful products produced in Israeli factories all over the country. Imagine if they had to rely on their own industry or import from those other Arab countries. What would the Palestinian kids do without Bamba and Bisli? Someday those Palestinians will come around. You know it, I know it and Prime Minister Netanyahu knows it.
That is why he told US President Barack Obama that he remains committed to the two-state solution. All of this talk about a binational state is nonsense. Between you and me, we all know that Israel will never grant citizenship to all of those Arabs, we already have too many of them who remained after Israel was born. Then they were 12% of the population, now they are over 20%. We can’t allow any more of them to get citizenship and we have to find a way to reduce their rate of birth, but that’s another issue. For now, if any of those Arabs of ours, you know – the Israeli Arabs, marry someone from the West Bank, or God forbid from Gaza, well, they will simply have to go and live there in the West Bank or Gaza, because there is no way Israel is going to grant them the right to live in this democratic country. Come on, we said two states for two peoples right? So Israel for Jews, Palestine for the Arabs. That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
The author is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew and in English as The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas by The Toby Press.