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Netanyahu confidante: 'Status quo' in Jerusalem must remain in two-state deal

If Jerusalem is not divided, then East Jerusalem cannot be the capital of a Palestinian state, a central Palestinian demand. Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz reveals two-state stance to the ‘Telegraph.’

Likud minister and close confidante of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yuval Steinitz said that Israel is prepared to make “considerable and difficult” territorial concessions as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph (and reported on in Haaretz). Steinitz stressed that the two-state solution was the only way to end the conflict. This is apparently news because he, Netanyahu and the Likud Party once opposed a two-state solution and within the party, there are plenty of members who are currently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Steinitz, however, had some caveats to his statement, among them, that Palestinians must recognize Israel’s Jewish character, that a future Palestinian state must be demilitarized and that the right of return for 1948 refugees was out of the question. These are problematic in their own right as far as the double standard of preconditions on negotiations, but I won’t get into that now. The one caveat that stood out to me, that is maybe the most significant and that wasn’t elaborated on is what he said about Jerusalem.

According to the Telegraph:

As for Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their capital, Mr. Steinitz said the status quo was the only option.

If the status quo is the only option, that means East Jerusalem will continue to be occupied and annexed by Israel, which means it cannot be the capital of a future Palestinian state, which means there will be no Palestinian state because Palestinians will not agree to a state without East Jerusalem as its capital, which means there won’t be a two-state solution. (Don’t let Israel’s promise to release 82 Palestinian prisoners fool you as a goodwill gesture. Israel has released prisoners before, and then re-arrested them soon thereafter.)

So to me, Steinitz exposed in this interview that Israel is not actually ready for a two-state solution, since his definition is unrealistic and unjust. With talks (about talking) set to resume on Tuesday – Steinitz’s words are a good barometer of Netanyahu’s position. And considering that Netanyahu won’t even agree to freeze settlement construction during peace talks, even the most optimistic of analysts should be well aware that there is nothing genuine about Israel’s position as it enters “negotiations.”

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    1. Kolumn9

      “which means there will be no Palestinian state because Palestinians will not agree to a state without East Jerusalem as its capital”

      Who named you ultimate decider of what the Palestinians will and will not agree to. Two weeks ago you probably would have made a categorical claim about the Palestinians refusing talks without a freeze on settlements and an Israeli agreement to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 lines. A little humility maybe?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      “Who named you ultimate decider of what the Palestinians will and will not agree to”

      Any Palestinians leader who signs an agreement that doesn’t include at the very least East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine will be taken out to the back of the woodshed faster than Morsi was in Egypt. Israel knows this very well.

      With regards to Steinitz, I wouldn’t get too excited about him. Even Netanyahu doesn’t think very highly of him, and only keeps him around because he is one of Sarah’s favorite pets.

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      • Kolumn9

        Any Palestinian leader that recognizes the existence of Israel… Any Palestinian leader that signs an agreement with Israel… Any Palestinian leader that …

        Come on now. There is a very serious lack of historical perspective displayed by people that make such categorical statements.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Laurent Szyster

      So, to you “Steinitz exposed in this interview that Israel is not actually ready for a two-state solution, since his definition is unrealistic and unjust”.

      First, there is no such thing as a “just” peace between two peoples at war.

      Peace is always unfair.

      Usually the winners concede that they will not take all the spoils of their victory. In exchange the losers concede that they lost and accept to pay the price of their defeat.

      And there are are even worse kind of peaces, for instance you can “make a desert and call it peace” (dixit Tacitus).

      Second, how realistic does a divided Jerusalem look to you ? Do you really believe that a militarized West Bank would be a practical way to maintain the peace ? Have you considered that the “return” of “refugee” would in reality mean the forcible expulsion of two generations of Palestinians from the Arab states where they were born ?

      Peace will be unfair by definition.

      And for a peace to come and stay its particulars must not create new opportunities for conflict.

      So, it may be time, at last, for Palestinians to decide if they just want a real peace.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Philos

      I believe this is called “public diplomacy” aka propaganda. Israel, with the backing of hte USA (again), is using the talks as a way to maneouver out of diplomatic isolation. Along the way they will guilt trip (aka squeeze the Holocaust for everything its got), blackmail, and defame anyone and everyone that gets in the way. Plus ca change.

      Reply to Comment
    5. “Two States” is now little more than a federated bantu district, which is why Bibi can move towards “Two States” w/o ditching his past. The best outcome now would be enough autonomy in an expanded bantu to allow economic growth; but this will entail some degree of common civil law between settlers and Paelestinians, which I cannot see. All roads seems to lead to One State; the question is how long and ugly it may be. I hold this view with neither relish nor disdain, just inevitability.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        “Palestine” was never meant to be anything more than a kind of Bantustan, as it was under Jordanian rule 1949-1967.

        Furthermore, “Palestine” is not even theoretically capable to be a non-failed state, thriving, independent state, due to numerous historical, religious and demographic reasons.

        Reply to Comment
    6. This is what I said about Mairav’s previous article: Jerusalem is the sticking point for the respective legislatures. There’s no question of either Abbas or Bibi imposing treaties without the approval of their respective legislatures, as if they were dictators. Neither of them has the capacity to do that, which is a fact both of them will be grateful for, because it means they can say to Kerry: “I’d love to sign it, myself, but I’d never get it through my legislature, in fact they’d lynch me if I even suggested it.”

      Reply to Comment
    7. In fact, I’ll go further: it’s good for their parties/coalitions, too, because these know that their leader knows that they can block the treaty while saving his face by leaving intact the fiction that he would have been glad to sign if he could have got it past them. And he knows that they know that he knows, etc. And Kerry knows too. Thus absolutely everybody, including Kerry or whoever is the US Sec State at any given time, can rest secure in the knowledge that everyone will go through the requisite motions and all the leaders, parties and coalitions concerned will remain unscathed every time there’s a proposed ‘Final Status’ treaty. It’s been that way for decades, hasn’t it?

      Reply to Comment
    8. Eilon

      fakestine never existed
      does not now exist
      will never exist

      A bunch of Jordanians who lost the 6 day war do not constitute a “people” on the day after they lost the 6 day war. Fraud and antisemitism cannot change reality.

      Reply to Comment