Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has insisted from the launch of the
current peace talks that the Palestinians set no preconditions, while
making his own precondition the centrepiece of negotiations. Netanyahu
has said talks are futile unless the Palestinians and their leader,
Mahmoud Abbas, first recognise Israel as a Jewish state. “I recognised
the Palestinians' right to self-definition, so they must do the same for
the Jewish people,” he told American Jewish leaders recently.
of the rightwing Likud party, is not the first Israeli leader to make
such a requirement of the Palestinians. His predecessor Tzipi Livni,
leader of the centrist opposition, wanted the same recognition. Ehud
Barak, the defence minister and head of the supposedly left-wing Labor
party, also supports this position.
consensus on this matter, however, masks a reluctance by Israeli
politicians to clarify what exactly is being expected of the
Palestinians and why recognition is so important.
clearly does not simply want the fact of Israel's existence
acknowledged. That is in no doubt and, anyway, the Israeli state has
been recognised by the Palestinian leadership since the late 1980s. It
is recognition of the state's Jewishness, not its existence, that matters.
on this subject focuses on Israel's desire to stifle the threat of a
right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees. Though doubtless a
consideration, that explanation hardly suffices. It is clear to
everyone that the refugees are one of the main issues to be settled in
the negotiations. In the unlikely circumstances that all other obstacles
to Palestinian statehood were removed, it can be assumed that the
international community would work to make that particular mountain a
demand for recognition is directed chiefly at another party: the fifth
of Israel's population who are Palestinian – the remnants of the
Palestinian people who stayed on their land during the great
dispossession of 1948, the nakba, and eventually gained Israeli
are only nominally represented at the talks by their state, Israel.
Instead, Netanyahu hopes to use the promise of statehood to induce Abbas
to sacrifice the interests of Israel's Palestinian citizens. The
Palestinian minority's leaders, who have been lobbying Abbas hard in the
run-up to the talks, understand what Netanyahu's demand for recognition
the early years of the Oslo peace process, when a concession on
Palestinian statehood appeared to be drawing nearer, the positions of
Israel's Palestinian and Jewish leaders polarised. The assumption of
Israeli politicians was that Palestinian citizens would soon either
declare loyalty to a Jewish state – effectively become Zionists – or be
"transferred" to the coming Palestinian state.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
with this challenge, Israel's Palestinian leaders encouraged a civil
rights movement, demanding equality and an end to Jewish privilege.
Their campaign, under the slogan “a state of all its citizens”, implied
the end of Israel as a Jewish state and its transformation into a
the past decade, during the years of the second intifada, relations
between the two communities deteriorated further, with the Palestinian
minority now routinely accused of being traitors.
latest demand should, therefore, be understood as a cynical move to
bypass his own Palestinian constituency and persuade Abbas to negotiate
away the rights of Israel's Palestinian citizens on his behalf.
the Palestinian president does recognise Israel as a Jewish state, the
campaign by Israel's Palestinian citizens to reform their country into a
true democracy will be over. Netanyahu will have Palestinian backing to
label the reformers a fifth column and expel them to the slivers of
West Bank territory he may one day deign to call a Palestinian state.
the meantime, he will also have Palestinian permission to institute a
loyalty drive of the kind already being advanced through the Israeli
parliament. Loyalty tests for individual Palestinian citizens, and the
dismantlement of the Palestinian parties in the parliament unless they
sign up as Zionists, would be the first measures. Rounds of expulsions
could be expected later.
all this sounds familiar, it is because much the same programme was
laid out by Israel's foreign minister last week during his controversial
speech at the United Nations general assembly. Avigdor Lieberman's plan
for an “exchange of populations” would initially require border changes
to force hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens into a
Palestinian “interim state” in return for the inclusion of West Bank
settlements, some deep in Palestinian territory, in the newly expanded
is one flaw in Lieberman's scheme. Many Palestinian citizens, such as
those in the Galilee, are not near the West Bank and could not be
exchanged through land swaps. His election slogan – “No loyalty, no
citizenship” – tells the rest of a plan he has revealed to Israelis but
not directly to the international community.
American Jewish leaders decried Lieberman's use of the UN platform to
reveal a proposal that officially counters his own government's policy,
Netanyahu baffled observers by remaining demure. His officials publicly
distanced him from the scheme, but then privately told the Israeli media
that the prime minister did not think the plan illegitimate and that he
would not "chastise" Lieberman.
silence should not surprise us. His foreign minister may be speaking
more bluntly than other Israeli politicians, but he speaks for them
Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest
books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the
Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing
Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His
website is www.jkcook.net.