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Lions, And Tigers, And Bi-National States–Oh My!

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Bibi Netanyahu is being shaken out of his lethargy by the imminent threat that the Quartet may announce its recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders as early as next week.  To shock the other right-wingers in his coalition out of their stupor he’s raised the bi-national state bogeyman:

…Netanyahu is expected in the coming weeks to put forward a peace initiative in a bid to break through the deadlock in the peace process and extricate Israel from international isolation.

Netanyahu has warned in recent days during closed meetings that “a binational state would be disastrous for Israel,” and therefore it is necessary to undertake a political move that will remove this threat.

…“This trend will intensify and become stronger,” Netanyahu told his advisers. “However there are those in Israel who think that one state is a good idea. I think it is a disaster.”

I’m not sure how or why he equates a Quartet recognition of a Palestinian state with a bi-national state.  Perhaps he thinks that the words “bi” (as in bi-national) and “two” as in “two states” mean the same thing…Or maybe he just can’t count.

At any rate, if you’re like me I know you’ve been wowed by Bibi’s new “peace initiative” which would–are you sitting down–declare temporary borders for a Palestinian state that would include 65% of the West Bank!  Such a handsome, generous offer.  How could any self-respecting Palestinian turn it down?  Bibi reminds me a bit of the shopkeeper who sets a price for his merchandise with a customer, then when the customer hesitates he names a higher price and is shocked when the customer becomes angry.  65%?  What’s so bad about that?  It’s better than 0% isn’t it?

But the real laugher is this passage from the Haaretz story (whoever said Israeli leaders weren’t jokesters?):

Netanyahu would like to announce his peace plan in a speech in the coming weeks. One of the ideas being considered is that Netanyahu would speak before a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Washington for an AIPAC conference in May, but his advisers are trying to move the trip to an earlier date. Discussion of a speech before a joint session was central to the talks between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House.

A well-positioned Israeli source said that at this stage U.S. President Barack Obama and his advisers are reluctant to run with the idea over fears it has the imprint of talks between Netanyahu’s advisers and Republic Congressmen. Moreover, the White House is not yet convinced that Netanyahu’s speech will have sufficient substance for it to constitute a political breakthrough.

“Not yet convinced?”  If there’s any chance that Obama could be convinced that this initiative has even a shred of substance, then he might just as well ask Bibi to piss on his back and call it rain.  It’s not so much that this cockamamie idea is a Republican contrivance, it’s that Bibi is attempting to use Obama and the U.S. Congress as a fig leaf to conceal his absolute inertness when it comes to negotiating seriously for a deal.  To the Obamaites I say, repeat after me: this plan is not a breakthrough, it’s a sham.  S-H-A-M.  It fools nobody.  If it fools you, then shame on you.

What they should do when Bibi talks about an interim deal based on temporary borders is hold up flash cards that spell out: 1-9-6-7.  That would be a suitable answer.  The Obamaites may not have a Middle East policy when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  But at least they’re not fools.  If they go for this, then they are.

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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