-- May 16, 2011 Prime Minister Netanyahu Gives Major Speech

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

May 16, 2011 Prime Minister Netanyahu Gives Major Speech

Today, Prime Minster Netanyahu gave a major speech in the Knesset today, in advance of his trip to the United States. I have to say it was a good speech. This speech was delivered, officially, in commemoration of the Hebrew birthday of Theodore Herzl. Netanyahu started his speech by referring to the events of yesterday. He pointed out that yesterday's events clarified that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not over the result of the Six Day War, but over the events of 1947-48. He then went on to say that the recent agreements between Hamas and Fatah shows that there really is no real partner for peace. He further stated that he has heard repeatedly that one can only make peace with their enemies, and not with their friends. Netanyahu added, however, that there is an important caveat to that statement: Your enemy has to be ready to make peace.

Netanyahu then went on to the key part of his speech. He stated that if there are Palestinian partners who are indeed ready to make peace, he was ready to do so. He continued with the following points he stated are shared by the overwhelming majority of Israelis:
1) A peace agreement has to recognize the partition of the land into Jewish and Arab states;

2) The Palestinian refugee problem needs to be solved within a the boundaries of the future Palestinian state;

3) This agreement must be the end of the conflict; and there could be no future claims;

4) A new Palestinian state needs to be demilitarized;

5) Settlement blocks need to remain;

6) Israel should have a long term security presence along the Jordan River;

7) Jerusalem should remain the united capital of Israel.

While the tone of the speech was very much the tone of the right, the content of the speech put Netanyahu very close to the same spot as Barak, Olmert and Sharon had reached. For the first time Netanyahu spoke about a settlement block, and not every settlement. He also spoke of a security presence on the Jordan River, not a civilian presence. These are both important changes for Netanyahu. Netanyahus new positions should be a powerful tool in his talks in Washington with President Obama, and his long awaited speech both to the Congress and at AiPac. For while at the moment, his tone remains that of his roots, his currently stated policies (with the exception of his statement regarding Jerusalem) are not far from those to which his predecessors arrived.

It was announced yesterday that President Obama will be speaking at AIPAC. Between Netanyahu's speech today and the President's appearance at AIPAC it is pretty clear that there will be no confrontation between Obama and Netanyahu at this weeks meeting.

Lastly, the IDF is learning the lessons of yesterdays events. The army has given the commander of the Parachute Division the responsibility for working out plans on how to address large scale civilian invasions in the future. I would hope some money is being spent at very effective, but non lethal weapons, to use against those trying to cross the borders. Since it is clear from today's Arab media they thought yesterday's events were very successful and should be emulated in the future.

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