Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday went somewhat outside what some would describe as his “comfort zone” and waxed eloquent about how Israelis long for peace with the Arabs and the benefits that an end to the conflict will bear.
“We all have so much to gain from peace. Peace would be good for us. Peace would be good for the Palestinians,” Netanyahu told the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering in Washington. “But peace would also open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and leading countries in the Arab world.”
The Israeli leader went on to explain that “many Arab leaders – and believe me, this is a fact, not a hypothesis, it’s a fact – many Arab leaders today already realize that Israel is not their enemy, that peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships.”
“Think of the possibilities,” Netanyahu urged his audience, noting that the “combination of Israeli innovation and Gulf entrepreneurship, to take one example,” could bring about a solution to the region’s water and energy problems and catapult the Middle East forward on the international stage.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu continued, it would seem Israel does not have in the Palestinian leadership a partner that is ready to achieve that glorious future. “President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state and in doing so you will be telling your people the Palestinians … the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute,” Netanyahu said in a direct plea to the Palestinian leadership.
The Palestinian Authority immediately made clear that it does not share Netanyahu’s vision for the future.
In remarks to the AFP, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath called Netanyahu’s speech “an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations” and a contravention of the “rules of the peace negotiations.”
Shaath reiterated that the Palestinian leadership would never agree to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, nor would it relinquish its quest to flood sovereign Israel with millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees.”
Meanwhile, report circulated that when Netanyahu met US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, the latter promised to put increased pressure on the Palestinians to meet the terms of a new American framework proposal, which includes many of Israel’s conditions for peace.