A Missed Opportunity.

With his speech yesterday, Binjamin Netanyahu the Israeli Premier, stood on the dockside and watched the ‘Peace Boat’ sail without him. Most people were not expecting any earth-moving changes to the Israeli stance on a Palestinian State, and they were not disappointed.

Apart from a reference to the existence of a Palestinian State, which clearly had to be dragged out of him, he didn’t make a single move that could be called constructive when it came to ending the dispute. Both the USA and European governments voiced muted acceptance of the speech, stating that at least the recognition for a Palestinian State was “a step in the right direction”.

Netanyahu called for a de-militarised State for Palestinians with no control over its airspace, and recognition by the Palestinians of a ‘Jewish State’. This latter statement alone was not acceptable to any of the Arab countries listening. It would mean that refugees from the 1948 founding of Israel would have no right of return to their ancestral home, or as many fear, be second class citizens in a state for Jews.

The speech made no reference to the removal of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, much of it stolen, and all declared illegal by the United Nations, the EU and USA. It is clear this speech was an attempt to defuse the tension between President Obama and the Israeli’s on the settlement situation. In that I am sure it failed miserably.

President Obama, quite rightly in my view, has insisted that all settlement enlargement on Palestinian land be halted immediately. If you read my post of June 3rd you will see a UN map of the restrictions placed on Palestinians in the West Bank. Not only have the Israeli’s taken over huge tracts of land for the settlements, but severely restricted Palestinian access and travel to more than half of the West Bank (see map-Orange area).

It would be like England taking over half of Ireland, or the USA taking half of Mexico, and saying the local people can neither live nor travel in these areas because of ‘our’ security.

Firstly, I believe Israel does have a right to exist right where it is, but the Israeli hard-line Right attitude of, “It all belonged to us two thousand years ago” will not hold water. Netanyahu’s problem is that this grouping in The Knesset is very strong, and if he wishes his government to remain in power he cannot be seen to make concessions on the settlements. This puts him on a direct collision course with not only the Arab World and The Palestinians, but with the Obama camp. Obama can also not be seen to give in on his demand for all settlement activity to stop, because he made a promise to the Muslim world in his Cairo speech, and let’s face it, why should he, they are all illegal under International Law.

This in effect brings us back to the age-old impasse that has been going on for more than half a century. While I have a certain sympathy with the Israeli cause for a homeland, I cannot approve of the way they have being doing things for the last thirty years at least. I have often come out on the side of Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks by the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, and I still believe that to be true. Israel has had to fight for its very existence on several occasions and I agree with that, but the current atmosphere is of Israeli making because of their intransigence with regard to the settlements which they believe is their right because of history.

I have to say that were it my choice, all the settlements would be turned over to the Palestinians lock, stock, and barrel! The Israeli’s have no right to be there, and for them to continue in existence would be pure land theft on a grand scale.

I can imagine the outcry if American citizens started building townships on Mexican or Canadian soil along the border and banned the locals from entering this territory. Imagine if you will that all nations acted in this way, WW3 here we come. But the Israeli’s have gotten away with it for the past forty years! Incredible!!

Before any progress can be made towards a lasting settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian question the problem of the settlements has to be addressed by the Knesset.

Last but not least, Netanyahu did not give any ground on the question of Jerusalem. He told his audience, and the world, that the city would remain in Jewish Hands. The Palestinians of course want their Capitol to be in Jerusalem as do the Jews. So once again we have an impasse.

According to the original boundary’s laid down for the State of Israel by the United Nations in 1947, the border runs through the city with Jews and Palestinians sharing. If Jesus were to return today and see the turmoil surrounding this Holy City he would be livid!

I fear this is a problem that will go on and on. I wish President Obama luck in his attempt and I hope he succeeds. I believe the answer lies with the US President and Government, for only they have the power to make the Israeli’s come to the negotiating table with real gifts of compromise. Without the backing of America Israel will become a smoking hole, especially if the Iranians get nuclear weapons, although the Israeli Government may not let it get that far. If they do attack Iran and knock out their nuclear capability, they will bring upon themselves the wrath of the entire Arab and Muslim world, although I think in private many will be relieved.

I do not wish to reiterate my suggested solution to the problems here, for that you would need to read my earlier posts, but suffice it to say, at the moment the whole argument is going nowhere, and things will not improve until Israel starts facing up to reality instead of the past.

Abraham, your people need you – again!

Roy.

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