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Peace Punk'd by Netanyahu, Where's Ashton Kutcher?
Huffington Post
June 17, 2009

Feature 311 By Ahmed Rehab

I do like you.

I just don't like the way you look, the way you talk, the way you think -- and the way you... well, exist really.

What would you call such logic?

Self-contradicting? Counter intuitive? Nonsensical?

Few would disagree.

Yet that is the kind of logic Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, effectively offered the world on the occasion of his much hyped policy address last Sunday. (It appears as if he was just looking to throw something out there to look like he is in stride with Obama's constant knack for buzz-creating addresses).

In his own stately address, Netanyahu stated that he would accept a Palestinian state under certain conditions, and that he favored living in a state of peace rather than war with the Palestinians.

As Borat would say, "is nice. I like."

But if I may ask, how does that much constitute breaking news to anyone but the most extreme right-wing elements in Israeli society?

Was the Israeli position prior to this announcement a "one-state solution" as opposed to two? Was it "we hate peace, we love war?"

So what merits the excitable headlines?

If anything, it seems like the Israelis are constantly shifting the starting point of this debate back a notch, a process through which the obvious is played as benefaction, and entitlements re-branded as concessions.

And so slick Netanyahu tries to move the goal posts out a few yards in the dark of night while no one is looking.

Except he is in the light of day and the whole world is watching. So yeah, we kind of noticed.

The real question, the only question really, has always been: what are Netanyahu's "conditions" for "peace" with this plausible Palestinian "state?"

Well when we he got to that part, it was all pretty much downhill.

His conditions include but are not limited to: no right of return for Palestinian refugees forcibly uprooted from their ancestral homes, no compromise over Jerusalem including Arab-majority East Jerusalem, no dismantling or freezing of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank, no sovereign control for the new Palestinian state over its own borders and ports, no Palestinian right of defense (he uses the fancy buzz word, "demilitarized"), and no democratically elected party that Israel does not approve.

So Palestinians, there's your "state." (It looks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck - but no, it's not a duck.)

Now, anyone remotely familiar with the history of the conflict and the ever elusive peace process knows that these cynical stipulations are none other than the very barriers that have precisely made peace historically elusive. They are designed with only one goal in mind: to prolong the status quo.

So where's the supposed breakthrough?

That's like Chicago's weather finally addressing my legitimate demands: fine, fine, you can have your "summer" this June, but on one condition: that it will have to be cold and rainy (true story).

It seems that Netanyahu just wanted to utter the words peace and two-state as a decoy to grab headlines and avoid the undesirable appearance that Israel is belligerent in the face of US demands to move forward.

In actuality though, his address is a step backwards, little more than a public notice that his cabinet has no intention of acknowledging legitimate Palestinian and international demands, or budging on any of the long-standing roadblocks to peaceful coexistence - most glaringly ending its illegal occupation and settlements in the Palestinian territories.

It's time Netanyahu stops pandering to his country's extreme right wing factions and gets serious about peace while the window of opportunity remains open. This means dropping the double-talk and recognizing that justice is the only foundation for sustainable peace and normalized coexistence.

The peoples of the region deserve it.

(Ashton Kutcher was unavailable for comment.)

Copyright © 2009, Inc

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