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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

September 14, 2002

L’affaire Netanyahu, Part I

The violent actions in Montreal by the supporters of the Palestinian-Arabs, which prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from delivering his address on Monday, September 9, 2002, have given Netanyahu a great deal of publicity. One manifestation is an (almost) full-page interview which the Ottawa Citizen ran on Thursday, September 12, 2002 (p. A15). In the interview, Netanyahu specifically addressed the issue of a second Palestinian-Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Here is the excerpt dealing with this issue:

Q: You are opposed to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, at least publicly. But given that almost every other country in the world appears to be making that promise, including the United States, is this something you can still feasibly put forward?

A: I believe that we need a transition period to detoxify Palestinian society once Arafat is ousted. And I think this will take three to five years of political and economic packages administered by the United States to induce the kind of reforms that might lead to free elections where a leadership would have to disavow the so-called right of return, that is, the right to destroy Israel, and the method of terrorism.

And then we can negotiate with them. Even when we negotiate with them, we cannot be sure that democratization would take root.

The first component is to give them self-determination; we don't seek to govern them. We are in their cities now to prevent terrorism, but nobody seriously believes, nor do I, that in the long term, we have to sit there and be in their cities and govern them.

But we also don't want them to have the power to threaten our lives, so we would like them to have all the powers of self-government, but none of the powers that could threaten Israel's security and it's very life. I don't believe that self-determination requires that the Palestinians have an air force or the ability to import weapons from Iran or Libya or that they could poison the water table that feeds Israel 60 per cent of its water.

So there are ,certain powers that are normally associated with statehood, but have nothing to do with self-government that I would delimit for the foreseeable future. That is why I am loathe to use the word "state."

When you use the word "state," you imply that you will give all these powers.

I would much rather speak in terms of self-government for the Palestinians and security of Israel for the foreseeable future.

Now, had the supporters of the Palestinian-Arabs in Montreal allowed the address to go ahead, this interview would probably have been read by very few readers; now it is food for thought for many who are probably thinking, "considering how the supporters of the Palestinian-Arabs comported themselves in Montreal, maybe Netanyahu is right after all".

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland