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Netanyahu Slams Brakes on Annapolis

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "If the Palestinians truly want peace it can be achieved but they must fight terrorism"

"Previous peace efforts have failed because of this and lack of Palestinian economic component"

"Iranian leader will not be permitted to place question mark over Israel's existence"

Binyamin Netanyahu (Photo: Amit Shabi)

In his inaugural speech to the Knesset, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has presented his coalition guidelines. The leader of the right-wing Likud party set several conditions for a viable Palestinian peace process. IsraCast analyzes the Prime Minister's address and its significance.

"The Palestinians must not receive powers that threaten Israel's security and existence" -- that was one of the basic guidelines spelled out by Israel's new Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank must actively fight terrorism. However, Israel was not interested in ruling the Palestinians and was truly ready for a permanent peace accord. Netanyahu declared: "I say to the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, if you truly want peace, it can be achieved but you must fight terrorism" (Netanyahu did not mention Hamas the other half of the Palestinian camp whose battle cry, like Iran, is the destruction of Israel). And the Prime Minister concluded: "Over the last two decades, six Israeli prime ministers had attempted to make peace with the Palestinians but did not succeed and they were not to blame".

Israel's new leader then elaborated on his approach that would be based first on an "ccelerated development of the Palestinian economy and its cooperation with Israel's economy". He contended that "all the efforts that have not taken a combined approach – economic, security and political-have led only to increased terror and bloodshed".

In effect, Netanyahu has now reset Israel's approach by giving up the idea of peace bringing security - the concept is that security for Israelis will induce the Palestinians to opt for peace

One senior Likud sources told IsraCast that in essence Netanyahu has embarked on a   course that differs from that initiated by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin when he signed the Oslo Accord with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993 and which has held sway for most of the years since then. The Rabin concept was that making peace with the Palestinians would bring security for Israelis. Rabin declared that he would continue to conduct peace talks with Arafat although the Palestinians persisted in terrorizing Israelis. Rabin had declared: "We will fight terrorism while pursuing  peace!" The international community led by the US then expanded this approach into the 'territory for peace' formula and eventually the Roadmap peace plan based on the two states for two people's solution. The Likud source concluded that this approach has proven to be a failure.

Ariel Sharon (Photo: Amit Shabi)

When another Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip in 2005, the Palestinians did not exploit it to advance the peace process rather they turned the Gaza Strip into a launch pad for escalated rocket attacks on Israel. Instead of advancing towards peace, the 'territory for peace' mantra has led to war and the control of Gaza by the Iranian-supported Hamas terrorists. In effect, Netanyahu has now reset Israel's approach by giving up the idea of peace bringing security - the concept is that security for Israelis will induce the Palestinians to opt for peace.

At a time that Obama is gung ho for dialogue and engagement to promote peace with radical Islam, Netanyahu appears to be slamming on the brakes and taking a different road

It is this perception that led to the dramatic swing to the Right in the recent Israeli election. Moreover, this overall Israeli disillusionment has even permeated the left-wing Labor Party which voted to join Netanyahu's right coalition and to accept the guidelines that Netanyahu articulated in his Knesset speech.

The only problem is that US President Barack Obama and the international community insist on carrying on with the Oslo-Annapolis approach, despite its past failures. At a time that Obama is gung ho for dialogue and engagement to promote peace with radical Islam, Netanyahu appears to be slamming on the brakes and taking a different road.

And it's not only the Palestinian issue. Israel's new leader also assailed the failure of humanity to effectively confront Iran's threats to wipe Israel off the map only several decades after the Holocaust. And he warned that Israel would not acquiesce in any Iranian leader putting a question mark behind Israel's very existence. Here again Netanyahu may be at odds with Obama who is seeking Iran's aid in resolving the crisis in Afghanistan. In addition, at a time that Israel's intelligence has warned that  Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon within several months to a year, the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has now declared: "Now is not the right time to impose new sanctions on Iran".

David Essing

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