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Netanyahu – ‘Trump is serious about reaching a peace deal and Israel should act wisely’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud lawmakers on Monday that the Israeli government “doesn’t have a diplomatic blank check” from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on everything related to the Palestinian issue.
“Anyone who thinks there’s a blank check is mistaken,” Netanyahu said. He noted that Trump is determined to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and in light of that, Israel needs to conduct itself “wisely and responsibly.”
Speaking at a Knesset faction meeting, Netanyahu said: “We are a sovereign state [and] can decide a lot of things and make a lot of statements, but when it comes to American consent, I would not go in that direction because it’s not correct.”
“It’s true that there is a warm relationship and there is a great deal of understanding for our fundamental positions, but it’s not correct that we have an open check and it’s far from reality,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu made his comments after several Knesset members of the ruling party raised the subject of his party’s stance on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Lawmaker Miki Zohar told the prime minister: “Likud is against the establishment of a Palestinian state and the public is against a Palestinian state, so the voice of the prime minister also needs to be heard on the matter.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said there are many ways to achieve a diplomatic agreement and that Israel must present the U.S. administration with alternatives to the two-state solution.
The prime minister noted at the meeting that Israel should to conduct itself responsibly, particularly now. “You heard President Trump. He came here and did very important things and touched our hearts, but he also said that he believes that Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] wants peace. He said that I want peace, and he said that he believes it is possible to reach agreement and that we need to get there. We are in the middle of this situation,” he said.
Netanyahu said he made it clear to Trump that the reason for the absence of a peace agreement is that the Palestinians “are educating their children, generation after generation, that there will be no Israel with borders of one kind or another.”
The prime minister added that as a result, in any future agreement, Israel needs to control security in the West Bank.
“This is our position and it has been said in the clearest possible way,” he stated.
“There is still, I would say, categorically, a desire and even an effort to reach an agreement in the faith that the Palestinians are not prepared to forgo their desire to wipe out Israel in stages over time. That’s not important. I tell you this because we need to deal with it. I need to deal with it.”
Netanyahu also commented on an additional grant from the U.S. Congress to protect Israel against missile attack.
“We received a blank check from the Americans of 300 million shekels, but don’t be confused. We have no blank check.”
The Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Israel’s Festivities will Highlight 50 Years of Shame
Israel is to hold lavish celebrations over the coming weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of what it calls the “liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights” – or what the rest of us describe as the birth of the occupation.
The centrepiece event will take place in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. The West Bank settlement “bloc” enjoys wide support in Israel, not least because it was established long ago by the supposedly left-wing Labour party, now heading the opposition.
The jubilee is a potent reminder that for Israelis, most of whom have never known a time before the occupation, Israel’s rule over the Palestinians seems as irreversible as the laws of nature. But the extravagance of the festivities also underscores the growth over five decades of Israel’s self-assurance as an occupier.
Documents found this month in Israel’s archives reveal that, when Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, its first concern was to hoodwink the international community.
The foreign ministry ordered Israel’s ambassadors to mischaracterise its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem as a simple “municipal fusion”. To avoid diplomatic reprisals, Israel claimed it was necessary to ease the provision of essential services to the occupied Palestinian population.
Interestingly, those drafting the order advised that the deception was unlikely to succeed. The United States had already insisted that Israel commit no unilateral moves.
But within months Israel had evicted thousands of Palestinians from the Old City and destroyed their homes. Washington and Europe have been turning a blind eye to such actions ever since.
One of the Zionist movement’s favourite early slogans was: “Dunam after dunam, goat after goat”. The seizure of small areas of territory measured in dunams, the demolition of the odd home, and the gradual destruction of herding animals would slowly drive the Palestinians off most of their land, “liberating” it for Jewish colonisation. If it was done piecemeal, the objections from overseas would remain muffled. It has proved a winning formula.
Fifty years on, the colonisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is so entrenched that a two-state solution is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Nonetheless, US president Donald Trump has chosen this inauspicious moment to dispatch an envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a “goodwill” response, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unveiled a framework for settlement building. It is exactly the kind of formula for deception that has helped Israel consolidate the occupation since 1967.
Mr Netanyahu says expansion will be “restricted” to “previously developed” settlements, or “adjacent” areas, or, depending on the terrain, “land close” to a settlement.
Peace Now points out that the settlements already have jurisdiction over some 10 per cent of the West Bank, while far more is treated as “state land”. The new framework, says the group, gives the settlers a green light to “build everywhere”.
The Trump White House has shrugged its shoulders. A statement following Mr Netanyahu’s announcement judged the settlements no “impediment to peace”, adding that Israel’s commitments to previous US administrations would be treated as moot.
Effectively, the US is wiping the slate clean, creating a new baseline for negotiations after decades of Israeli changes stripping the Palestinians of territory and rights.
Although none of this bodes well, Egypt and Jordan’s leaders met Mr Trump this month to push for renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House is said to be preparing to welcome the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Some senior Palestinians are rightly wary. Abbas Zaki, a Fatah leader, fears Mr Trump will try to impose a regional solution on Arab states, over Mr Abbas’s head, designed to “eliminate the Palestinian cause altogether”.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father, reportedly once said:
“What matters is not what the goyim [non-Jews] say, but what the Jews do.”
For nearly a quarter of a century, the Oslo accords dangled an illusory peace carrot that usefully distracted the global community as Israel nearly quadrupled its settler population, making even a highly circumscribed Palestinian state unrealisable. Now, that game plan is about to be revived in new form. While the US, Israel, Jordan and Egypt focus on the hopeless task of creating a regional framework for peace, Israel will be left undisturbed once again to seize more dunams and more goats.
In Israel, the debate is no longer simply about whether to build settler homes, or about how many can be justified. Government ministers argue instead about the best moment to annex vast areas of the West Bank associated with so-called settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion.
Israel’s imminent celebrations should lay to rest any confusion that the occupation is still considered temporary. But when occupation becomes permanent, it metamorphoses into something far uglier.
It is past time to recognise that Israel has established an apartheid regime and one that serves as a vehicle for incremental ethnic cleansing. If there are to be talks, ending that outrage must be their first task.