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If Netanyahu is re-elected, Israel has a Europe problem

Nobody ever thought the window for a two-state solution would ever truly close — or be closed. Benjamin Netanyahu just declared it so in a last-ditched attempt to rally his base ahead of elections.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2014. (EU Photo)

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2014. (EU Photo)

Forget whatever temporary crisis Benjamin Netanyahu created with the United States in his campaign speech on the Hill. If Netanyahu is re-elected on Tuesday, Israel is going to have a much more serious problem with Europe.

In an interview with Israeli news site NRG one day before elections, the prime minister made clear what he has only hinted at and skirted around for years.

The interviewer wasn’t going to have it. “If you are prime minister, a Palestinian state will not be established?” he asked.

“Indeed,” responded Netanyahu.

And therein lies the problem. The very foundation of Netanyahu’s strategy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the international community has been to stall, to muddle, to talk the talk but not walk the walk.

His strategy has paid off thus far. Nobody in the world fully believes that Netanyahu ever earnestly went all-in to peace talks, but as long as the process continued, as long as there was a chance, the gravest consequences of Israel’s intransigence have been held at bay.

In Brussels last year senior EU bureaucrats crafting Europe’s policy in the Middle East made clear to me that the ongoing peace process was the only thing stopping them from implementing what can only be described as sanctions.

But if the Israeli government were to declare officially that two states were off the table and if the peace process were to be declared definitively dead, then there would be no more “business as usual.”

Last year, the idea seemed fantastical. No-one — neither diplomats nor analysts — believed the Israeli side would ever say say ‘game over.’ But things have changed.

And it is important to note that Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, which gives it tremendous influence.

Netanyahu’s declaration, should he be re-elected, would also provide the Palestinian Authority with reasons beyond reproach to move ahead in the United Nations and other international institutions.

This will make things a bit awkward for the United States. How can it continue to veto anti-settlement resolutions in the UN Security Council if the Israeli government’s official position is that Palestinian statehood is off the table —  that the West Bank belongs to Israel and not the Palestinians?

Would an International Criminal Court investigation into Israeli settlements as a war crime be emboldened by a newly unabashedly settler government?

We’ll find out in a few days.

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    1. Weiss

      The Liar now speaks the truth that we knew were his real aims: to continue his quest for revenge of his brother Yonaten’s death during the heroic Entebbe rescue in 1976, and to do everything in his power to stop a Palestinian State from emerging.

      His father will be rolling in his grave when Satanyahoo becomes the galvanizing catalyst that actually Spurs the creation of the Palestian State through his arrogant domination and racist policies.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bar

      What a silly game. And Abbas has accepted a state under any conditions? After Bibi froze settlements to go to talks the Palestinians avoided, and after Bibi released 76 Palestinian murderers just so he can sit in negotiations with the Palestinians, and after Obama himself presented a deal which Bibi accepted with reservations and Abbas rejected outright, everybody gets all excited when Bibi says there won’t be a Palestinian state, especially because of the dangers posed now by ISIS – a development that has accelerated in the past 2 years?

      Have some integrity and admit that Israel has no partner. Admit the other side has rejected all the deals they’ve been offered and admit they will continue to reject deals because that’s what they’ve made their public expect.

      Also have some integrity and admit that if a real deal were offered to Israel – no, not one with 194 RoR BS and the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall in Arab hands or the possibility of a large Gaza-clone in Judea and Samaria – even the most right-wing Likudnik would be hard-pressed to say no.

      And I’m far from a fan of Bibi. I’d be happy to see him leave office.

      Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          I regret having read your first sentence because it was enough to make me click on the link. Essence of the argument? Israel didn’t give Abbas exactly what he demands, “only” two of these insufficient offers were made between 2000 and 2008 and none since Olmert was in office and everybody is an idiot for thinking this would be enough.

          1. The claims are wrong and easily refuted.
          2. The suggestion that it’s not a real or serious offer if Abbas doesn’t get exactly what he wants is the stupidest thing I’ve read in a long, long time.
          3. Go away.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            Bar: “The suggestion that it’s not a real or serious offer if Abbas doesn’t get exactly what he wants”

            That is, of course, utter nonsense.

            Bar insists that this deal: “A Palestinian state established on the pre-1967 lines with its capital in East Jerusalem, and a mutually agreed upon resolution to the issue of the refugees” is simply “what Abbas wants”.

            It’s his wish-list, apparently, and nothing more.

            But as Lisa Goldman correctly describes, that deal isn’t “what Abbas wants”. Instead “That is the price.”

            Get it?

            That deal is his “Red line”, and that it is indeed a “Red line” has been openly and explicitly tabled for all to see.

            Which does, of course, require that you have the wit to see, which apparently Bar does not.

            There is no point – none whatsoever – in bemoaning the refusal of a negotiator to compromise on what they have explicitly and openly said is a Red line, because the very definition of a “Red line” is that this is a line that they can not and will not cross.

            To argue otherwise – as you are arguing – is to reveal yourself to be either venal or an idiot.

            Which one are you, Bar?

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Three comments on the situation:

            1. Correction: Lisa Goldman translated into English the words of Raviv Drucker. It is Drucker who refutes Bar’s claims. Yeah Right accurately explains why Bar fails in refuting Drucker. No wonder Netanyahu was afraid to be interviewed by Drucker in the campaign. Netanyahu can’t handle the truth especially from someone as wise to his tricks and with as sure a grasp on the historical record as Drucker. Thanks be to Bar for instigating the opportunity for us all to reread Goldman’s translation of Drucker.

            2. On a side note, I was pleased to see Drucker, a veteran Israeli on the scene, confirm my opinion of Ari Shavit. I don’t get it. Why is Shavit so highly regarded? I have often found him, as Drucker says, “completely detached from the facts” and full of lazy assumptions and just second rate compared to any number of other Haaretz writers. Shavit has always irritated me in precisely the way Drucker describes:

            “You read these things and they can make you slowly lose your mind. People who are intelligent, knowledgeable, and experienced simply do not know their facts. Or perhaps they have an interest in distorting them? … well-worn and tedious facts. But the Lapid-Shavit-Barnea-Livni spin machine is so irritating that we must go over them again.”

            3. Finally, Bar, are you taking debating etiquette lessons from Lieberman now with that “go away”? To paraphrase the chocolate lover on the airplane, “What am I, an Arab?” I’m not wanted here by you…and that matters?

            Reply to Comment
    3. michal

      now we know for sure, what we managed to avoid knowing for years.
      mr netanyahoo is chipping away at relations w/ US. now he’ll do his best in EUR.
      maybe it’s all part of a secret deal he has w/ the evangelicals to hasten the End of Days?!
      possibly in return for them buying everything israel produces until then?!

      Reply to Comment