A political source close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Ma’ariv on Sunday night that “Kerry’s scathing speech did not shock the Israeli government because everyone knows that he will be replaced soon. Everyone is busy with a countdown to the election of a different US president, and until then Kerry can say whatever he wants.”
Interestingly, when MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) was asked by Israel Radio about the same Kerry speech Sunday, he described it as “a strong speech by a weak man,” which stands to show that some observations by Israel’s political animals are universal.
Speaking at the Brookings Institute Saban Forum last Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to end up in a one-state solution, complete with the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and an Israeli obligation to retake the Arab portion of Judea and Samaria.
Kerry assured his audience that the US is still committed to a two-state solution, but noted that while Prime Minister Netanyahu has been paying lip service to it, a number of Israeli cabinet ministers are on the record in opposition to Palestinian statehood, and so, if things remain the way they have been, the Palestinian Authority is not likely to survive.
Netanyahu retorted in his own speech to the Saban Forum Sunday, delivered via video, saying the blame should be placed where it belonged, namely the Palestinians.
“President Abbas refuses to [go to] his people and say — it’s over. No more claims after a peace deal,” Netanyahu said. “The Palestinians have not been willing to cross the conceptual and emotional bridge of accepting a state next to Israel, not one instead of Israel. Not just Hamas, but also the PA. They refuse to accept a Jewish state for the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu hammered his point in on who is the real culprit in the conflict, saying, “Insofar as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is concerned, I think there is another misunderstanding. People have long said that the core of this conflict is the acquisition of territories by Israel in the 1967 War.
“That’s an issue that needs to be addressed in any peace process, as is the question of settlements, but it’s not the core of the conflict. In Gaza, nothing changed. In fact, instead of getting peace, we gave territory and got 15,000 rockets on our heads. We took out all the settlements; we disinterred people from their graves; and did we get peace? No. We got the worst terror possible.”
He pointed to earlier examples where Israeli concessions did not yield peaceful results:
I think that happened earlier too, when we left Lebanon and people said, ‘Well, if you leave Lebanon, then Hezbollah will make peace with you.’ And in fact, we got 15,000 rockets from there too. And so people are naturally saying, look, if we want a solution vis-à-vis the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, in the West Bank, how can we ensure that this doesn’t happen again?
Well, in order for us to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, we have to address the root cause of the problem. Why has this conflict not been resolved for a hundred years?
Why has it not been resolved after successive Israeli prime ministers, six in fact after the Oslo Agreement, have offered to make peace, have offered the Palestinians the possibility of building a state next to Israel – it’s because the Palestinians have not yet been willing to cross that conceptual bridge, that emotional bridge, of giving up the dream not of a state next to Israel, but a state instead of Israel.”