Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington to address a joint session of Congress at the invitation of the Republican leadership in an obvious attempt to embarrass President Obama and lure Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party.
The world had hoped that the prime minister would offer proposals that would open the way to negotiating a two-state solution.
Instead, he gave declarations.
Mr. Netanyahu declared that the West Bank belonged to Israel, citing the Old Testament as his source. He emphasized the point by referring to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria.
Mr. Netanyahu declared that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. It is interesting to note that the cheering congressmen have never put pressure on past or present administrations to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Mr. Netanyahu declared that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians until Hamas was expelled from the government, labeling them rightfully as extremist. But Mr. Netanyahu has a few extremists in his own government. Avigdor Lieberman, his foreign minister, heads the Yisrael Beiteinu Party that advocates displacing Arab citizens of Israel. He went so far as to propose land swaps offering Israeli land with a high percentage of Arab citizens to the Palestinians in exchange for the incorporation into Israel of large settlements located outside the 1967 line. Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas Party is a strong believer in expanding the Jewish presence in Jerusalem by displacing the Palestinians who live there.
Mr. Netanyahu declared that Israeli forces will stay in the West Bank and patrol the Jordanian border thus guaranteeing continuing Israeli presence.
Mr. Netanyahu knows or should know that no Palestinian can accept such declarations and stay in power. If the West Bank is to be part of a greater Israel and Jerusalem is to be strictly under Israeli rule, what is there to negotiate?
It is time for the Jewish people to face the reality that the present government of Israel is not interested in negotiating a two-state solution. Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said as much, claiming there is no basis for negotiation and that Israel will probably have to enforce the status quo for another 100 years.