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Netanyahu's 'gift' of Palestinian statehood

Statements by Israel’s prime minister give insight into the — problematic — way he views peace talks with the Palestinians. And Naftali Bennett’s emptiest threat yet.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reiterated one of the most problematic views that he and his government hold — that any future Palestinian state, if there ever is one, will be a painful, albeit generous gift from him to the Palestinian people.

Responding to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s intent to accede to 15 international treaties and conventions, Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting: “[The Palestinians] will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves.”

There are two fallacies in Netanyahu’s statement.

First is the way Netanyahu views Palestinian foreign policy. If the wrong way to join treaties is “unilaterally,” then it holds that he believes such moves should be made multi- or bi-laterally, i.e., with Israel’s consent. In other words, the Palestinians need Israel’s permission in order to conduct their own foreign policy.

Read +972′s full coverage of the peace process

That fallacious worldview is directly related to Netanyahu’s second, more seriously flawed assertion — that the Palestinians can only achieve statehood through negotiations with Israel.

What that means is that the Palestinians have no inherent right to national self determination but rather, that a Palestinian state can be achieved only through the goodwill of its occupier and master, Israel. It follows that Israel and the Palestinians are not negotiating over the terms of a Palestinian state’s establishment, but over the validity of the very existence of [future] Palestinian state.

Such thinking brings backward the concept of peace talks over a decade, to a time when a Palestinian state wasn’t even on the table.

Bennett’s emptiest threat yet

Earlier Sunday, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett made one of the more ridiculously empty threats against the Palestinians to be leveled by a senior Israeli official in a long time (save for Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s plans for population transfer).

Emptier than his cohorts’ regular threats to annex portions — or all — of the West Bank, was what Bennett told Israel’s Army Radio Sunday morning (original Hebrew, English):

“We are currently preparing war crimes charges against Abu Mazen (Abbas) on two [different] rationales,” Bennett said. “One is the daily transfer of funds to Hamas, which fires rockets at Israeli citizens, and the second is the funding of terrorists and murderers themselves.”

Forget for a moment that Israel, too, transfers truckloads of cash to Hamas (Hebrew).

The truly phenomenal part of Bennett’s threat lies in the fact that in order to file war crimes charges against Abbas, Israel would need to ratify the Rome Statute. There is a very good reason Israel has not yet done so: it would open up Israeli officials to charges of war crimes, filed by the Palestinians or others.

Related:
The peace process is dead, long live the peace process
Diplomatic process in crisis: Staying away is Kerry’s best move
The ‘outrageous hypocrisy’ of Tzipi Livni & Yair Lapid

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    COMMENTS

    1. Rehmat

      In order to understand Netanyahu’s crooked mentality, one needs to read how professor Neve Gordon described Bibi in 1996. The good-old Israeli academic called Bibi: “Spook, Terrorist, and Criminal dual citizen”.

      Last month Rachelle Marshall, US Jewish writer, wrote that Bibi is determined to see that the talks failed.

      Bibi is making the best use of the so-called “Arab Spring”.

      http://rehmat1.com/2014/04/01/gen-dempsey-israel-benefits-from-arab-spring/

      Reply to Comment
    2. The KumKum of the Chupchik

      This article shows more than just a trace of the writer’s past in The Jerusalem Post. E.G. he fails to note that transfer of cash is intended to pay for former employees of the PA, i.e. Fatah supporters, and this is done as a response the U.S. requests.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn9

      The Palestinians are not going to get a state except through negotiations with Israel. This is what the Palestinians signed up for when they signed Oslo. This is also a statement of fact unless you can find me an army willing to expel the IDF from Judea and Samaria.

      Indeed your statement that Bibi’s speech brings us back ten years is a good reminder of the peace as proposed by Yitzhak Rabin whereby Palestinian aspirations were to be met with autonomy short of statehood and only where Israeli security permits.

      Perhaps this is a good reminder of how far Israel had come in terms of trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a peace treaty. Unfortunately this has been for nothing since the Palestinians are not interested in their own state except for one built on the grave of Israel. Whatever Israel offers the Palestinians reject and demand more. Now they have gotten to the point where they explicitly reject ending the conflict as a result of a peace treaty. Try getting your head around that logic – they offer ‘peace’ but reject ending the conflict.

      Perhaps we have gone too far and it is time to scale back on these ridiculous peace negotiations and turn the PA into Gaza until either the PA finds some perspective or Hamas takes over. At this point it doesn’t really matter which happens because there is zero hope of making peace with Abbas. His latest rejection of ending the conflict as even a goal of talks means he is no different from Hamas which offers cease-fires. If Abbas too offers just a cease-fire then what is the difference except that Abbas has some groupies in the West?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Omar

      “in order to file war crimes charges against Abbas, Israel would need to ratify the Rome Statute” — this is simply not true. If Palestine joins the Rome Statute it opens itself up to such prosecution, regardless of what Israel does.

      Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        *chortle*

        The chances of either of those two accusations sticking to Abbas is… zero.

        The Rome Statute defines all of the “war crimes” that are prosecutable by the ICC in Article 8.

        Even IF Bennett’s accusations are true not one of them is prosecutable by the ICC under Article 8 of the Rome Statute.

        Meanwhile, let me quote Article 8(2)(b)(viii): “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory”

        That would represent a pretty open-and-shut-case against the Minister for Colonial Expansionism.

        Correct?

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          A clause composed and presented by a number of Arab states. I wonder why.

          It is ironic and profoundly sad that people who claim to care about human rights, justice, etc., have permitted the hijacking of the UN and international law by the states which are among its most egregious violators.

          Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “A clause composed and presented by a number of Arab states.”

            And also a clause that every state party agrees to when it signs the Rome Statute.

            Which would be…..oh…. 139 states so far.

            All of them “Arab states”, are they?

            That would be a neat trick indeed, seeing as how there are less than 30 Arab states.

            The other 100 signatories just sorta’ signed the Rome Statute without bothering to read it, did they?

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            The Arab bloc is part of the Muslim bloc which comprises 57 states. They almost always vote in unison.

            These 57 states are all members of the Non-Aligned Bloc of 120 states, which are states that tend not to be Western democracies or large players.

            Get the math now?

            The US, China, Russia and Israel are among the non-signatories. Well, the US and Israel were signatories but then they backed out after they saw how this agreement would be misused. In large part this new wording for this population movement clause caused their departure from this agreement.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Johnboy

      The most serious problem with Netanyahu’s claim that Palestinian statehood is a gift that only Israel can bestow upon them is this obvious fact: Israel is not their sovereign.

      Israel is not “the sovereign power” in the West Bank, it is merely “the occupying power”.

      The gift that is within Netanyahu’s hands is therefore an agreement by Israel to End The Occupation, precisely because that is within the “authority” of an occupier to grant to the occupied.

      But sovereignty over this territory (which, after all, is what statehood is really all about) is not something that “Israel, the occupying power” actually possesses, therefore it is not a gift that is Israel’s to give to, well, anyone.

      The Palestinians are stateless?
      There is no state in the West Bank?

      OK, in which case the Palestinians – on there own, with no help from anyone – are perfectly within their rights to unilaterally declare both their own (sovereignless) fate and the fate of this (sovereignless)territory.

      They have already done so: they have declared a sovereign state, and they have called it Palestine.

      Israel has no say in that, because this isn’t “Israeli territory”, and these guys aren’t “Israelis”

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The Palestinians are stateless? Ok, they can have a state in Gaza or Jordan.

        There is no state in the West Bank? Ok, Israel can annex some or all of it.

        The Palestinians declare a state? They did it once in 1988 and still seem to need to do it again. They can do it another dozen times and it wouldn’t make a difference until they come to an agreement with Israel. And here we are.

        Reply to Comment
        • Johnboy

          K9: “The Palestinians are stateless? Ok, they can have a state in Gaza or Jordan.”

          Jordan is already a state.

          So if K9-logic (I know, I know) says that the Palestinians can “legitimately” take over another state for themselves then, heck, you might want to mull the implications of that w.r.t. that other neighbouring country.

          You know, the one called “Israel”.

          K9: “There is no state in the West Bank? Ok, Israel can annex some or all of it.”

          No, because the Israelis already HAVE a state, they are therefore not free to have another bite of that cherry.

          The territory is stateless.
          The people there are stateless.

          The FATE of those people – and that territory – is therefore theirs and theirs alone to decide.

          Neighbouring states are NOT free to shout “Let’s hoe in, Boys! There’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord going on next door!”.

          Whether there is “a state” next door or “a territory” next door is immaterial: either way, it’s still “next door”, which means it’s not “yours”.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Jordan has an overwhelming Palestinian majority ruled by an English king and should already be a Palestinian state. Arabs of the West Bank were until the 1980s Jordanian citizens and they are ‘stateless’ only because Jordan removed their citizenship in contravention to most international norms. There is also an entirely autonomous Palestinian territory in Gaza ruled by an independent Palestinian government. There is no shortage of places where the ‘stateless’ can declare having a state.

            The territory is stateless and so there really is no sovereign state that can object were parts of that territory to join Israel if that is desired by the population that lives there. Perhaps the residents would declare independent republics of Judea and Samaria over some areas where there is no sovereign and petition to join Israel. There are precedents for that. The ‘West Bank’ as a territory belongs to no state. It is not a real political unit and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be partitioned. The people living in areas that do not join Israel are going to have to either declare a state in what is left or to enter negotiations on their future. Or perhaps by then there will be a Palestinian state in Jordan they could join.

            Reply to Comment
      • Samuel

        “Israel has no say in that, because this isn’t “Israeli territory”, and these guys aren’t “Israelis”

        Israel will certainly choose to say something about East Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and other places in which Israel built “settlements” (for want of a better word).

        Reply to Comment
    6. Tzutzik

      “That fallacious worldview is directly related to Netanyahu’s second, more seriously flawed assertion — that the Palestinians can only achieve statehood through negotiations with Israel.”

      FACT 1: without Israel’s withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria, the Palis won’t have a functioning state.

      ERGO: To achieve full sovereignity and independence, the Palis need to negotiate with Israel instead of trying to by- pass Israel.

      FACT 2: In order to get Israel to withdraw and recognise a Pali state, the Palis will need to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Just for starters …

      Reply to Comment
    7. Johnboy

      “FACT 1: without Israel’s withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria, the Palis won’t have a functioning state.”

      A masterly statement of the obvious, since that is true of ANY state that is being subjected to a belligerent occupation.

      Conclusion: the negotiations have to be about Ending The Occupation, and everything else is a sideshow.

      “ERGO: To achieve full sovereignity and independence, the Palis need to negotiate with Israel instead of trying to by- pass Israel.”

      No, not to “achieve full sovereignty”, since that isn’t within the remit of an occupying power to bestow.

      An Army of Occupation holds “authority” over an occupied territory, so the real situation is that the Palestinians can’t “achieve full authority over their sovereign state” until this occupation ends.

      Which, of course, is an altogether different thing.

      Conclusion: the negotiations have to be about Ending The Occupation, and everything else is a sideshow.

      “FACT 2: In order to get Israel to withdraw and recognise a Pali state, the Palis will need to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Just for starters …”

      Well, no, that statement is rather too egocentric.

      Your “fact” is true “in order to get Israel to AGREE to withdraw”.

      It isn’t true “in order to get Israel to withdraw”.

      There is a very big difference between the two, and it is the difference between:
      a) Israel cutting a deal in negotiations, versus
      b) BDS

      Either way, Israel will end up leaving. It’s just a matter of whether it leaves with a skip in its step or its tail between its legs.

      Your choice….

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Conclusion: the negotiations have to be about Ending The Occupation, and everything else is a sideshow.”

        Yes, just like in every other war of an aggressor which loses a war and it ends up being occupied. NOT!

        Name one example where the losing aggressors dictated terms for withdrawal.

        Withdrawal eventually happens but not before proper negotiations in which the aggressor apologises for their aggression and undertakes not to commit further aggression in the future.

        Only in Johnboy’s bizarro world does the party against which aggression was committed, has to withdraw unconditionally.

        PS
        Your BDS threat is just BS. It is just another Arab strategy in their long list of failed Arab strategies to try to defeat Israel.

        That’s not to say that there won’t be some BDS. Nor that it won’t cause SOME damage to Israel. But will it lead to Israel’s defeat? Of course not!

        Hey JB baby, you too, like your fellow better known Arab leaders such as Husseini, Shukeiri, Nasser, Arafat and others, will grow old decrepit and die without seeing your wet dream come true. You will not see Israel defeated or even humiliated. I feel for you. NOT!

        Reply to Comment
        • Johnboy

          “Only in Johnboy’s bizarro world does the party against which aggression was committed, has to withdraw unconditionally.”

          What a bizarre comment.

          Tzutzik wants to insist that an occupier requires a reward before it agrees to withdraw.

          That an occupying power needs to Get Something Of Value before it graciously agrees to end the occupation.

          No, dude, a belligerent occupation doesn’t work that way; it’s not meant to imposed for Fun And Profit, much less as a nifty neat-o excuse for a bit o’ int’l extortion.

          There is exactly one legitimate reason from imposing a belligerent occupation: necessary self-defense.

          And once that “threat” is removed then….. you end the occupation, you don’t hang around waiting for a lovely farewell present with a fond “bon voyage!” card on it.

          You “occupy” because you have to, and the moment you don’t have to then… you end the occupation.

          Q: Is there any MILITARY reason why Israel has to keep this occupation going?
          A: No, none.

          Q: So why is Israel still occupying this territory?
          A: Israel’s carpet-baggers and army camp-followers haven’t finished profiting from it yet.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Q: Is there any MILITARY reason why Israel has to keep this occupation going?
            A: No, none.”

            A: Yes, yes, yes … And more yes.

            First of all there is Hamas. They pose an immediate military threat.

            Second of all there is the PLO who refuse to formally end the conflict.

            Israel has been offering land for peace since 1967. And the PLO refuses to formally recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Yes the very state that UN resolution 181 formally voted for. The UN resolution 181 SPECIFICLLY voted for a “Jewish State” and the Palestinian Arabs immediately rioted and attacked that state specifically BECAUSE they did not want to existence of a Jewish state as opposed to what they wanted which was an Arab Muslim state.

            Soooooo if they still refuse to recognise a Jewish nation state, then that means that they still pose a military threat to the Jewish state. Perhaps not immediately but down the track once they would manage to arm themselves to their teeth after independence.

            Oh and there are a few other things as well which I won’t talk about yet. I want to see JB’s spin first. He is a really amusing fellow. LOL …

            Reply to Comment
    8. Johnboy

      “Israel will certainly choose to say something about East Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and other places in which Israel built “settlements” (for want of a better word).”

      I can build a squatter tent in your backyard, and I can shout loooong and loud that BECAUSE I’ve built that squatter tent then I have “a say” in the fate of that squat.

      But in truth I don’t.

      The tent was erected illegally, and so I have not a leg to stand on: the tent comes down, and I don’t get a say in that.

      The only “say” I have is to negotiate how much time I have to remove my worldly goods before in gets demolished, and whether *I* have to demolish it or merely stand aside while someone else pulls it down.

      But the FATE of that squatter tent is not something that I have any say on whatsoever; it’s toast, because it’s an illegal squat.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Samuel

      “I can build a squatter tent in your backyard, and I can shout loooong and loud that BECAUSE I’ve built that squatter tent then I have “a say” in the fate of that squat.

      But in truth I don’t.”

      Our amateur propagandist, Johnboy strikes again.

      What did he say above? Essentially he made a syllogistic error. Let me give my own example of what he did …

      He said that all dogs have 4 legs (true in general).

      He then said that all cats have 4 legs (true in general).

      But then he jumped to a false conclusion. He said that all cats are dogs.

      His example of the squatters tent is wrong for the same reason as to why cats are not dogs. Jews returning to live where they lived for a very long time, in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, before Arabs evicted them illegally for a brief period of 19 years between 1948 and 1967 was not illegal, unlike the squatters tent which IS illegal.

      So Johnboy, here is a bit of homework for you to do:

      Go home and write out 1000 times: “Cats are not dogs”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        “Essentially he made a syllogistic error.”

        Actually, no, I did not.

        “His example of the squatters tent is wrong for the same reason as to why cats are not dogs.”

        Actually, no, my example is internally perfectly consistent, and therefore the argument I point forward contains no error of logic.

        “Jews returning to live where they lived for a very long time, in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, before Arabs evicted them illegally for a brief period of 19 years between 1948 and 1967 was not illegal, unlike the squatters tent which IS illegal.”

        OK, anyone here care to point out where SAMUEL makes his error?

        You. Yes, you up the back?

        Correct: the error that SAMUEL makes is to use the word “Jews”, when he should be using the word “Israelis”.

        As in: Israelis setting up camp inside an Israeli-occupied territory is clearly illegal, and remains illegal For As Long As That Occupation Is Maintained By Israel.

        That those “Israeli colonists” are also “Jewish settlers” is irrelevant to the illegality of that action.

        After all…. not all Jews are Israelis….. which is where I believe the words “syllogistic error” starts to come into play.

        Reply to Comment
        • Samuel

          “the error that SAMUEL makes is to use the word “Jews”, when he should be using the word “Israelis”.

          As in: Israelis setting up camp inside an Israeli-occupied territory is clearly illegal, and remains illegal For As Long As That Occupation Is Maintained By Israel.”

          Wow. So what you are saying here Johnboy is that an illegal act committed by Palestinian Arabs and their allies, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Jews from Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, can legitimise the barring of Jews from places where they lived since time immemorial. All because for 19 years, between 1948 and 1967, the Arabs managed to keep Palestinian Jews out of those places? And you expect Israel to go along and adhere to such nonsense even after Israel managed to again get control of those places after winning a DFENSIVE war in 1967. Utter nonsense!

          And it gets worse. You seem to imply that this applies ONLY to Jews with Israeli citizenship. Does that mean that it would be acceptable for you if Israel would allow say a million non Israeli Jews to settle in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion? I hope you don’t say yes because I am convinced that the Palestinian Arabs would reject that idea too.

          But it gets even way worse than that if you agree with them and say NO! Then what is your excuse? That because of the Arab conquest of the land in 1948, Jews (non Israeli Jews) are verboten to live in in East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion forever? Utter nonsense!

          I can anticipate your response to my last point. You are going to put your hand on your heart and claim that after Israel would withdraw from East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, Jews would once again be allowed to live in there if the Arabs would give them permission to do so. If you do, then my response to you would be to say: pull the other one. I would suggest that you believe in a flat earth, flying pigs and pink elephants because we all know very well that if Israel would relinquish East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion to Arab control, the Arabs would never allow Jews to live in those places again. How do we know? Simple: between 1948 and 1967 they didn’t either.

          In other words, whatever happens, what you are essentially claiming Johnboy is that the Arab conquest of East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion in 1948, essentially turned those places into Arab ONLY defacto Jew free zones. You want racism? That is racism.

          Reply to Comment
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