The prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, was in London this week for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher and also met with prime minister David Cameron where they discussed the peace process, Syria and Iran. He did not miss this opportunity to express his views to the British public on the situation in the Middle East in regards to Israel on the BBC. Here he discusses the situation in Syria;
On the question of arming the rebels Netanyahu explains;
“It’s a complicated question because you have the bad fighting the bad”.
This is somewhat of an oversimplification. I assume the “bad” refers to anything labelled as Islamist in the ranks of the rebels. There is also the suggestion within the interview that the Israelis are themselves arming certain groups within the rebellion.
The interview then moves on to the question of Iran, which can be found here.
The prime minister was in comfortable territory here as he has been banging the same old drum for over twenty years in regards to the Iranian nuclear threat and yet still Iran has no nuclear weapons or even a current nuclear weapons programme.
Netanyahu; “Iran is carrying on its plan to enrich Uranium for nuclear weapons”
The fact that the reporter did not challenge him over this massive untruth is troubling. There continues to be no evidence that this is what the uranium enrichment is being conducted for the purposes of. The reporter did however go on to question the timeline of the Iranian nuclear programme that Netanyahu himself set out with the infamous cartoon bomb at the UN last year. Netanyahu stated in response that the Iranians have “crept up” to the threshold of the amount of 20% enriched uranium needed to create one nuclear bomb, quoting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) figures. Firstly you don’t need 20% enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon you need 90% enriched uranium. The argument from the bomb, bomb Iran crowd follows that the step from 20% to 90% is a relatively small technological one. This may be the case but it is a step that would be detected and would create the perfect pre-text for an Israeli/US attack, which begs the question, why would the Iranian leadership take such a decision? It is important to remember that these figures quoted by Netanyahu were gathered by the IAEA, with whom Iran are co-operating with over their civilian nuclear programme unlike Israel whose real and existing reported stockpile of dozens to hundreds of nuclear weapons is not up for debate or inspection.
The interview concluded with the only real existential threat to the state of Israel, the Palestinian question. The reporter quotes US Secretary of State John Kerry;
“I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting,” the secretary of state said. “I think we have some period of time – a year to year-and-a-half to two years, or it’s over.”
Netanyahu, in response, had the temerity to state “I don’t think we should wait two years we should act now”!
Act now?! What about four years ago? What about seventeen years ago during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister? Oh and just so you know the prime minister has ” no pre-conditions for entering negotiations”. Demanding no pre-conditions before the start of any peace talks is the same thing as a pre-condition. For the Palestinian leadership to enter in to negotiations, without the very minimum a halt to settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to hold up, would be tantamount to national and political suicide for the Palestinians.
The reporter then asks “Do you think the Palestinians will have a state in two years?” (Bear in mind that in November 2012 the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted through a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders).
Netanyahu; “It depends on the Palestinians”.
The prime minister did not mean it in this way but to some extent it does depend on the Palestinians as Israel under his coalition and leadership has no intention of allowing this to happen. If the Palestinian leadership can unite or grassroots Palestinian groups force a change in leadership and lead a mass civil disobedience campaign against the occupation it may force the rest of the world to act.
While Netanyahu stalls, afraid of members of his own coalition and not personally interested in peace with the Palestinians, normal people like you and me continue to suffer under the unending tragic joke that is the occupation of the West Bank and siege of the Gaza Strip.
This video highlights the decades old tactic of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in using Palestinians as human shields when cracking down on any Palestinian unrest as a result of the occupation.
You can hear from the reaction of those filming that this tactic still has the capacity to shock.
Meanwhile Israeli authorities arrested a 14 year old American citizen for stone-throwing and sentenced him to two weeks in an adult jail. Palestinians are encompassed by this world of violence every single day, there is no escape except abroad if you have enough money, are able to claim refugee status or working rights in another country.
As Netanyahu and his coalition attempt distract the world with talk of armageddon either from Iran, Syria or Hezbollah, Israel continues to march inexorably in to the status of a pariah state through its treatment of the Palestinians. I referred to the Palestinian question as the only existential threat to Israel, and this is what I mean by it. Not because the Palestinians are suddenly going to become militarily powerful enough to defeat Israel on the battlefield or because of the much reported demographic timebomb. It is leadership and ultimately its citizenry’s refusal to come to terms with that fact that you cannot treat a whole group of people in such a way and get away with it that will ultimately lead to a catastrophe to befall Israel.
Jonathan Woodrow Martin