UPDATE 7 pm Thursday: Late this afternoon, an IDF soldier was stabbed in an olive grove in northern Israel near Carmiel. No further info. Earlier in the afternoon, two Israeli residents of Itamar, including Matan Fogel the younger brother of Udi who was murdered last year along with his wife and three children, were beaten by Palestinian terrorists wielding clubs. The attack occurred as they were tending their sheep on Hill 777 near the Samarian community of Itamar. This was the second Palestinian attack on Israeli shepherds this month.
Do you remember, dear reader, all the Israeli negotiating fiascos in the past–fiascos that gravely exposed Israel to danger?
In 1993, we had the disaster of Oslo–an agreement with the Palestinians perpetrated by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. Based on a “promise” of peace and nothing more, the Rabin-Peres team opened the door to more than ten years of disastrous terrorism which included nonstop Palestinian suicide attacks and over a thousand dead Israelis.
Then we had the disastrous unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May of 2000 perpetrated by Ehud Barak. Based on no negotiations at all, this withdrawal brought the terrorist organization Hezbollah right up to Israel’s northern border–and enabled the group to fire thousands of missiles at residents of northern Israel during the ensuing years.
If this wasn’t bad enough, Barak also attempted in July of 2000 to perpetrate a ridiculous Camp David agreement with Arafat and the Palestinians in which he was willing to give the Palestinians “everything”–again in return for nothing.
Next we had the disastrous unilateral withdrawal from the Jewish communities of northern Gaza in 2005 perpetrated by Ariel Sharon. Based on no negotiations at all, this withdrawal removed the buffer zone between the terrorists in Gaza and initiated the launching of thousands of Hamas missiles against the men, women, and children of southern Israel.
After this, we had the disastrous negotiations with the Palestinians perpetrated by Ehud Olmert in 2008. Again, in return for nothing, Olmert was (among other things) willing to cede sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to an international consortium including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the United States, the European Union, and Israel.
It was into this context that Benjamin Netanyahu walked after being chosen Israeli Prime Minister in 2009. To repeat: it was a context that had seen a succession of Israel leaders–Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon, and Olmert–bow to international pressure and get nothing from the Palestinians in return except more terrorism waged against Israeli citizens.
Starting from zero, Netanyahu immediately established the principle that the Palestinians would not get something for nothing (and for doing so was branded “a right-wing extremist” by many in the West). Most importantly, Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians were going to demand as preconditions to negotiations that “the pre-1967 lines” were going to be the basis of borders with Israel (a precondition that would preclude the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem from being part of Israel) and the cessation of all construction in those Jewish communities , then Israel was going to make its own preconditions–namely that the Palestinians would have to accept the reality of a “Jewish state of Israel” (a precondition that would preclude the acceptance of any Palestinian so-called “refugees” into Israel) and that Israel would have a permanent force in the Jordan Valley.
Of course, the minute that Netanyahu voiced these preconditions, the Palestinians immediately came forward with a list of more preconditions such as the release of all Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons.
And so we come to yesterday and headlines that appeared in Israeli newspapers such as this one in Yediot Aharanot: “Netanyahu to Abbas: Talks Without Recognition of Israel As Jewish State”. The article that followed described a letter that Netanyahu is writing to Abbas encouraging him to to return to the negotiating table: “Government officials familiar with the document told Yediot Wednesday night it would not include a demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.”
At first glance, your humble servant was appalled; could it really be true that Netanyahu is willing to forego his demand that the Palestinians recognize that Israel is a Jewish state just to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table?
But then the article concluded with this comment from the same Israeli official: “We are not entering talks with preconditions. They want us to commit to a withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. This is a precondition, and we oppose such conditions. Therefore, we will not demand Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state prior to the resumption of negotiations.”
In short, if the Palestinians want to come to the negotiations with their preconditions, Israel will keep its preconditions; on the other hand, if the Palestinians want to come to the negotiations with no preconditions, then Israel will have no preconditions.
In short, the Palestinians will not get something for nothing.
And . . . Netanyahu is not going to hand over the keys to Israel to a consortium of the PLO, Hamas, the Quartet, and the United Nations.