Netanyahu’s No-Way to a Peace Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to sound reasonable in his first meeting with President Trump, but he will never agree to a reasonable peace deal with the Palestinians, says Alon Ben-Meir.

By Alon Ben-Meir

President Trump should not be swayed by Netanyahu’s duplicitous argument, however convincing it might sound, that he is committed to a two-state solution when in fact he has opposed and will continue to reject in principle the creation of an independent Palestinian state under any circumstances.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video)

Netanyahu’s repeated assertions that he is ready to negotiate with the Palestinians unconditionally is hollow because he knows that Palestinian President Abbas will not enter into negotiations unless Israel suspends the continuing expansion of settlements and the creeping annexation of Palestinian land, which prevents the Palestinians from establishing their own viable state.

To establish Netanyahu’s lack of commitment, one has to simply observe his actions in the occupied territories and listen to his public narrative, which squarely contradicts his presumed willingness to negotiate an end to the conflict. Netanyahu’s objections in words and deeds to the creation of a Palestinian state are undisputedly manifested in the following:

First, Netanyahu’s insistence that he is ready to negotiate unconditionally is in and of itself a precondition. Suppose President Abbas agrees to negotiate on that basis — there is simply no avoiding the requirement to first agree on rules of engagement, including the venue, makeup of the negotiating teams, their mandate, etc. Most importantly, they must agree on which of the main conflicting issues to tackle first that could facilitate negotiations on other critical issues.

Netanyahu has all along refused to commence negotiations by first meeting the Palestinians’ demand to establish the contours of their future state. Instead, he kept insisting that Israel must first negotiate the mechanism that would ensure its national security. The fact, however, that he always sought “secure borders” would have made it reasonable and practical to negotiate borders first.

This would not only establish what constitutes (from his perspective) secure borders, but it would have also met the Palestinians’ demands and given them the confidence that a future state will eventually be created. In conjunction with that, the future of many of the settlements could have also been settled. Netanyahu’s insistence, however, on negotiating national security first was nothing but a ploy designed to play for time as previous negotiations have clearly shown.

Second, Netanyahu presides over a coalition government that includes, other than his own right-of-center Likud party, two other extremely right-wing parties — Yisrael Beiteinu and Jewish Home, led by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, respectively, who are both committed and subservient to the settlement movement. Bennett in particular openly calls for the annexation of much of the West Bank, especially Area C, which constitutes 61 percent of the Palestinian territory.

Political Impossibility

If Netanyahu were to embark in earnest on negotiating a two-state solution, this would immediately unravel his government, as these two parties (along with many members of his own Likud party) have threatened to leave the government if he were to take such a step. Thus, as long as he maintains the present make-up of the current government, there is absolutely no prospect of reaching a peace agreement that would grant the Palestinians a state of their own.

Controversial maps showing the shrinking territory available to the Palestinians. Hardline Israelis insist that there are no Palestinian people, that all the land belongs to Israel and that it is therefore inaccurate to show any “Palestinian lands.”

Following his 2015 campaign for reelection, Netanyahu clearly stated “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this…” When asked whether a Palestinian state would not be created under his leadership, the prime minister said “Indeed.” What he said then he still means today; anything he says to the contrary is for show.

Third, the unabated expansion of existing settlements and the passage of the recent law that authorizes the government to retroactively legalize scores of illegal settlements unambiguously suggests that he has no intention whatsoever of allowing the Palestinians to establish a state of their own. This systematic annexation of Palestinian land makes it impossible for them to maintain land contiguity.

To suggest, as he claims, that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace is disingenuous at best and he knows it. Under Netanyahu’s watch, the government has built a major network of roads crisscrossing the West Bank exclusively designated for the settlers, while confining the Palestinians to cantons with the intention of making the current status quo permanent.

Fourth, his objective is to settle at least one million Israelis throughout the West Bank and create irreversible facts on the ground. Currently, there are nearly 650,000 settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, making the removal of any significant number of settlers simply impossible. The lesson that Netanyahu’s father, Benzion Netanyahu, who was a staunch revisionist Zionist, ingrained in his son was the belief that all of the biblical “land of Israel” belongs to the Jews in perpetuity.

In a 2009 interview, Benzion stated “The two-state solution doesn’t exist. …There is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation.” That lesson was not lost on Netanyahu.

Not surprisingly, whenever Israel’s Supreme Court orders the removal of a certain illegal settlement built on private Palestinian land, such as the recent dismantling of Amona with roughly 250 settlers, Netanyahu immediately announces plans to build new units. He is determined that the number of settlers continues to grow to reach the milestone of one million, regardless of what the Israeli courts decide or the international community demands — including the U.S., Israel’s closest ally.

Fifth, if Netanyahu were to truly opt to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-state solution, he could disband his current and establish a new coalition government composed of several centrist and left-of-center parties, including the Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Meretz, and Netanyahu’s own Likud party, which would provide him a decisive majority of 80 out of 120 seats in the parliament, versus the current government of Likud, Kulanu, Shas, Jewish Home, Yisrael Beiteinu, and UTJ, a very slim majority of 67 out of 120 seats. Although some members of his own party will defect, he will still have a significant majority that reflects the aspiration of the Israelis who want to end the conflict. It should be noted that with a new government, the 13 members of the Arab List would support any initiative towards a two-state solution.

Such a coalition can certainly agree on an equitable peace with the Palestinians that would entail some land swaps if only Netanyahu wills it. Sadly, however, Netanyahu simply will not entertain such a peace agreement because he is ideologically committed to control in perpetuity all of what he terms the “Land of Israel,” while accusing the Palestinians of wanting to destroy rather than make peace with Israel.

To be sure, Netanyahu is not and has never been a proponent of creating a Palestinian state. Hence, President Trump will be wise not to engage him in a futile discussion searching for an agreement based on a two-state solution. This outcome cannot and will not happen as long as Netanyahu is in power.

If Trump is serious about his desire to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for Israel’s own sake, he must demand that Netanyahu commit himself to create a Palestinian state not by simply stating so, but by taking concrete steps to form a new government composed of the left, center, and his own party, hold a new election, or resign.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. alon@alonben-meir.com Web: www.alonben-meir.com

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26 comments for “Netanyahu’s No-Way to a Peace Deal

  1. Annie
    February 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    We hand Israel millions of American tax payer dollars while many millions in our own country endure poverty, and we do this as we pretend Israel serves our interest in the ME. We do this as we pretend they are a democratic country, and the land of Palestine was rightfully their’s instead of a land stolen from the a people whom they have slaughtered and abused for decades. So we continue to pretend it is possible for there to be a two state solution in a country who is little more then an apartheid state that should be dealt with in the same way the world dealt with South Africa.

    • Peter Loeb
      February 17, 2017 at 8:15 am

      “MILLIONS OF AMERICAN TAXPAYER DOLLARS…”??? (ANNIE)

      Many of us blame Donald Trump for everything we dislike. And
      for excellent reasons.

      It should be noted that Barack Obama gave more billions of such
      dollars to the Israeli Government than any previous Administration.

      The “Made in America” white phosphorous bombs (that areospace
      company also makes MORTON SALT) cannot be blamed on
      Donald Trump. (Yet).

      The daily annexation and oppression may be continued by
      the Trump Administration but certainly were not his
      invention.

      This article provides some updated information, Thomas
      Suarez’s book STATE OF TERROR which Ilan Pappe
      has called a “tour de force” completes the picture.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Dieter Heymann
      February 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

      These payments are anchored in the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in which we are a partner. It probably needs an act of Congress to get out.

  2. February 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Absolutely, Annie, and what an irony to spread lies about Russia and call Putin an autocrat while Israel gets by with murder, Netanyahu autocratic and hateful to Palestinians, and the US State hands them 3.9bn yearly to continue their campaigns of murder, just a few sputtering peeps of criticism now and then. Cuomo, governor of New York, intended to make it illegal to support the BDS movement, as if the saintly Israel dare not be criticized. The South African boycott was significant in the fight against apartheid. The US is Israel’s poodle and the Israel lobby controls more than we realize.

    • Annie
      February 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Yes Indeed Jessica!

  3. Cal
    February 16, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Just send the Marines to Israel to put them back behind their UN awarded parcel.
    And put up check points so they cant get out.

  4. Abe
    February 16, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Expulsions have been part and parcel of Israel’s quest for “secure borders”.

    Israel’s Lebensraum efforts since 1948 drew inspiration from the geopolitical and ethnic reconfiguration of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II, that attempted to create ethnically homogeneous nations within redefined borders.

    In part, the Allied post-war expulsion policy was retribution for Nazi Germany’s initiation of the war and subsequent atrocities and ethnic cleansing in Nazi-occupied Europe, which included the mass murder of more than five million European Jews.

    Allied leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and Joseph Stalin of the USSR, had agreed in principle before the end of the war that the border of Poland’s territory would be moved west (though how far was not specified) and that the remaining ethnic German population were subject to expulsion. They assured the leaders of the émigré governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia, both occupied by Nazi Germany, of their support on this issue.

    A paragraph of the August 1945 Potsdam Agreement only stated vaguely: “The Three Governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, will have to be undertaken. They agreed that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner”.

    Between 1944 and 1948 about 31 million people were permanently or temporarily moved from Central and Eastern Europe. By 1950, a total of approximately 12 million Germans had fled or been expelled from east-central Europe into Allied-occupied Germany and Austria. The West German government put the total at 14 million, including ethnic German migrants to Germany after 1950 and the children born to expelled parents.

    The largest numbers came from preexisting German territories ceded to Poland and the Soviet Union (about 7 million), and from Czechoslovakia (about 3 million). During the Cold War, the West German government also counted as expellees 1 million foreign colonists settled in territories conquered by Nazi Germany during World War II.

    The death toll attributable to the flight and expulsions is disputed, with estimates ranging from 500,000, up to a West German demographic estimate from the 1950s of over 2 million. More recent estimates by some historians put the total at 500-600,000 attested deaths; they maintain that the West German government figures lack adequate support and that during the Cold War the higher figures were used for political propaganda.

    The current official German government position is that the death toll resulting from the flight and expulsions ranged from 2 to 2.5 million civilians. The German Historical Museum puts the figure at 600,000, maintaining that the figure of 2 million deaths in the previous government studies cannot be supported.

    The contemporary position of the German government is that, while the Nazi-era war crimes resulted in the expulsion of the Germans, the deaths due to the expulsions were an injustice.

    Given the complex history of the affected regions and the divergent interests of the victorious Allied powers, it is difficult to ascribe a definitive set of motives to the post-World War II expulsions. Major motivations included a desire to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states, views of a German minority as potentially troublesome, and collective punishment of the Germans for Nazi-era war crimes. Stalin viewed the expulsions as a means of creating antagonism between the Soviet satellite states and their neighbors. The satellite states would then need the protection of the Soviet Union.

    Advancing a legacy of Israeli government ethnic cleansing policy that began in 1948, the nuclear-armed Netanyahu regime is striving to “create irreversible facts on the ground” as a basis for a final solution of the demographic dilemma facing the “Land of Israel”.

    • Abe
      February 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      Israeli leaders read Trump’s words as a permission slip
      By Jonathan Ofir
      http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/israeli-leaders-permission/

    • Abe
      February 17, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      “The present far-right Israeli government is the most extreme in the country’s history. Hard-line right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been facing a serious scandal in recent weeks, on allegations of corruption.

      “Despite some minor rhetorical disputes, the Obama administration has ensured utmost support for Israel’s government, and oversaw the largest military aid package to Israel in US history, in the sum of $38 billion.

      “In recent weeks, with the […] inauguration of far-right President-elect Donald Trump, who has made it clear that he will allow Israel to continue violating international law with complete impunity, the Israeli government has upped the ante.

      “In the first week of the 2017, Israel demolished the homes of 151 Palestinians, nearly four times the average of the year before. And there is every indication that this trend will continue.

      “Jared Kushner, a powerful multimillionaire real estate tycoon and Trump’s son-in-law, will oversee Israel-Palestine issues for the administration. Kushner co-directs a family foundation that has donated large sums of money to organizations that support illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, which have been occupied in contravention of international law since 1967. Trump has reportedly also given money to an illegal Israeli settlement.

      “Inside Israel, Palestinian citizens also face intense discrimination. Adalah, the human rights group, has documented more than 50 laws that discriminate against Arab citizens.”

      Israel Begins Ethnically Cleansing Bedouin Community to Build Jews-Only Town
      By Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal
      http://www.alternet.org/israel-umm-al-hiran-demolish-homes-palestinians

    • Daniel
      February 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Every time someone blathers on about the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, Israel gains a stronger foothold in Palestine. We need to stop feeding the Holocaust industry that only serves Jewish supremacism. And yes, we should be open to historical revision of the Holocaust should the facts merit it.

  5. Wobblie
    February 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Israel is not interested in a “two state solution”. They want the whole thing and more.

    Sad. Israel is a criminal state. No democracy there as there is none here in the US.

    https://therulingclassobserver.com/2017/02/05/the-anti-democratic-origins-of-capitalism-enclosure/

  6. Bill Bodden
    February 16, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    When the Zionists moved into the Palestine Territories one of their plans was to “transfer” – their word for ethnic cleansing – all of the Palestinians living there. Netahnyahu, other right-wing politicians and the settler movement are continuing that policy which is close to its final stages. The United States through its politicians have permitted and supported all the crimes committed by Israeli forces against the Palestinians. American politicians and the American people who support them in this crime against humanity are facilitating the continued moral degradation of both nations.

    • Gregory Herr
      February 16, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      “Continued moral degradation” has become a descent into degrees of turpitude.

    • Herman
      February 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      “American politicians and the American people who support them in this crime against humanity are facilitating the continued moral degradation of both nations.”

      A great point often overlooked by Americans and Israelis. .

  7. Craigsummers
    February 16, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I agree with the author. With Netanyahu as Prime Minister, there is no chance for a two state solution.

  8. Zachary Smith
    February 16, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Unless I’ve miscounted the author mentions “two state” six times in his piece. But when Donald Trump said he would be happy with a 1-state solution, the zionists went bonkers.

    Americans for Peace Now spokesman Ori Nir called the press conference “terrifying” and “a squandered opportunity” to “signal to Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and the world a clear commitment to peace.”
    It was a chance to “chart a constructive way forward for U.S.-Israel relations and for Israel’s future, for its security and its wellbeing as a democracy and a Jewish state,” Nir said. Instead, “the two leaders are not only depriving Israel of the very possibility of reaching peace but also undermining Israel’s own future as a democracy and a Jewish state” when they discuss a one-state possibility. He added, “they are delivering a huge victory to extremists on both sides.”

    That really is a “terrifying” prospect all right – that the Palestinans might not be forced out of their own country and grease the skids for the Jewish State in all its pure glory.

    I realize I’ve been all over the place with the craziness surrounding Trump, but the pure venom being poured on him especially from the Washington Post and New York Times may mean that they’ve been directed to take him down, no matter what.

    I must give recognition to the Sic Semper Tyrannis site for pointing out to me the implications of the “1-state” remark by Trump. From the post there:

    The hard core Zionists know that a one state solution would be the end of the Zionist dream of a Jewish State in historic Palestine. If given actual equal rights of citizenship in such a country the Palestinians would fairly soon become a majority and the stronger power in a one state government. That is simply unacceptable to the Zionists. It would be the end of all their dreams.

    Trump knows that and is evidently willing to “up the ante” to that level of leverage if Israel wants his support to get the best deal available to them, rather than the deal they wanted in which they would have completely dominate the situation.

    Yeah, it’s mighty early and all this could be wrong, but anything which causes this kind of reaction by the zionists can’t be a bad thing, IMO.

  9. John
    February 16, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Scum of the earth…..However…they own the great USA…..Very sad

  10. Mark Thomason
    February 17, 2017 at 8:25 am

    This article is correct, and exactly why Trump was correct to tell Netanyahu the issue was not two states, but going a deal. Get it done. No more excuses.

    Netanyahu used two states as a smoke screen behind which to prevent a deal. Trump blow away the smoke screen.

  11. P. Gregory Sutter
    February 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Perhaps we in the US need to set an example. We ought to sell land we currently own and deed it back to the natives who lived here for thousands of years, were attacked, annihilated and forcibly moved by settlers. The Wiyot Massacre and the Trail of Tears first comes to my mind. We then return back to our land of origin in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. You may have noticed I excluded Australia as a return point since they themselves have a settlement problem, I, myself, live near Newport Beach in CA so I’m going to call the Tongva tribe rep this morning and tell him of my good deed, no pun intended. I’ll keep you posted.

    Simultaneously, I’m calling the German, Swedish, Dutch and UK Embassies to verify how I can return to my ancestral land. I may lay claim to all of them or the one that offers the best tax incentive. I’m sure the aforementioned governments will be thrilled to have me back. I’ll keep you posted of my decision where I decide to return.

    Everyone should do the same as I do, perhaps involve the UN to assist, even though their HQ is on Algonquin land in NYC, but we’ll figure how to push them out later.

    Then we can say to Israel, “See! We know it can be done. Now, you must do what we say and what we do. Both Zionism and Manifest Destiny were both terrible constructs. This is for the good of all humanity.” Israel will then be forced to return the land to the original inhabitants (the Palestinians), leave the settlements they constructed and return to the pre-1967 borders. And we all will live happily ever after.

    • Daniel
      February 18, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Um, no, the big difference is that we made the indigenous people of the US full citizens. The Native Americans are not in any legal sense second class people in this nation. But in Israel, the indigenous people are still legally second class citizens, and the Palestinian refugees are refused re-entry to their former homes in what is now Israel. Don’t try to equate the situation in the US with that in apartheid Israel.

      • P Gregory Sutter
        February 19, 2017 at 7:06 pm

        I assume Daniel you are an American citizen, Well, you can call a spade a spade but if you were to ask my two Native friends, one a Choctaw living in Arizona and the other a Sioux living in California (both married Anglos) the Res system which has been set up is pretty much as they call it “lipstick on a pig” with eagle feathers. The reservations are anything but idyllic where poverty is entrenched and unless you’re tight with the clan that is running the ubiquitous Indian casino, you are S-O-L. With regard to the Palestinians, those who capitulate with the Israeli government do have full rights, have a high standard of living and can travel freely to Jordan. Best example is the Hadassah Hospital system. When you have a chance read up on Hadassah Hospital (http://www.hadassah-med.com/) where you’ll find Jews next to Muslims next to Christians next to atheists saving Jewish, Muslim, Christian and atheist lives. The MSM press won’t report this because it’s not part of their narrative. So I will equate the situation in the US and Canada, as well as the situation in Northern Ireland, the Basque region of France and Spain, the Bosnia-Herzegovina of the former Yugoslavia and about two dozen other areas on the planet where one group is having land issues with another group as I equate with the Jew-Palestinian issue. Educate yourself. Read. Hash things out with people on both sides. It does wonders.

  12. Dieter Heymann
    February 18, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Netanyahu and his supporters will accept a negotiated three-state solution: Israel, Gaza, and Jordan. If our president does not understand this he is wasting his time.

  13. Herman
    February 18, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I am jaded when it comes to creating a Palestinian state. It is a cynical proposition on the part of the Israeli Jews which allows continuous expansion of Israeli settlements. What would a Palestinian State look like. No control over its borders, no control over its water supply, no control over the skies above and subject to military incursions by Israel whenever it pleases.

    Yes, the opponents criticize Netanyahu and his associated right wing extremists, but it mostly seems to be because he is thwarting the effort to create a Palestinian State. I think many of the progressives who complain about Netanyahu are just as fearful and intransigent when it comes to recognizing the rights of Palestinians as equal to their own. God forbid all those currently in an open area prison would be elevated to citizenship, to be turned loose on the Israeli Jews. Of course the reality would be that they more concerned about their families and making a living and revenge through violence unlikely and unrealistic.

  14. February 19, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Making a deal with a satanic jew is like making a deal with their father of lies, satan himself.
    these criminal bastards have been killing billions not millions of non jews through out their miserable existence, they have been kicked out of more than 100 nations after they finish destroying them.
    And yet the non jew still has mercy for these satanic tribe of criminals even when every one knows that they are even now exterminating millions of babies on the yearly basis.
    Why? is it OK for these parasitical entities to continue living will it be OK for the jews to destroy 90% of humanity but is not OK for humanity to exterminate these parasitic beasts?. which their numbers are a lot smaller. and that is counting even the half breads like Barak Obama, Bill Clinton and most of HOLLYWOOD CLOWNS THAT RECIVE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR MOVIES THAT ARE USED TO INDOCTRINATE THE NON JEWS.

  15. February 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Would any one in its right mind would be willing to live in a house full with snakes?

  16. Vera
    February 20, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Even before the State of israel was founded, the end goal was – and still is, to ethnically cleanse Palestine for the sake of a greater israel. Wonder how much longer the cowardly West will keep on remaining silent and just looking the other way for fear of being branded ‘anti Semitic’.

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