Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Monday, July 16, 2012

Netanyahu's True Views Revealed

Last week a committee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Levy Committee, to look into the future of the West Bank made its recommendation. Not surprisingly considering the composition of the governing coalition made up mainly of parties from the secular Right and religious Right, the committee did not recommend either leaving the territory or ending settlement, but rather argued that the occupation does not exist. This was straight out of Neo-Revisionist ideology. The argument is that because Israel conquered Judea and Samaria i.e. the West Bank from Jordan in 1967 and only two countries (Britain and Pakistan) had recognized Jordan's annexation of the West Bank in 1950, then Israel has as much right to the West Bank as the Palestinians who rejected the 1947 partition plan. The trouble with this logic is if one thief steals from another thief that does not make him the legal owner under the law.

Here is an article by Trudy Rubin discussing the legal implications of adopting this decision. And here is another by former Mossad top analyst and current APN analyst Yossi Alpher.  I doubt that Netanyahu will actually adopt this recommendation. I imagine that in reality he is playing "good cop, bad cop" with the international community and the Obama administration. The Levy Committee is the bad cop, and Netanyahu is the good cop. As military journalist and Sharon acolyte Uri Dan used to say about his master, "Those who would not accept Sharon as chief of staff must have him as defense minister. Those who would not have him as defense minister must have him as prime minister." So Netanyahu is reminding the world that the choice is not between him and Shelli Yachimovich of Labor or Shaul Mofaz of Kadima, but between him and Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beitenu. 

But the appointment of the committee and its conclusions is a much better indicator of Netanyahu's real thinking about the West Bank then his June 2009 Bar Ilan speech when he claimed to support a two-state solution. The Revisionist stream in Zionism since the early 1920s has also advocated the maximum possible borders for Medinat Israel (the state of Israel) within Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel/Palestine). It has narrowed its vision of the final borders but never within the territory actually under Zionist control. Menahem Begin gradually gave up the dream of "both banks of the Jordan" and stopped calling for the conquest of Transjordan when he learned that the cost of this was his isolation from other parties on the Right. To form first Gahal and then the Likud he had to give up that dream of Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky's. But those who have advocated negotiations with the PLO in the 1980s were expelled from the Likud. And Sharon decided to form his own party in 2005 when the Likud Central Committee rejected his plan to withdraw from Gaza.  It will take someone besides Netanyahu to negotiate seriously over the future of the West Bank.

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