[R-G] Netanyahu committing national suicide - Financial Times
shniad at gmail.com
Mon Nov 9 12:44:29 MST 2009
November 8 2009
*A man humiliated*
The decision by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, not to run for
re-election next year looks like the act of a man who has reached the end of
his political tether. He is the principal Palestinian advocate of a
negotiated two-state peace agreement with Israel. If he stands by his threat
to quit it could deal a devastating blow to that process, if not destroy it.
It is possible that Mr Abbas is bluffing, using the threat of his
resignation as a negotiating tactic. But there can be no doubt that recent
actions by the US administration and Israel have left him humiliated, and
destroyed what remained of his credibility with his Palestinian people and
his Fatah party.
The final straw came last week when Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state,
praised Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, for “restraint”, and
appeared to support Israel’s refusal to halt the expansion of Jewish
settlements in the occupied West Bank as a pre-condition for peace talks.
It followed two other recent events that badly undermined the Palestinian
leader with his domestic constituency. In New York he was forced into a very
public handshake with Mr Netanyahu at their meeting with Barack Obama, US
president. But most damaging was when he bowed to US pressure to delay his
endorsement of the report by Judge Richard Goldstone on war crimes during
Israel’s onslaught on Gaza – and then reversed his decision under furious
attack from his own ministers.
Mr Abbas’s position has been steadily eroded over time because he has
absolutely nothing to show for his years of pursuing a peace strategy based
on a negotiated settlement – except for expanded Israeli settlements on
occupied Palestinian land.
If a figure such as Mr Abbas cannot survive in the present climate, then he
is likely to be replaced by a far more radical and uncompromising
leadership. No Palestinian leader can or will negotiate while Israeli
colonisation of the West Bank continues. Mr Netanyahu’s refusal to call a
halt to expanding settlements means in effect there will be no two-state
If that is so, then the prospect is for a long and bitter fight for equal
rights within one state. That would spell the end of Israel as a democratic
Jewish state. It would come to resemble in many ways the struggle against
apartheid in South Africa. If Mr Netanyahu believes that he has achieved a
victory by refusing to halt the settlements, he is wrong. It is more like a
project of national suicide.
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