As reported by the Jerusalem Post, “[Israeli] Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel and the US were working on a document saying the parameters for returning to negotiations with the Palestinians would be based on the speech US President Barack Obama gave at AIPAC in May, and spelling out in greater detail what Obama meant by…a return to the 1967 lines, with mutual agreed swaps.”
In Netanyahu’s words, “We are interacting with the US to put together a document [for an agreement with the Palestinians] using language from Obama’s second speech [the AIPAC speech].”
Paradoxically, Mr. Netanyahu then proceeded to say that “the Israeli goal is direct negotiations with the Palestinians, without preconditions.”
That Mr. Netanyahu is considering conceding to Obama’s demand that Israel retreat to the “1967 borders” as a basis for future negotiations with the Palestinians, irrespective of “conditions” or “guarantees” (including Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state), represents an odd turn for a man who has historically been labeled as “hawkish.”
If the reports are true, however, Mr. Netanyahu has effectively metamorphosed into Tzipi Livni.
This transformation—which began in 2009 at Bar Ilan university, when Mr. Netanyahu formally endorsed for the first time the creation of “Palestine”—has culminated in the crossing of a “red line” (also known as the 1949 Armistice lines): To date, Israel’s repeated concessions to the Palestinians, though unconscionable (and deadly) have for the most part been containable. Gaza, for example, following Israel’s 2005 unilateral withdrawal, has essentially become an Iranian-sponsored jihadist war zone dedicated to Israel’s destruction, but nonetheless one that Israel can subdue militarily. Furthermore, the self-negating effects of Israel’s incessant pandering to world pressure—at the expense of its unequivocal legal and historical rights, as well as its moral authority—have thus far been manageable, primarily offset by a booming economy driven by Israel’s collective creative power (take note, Arab world).
Yet Israel’s retreat to the 1967 lines, despite “promises” of “land swaps,” is universally considered to be a suicidal prospect.
As such, if Mr. Netanyahu accepts the “Obama principles,” Israel essentially will be agreeing to ingest a fatal poison (1967 borders), whose lone anecdote (land swaps) will be in the hands of the Palestinians. And the sole “voice” encouraging the Palestinians to administer said medicine will be Obama.
Moreover, should Netanyahu comply with Obama, he also would be effectively acceding to dividing Jerusalem (the Western Wall, for example, the Jewish people’s holiest site, resides outside of the 1967 boundaries), notwithstanding repeated glorious assertions to the contrary.
Despite all this, there is still hope.
This past May, Mr. Netanyahu gave Israel the first real glimmer of hope for reconciliation with the Palestinians since the Oslo process collapsed under the weight of the first Intifada. What Mr. Netanyahu provided was unbridled leadership; that is, he did not bend or break to popular demand, but rather stared down the most powerful man in the world and rebuked Obama’s May 19 “Arab Spring” speech—the prelude to his watered-down speech to AIPAC three days later.
Mr. Netanyahu affirmed: “For there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines—because these lines are indefensible.… Remember that, before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive.”
The continued infusion of truth into the public discourse by strong, principled Jewish leaders, who place Israel’s ongoing security above all else, is the only chance Israel has to ever forge lasting agreements with its neighbors.
If Mr. Netanyahu fails to realize this and succumbs to Obama, the prime minister will not only be jeopardizing the dim prospects for peace, but also be resigning himself to a patently false narrative: that Israel is fighting a losing battle, and therefore must preemptively concede to its enemies.
As a keen student of history, Mr. Netanyahu should know that there is no light at the end of the tunnel of appeasement.
There is only the abyss.