Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netanyahu Says 'Palestinian State' but Adds Numerous Conditions

by Gil Ronen
Sivan 22, 5769 / June 14, '09

( Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu uttered the words "Palestinian state" in his speech Sunday evening, in a 45-minute speech that mixed tough Zionist statements with talk of peace and conciliation.

“I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors," he said, "let us start negotiations for peace immediately. I say to you – we want to live with you in peace and good neighborly relations. I want our children will dream of a better future and realize it. That we will put our energy into plowshares and pruning scissors, not swords... I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. Let us join hands and work at peace. There is no end to the flourishing we can bring to our two nations."

The root of the conflict
"The simple truth," he added however, "is that the root of the conflict is the refusal to accept the Jewish people’s right to exist in its historic homeland. Whoever thinks that the enmity to Israel is the result of our occupying Judea and Samaria is confusing cause and effect." He then enumerated instances of Arab belligerence against the Jews in the Land of Israel before 1967.

The closer we come to a peace the more the Palestinians move away, he said. "Every retreat by us was met with thousands of suicide terror bombings and rockets."

"We vacated the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter and received a rain of missiles on our communities and our children. Hamas and Hizbullah keep saying that their aim is to free Akko, Beersheva and Haifa. Even the moderate Palestinians, even now, are unwilling to say the simplest thing: Israel is the state of the Jewish People and it will stay that way.”

He added: "In order to achieve peace one needs courage and honesty on both sides – not just the Israeli side. The Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people."
Refugees -- outside Israel“The demand to settle Palestinian refugees inside Israel is incompatible with the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state," he said. "It is possible to solve this problem outside the borders of Israel. There is wide national agreement about this among us.”

"Judea and Samaria are not a foreign country for us. This is the land of our forefathers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The right of the Jewish people over our country does not come from the suffering we have been through. Some say if it weren’t for the Holocaust there would be no State if Israel. But I say that if Israel had been established in time there would not have been a Holocaust," Netanyahu said.

"Our right to establish our country here stems from one fact: IsraeI is the homeland of the Jewish people and it is here that our identity was forged."

"Palestinian state"
It was only at this point in his speech that Netanyahu reached the words "Palestinian state."

“In our vision we see two states side by side, each with its own flag and anthem. We do not want Kassams on Petach Tikva or Grads on Tel Aviv. We want peace. We must make sure that the Palestinians cannot create an army. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without receiving guarantees that it will be demilitarized. We ask the international community for an express commitment that the Palestinian state’s area will be demilitarized with effective measures – not like the ones in Gaza.”

He added that the future Palestinian must not have its own closed airspace and must not be able to sign military treaties with Israel's enemies.

“If we get these guarantees we will accept as part of a true peace treaty a demilitarized Palestinian state besides a Jewish state," he vowed.

Jerusalem, he said, will remain unified and with freedom for all religions. As for Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu explained: "We do not intend to build new communities or expropriate land. But fathers and mothers in Judea and Samaria must have the possibility to let their children live beside them. The settlers are not enemies of the people, they are a pioneering, Zionist, values-oriented public."

"Arabs must choose between the way of peace and the way of Hamas," he clarified. "The Palestinian Authority must create law and order in the Gaza Strip and demilitarize Hamas. Israel will not negotiate with terrorists who wish to annihilate us. Hamas will not even let Red Cross representatives visit a soldier who is being held captive in Gaza – Gilad Shalit.”
Palestinians quick to reject speechSenior PA negotiator Saeb Erikat was quick to reject Netanyahu’s speech.

“Netanyahu will have to wait a thousand years befire he finds a Palestinian who agrees to his suggestions. He has unilaterally eliminated all of the final status subjects like Jerusalem, refugees and security.”

“I turn to President Obama,” he said – “Netanyahu’s speech is a slap in the face to your speech.”
Initial reactions to the speech in the Jewish nationalist cap were mixed. Pinchas Wallerstein, former Mayor of the Binyamin region, said he was diappointed with the fact that Netanyahu used the phrase “Palestinian state” but noted that he also spoke of “normal life” in the communities of Judea and Samaria. “This means we will continue normal growth in the communities,” he told Voice of Israel radio, “without going overboard.”

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