In 2000 Ehud Barak went to Camp David with Bill Clinton and Yassir Arafat, y"sh. He offered to sign an argreement that would have crippled the State of Israel and destroyed our ties to Yerushalayim. When he handed it to Arafat for approval, he was turned down despite having offered him 99% of what the Arabs have always asked for.
To this day people wonder: Was Barak trying to commit national suicidie or did he know that Arafat would refuse, leaving him to say that at least he had tried to make peace and it was clearly the Arabs' fault that it didn't happen?
In any case, the international community drew the wrong conclusion from the proceedings. They decided that Israel was still at fault for holding back on the final 1%.
After reading about Netanyahu's speech today, I wonder if Bibi has finally smartened up and taken Barak's approach to peace making with the Arabs:
The prime minister endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state that would exist alongside Israel for the first time on Sunday. Two and a half months after taking office and following considerable pressure from Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally uttered the coveted term in his policy speech at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University.
However, Netanyahu repeatedly stressed, any such entity would have to be demilitarized. "The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel," the prime minister said.
"If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitarization and Israel’s security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state," he said.
Like Obama, Bibi has picked his words carefully. He is quite prepared to give the Arabs what they want as long as a couple of simple conditions are met. In terms of "Palestine" being demilitarized, that's not likely to happen. Deals signed with our enemies tend not to be worth the toilet paper they're written on. But the second condition, that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state, is likely to become the sticking point on the deal.
A few days ago Barack Obama tried to claim that the reason Israel exists is because of the Holocaust, thus reinforcing the Jew-hater opinion that the Arabs are being punished for Europe's crimes. Bibi cleverly refuted this in his speech:
Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence. The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria."
On the issue of settlements and outposts in the West Bank the prime minister touched on only briefly, saying that Israel has no intention of expropriating land to build new settlements but that there is a need to allow settlers to live "normal lives" - alluding to the demand of 'natural growth' within the existing settlements.
Answering US President Obama's statement in Cairo that Israel was built as a result of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said - "The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occurred.
"This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense. But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged.
All the Arabs have to do to get their little terrorist state is make one simple declaration to the world, in English and Arabic: Israel is Jewish land. The Jews belong in Israel as much as the Arabs do. That's all.
But it is the one thing that will stick in their craw and become the straw that break's the deal into pieces. If there is one thing the Arabs cannot accept, it is that we are the people of Israel with the greatest ties to the land of Israel. It refutes so much of the propaganda and hate they have spewed against us for the last 1400 years. To grant us legitimacy is a step they cannot take, not having invested so much time and effort in delegitimizing us.
We're safe (God willing). There will be no deal.