The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace. I mean, we vacated cities in Judea and Samaria. We left entirely Gaza. We’ve not only frozen settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements. We’ve released hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent months.
And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel. So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t.
Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth. And the people of Israel know that it’s the truth because they’ve been living it. What they want is peace. What we all want fervently is peace. Not a piece a paper –- although that, too -- but a real peace; a peace that is anchored in mutual recognition of two nation states that recognize and respect one another, and solid security arrangements on the ground.
Mr. President, you rightly said that Israel, the Jewish state, is the realization of the Jewish people’s self-determination in our ancestral homeland. So the Palestinians expect us to recognize a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, a nation state for the Palestinian people. I think it’s about time they recognize a nation state for the Jewish people. We’ve only been there for 4,000 years.
And I hope President Abbas does this, as I hope that he’ll take seriously Israel’s genuine security needs. Because, as you know and I think ever body does, in the Middle East, which is definitely the most turbulent and violent part of the Earth, the only peace that will endure is a peace that we can defend. And we’ve learned from our history -- Jewish history, but I think from general history -- that the best way to guarantee peace is to be strong. And that’s what the people of Israel expect me to do –- to stand strong against criticism, against pressure, stand strong to secure the future of the one and only Jewish state.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Jonathan Tobin writes:-
President Obama may have thought he was being very clever ambushing Prime Minister Netanyahu...But the president’s move had to leave those who have actually been following the talks with the Palestinians scratching their heads.
Kerry’s current objective is to get both parties to agree to a framework for continued talks...the Israelis have already given Kerry what he wanted while the Palestinians have done the opposite. Yet Obama still treats Israel as the truant and lauds Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as a trustworthy warrior for peace even though his government is a font of incitement for hatred against Jews and Israelis and he has repeatedly rejected every previous offer of statehood because he and his people remain unable or unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.
By speaking in this manner about Israel, Obama has pleased the Palestinians...He has killed any chance that Kerry’s peace talks could possibly succeed...the president made it clear that his administration doesn’t care what the Israelis or the Palestinians actually do in the talks. He will take sides against Netanyahu and for Abbas no matter what the Israelis say or how the Palestinians continue to obstruct the process...By attacking Netanyahu and lauding Abbas, the president has accomplished something that no Israeli right-winger could possibly accomplish: kill the peace process.
JJ Goldberg observes:
As hard as leaders of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, are trying to maintain a politely bipartisan tone among the 14,000 activists gathered for the lobby’s annual conference, unhappiness with the Obama administration keeps surfacing in small conference rooms and chats in the corridors.
Alex Joffe notes:
Several points emerge from the interview. First is the implied threat that if current peace negotiations with the Palestinians fail, the US will be unable – read unwilling – to defend Israel. Moreover, it is up to the Palestinians to judge...
...the mix of praise and condescension (Netanyahu is "smart," "tough", and a "great communicator" but "If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?") seems more likely to simply humiliate Netanyahu, to degrade him publicly. Either Obama is tone deaf or simply does not care. Both may be the case.
...Obama shows no awareness or even interest in Israeli politics, the need or the methods to build the consensus necessary for such a dramatic move...But if Obama's remarks are not aimed at Netanyahu himself or Israel, then who? The answer is specifically non-religious American Jews and the American Left. One clue is Obama's use of the phrase "how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state" juxtaposed with "permanent occupation of the West Bank." This is the paramount concern to non-religious American Jews...Stoking resentments and calling out enemies are this administration's stock and trade...these are designed to separate American Jews from their traditional organizations, above all AIPAC...Demonizing anything besides the Obama line on Israel may be an effective way of keeping Jewish opposition in line.
The corollary goal is to break American Jewish power, real and perceived,
between the time that Obama spoke to Goldberg and the time the interview was published, the president’s world turned upside down. It is far from clear that Obama would have chosen to publicly confront Netanyahu at this time had he been aware of the gathering storm over the Ukraine, because “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon wrote. With Vladimir Putin thumbing his nose at him for the entire world to see, an Obama onslaught against Netanyahu might seem personal, petty and ill-conceived.^