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Netanyahu Refuses to Accept Palestine’s Right to Exist

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Netanyahu Refuses to Accept Palestine’s Right to Exist"

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In Haaretz, Aluf Benn takes a look at Bejamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the creation of an independent State of Palestine:

There are obvious political reasons for Netanyahu’s refusal to demonstrate a more moderate stance: It would cost him his potential coalition with the right-wing National Union and Habayit Hayehudi, and force him into a rotation arrangement with Livni. But his opposition to a Palestinian state is also a matter of principle, one he has held for many years.

Netanyahu says he doesn’t want to rule over the Palestinians, and has no interest in Nablus, Tul Karm or Jenin; they should govern their own lives, as long as they don’t threaten Israeli security, he says. Netanyahu seeks to deny the Palestinians four rights of any sovereign state: control of its airspace; control of its electromagnetic spectrum; the right to maintain an army and to sign military alliances; and, most importantly, control of the border crossings where arms and terrorists could pass. Netanyahu believes Israel must retain all of these. [...]

Netanyahu believes Israel must insist on retaining 50 percent of the West Bank – the open areas in the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert that are vital as a security zone. In light of statements the outgoing government has made to the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s position is a joke meant to kill the negotiations before they even begin.

In an interview with Lally Weymouth in yesterday’s Washington Post, Netanyahu elegantly avoided the question about two states. Instead of merely saying “No,” he presented a vague formulation: “The Palestinians should have the ability to govern their lives but not to threaten ours.” Such a statement doesn’t explicitly discount the creation of an independent Palestinian state, nor does it address the fine points of control and sovereignty.

Needless to say, an Arab who refused to concede Israel’s “right to exist” would be considered persona non grata in the United States. And I don’t think a Palestinian leader who said he wasn’t opposed to the existence of Israel, he just wanted to disband the IDF, establish Palestinian control over Israeli airspace and EM spectrum, and give Palestine control over all of Israel’s borders would be taken very seriously. As it seems a democratic process has put Netanyahu in office as Prime Minister, he needs to be dealt with. But his current policy should be seen as what it is; an effort to avoid the creation of a sovereign Palestine under any circumstances. Netanyahu seems to be a realist about both his own political interests and his perceptions of Israeli national interest, but that means American policy needs to be aimed, in part, at changing how the calculus of interests looks to him.

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