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Netanyahu vows to never remove settlements. Why won’t the world believe him?

It’s as if the entire international community administered itself a potent dose of willful suspension of disbelief, enabling its leaders to ignore Bibi’s declarations that he will never take the requisite steps for peace — that he will do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a ceremony marking 50 years of the Israeli settlement movement, Gush Etzion, West Bank, September 27, 2017. (Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a ceremony marking 50 years of the Israeli settlement movement, Gush Etzion, West Bank, September 27, 2017. (Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

For years, decades actually, the world has inexplicably given Benjamin Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt that, despite endless declarations to the contrary, he is interested and willing to end the occupation and enter into a peace accord that results in the creation of a Palestinian state.

This week, at an official Israeli government ceremony celebrating 50 years of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which itself should set off alarm bells for anyone suspicious of the Netanyahu government’s intentions, the prime minister vowed to never again remove another Jewish settlement from the occupied territory.

“We have brought about magnificent settlement in Judea and Samaria that we are maintaining and strengthening – responsibly, wisely and persistently,” Netanyahu said in his speech celebrating the settlement movement. “I tell you clearly and before anything: There will be no more uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel!”

This latest declaration joins the handful of times in recent years that Netanyahu has promised never to withdraw Israeli military forces from the West Bank, and openly stated that no Palestinian state will be born on his watch. Going back even further, we have seen video of Netanyahu bragging about how he sabotaged the implementation of the Oslo Accords during his first term as prime minister.

And yet, perhaps because there has been no other game in town for nearly a decade, the world continues to engage the Israeli prime minister about peace and Palestinian statehood. It’s not just that the world entertains Netanyahu’s attempts to move the goalposts in order to ensure peace remains out of reach, by constantly adding new preconditions and demands every time he is worried some progress might be made.

Construction workers clear land for new caravans in the settlement of Ofra, West Bank, January 29, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

Construction workers clear land for new caravans in the settlement of Ofra, West Bank, January 29, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

It’s as if the entire international community got together and agreed to administer itself a potent dose of willful suspension of disbelief, enabling world leaders to ignore Netanyahu’s unmistakably clear declarations that he will never implement the requisite steps for peace — that he will do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

It would be very uncomfortable for most world leaders to call the Israeli prime minister out and declare — publicly or privately — that they do not trust his intentions. Netanyahu knows that. He also knows that not only are there far more pressing issues on the world agenda at the moment, but the emerging global right-wing nationalist movements are sympathetic to his politics and worldview. The Israeli prime minister senses that nobody is going to call bullshit the next time he says that the biggest hurdle in the path toward peace is Palestinian incitement, or refusal to recognize Israel as an ethnocratic Jewish state — and not his own insistence on maintaining military control over the occupied Palestinian territories or his own refusal to remove any illegal Jewish settlements, ever.

While the world might not be ready to take concrete steps toward ending the occupation and ensuring equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in whatever borders we are left with, the least it can do is to pull the wool off its eyes and start believing Netanyahu when he vows to do everything in his power to prevent an outcome that is just for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Eliza

      Why? Why should ‘the world’ pull the wool from its eyes and start believing Netanyahu when vows to do everything in his power to prevent an outcome which is just for Israelis and Palestinians alike?

      If by ‘the world’ you mean the USA and the governments of Western States, then maybe the better question is why do Israelis continue to think that the world is going to charge in and fix everything up for the Israelis? Why do you continue to express amazement or outrage that the world is not going to save Israel from rampant Zionism? Or lift a finger to save Palestinians from indefinite occupation, and periodic bombing if in Gaza. I mean, in fifty years, the world has actually done nothing but offer silent thanks to Israel for giving us wool to put over our eyes.

      The ‘wool’ is very comfortable for the world and its very ill bred of Netanyahu to be so forthright. But that’s all. Best just to pretend that we didn’t hear him at all – and let’s face it, we have had plenty of practise.

      Its time to accept that its up to Israelis to do the heavy lifting if they really want to cease the occupation. OK, you might get a bit of help from BDS, but Western governments ain’t gonna to do it for you. You don’t want to do it or can’t do it, then live with it as best you can.

      Reply to Comment
      • JeffB

        @Eliza

        Well put

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      “I tell you clearly and before anything: There will be no more uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel!”

      Unless they’re Palestinian.

      Reply to Comment
    3. JeffB

      Michael,

      It’s as if the entire international community got together and agreed to administer itself a potent dose of willful suspension of disbelief, enabling world leaders to ignore Netanyahu’s unmistakably clear declarations that he will never implement the requisite steps for peace

      Welcome to my side of the debate. An occupation is a state where an army takes control of a territory that it makes no long term claims to and wants to relinquish after military necessity ends. Israel has de facto annexed huge chunks of the “occupied territory” and de jure annexed even more. It is time to admit that Israel really does mean to annex Jerusalen and the Golan. Area-C is next. Stop having a discussion about Israel leaving these territories and start having a discussion about Israel intends to administer these territories as the governing power not occupying power.

      Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        Well, the military necessity is indefinite and open ended in extent.
        Why?
        Because the Arabs changed their nationality a few years after they lost the 67 war. THe Jordanians became Fakestines. When the defeated aggressor strategically renames itself to a fake nationality, the conflict becomes impossible to peacefully solve.

        Mass population rrepatriation to the East Bank is the only sane solution.

        Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          @Lewis

          Sorry I’m not following. Is your claim that if I had gone to the West Bank in 1966 the people who lived there would have defined themselves as the same nationality as the Al-Ḥusayn family and not merely people living under their rule? So just to make clear Black September wasn’t a fight between different ethnic groups in your book?

          Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Indeed, if you had visited J & S / W. Bank in 1966, the people there would have introduced themselves as “Jordanians”. Actually, the first time the PLO flag was raised in these areas were demonstrations in 1972.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It’s called a liberation movement, Lewis. Happens a lot. Your obsessive “indictment” on this score is meaningless.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Lewis

            That is interesting. So your claim is prior to 1972 West Bankers never considered themselves Palestinian at all? They in fact considered themselves Jordanian nationals. I agree if true and in context, that’s a game changer.

            Are there any good articles which prove it?

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “It is time to admit that Israel really does mean to annex Jerusalen and the Golan. Area-C is next.”

        Sorry, you can’t in one breath ask Michael in some fashion to get honest (as if Omer-Man of all people needed that lecture, for god’s sake, you’re insufferable) and then in the very next breath endorse a sneaky, creeping, gerrymandering, occupation-furthering, segregating, Arab bantustan-creating, pushing out and corralling of the mass of Palestinians into Area A and B, and be done with it. You want to get honest? Then come right out and endorse full annexation of all three areas and one man one vote. Only then will you “come over” to Michael’s “side of the debate.” Until then we’ll call bullshit.

        Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          @Ben

          Lieber code:

          An occupation is defined by the imposition of martial law in place of civil law: A place, district, or country occupied by an enemy stands, in consequence of the occupation, under the Martial Law of the invading or occupying army, whether any proclamation declaring Martial Law, or any public warning to the inhabitants, has been issued or not. Martial Law is the immediate and direct effect and consequence of occupation or conquest. The presence of a hostile army proclaims its Martial Law.

          Martial Law in a hostile country consists in the suspension, by the occupying military authority, of the criminal and civil law, and of the domestic administration and government in the occupied place or territory, and in the substitution of military rule and force for the same, as well as in the dictation of general laws, as far as military necessity requires this suspension, substitution, or dictation.

          The right to annex: It is no longer considered lawful – on the contrary, it is held to be a serious breach of the law of war – to force the subjects of the enemy into the service of the victorious government, except the latter should proclaim, after a fair and complete conquest of the hostile country or district, that it is resolved to keep the country, district, or place permanently as its own and make it a portion of its own country.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            What is your point? I read this as supporting my argument.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            That’s the actual international law. Which governs occupation and annexation.

            It is precisely the opposite of what you have been arguing. Note for example an occupation ends when the country lays claim to the territory and imposes civil law.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I think half the problem you have is that you are a most unclear writer and the other half is that your arguments are not built on honest accountings. Israel has not laid claim to the territory, it has not imposed civil law, it has not done anything of the sort and it is not “fair.” It never will be. The last thing Israel wants to do or will do is be “fair.”

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        ​”An occupation is a state where an army takes control of a territory that it makes no long term claims to and wants to relinquish after military necessity ends.”

        This is JeffB’s private, idiosyncratic, even magical definition of a belligerent occupation. Wherein he decrees that real military occupiers make no long term claims and that the internal subjective desires and wants of the occupier carry standing and legal determinative force in reality, in international law. So that all an occupier has to do is have claims and desires and presto, magic! No occupation! It’s the strangest damn theory of occupation. All those Geneva Conventions need never have been written! No protections are needed! Cuz “real” occupiers always want to “relinquish after military necessity ends.” They never have other designs! Cuz “real” occupiers are very good people! The best! As I said, it’s the strangest theory of occupation. Completely internally incoherent. Magic! (We will be so polite as to only add to this a discreet mention of the fact that these internal subjective desires of the occupier that JeffB deems determinative are in this case…his own desires too! Wow! What a lucky alignment of the stars for JeffB! Magic!)

        Reply to Comment
    4. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Judea and Samaria are a part of the Jewish national and religious patrimony. They are not occupied but liberated territories.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joshua Fisher

        You know that you’re sound like “Sudedetenland, Ostpreußen und Schlesien bleiben Deutsch”. Blut and Boden in Hebrew. Same shit in new clothes.

        Reply to Comment

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