Netanyahu: The conflict is not about territory

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

A determined Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said it was time for the world to finally grasp the truth that the Israeli-Arab conflict is not about tiny scraps of territory, but rather about the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East.

"Our top public diplomacy mission is to explain that the root of this conflict is not territorial," Netanyahu told a meeting of the National Public Diplomacy Forum. "It is over our very existence in any borders whatsoever."

Netanyahu said the recent Gaza war was further evidence of this. "What was the war about? The war was about our very existence. We left areas that we captured in the Six Day War, like the Gaza Strip, and they fire missiles at us," he said.

The prime minister touched on the fact that prior to 1967 and Israel's capture of the currently disputed territories, Israel was also under constant attack. And the start of the peace process did nothing to change that.

"Day in, day out, and hour by hour, they have been preaching" that Israel has no right to exist, continued Netanyahu. "So certainly the lie has taken root, and there is no way to fight a lie except with the truth."

Some, even in Israel, will argue that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has recognized Israel. However, there is a big difference between Abbas' recognition that Israel does exist, and Israel's demand that he recognize its right to exist.

This is a major sticking point for Israelis because if future generations of Palestinians are not taught that Israel has a right to exist, and are in fact taught the opposite, then the stage will be perpetually set for further conflict.

Without a public recognition of Israel's right to exist and a revision of the Palestinian education system to reflect that, no signed agreement will result in genuine, long-lasting peace. As such, the Palestinian leadership's refusal to meet this condition is telling, and supports Netanyahu's assertion.

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