Because the Obama administration is keen to restart negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlements. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has responded by demanding more - as a precondition, before he will talk. Just a guess: Mr. Netanyahu is not surprised.
And this, my friends, is exactly why everyone should read my blog. Because if Clifford May had read my blog, he would know that Benjamin Netanyahu has not—I repeat: has not—for the seeing impaired: HAS NOT—offered to freeze settlement construction. As I explained on November 25, Netanyahu declared a ten-month freeze in settlement construction while, in the same breath, making it clear that this freeze in settlement construction wouldn’t actually freeze settlement construction. For Bibi stated that Israel is going to continue building homes already under construction as well as non-residential buildings; moreover, Israel is going to continue building in East Jerusalem, which, according to international law, is Palestinian Territory.
But according to May, Israel has once again held out an olive branch to the Palestinians, only to once again be rejected. But we shouldn’t be surprised, May continues, because, didn’t you know, Arabs obviously don’t want peace with Israel. For example:
Hamas' leaders have been candid: Their goal is the annihilation of Israel, an "infidel" nation occupying land Allah has endowed to the Muslims. A "two-state solution" or any other compromise is out of the question.
As for Israel's neighbors, they are undemocratic regimes so, for them, allies are nice, but enemies are essential. Where else can popular dissatisfaction be deflected? Take Saudi Arabia. Israel long ago proved itself to be the Saudis' best enemy. The Saudis know they face no actual threat from Israel, but hatred of Israel is something Wahhabi clerics - whose theological support the House of Saud requires - can sink their teeth into during Friday night sermons. Why would a Saudi prince trade that for an invitation to dine in Jerusalem?
As for Iran's Shia Islamist rulers, the vehemence of their jihad against Israel buys them legitimacy within the Sunni world. Like Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorists groups they finance (the first Sunni, the second Shia), Iran's rulers have not the slightest interest in such Western diplomatic constructs as a "final-status plan for a two-state solution."
Now again, if Clifford May would just take the time to read my blog, he wouldn’t have to worry about writing such silly things. But, alas, he chooses to ignore me. So let me now take a few minutes to set things straight.
First of all, as I wrote in August, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal recently stated that Hamas would accept a two-state solution. In return, Meshaal demanded that, in accordance with international law, Israel (1) withdraw to its 1967 borders, (2) grant the refugees the right of return, and (3) allow for the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu responded, not by testing Meshaal’s sincerity and agreeing to sit down and talk, but by rejecting the offer, claiming that Meshaal “remains rooted in an extremist theology which fundamentally opposes peace and reconciliation.”
Second, every nation in the Arab League, save Libya, has endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative. First proposed by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the initiative states that the Arab nations will both sign a peace treaty and normalize relations with Israel provided that Israel (1) withdraws to its 1967 borders, (2) attains a “just settlement” to the refugee problem, and (3) allows for the creation of a Palestinian state. The vast majority of Israeli leaders have rejected the initiative.
Third, although a case can certainly be made that Iran benefits from the Israel-Palestine conflict, it’s important to note that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that Iran would accept a two-state solution if this is what the Palestinian people decided upon. Sure, many in Iran might fear such a settlement, but the nation’s president is prepared to accept it nonetheless.
So that’s the situation. Contrary to Clifford May, most of the Middle Eastern world has agreed to make peace with Israel. Its only stipulation has been that Israel comply with international law. Now whether or not Israel should do so is another issue, one I’m not going to get into today. My point today is simply that it makes little sense to claim that that the Arabs don’t want peace when, with few exceptions, they’ve given every indication to the contrary. So get with the program, Cliff May—read the blog.