Netanyahu’s Useless Demand

Benjamin Netanyahu has now joined Israelis on the left and right who embrace a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But, while Netanyahu is right to demand that a Palestinian state be demilitarized, and that Palestinian refugees be denied the right of return to Israel proper, his insistence that Palestinians recognize Israel's Jewish identity is a useless obstacle to peace.

HAIFA – Ever since the Six Day War of June 1967, a small number of Israelis, not all on the left, supported the idea of two states as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of their compatriots rejected it, as did the Palestinians. Israelis justified their stance with this question: Just when did the Palestinians become a nation deserving of statehood? The Palestinians were asking in return: Why should the Jews, a religious community dispersed around the world, have their own state?

A lot of water had to pass under the bridge before the idea of a two-state solution, whether as a moral or a practical matter, began to filter into the Israeli and Palestinian political and ideological environments. People gradually became accustomed to the expression “Palestinian state,” and those who embraced it received support and gained prestige on the international scene.

After the Labor leaders Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ehud Barak embraced the two-state concept, there came the first tentative movements in that direction from Likud members: Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert, and Ariel Sharon. Now, from the very bastion of the right, came Benjamin Netanyahu. We can congratulate ourselves: better late than never!

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