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The Palestinian Question Remains Unaddressed in Biden-Bennett Talks

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett must be very happy with his visit to Washington and his meeting with President Biden.

The post The Palestinian Question Remains Unaddressed in Biden-Bennett Talks appeared first on Jewish Journal.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett must be very happy with his visit to Washington and his meeting with President Biden. That Biden’s mind was elsewhere—in Kabul—doesn’t really matter. As the cliché goes, the importance of the meeting was in the fact that it happened in the first place. Gone are the days of the open rift between Benjamin Netanyahu and the Democrats; and Biden and Bennett are friends. Shouldn’t we all be happy?

Not so fast, I say. While saying all the right things about Iran and the American-Israeli bond, not a serious word was wasted on the elephant in the room (and I don’t mean the Republican ghost of Donald Trump): the Palestinian question.

That Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel goes without saying. However, their rhetoric aside, I never subscribed to the conventional wisdom that the Ayatollahs have only one thing on their minds, namely, destroying Israel. I think that they care more about hegemony in the region, and also, if they read the right military journals, they must be aware of Israel’s alleged second-strike nuclear capabilities. These people and their Revolutionary Guards, who drain the wealth of the Iranian people, are anything but suicidal.

Furthermore, there is a firm commitment of one U.S. Administration after another—including a clear re-affirmation by President Biden last week—that the United States will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. Add to this the solid Sunni coalition forged around Israel in the region, by states who fear Iran more than Israel does. And if worse comes to worst, Israel can always defend itself alone.

The threat is that if Israel keeps doing nothing, and insists on not separating from the Palestinians, the day will come when between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea there will be the same number of Arabs and Jews.

The Palestinian question, on the contrary, is an immediate threat to Israel, and I don’t mean a military one. At most, the Palestinians can harass Israel like they have done many times in our joint history, but they can never defeat it by force. The threat is that if Israel keeps doing nothing, and insists on not separating from the Palestinians, the day will come when between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea there will be the same number of Arabs and Jews. When this happens, Israel will have to choose whether to become a Jewish state without democracy, or a democracy without a Jewish character.

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If I were President Biden, I would have asked Mr. Bennett what was his plan in countering this threat—or, challenge, if one doesn’t wish to upset one’s guest. I’m sure many Israelis would have liked to know the answer as well. Does he envision one bi-national state, where some people are not represented, and have different status from others? If not, what then?

To do justice to Bennett, he was consistent in his objection to a Palestinian state from day one, unlike Netanyahu, who lied through his teeth when he delivered his Bar-Ilan speech in 2009, when he announced his (fraudulent) support of an independent, de-militarized Palestinian state, and then went on to sabotage the idea right away.

Netanyahu is gone, for the time being at least, and this awkward government of hawks and doves is glued together by one thing only—resenting Bibi. Many Israelis, me included, pray every day for the health of this government, because we were ruled for too long by Netanyahu. The downside is that this government—because of its composition, where every small party can topple it—is focused only on internal affairs, COVID-19 first and foremost, and therefore no one wants to or can rock the boat by raising the Palestinian issue. 

In the meantime, settlements are growing, and frankly, I don’t blame the settlers: They have many kids, bless them, and they need to expand. I blame the Israeli leaderships of more than five decades and I blame us, the Israelis, who have let this happen. We shouldn’t blame it on the intransigence or incompetence of the Palestinians; we should have separated from them unilaterally. Perhaps the window of opportunity is closing as we speak. We are leaving our children and grandchildren a heavy burden.

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Uri Dromi was the spokesman of the Rabin and Peres governments. Chuck Lichtman, the author of “The Last Inauguration” and “The Sword of David,” is a lawyer living in Florida. 

The post The Palestinian Question Remains Unaddressed in Biden-Bennett Talks appeared first on Jewish Journal.

Source: Jewish Journal https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/340313/the-palestinian-question-remains-unaddressed-in-biden-bennett-talks/

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