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There is no reason to trust Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu can backpedal all he wants, but now it is clear even to his biggest champions that he is no longer interested in the two-state solution. Now it’s up to the White House to take a stand.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC, US, March 2 2015 (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC, US, March 2 2015 (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s landslide election victory on Tuesday stunned even the biggest pessimists. What looked like a possible upset turned very quickly into an easy win for the incumbent, giving his Likud party 30 seats in the upcoming Knesset. Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp, Netanyahu’s main opposition, won only 24 seats.

Like most other major political figures, Netanyahu said nothing about the occupation or the future of the peace process with the Palestinians throughout his campaign. Until March 16, one day before the election, when it seemed as though Herzog might actually defeat the prime minister. Netanyahu, who has spent the last five years trying to convince the world that he supports the two-state solution, told Israeli news website NRG that if he were to be reelected, he would never allow a Palestinian state to be created. He also explicitly disavowed his  2009 speech at Bar Ilan University, in which he voiced unequivocal support for the two-state solution.

“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu told NRG, claiming that only the Right is “realistic” when it comes to security issues. Earlier that day, Bibi visited the East Jerusalem settlement Har Homa, which he claimed he established in order to “stop Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem.”

On Thursday, however, Netanyahu was singing a different tune. In an interview with MSNBC, the prime minister backtracked, reiterating his support for a two-state solution, while claiming that “circumstances have to change for that to happen.” He was clearly walking back in response to the outrage of the Obama administration.

But the fact is that when it comes to his support for a two-state solution — or any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — Netanyahu simply cannot be trusted. The man has changed his mind about what the international community long ago agreed is the only viable solution to the conflict so many times that it is difficult to keep count.

For instance, a video from 2001 shows Netanyahu visiting a family in the settlements. There, he tells them that he purposefully deceived President Clinton into believing he was helping implement the Oslo Accords during his first term as prime minister, by making minor withdrawals from the occupied territories, all the while actually entrenching the occupation.

WATCH: Netanyahu talks about destroying Oslo process:

In 2008, Netanyahu changed his tune once more, this time calling for “economic peace” with the Palestinians that would not be based on allowing them to establish a state. Just months before he was elected to his second term as prime minister, Netanyahu called for weaving “economic peace alongside a political process” that would seek to strengthen moderate parts of the Palestinian economy, which would create an incentive for peace among ordinary Palestinians. A hundred days into his second term, however, there was almost no progress on the economic peace front, and the plan was ditched very soon after.

The Bar Ilan speech in 2009 was hailed as a turning point for Netanyahu. For the first time, he openly endorsed the principle of a (demilitarized) Palestinian state alongside Israel. President Obama welcomed Netanyahu’s proposal, although the Palestinian Authority immediately rejected the plan as a non-starter, since it barely touched on many of the crucial aspects for the formation of a Palestinian state.

WATCH: Netanyahu’s 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University:

Since 2009, the United States has seen through two failed peace processes between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Through it all, Netanyahu reiterated his ostensible support for a two-state solution, although in reality he has done just about everything he could to sabotage its coming to fruition.

In July 2014, however, it seemed as though Netanyahu was starting to show signs that he was no longer interested in even paying lip service to the idea of two states. “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the Jordan River,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement, just as Operation Protective Edge was under way.

It should have always been clear that Netanyahu was never serious about the two-state solution, but rather about using it as a tool that serves him in the short run, most often used to try and convince the White House (and perhaps even his biggest allies in AIPAC) that he was serious about an agreement.

Earlier on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki rejected Netanyahu’s clarifications to MSNBC, saying that “We can’t forget about those comments… and we believe he changed his position.” Whether it took the White House a few years to catch on, or whether they decided to simply ignore Netanyahu’s policies past and present is unclear. But it is clear that if the Obama administration wants to stop bleeding credibility on the Israel-Palestine issue, it is going to have to take a stand against Netanyahu.

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    1. Brian

      Edo Konrad thank you for articulating this so well. As we were just saying, ahem, the credibility of Netanyahu and his followers has been thoroughly exhausted. Disingenuousness has become a core issue. It was always thus but it’s now broadly established and undeniable. Bibi has become a potent symbol of disingenuousness. Etched now deeply in the world’s impressions of the conflict. That’s the way it is.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eddie

        Ridiculous! Any American that blames netanyahu for not making peace with the Palestinians is a hypocrite. Ask yourself if you would make peace with Canada or Mexico if they threaten and act by sending rockets into America. Yet when it comes to Israel, you could care less.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          The USA is not brutally occupying Ontario and Quebec. Get real.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            Not just that, of course.

            A Canada that saw Quebec and Ontario under US occupation would most definitely NOT agree to sign a “peace agreement” while those cities were being hemmed in b ever-expanding US colonies.

            They’d fight to the end rather than allow that situation to become “lawful”.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      Although the writers of 972mag are not prepared to admit it, the democratic will of the citizenry of Israel has returned Netanyahu for a fourth term as Prime Minister. Netanyahu won the office not because he had won a popularity contest but because the majority of Israeli voters trust Netanyahu to lead and stand up for the people of Israel.

      Poll after poll after poll during the election campaign showed that Israelis viewed Netanyahu as the best candidate for the Prime Minister’s office. The opposition parties and the American administration campaigned for anyone but Bibi. Netanyahu turned this around and campaigned its me or them on the left.

      The people in Israel do not trust the left to protect them or the economy. The left brought Palestinian terrorists and death on an unprecedented magnitude into Israeli homes, buses, restaurants, malls and streets. More Israelis died in the first few years of the Oslo Accord than in the previous 20 years. Netanyahu in his first term greatly limited the amount of Palestinian terrorism. The election of the left wing after Netanyahu’s first term brought about an orgy of killing and injuring of Israeli civilians in the 2nd Intifada. The giving of Gaza to the Palestinians have resulted in tens of thousands of rockets shot at Israeli citizens and three wars in Gaza.

      The Israeli public is not interested in the peace of the dead or land for death offered by the left. The Israeli public voted for the one leader it trusts who will lead Israel and will not compromise on Israeli security.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Sorry. There was no huge drop in terrorism deaths from 96-99 (Netanyahu) compared with 92-96 (Rabin, Peres) and no rise from 99-00 (Barak) and the really huge rise in deaths occurs from the moment Sharon walks onto the Temple Mount and during the first four years of his premiership, 01-04. And from 05-09 (Sharon’s incapacitation and Olmert’s premiership) there is then a huge drop in deaths.

        And let’s not forget what happened in between:
        –93, 95: Oslo Accords signed;
        –95: Rabin assassinated by right wing Jew
        –most of the first intifada occurs during Shamir’s government and ends in Rabin’s
        –almost all the second intifada occurs in Sharon’s reign.
        –the second intifada kicks off with failure of Camp David and Sharon’s stunt on the Temple Mount.
        –the failures at Camp David have been described here:
        http://972mag.com/on-palestinian-positions-israeli-pundits-are-all-spin/90137/
        –Oslo failed as much because of settlement building as anything else:
        http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/12/oslo-israel-reneged-colonial-palestine

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          The Israeli Foreign Ministry lists the number of Israelis killed between the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the start of the second intifada.

          “From the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO on September 13, 1993, until September 2000, 269 civilians and soldiers were killed in terrorist attacks in Israel.”

          59 Israelis were killed by terrorist attacks under Netanyahu’s term in office. 15 police and soldiers were shot dead in September 1996 by Arab Palestinian Policemen. Only 17 Israelis died from terrorism in 1998 and 1999 under Netanyahu’s watch. The rest of the deaths occurred under the watch of Rabin and Peres. Thus there was a dramatic drop in deaths caused by terrorists during Netanyahu’s first term.

          In just 3 months in 2000 under Barak, 44 Israelis died in the beginning of the 2nd Intifada which continued until Sharon began to combat the terrorism with the IDF after the bombing of the Park Hotel.

          Oslo failed because the Palestinians never intended to keep their agreements. They intended from the beginning of the signing of the Declaration of Principles to negotiate and use terrorism as a leverage. It worked against Rabin and Peres but not against Netanyahu and Sharon. The Israeli public knows this despite what 972mag or the Guardian may state.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            The Israeli public thinks it knows all sorts of things.

            http://972mag.com/on-palestinian-positions-israeli-pundits-are-all-spin/90137/

            “…So here’s the thing. Abbas really did play a negative role at Camp David. There were all sorts of petty political considerations at play (the power games between Arafat and Abu Ala) that put him in a position of being passive and not very smart during those talks. At the same time, I have gathered from quite a few conversations over the years that the Israeli participants knew going into those talks that there was absolutely no chance of Abbas or Arafat signing the agreement that was presented to them. Barak made an amazing offer, particularly given Israeli public opinion. He agreed to divide Jerusalem, including the Old City, and he agreed to shared sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

            But Barak knew going into those talks that no Palestinian leader could ever bring home an agreement that included only 91 percent of the territory of the West Bank (and an additional 1 percent in land swaps). Especially when a substantial portion of that territory (the Jordan Valley) would be leased back to Israel for decades in order to meet its security concerns. I am not absolving Arafat of responsibility for the failure of those negotiations. He sat passively at Camp David, and he never explained to his people the size of the risk and concessions that Barak was prepared to make. One can accuse Abbas of failing to clarify that point, but Abbas was not the leader at Camp David and anyway it’s absolutely clear today that no Palestinian leader could have signed that agreement — then or now.

            Between 2000 and 2008 no agreement was ever presented to Abbas. During the Second Intifada, Abbas, with unprecedented courage, preached against violent resistance and acts of terrorism. It is largely due to his efforts that, since he took over as leader of the Palestinian Authority, Israelis have enjoyed some of the quietest years in the occupied territories…”

            Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Pedro – this is utter silliness. You assert that the left is the friend of the terrorist, and the right the defender of the Israeli civilian. The recent election demonstrated there was little difference between Labour and Likud on security, though the right used more extreme language in advocating racist policies and more strenuous settlement activity. The vast majority of suicide bombings occurred during the Second Intifada which began in response to Sharon’s election stunt when he visited the Temple Mount, which in the words of a Likud spokesman was designed to “show that under a Likud government [the Temple Mount] will remain under Israeli sovereignty”. Granted it was outgoing Labour Prime Minister Barak who horribly escalated violence by the brutal slaughter of Palestinian protesters of the incursion, but surely you not going to argue that in that instance the left was soft on terror, unless you are also going to argue, which I am sure you are not, that terror is simply a response to the brutality of the Israeli state. The largest number of Israeli civilians killed in a single year in modern times was 220 in 2002 under Sharon’s premiership (though still far less than the 267 mostly immigrant civilians killed in a single incident when the Haganah sank the SS Patria in 1940 and the hundreds of civilians slaughtered in Israel’s regular culls of the Gazan population.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          The Israeli left admitted Arafat and his band of terrorists to Gaza and Judea and Samaria. The left buckled under American pressure to allow 415 major terrorists into Judea and Samaria who had been expelled to Lebanon previously. The left failed to respond appropriately to Palestinian terrorism which erupted within days of the signing of the Declaration of Principles of the Oslo Accords. The left under American pressure not to crush the Palestinian Authority failed to quell the 2nd Palestinian Intifada. Ariel Sharon and the Likud did defying American pressure not to do what they did.

          The second Intifada was planned by Arafat and the PA. Sharon’s visit to the temple mount was merely the pre-text for the onslaught of terrorism. Palestinian Minister Imad Faluji said to Al-Ayam on December 6, 2002:

          “The Palestinian Authority began preparing the present intifada and bracing for it since the return from Camp David at the request of President Arafat, who envisaged the intifada as a complementary measure to the Palestinian steadfastness in the negotiations, and not as a protest over Sharon’s visit to al-Haram al-Sharif.”

          Sharon’s visit was coordinated with the PA in advance and Jbril Rajoub the commander of Force 17 reassured the Israelis the visit would not be a problem. Sharon’s visit provoked some stone throwing. The next day Arafat used Friday prayers to escalate the situation. The Al-Asqa preacher urged worshipers to “eradicate the Jews from Palestine.” “Should we respond only by throwing rocks, or by condemnation?. the frenzied mob of worshipers with PA security men left the mosque to stone the Israeli police with stockpiles of rocks which had been gathered. The voice of Palestine played militant songs urging Palestinians to rise up and take to the streets. That night Marwan Barghouti summoned militia leaders to his office. A statement was sent to Fatah offices calling for a general uprising. A week later the Fatah leadership adopted a war strategy. Islamic terrorists were released from jail and Barghouti pressed Hamas to carry out bombings. Jbril Rajoub told al-Jazeera on October 1, 2000 that the PA would not have trouble transferring the battle inside Israel. Fatah incorporated Hamas and Islamic Jihad into a newly established National Islamic Committee to coordinate the Palestinian struggle. The war began as planned by Arafat and the PA.

          Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            The usual pack of lies from X to give a totally distorted account of the events.

            According to Amy Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet, “Yasser Arafat neither prepared nor triggered the [Second] intifada. The explosion was spontaneous against Israel, as all hope for the end of occupation disappeared, and against the Palestinian Authority, its corruption, its impotence. Arafat could not repress it.” (Myre and Griffin, This Burning Land, pp 26/7.)

            The cause of this dissension was Israel’s refusal to abide by the Oslo Agreements. Seven years after Oslo there was still no permanent-status agreement and no Palestinian state. Palestinian prisoners had not been released, and settlements were growing apace. And Israel was refusing to implement the third-phase of redeployments in which the IDF would withdraw from 88% of the West Bank.

            Arafat and Barak were actually very close to an agreement in September 2000 (Arafat thought they could conclude it within 10 days) which Sharon was totally opposed to. Sharon planned a press conference at the Western Wall but was persuaded by journalist Uri Dan to go instead onto the Haram al-Sharif, surrounded by hundreds of goons, knowing that this extreme provocation would be regarded as desecration by the Muslim faithful. (Myre & Griffin) Palestinian leaders begged Israeli officials to prevent the visit. Arafat had said “God preserve us if the visit takes place” six days before the provocation occurred. To senior military commanders “it was clear to everyone in advance that the visit was a recipe for disaster and this was said at all the assessments of the situation [that] week” (Zertal and Eldar, Lords of the Land, pp 408 – 412.) But the government refused to act and Sharon’s action sparked riots which injured about 30 police and 10 Palestinians the first day.

            The following day, Friday, violence again erupted after prayers and in response police killed seven Palestinians and wounded hundreds. Dozens of police were lightly wounded. On the following Sunday 13 Arab Israeli citizens were killed by Israeli police fire.

            After that the army ran amok and under the orders of chief of staff Shaul Mofaz and his deputy Moshe Ya’alon used disproportionate force, including tanks, anti-tank missiles, helicopters and jet fighters against civilians. This was contrary to the orders of Prime Minister Barak: the heads of the IDF instead worked to oppose a ceasefire and any decrease in violence. According to Ya’alon “Talk about a truce during the course of shooting is harmful and superfluous”.

            The first suicide bombing, in Gaza, did not occur until 26 October 2000 which injured one person. Already by this time more than 50 Arabs had been killed by the Israeli forces (i.e. the initial terrorism which you conveniently overlook and which sparked the subsequent suicide bombings). The first Jewish deaths were not until 2 November (Wikipedia).

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Now listen to the Arabs themselves.

            Before Camp David even started Arafat threatened armed violence should Israel not give him what he wanted:

            “No one can threaten us. We are fighting for our land.

            We will sacrifice our souls for Palestine… and those who have forgotten this fact should remember the battle of Karameh, the battle of Beriut, and seven years of the intifada… We are ready to wipe the slate clean and start from the beginning.”

            Frieh Abu Medien stated:

            “In the past we have sacrificed 100,000 Martyrs and we are ready to sacrifice another five or six thousand.”

            Khaled Musamar, head of the National Guidance Directorate of Palestine, stated:

            “We are all seekers of martyrdom.”

            Threats of armed violence continued during the Camp David Summit and after continuing to and after the commencement of the second intifada. On July 21, 2000 Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted Marwan Barghouti as having said:

            “The Palestinian people are prepared to fight with all means to defend their land and achieve all their rights.”

            Two days after the end of the summit Mohammad Dahlan, chief of security services in Gaza, threatened Israel with violence. He said that the Palestinians did not want confrontation but if a deal was not reached by September 13, 2000 all options were on the table. One week later Dahlan said the failure to reach an agreement would lead to a confrontation with Israel. Jerusalem Post August 6, 2000 reported Dahlan saying

            “The potential for resistance and steadfastness is now greater than it was when the Palestinian leadership was in exile…. We will attain an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital even if this requires blood.”

            Palestinians Hassan Kashef and Faisal Husseine called on Palestinians to begin hoarding supplies and food, which they did. Kashef advocated for a guerrilla intifada. Al-Ayyam July 23, 2000:

            “To ensure our superiority we must thus return to our national instincts as fighting people versed in the art of the intifada, and sheltering its combatant groups defending the people…. Every house in the homeland is open and ready to become a command centre.”

            In July and August the Palestinians dug and rigged anti-tank traps and trenches and filed them with explosives illegally imported. At the Palestinian training centre in Jericho, Palestinian policemen trained in hijacking Israeli vehicles and taking hostages. Al-Hayat al Jadida repoted that Palestinian General Ghazi Jabali, head of Palestinian police in Gaza, announced at a rally in Rafah stated that;

            “the Palestinian police, together with all honest members of the Palestinian people, will be at the forefront once the hour of confrontation arrives. President Arafat and all the sons of the Palestinian people are potential martyrs.”

            On September 11, 2000 the PA mouthpiece al-Sabah stated:

            “The time of victory and martyrdom has come…. We will move forward and proclaim a general intifada for Jerusalem. The time of the intifada has come, the time of the intifada has come. The time of jihad has come.”

            Marwan Barghouti, head of the militant Tanzim, the butcher of the West Bank, said on September 29, 2001 that he seized the moment to start the Intifada. Barghouti stated”

            “I knew that the end of September was the final deadline for the explosion, but when Sharon visited the al-Asqa Mosque, this was the most appropriate moment for the outbreak of the intifada. ”

            On October 1, 2000 Jbril Rajoub announced that the Palestinians would have no difficulty in moving the clashes to Israel.

            On October 13, 2000 incitement to genocide echoed from the Pa controlled mosques of Palestine. In a sermon delivered live on PA TV Ahmad Abu Halabiya demanded:

            “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever your are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Where you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand by them. They are in one trench against the Arabs and the Muslims because they established Israel here.”

            Mamduh Nawfal, a leading adviser to Arafat, corroborated that the intifada was planned at the highest levels of the PA. Majalat al-Dirasat al-Fiaastiniya no. 47, pp. 44-45:

            “The intifada was neither a mass movement detached from the Palestinian Authority nor an instinctive popular uprising. Quite the contrary in fact. It was started by a deliberate decision by the highest echelons of the authority….. The intifada began with blood and bullets already at the al-Asqa compound on September 28 and 29, and continued this way to date.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            For some reason my reply to the Pedro X reply to my original reply has been put at the bottom of the page.

            Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        Now of course it’s generally agreed that the Second Intifada started after Sharon, then member of Likud and the opposition, visited the Tmple mount in a highly provocative gesture, aimed at sabotaging the left-wing (from an Israeli perspective) government.

        So no, the left isn’t responsible for the second Intifada. The right is. In particular, Ariel Sharon.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kareem Jeans

          You surely don’t hold Arabs in high esteem, Felix, if you feel that the appropriate response to Sharon’s visit was to act like savage murderers.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Don’t let the facts stand in your way will you. The second Intifada began as a string of demonstrations and even riots – but these were met with utter brutality. See Wikipedia’s fair summary: “On September 29, 2000, the day after Sharon’s visit, following Friday prayers, large riots broke out around the Old City of Jerusalem. After Palestinians on the Temple Mount threw rocks over the Western Wall at Jewish worshipers, Israeli police fired rubber-coated steel bullets, killing four Palestinian youths. Police then switched to live ammunition. Up to 200 Palestinians and police were injured. Another three Palestinians were killed in the Old City and on the Mount of Olives. By the end of the day, 7 Palestinians had been killed and 300 had been wounded. 70 Israeli policemen were also injured in the clashes. In the days that followed, demonstrations erupted all over the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli police responded with live fire and rubber-coated bullets. In the first five days, at least 47 Palestinians were killed, and 1,885 were wounded. As Paris mediated between the parties, Jacques Chirac protested to Barak at the time that the Palestinian killed to wounded ratios on one day were such that he could not convince anyone the Palestinians were the aggressors… During the first few days of riots, the IDF fired approximately 1.3 million bullets. According to Amnesty International the early Palestinian casualties were those taking part in demonstrations or bystanders. Amnesty further states that approximately 80% of the Palestinians killed during the first month were in demonstrations where Israeli security services lives were not in danger.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            The savage murders were initially all the work of the Israeli police and the IDF. See my post above.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kareem Jeans

            Try as hard as you like, you can not whitewash or justify suicide bombing sand other attacks on civilians.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            No one is whitewashing suicide bombings, KJ, but please tell me when was the last attempted suicide bombing, and has the occupation eased since then? If you examine the history of suicide bombings how many of those responsible had recently had loved ones murdered by the IDF? Are there no contributory factors that might explain the highly irrational activity of suicide bombing, apart from dispossession, expulsion, land-theft, detention without trial, random killing of civilians by armed forces that are totally unaccountable to law, targeted assassinations, house demolitions, check-points, denial of the right to self-determination, etc, etc?

            Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        The first Intifada, of course, also started because of the right wing politics of a then right-wing government under Likud. The Oslo accords, agreed upon by a left wing government, played a big role in ending the violence on both sides. And it worked.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      Here’s a dimension of the Nakba I hadn’t been aware of until recently: a few days ago I had a phone conversation with a Palestinian who said that his father had lived in Israel in 1948 but was working in another country at the time; when he tried to return home the new Jewish State wouldn’t let him back. He claims that there are 50,000 of these kinds of cases, although I have not read anything yet that confirms or denies that figure – it seems to me that the number of such cases must be 10,000 at a minimum.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kareem Jeans

        Bruce, what is this, a daily Nakba fact? And you just found this out? Pathetic.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Hilo

      So your conclusion is that there is no reason to trust a politician? Good on you.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Yeah, Right

      Only vaguely related to this, but I noticed an interesting exchange between a reporter and the State Department flunky at the Wednesday press briefing.

      This, in fact….
      Q: “Do you still consider the West Bank to be militarily occupied territory?”
      Psaki: “I think we’ve addressed this in the past too, Said.”
      Q: “Do you…. I’d like to hear it again. Do you still…”
      Psaki: “I think we’ve addressed it. Do we have a new topic?”

      Now, sorry, but I don’t know what the State Dept’s “consideration” is regarding that topic, and I suspect very much that the reporter doesn’t know either, which is why he asked.

      And Psaki’s response amounted to: I’m. Not. Telling. You.

      That question was perfectly legitimate, and these briefings exist so that reporters can ask just such questions, yet when it was asked Psaki simply refuses to answer.

      Bizarre.

      Can anyone out there point to a definitive link wherein the State Department actually did “address this” rather than asserting that “this has been addressed before”?

      Because it would be interesting to see how far back you have to go to see a State Dept Flunky having the guts to openly say what the US government’s position actually is.

      Perhaps the correct answer will turn out to be: Never, actually.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Lightbown

      You will never make an honest historian X. As ever you are dodging the main issues. Specifically you are ignoring Israeli incitement and Israeli massacres and inflating Palestinian rhetoric.

      Israel had been occupying Palestinian territories for more than 30 years and contrary to what it had agreed at Oslo is was now dragging its feet in withdrawing its armed forces. (And how did Israel come to occupy the Palestinian territories in the first place? Oh that’s right by military aggression; i.e. violence.) So there were Palestinian threats of violence against an illegal occupation of more than 30 years, fuelled by frustration at Israel’s bad faith in not implementing Oslo.

      Arafat did meet with Clinton and subsequently with Barak and they were very close to a peace agreement. They would almost certainly have achieved that historic agreement but Sharon did not want it and deliberately provoked a riot by desecrating the third most holy site in Islam. The police and then the army went on the rampage, contrary to the orders of Barak who was PM, which eventually provoked the suicide bombings. Bryan’s post below gives you more details (which nobody here has attempted to refute) such as “In the first five days, at least 47 Palestinians were killed, and 1,885 were wounded”. (No Jews had been killed by this stage although Palestinian Israelis were amongst the victims.) Now you are giving us quotes of Palestinian threats during the period when the IDF was already fully engaged in committing a wholesale terrorist atrocity against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. As ever, blame the victim, but never, ever, admit to Israel’s murderous assault on the Arabs. Never blame Ariel Sharon for deliberately provoking this mayhem.

      In wrecking the peace deal Sharon also revitalised his political career, and the peace loving Israeli public duly elected him the following year, rather than Barak who had risked so much for peace. At the end of the day the Palestinians, once again, had no partner for peace, because the Israeli public in 2001, as in 2015, preferred a politician who rejects peace.

      Reply to Comment
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