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The unfinished Six Day War: An open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Thursday, 15 June 2017


Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

Since you celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the victory of the Six Day War, did you ponder what this triumph has done to the Palestinian people and to the moral character of the state of Israel? I am not sure how harshly history will judge you, but one thing is certain, I, like millions of Jews around the world, deeply believe that no prime minister of Israel has done more damage to the country's future security and wellbeing than you have. The sad irony is that for you, the facts on the ground are freely expungable in your morally distorted universe.

Fifty years have passed, and as the longest serving prime minister, you have not yet articulated any vision about Israel's future and the fate of the Palestinians. Instead, you find comfort in hypocrisy, pretending to do what is right and defending your ceaseless lying and twisted logic, making a virtue out of falsehood. Remember Mr. Netanyahu, a moral leader does not cheat or mislead, but takes a clear positon regardless of how unpopular it may be-but you have pursued policies where nothing is beyond the pale.

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You profess to support a two-state solution and that you are ready to negotiate unconditionally, but everything you have said or done over the years stands in total contrast to that notion. How do you reconcile a two-state solution with your statement, "I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel"? And when you were asked during the last elections in 2015 if no Palestinian state would be created under your leadership, you said: "Indeed."

In your speech to Congress in May 2011, you stated that "This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace." During the same speech, you fervently proclaimed that "In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers."

Tell me, how do these statements conform with the idea of a Palestinian state to be established on the same land, when you have no intention of ever evacuating any settlement? You reconfirmed that in September 2016, stating: "The Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews. There's a phrase for that: It's called ethnic cleansing."

You use national security as a blank check to spread fear by portraying the Palestinians as the greatest danger that faces the nation. "In order to assure our existence," you stated, "we need to have military and security control over all of the territory west of the Jordan [River]."

How much weight should the Palestinians put on your presumed readiness to negotiate a two-state solution, when in the same breath you emphatically demand from Abbas that he must first recognize Israel as a Jewish state? As you said, "the real core of this conflict… is not this or that settlement, or this or that community, it's the persistent and enduring [Palestinian] refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundary." Both claims are untrue and unfounded.

If the negotiations were to start without any pre-conditions, how could you claim that "Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people"? On another occasion, you stated that: "[Israel] didn't occupy Jerusalem fifty years ago, it liberated it…I want to the tell the world in a loud and clear voice: Jerusalem has always been and always will be the capital of Israel." If you remove the future of Jerusalem from the negotiating table, isn't that a pre-condition?

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You continue to proclaim that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace. Can you explain by what miracle the settlements will not prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state with a contiguous landmass, especially when you continue their expansion and rule out the evacuation of existing settlements?

To be sure, Mr. Netanyahu, your desperate need for reaffirmation of your dubious schemes and bigoted attitude leads you to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and a sense of vulnerability among the Israelis so you can rally the political support to stay in power. If this is not the trademark of a demagogue, then what is? Aristophanes put it well when he stated that: "You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way, it's only in troublous times that you line your pockets."

You demand the Palestinians behave and dare not resist the occupation, but what have you offered in return? You refuse to release political prisoners; you refuse to halt the expansion of settlements; you refuse to provide the Palestinians permits to build, and you refuse unrestricted mobility of Palestinians, not to speak of the daily ordeal to which they are subjected. If you wanted real peace, Mr. Netanyahu, shouldn't you have used the fiftieth anniversary to make at least a good-will gesture, such as releasing a few hundred Palestinian political prisoners to give hope that new, brighter, and happier days may dawn?

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This letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu will be followed next week with an open letter to Palestinian President Abbas.



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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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