By Nicola Nasser*
In his speech at
Sharon's conditional approval of the Road Map has condemned the blueprint as a non-starter, led to the Israeli military reoccupation of the Palestinian autonomous areas, aborted former U.S. President George W. Bush's promise to Palestinians to have their own state twice in 2005 and 2008, and doomed the twenty -year peace process since the Madrid conference in 1991 to the current impasse that Obama and Mitchell are trying to break through. It is a forgone conclusion that Netanyahu's preconditions -- Palestinian recognition of
Netanyahu demanded that the "Palestinian population," and not the Palestinian people -- who live "in Judea and Samaria," and not in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory, where there is an "Israeli presence," and not an Israeli military occupation -- should first agree to a "public, binding and unequivocal" recognition that Israel is "the nation state of the Jewish people" worldwide, and not the nation state of the Israelis. His demand was an arrogant precondition ridiculed by Gideon Levy in Haaretz on June 15 as an "excessive demand that Palestinians recognize the Jewish state by one who has failed to recognize the Palestinians as a people," sarcastically welcomed the next day by Ma'ariv's chief political columnist, Ben Caspit, who wrote: "Welcome, Mr. Prime Minister, to the 20th century. The problem is that we're already in the 21st." Moreover, such a precondition "is almost humiliating and it is unlikely to be met," by the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to Avi Issacharoff, writing in Haaretz on June 17.
Israeli analyst M.J. Rosenberg wrote on June 19: Acceptance of Israel as a "Jewish state" is a non-starter at this point. And Netanyahu knows it. If that is a precondition for negotiations, there will be no negotiations. But without any definition of borders and with Netanyahu committed to expanding settlements in the West Bank, how can anyone seriously expect Palestinians to recognize
PA's Prime Minister in Ramallah, Salam Fayyad, noted in a speech at Al-Quds (
However Obama and Mitchell insensitively ignored all negative Palestinian and Arab reactions, repeatedly and on record renamed Israel as the "Jewish" State of Israel, with Obama lightly trying to defuse the explosiveness of Netanyahu's demand by stating that it was "exactly what negotiations are supposed to be about," because "this is what both America and Europe are asking," according to Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.
Angrily describing Netanyahu as a "swindler" who plays "tricks" with peace making, Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the PLO's executive committee, said the Israeli premier wants Palestinians to "become Zionists." Mere heartfelt commitment to Zionism will not be enough, however, Hasan and Ali Abunimah wrote in The Electronic Intifada on June 17, for the Palestinians' conversion to have "practical meaning," Netanyahu explained, "there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside
In a statement, five PLO member factions, namely the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People's Party, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, said Netanyahu's speech was "tantamount to a declaration of war on Palestinians' national rights." For the first time since the Palestinian Israeli "peace process" was launched some twenty years ago, the voice of the PLO peace partners was much louder and harsher in criticizing Israel than that of their opposition among the non-PLO factions, like Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Netanyahu seems to have succeeded where four years of Egyptian efforts have failed to make Palestinians speak in one voice.
When Netanyahu makes Palestinian recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state" as the cornerstone of his "peace" policy and has Avigdor Lieberman, who calls on record for the transfer of Israeli Arab Palestinians, as the foreign minister of his ruling coalition, he officially raises ethnic cleansing to the level of state policy, and may be this is why French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly urged visiting Netanyahu on June 30 to replace his top diplomat and "to get rid of that man," whom he declined to meet when Lieberman was recently in Paris, leading Israeli member of Knesset Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) and ten others of his parliamentary colleagues to call on world leaders to declare what they condemn as the "racist" Lieberman a persona-non-grata. Another Hadash MP, Hanna Swaid, wrote to Mitchell: "The recognition of
Recognizing Israel as a/or the "Jewish state" should be rejected not only because it politically forecloses whatever chance remains for the resumption of peace talks and sets the regional stage for the alternative, which another peace partner to Israel, Jordan's King Abdullah II, has repeatedly warned against because it "would have adverse and catastrophic consequences on the whole region," but more importantly because strategically such a precondition, if it gains international recognition, would inevitably be used by Israel as a casus belli to officially resume -- what has been so far claimed an unofficial policy by neutral monitors and officially denied by Israeli politicians and defend its ethnic cleansing of native Arab Palestinians as an internationally recognized state policy inside its borders, and in the Palestinian territories it occupied in 1967 outside them, and as an international carte blanche vindicating what the Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe documented as its more than sixty-year old "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine."
Politically this would rule out the Palestinian refugees' "Right of Return" and legitimize Lieberman's "transfer" dreams (expulsion en masse of Israel's Arab - Palestinian citizens as well as Palestinian natives of East Jerusalem) to be made true as soon as the political timing render their realization feasible, to throw "the Arabs into the sea," according to Aharon Barak, the former president of the supreme court of Israel from 1995 to 2006, who was speaking at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv on June 25.
Israeli governmental and parliamentary officials of Netanyahu's ruling coalition criticized Barak's support for "a state for all its citizens." It would be very instructive here to recall the first Prime Minister of
More instructive than Einstein's arguments and Ben-Gurion's reaction was the U.S. President Harry S. Truman's proclamation, just 11 minutes after the state's unilateral declaration, that, "The United States recognizes the provisional government (proclaimed by Jews "in Palestine") as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel," and NOT as "the new Jewish State" as proposed by the American Jewish leaders, crossing out the proposed words and replacing them in his own handwriting with "the new state of Israel." Obviously, Netanyahu's precondition "was devised because Netanyahu understands that Palestinians will never accept it because it negates their standing in a land they have inhabited from time immemorial." (
Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, visiting
To ethnically cleanse the Palestinians was the very basis of