Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak at the UN tonight. As New York Time’s Jodi Rudoren predicts, “The prime minister will undoubtedly reiterate his readiness to restart peace talks with his Palestinian counterpart anywhere, anytime.” This will be Netanyahu’s attempt to portray himself to the world as a peace seeker, particularly in contrast to Abbas, who called to leave behind Oslo’s legacy of bilateral peacemaking. Of course, Netanyahu himself is only willing to negotiate under one condition — that President Mahmud Abbas will relinquish his pre-conditions for negotiation.
The problem is that while Netanyahu prepares for his UN speech and might even choose to mention the “two state solution,” his MKs are creating facts on the ground.
Deputy Knesset speaker Oren Hazan (Likud) spoke yesterday with Haaretz’s reporter Nir Gontarz:
“Do you know where I am? […] I am on a hill near Itamar (an Israeli settlement in the West Bank five kilometers southeast of Nablus). We are establishing a new community. We just laid the cornerstone. This settlement will be called Shalem”
When the reporter asked Hazan if the new settlement is legal, Hazan said, “Yes, sure, it will be legal”
“Forget about what it will be,” the reporter pursued on, “Is it legal now?”
“Right now yes, we are dealing with the IDF. The [Samaria] Regional Council head [Yossi Dagan] is here too.”
Indeed, the Middle East Monitor reports:
More than 50 Israeli settler families and hundreds of youths gathered yesterday on Palestinian land near the West Bank city of Nablus calling for it to be annexed into their illegal settlement […] The Palestinian land is located between two illegal settlements known as Itmar and Alon Moriah. […] The settlers said they would remain on the land until the Israeli government agreed to confiscate the land to build a settlement.
This reminds me of Daniel Seidemann’s metaphor, which I heard a year ago at Partners for Progressive Israel’s annual Israel Study Tour: Two people ordered a pizza and are negotiating who will eat which slice. But while they negotiate, one continues eating and demands that the other relinquish all pre-conditions for negotiation.
My inspiration: Dov Khenin’s Facebook post.