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Spellbound, the international media follow every word spoken by Netanyahu’s new government, and, as they do so, observe that he is avoiding the term “two-state solution”. The Arab news program Al-Dshassiera summed up Benjamin Netanjahu’s mid-May visit in Washington as follows: ” the US demands for a two-state solution landed on deaf ears on the part of the Israelis.” And that, although even Pope Benedict XVI believes that the salvation of the Holy Land and its populations is to be found in the division of the land of Israel into two states.

At the end of four hours of private talks with Netanyahu, President Barack Obama underlined in an official statement on May 18 in the White House the strategy which, ever since the Fall of 2002, has been considered the magic formula for the Middle East conflict: the two-state solution, requiring Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace and security. According to the US President, this political goal not only serves the interests of the Palestinians, but also of the Israelis, the USA and the international community. Netanyahu, he stated, now has a historic opportunity to propel this strategy seriously forward during his time in office.

Netanyahu’s reaction was positive, in keeping with the surprisingly harmonious mood in which the entire encounter between the two was conducted. “I want to begin peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately,” declared the Israeli head of government, adding “and I want to make it clear that we don’t intend to rule over the Palestinians.” With this, Netanyahu summed up the general consensus of opinion in Israel. Israel wants to get rid of the Palestinians. The Israelis are fed up with being occupiers. Moreoever, there seems to be no alternative, if Israel wants to remain a democratic Jewish state. A Palestinian State therefore would indeed serve Israel’s political, demongraphic, sociological and cultural interests.

But Netanyahu did impose restraints on the plan. A Palestinian state must never be in a position to endanger the State of Israel. “Israel must have the means of defending itself!” He demands an end to the conflict – a demand which poses a theological problem for radical-Islamic Hamas – which is why he stipulates the pre-condition that “the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish State!” Even moderate Palestinians reject this prospect. Obama’s idea of de-militarizing the Palestinian State and exchanging land with Israel meets too with Palestinian defiance.

And then there’s the refugee problem. No Arab leader has ever even begun to consider giving up the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel’s territory. However, this is a central requirement in Obama’s plan as it was published in the Israeli press before the Palestinian government in Ramallah even had a chance to look at it.

Out of seven million Israeli citizens, 1.2 million are today Arabs, that is, about 20 percent. To take in further hundreds of thousands or even millions of Arabs would, demographically speaking, mean the suicide of the Jewish State. President Mahmoud Abbas still insists that the idea of integrating Palestinian refugees in Arab countries won’t even be considered, and that their return to the homes they left in 1948 is a firmly established human right which Israel must not be permitted to defy.

Sometimes it all comes down to the exact way in which things are said, something which Europeans and Americans often don’t understand. If a guarantee existed of “two states for two peoples” whose existence can in no way be threatened, Israel could without doubt be persuaded to comply. But the Jewish people hear and understand the propoganda which is flaunted in the mosques, educational establishments and media of the Arab world and take it seriously. So the refusal of the Palestinians to acknowledge a “Jewish State of Israel”, combined with the Arab demand for “two states” is interpreted as follows: one state for Palestinians, in whose territory no “Jewish” settlements are tolerated – and a second state for Israelis and the Palestinian refugees. Demographic development alone would ensure that within a few years the latter would no longer be “Jewish”, but would have an Arab-Palestinian majority.

One observor of the political skirmishes and the situation on the ground commented mockingly, “the Palestinians already have two states – one in the West Bank and one in Gaza. They only need to declare them and, above all, build them up. And now they want a third state for themselves by flooding Israel with refugees. And Jordan too, belongs after all to “historic Palestine”. If democracy were to break out there, that would be the Palestinians’ fourth state. For more than 70 percent of Jordanian citizens are Palestinians.”

Translation by Nicola Vollkommer

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By Published On: May 21, 20093.9 min read

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