Netanyahu gives ground on Palestinian statehood
posted at 12:16 pm on June 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
So reports Eli Lake, who says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make an important concession this weekend in accepting the idea of a Palestinian state. Israeli governments have previously accepted the two-state solution as their official position, but Netanyahu’s conservative coalition has generally opposed it. Netanyahu has not renounced previous Israeli policy since taking office in March, but the public acceptance of the plan will be seen as a “major shift”:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a major shift, will accept the notion of a Palestinian state — a policy pushed by the Obama administration but resisted until now by Mr. Netanyahu, Israeli officials and Americans briefed on the Israeli leader’s thinking said.
The policy reversal, which is expected to go public this weekend, could help restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and allow the Israeli leader to steer a course between Mr. Obama’s view and those of his own hawkish base.
The Israeli and American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Times on Thursday that Mr. Netanyahu, in a major speech Sunday, will, however, set Israeli parameters for recognizing Palestinian sovereignty.
Those parameters include just about every kind of sovereignty encroachment one can imagine, which will make this a lot less serious of a proposal than Obama wants. Netanyahu wants the right to station the IDF anywhere on the eastern and southern borders of the Palestinian state. Netanyahu also wants carte blanche in Palestinian airspace, as well as control over their foreign policy. That won’t mean independence for the Palestinians; it will mean a greater degree of autonomy, but still leave them in a de facto protectorate status, much like we have seen with Bermuda and the UK this week.
Of course, Netanyahu has good reasons for these demands. If the Arabs attempt another invasion through the West Bank — the very reason Israel has the territory now — they will need both troops on the ground and planes in the air to fight. They need both to deter a potential attack, too. Israel will also want to ensure that a Palestinian state does not sign treaties with Syria and Iran that will put their troops on Israel’s borders.
These points demonstrate how difficult it will be to achieve a real two-state solution in this conflict with true independence for the Palestinians. They have proven themselves untrustworthy in the extreme in more than 15 years since the Oslo accords, actively and openly encouraging terrorist attacks against Israel at times and financing and managing them less explicitly for the entirety of the period. They get encouragement primarily from Iran and Syria, who funds Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad to fight a proxy war with Israel. The Israelis cannot allow an independent state on their border become a satellite of the mullahs in Tehran.
Will the Obama administration hail this as a breakthrough? Probably, because he needs to mend his fences with Israel and its supporters here in the US. That will send some interesting signals to the Palestinians.