President Barack Obama told Israel’s Channel 2 TV network in an interview that aired Thursday that Netanyahu’s statements on Palestinian statehood indicate Israel has no commitment to a two-state solution, according to The Hill.
Obama was twisting others’ words, pulling out the false charge leveled by the media that Netanyahu’s statements prior to the Israeli election obviated a Palestinian state.
That charge began with the left-wing Israeli newspaper, HaAretz, titling an article “Netanyahu: If I’m Elected, There Will Be No Palestinian State.” The international media echoed the charge. In fact, Netanyahu said, “I think anyone who is going to build a Palestinian state today will be freeing up space to give an attack area to radical Islam against Israel. This is the reality created here in recent years.” The emphasis was on the word “today,” leaving open the possibility that if the Palestinians could ever put aside their murderous hatred and agree to coexist, a state would be a viable possibility.
On Sunday, Netanyahu was quite clear about what he wants, saying, “I remain committed to the idea that the only way we can achieve a lasting peace is through the concept of two states for two peoples — a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish nation state of Israel.”
Obama continued that Netanyahu’s position contains “so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met any time in the near future.” He added:
The danger here is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. … Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution. The statement the prime minister made compounded that belief that there’s not a commitment there.
Obama pontificated, “I don’t see a likelihood of a framework agreement,” then threatened, “If, in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation.”
Obama also was not truthful when defending himself against charges that a peace deal with the Palestinians would mean Israel giving up land that would put it at risk. Obama said with a straight face, “I have never suggested that Israel should ever trade away its security for the prospect of peace.”
Of course, Obama suggested in May 2011, “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
A return to the pre-1967 borders has long been acknowledged by the American military to be a suicidal move for Israel. U.S. Lieutenant General Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, said Israel’s return to the pre-1967 borders would be a mortal mistake, asserting:
I look out from those heights and look onto the West Bank and say to myself, “If I’m the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, I cannot defend this land without that terrain.” They only have to go to the high ground running north and south in the middle of the country in order to dominate the country. So I don’t know about politics, but if you want me to defend this country, and you want me to defend Jerusalem, I’ve got to hold that high ground.
After the Six-Day war in 1967, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to figure out which territories Israel needed for its survival. The Joint Chiefs responded, “Control of the prominent high ground running north-south through the middle of West Jordan [the “West Bank”] … and then southeast to a junction with the Dead Sea … would provide Israel with a militarily defensible border.”
Obama concluded with this: “When I’m with Bibi, we have good conversations. They’re tough; they’re forceful; we disagree, but I enjoy jousting with him. I do.”