Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark about the dangers of a Palestinian state has sent advocates of Palestinian statehood into a rage so hysterical that you would think he had questioned somebody’s sacred religious beliefs.
On second thought, maybe he did. The Palestinian statehood crowd has become so inflexible and doctrinaire, and so oblivious to the changing realities of the Middle East, that their political positions are starting to resemble a set-in-stone religious faith.
Here’s what the PM said: “Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.”
His point was simple and straightforward. His logic was impeccable. The response of critics has been exactly the opposite.
As soon as the election results were known, J Street distributed an over-the-top email encouraging the U.S. and other countries to gang up on Israel. It said that the prime minister’s concern about the danger of a Palestinian state “should and will be rejected by the international community, including the United States.”
The key word is “should.” J Street literally wants the international community to turn against Israel. And the bluster of its email blast reflected its passion for the coming fight: “We will stand up strongly and proudly…we will speak out…we will be unwavering…we will advocate strongly.”
Another left-wing American Jewish group, the Israel Policy Forum, announced that it “will remain committed to mobilizing community leaders to advocate in support of preserving the goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of securing Israel’s long-term future as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Read that statement again, and note the order in which the Israel Policy Forum listed its goals. The first thing they mention is creating a Palestinian state; “securing” Israel is second. The IPF’s priorities are clear.
In an unintentional but significant slip of the tongue, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that “it has been the policy of the United States for more than 20 years that a two-state solution is the goal…”
Actually, the first U.S. president to endorse a Palestinian state was George W. Bush, in 2002--that is, 13 years ago. So what does Earnest have in mind when he says “more than 20 years?” Apparently he’s referring to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, which was 22 years ago.
But wait a minute--the Oslo Accords said nothing about a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin went out of his way at the time to emphasize that the accords did not create a Palestinian state, but rather would create an experimental period in which we would see whether or not the Palestinians were genuinely ready to live in peace with Israel.
Now Earnest appears to be confirming what many of us suspected all along: that the White House and the State Department were never really interested in testing the Palestinians, but wanted to use the Oslo process as a way to bring about a Palestinian state no matter what.
The Oslo process proved to be a complete failure, because the Palestinian Authority violated it with impunity. The PA sponsored mass violence against Israel (anybody remember the Second Intifada?). The PA organized massive arms smuggling operations (anybody remember the tons of weapons aboard the Palestinian ship, the Karine A, that Israel captured in 2002?). The PA sheltered fugitive terrorists, failed to disarm or outlaw terrorist groups, and refused to extradite terrorists to Israel. It educated an entire generation of Palestinian school children to hate Israel and glorify terrorism, and it relentlessly promoted anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement.
Even Secretary of State John Kerry, himself a strong supporter of Palestinian positions, acknowledged that last November’s Jerusalem synagogue slaughter was, as he put it, “a pure result of incitement.”
Successive Israeli governments made concession after concession, in the hope that the PA would reciprocate. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew from the seven major Arab cities in the territories, where over 95 percent of the West Bank (Judea-Samaria) Arabs reside. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew every Israeli soldier and civilian from Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu released imprisoned terrorists and froze Jewish construction in the territories for 10 months.
None of these concessions brought peace.
In the meantime, of course, the international situation has changed drastically. The Islamist terror of ISIS rages throughout the Middle East. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, is pointing thousands of rockets at Israel from the north. Hamas, in Gaza, is rearming and digging new terror tunnels to strike Israel from the south.
Those who advocate a Palestinian state with the fervor of a religion will continue to pursue that goal, regardless of the reality around us. But a prudent national leader assesses changes in international circumstances, and adjusts his positions in accordance with new political, military, or diplomatic realities. Under these circumstances, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in Israel’s backyard would pose a grave danger to the existence of the Jewish state. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position is simply an acknowledgement of reality -- something from which the True Believers of Palestinian statehood are hopelessly detached.
[Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and both are candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.]
By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn