These are all conditions previously rejected by the Palestinians, and Bibi's still refusing to halt the settlements, so I'm puzzled by what, exactly
June 15, 2009


These are all conditions previously rejected by the Palestinians, and Bibi's still refusing to halt the settlements, so I'm puzzled by what, exactly, he's saying that's progress. I guess the thing that's interesting is what he didn't say - he didn't use the election riots in Iran as a way to do his usual fear-mongering routine:

JERUSALEM — The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday endorsed for the first time the principle of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but on condition that the state is demilitarized and that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

In a much-anticipated speech meant in part as an answer to President Barack Obama’s historic address in Cairo earlier this month, the Israeli leader reversed his longstanding opposition to Palestinian statehood, a move seen as a concession to American pressure.

But he explicitly rejected American demands for a complete freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, hardening a rare public dispute between Israel and its most important ally on an issue seen as critical to peace negotiations.

And even his concession on Palestinian statehood, given the caveats, was immediately rejected as a nonstarter by Palestinian officials.

In a half-hour speech broadcast live in Israel, Mr. Netanyahu laid out what he called his “vision of peace”: “In this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other.”

But he insisted on “ironclad” guarantees from the United States and the international community that the Palestinian territory would be demilitarized, and that the Palestinians publicly recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Given those conditions, Mr. Netanyahu said, “We will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state.”

He also said that no new settlements would be created and no more land expropriated for expansion, but that “normal life” must be allowed to continue in the settlements, a term he has used to mean that limited building should be allowed to continue within existing settlements to accommodate “natural growth.”

While this position did not diverge from his previous statements on the issue, this time it was delivered in the context of a speech he had billed as a major foreign policy address, one which he had personally urged Mr. Obama to watch. It came 10 days after Mr. Obama had bluntly rejected “the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” in his address to the Muslim world in Cairo.

The White House reaction was positive, if limited, focusing on what it called “the important step forward” of Mr. Netanyahu’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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