Michael Oren isn’t the only Israeli official giving stirring speeches. Bibi, in a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, made clear that Israel has plenty of reasons to walk from the peace talks but has shown restraint:
Believe me, every day the Palestinians do things I don’t like: whether it’s incitement in the schools or media, or an international campaign that they back to delegitimize Israel.
Just yesterday, a Palestinian Authority court ruled that the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death. You know, all these things do not square well with me, and my colleagues often question why is it that we’re staying in the talks. Some have even questioned why I’m having peace talks with President Abbas when half of the Palestinian people are controlled by Hamas, which is a terror organization that openly calls for our destruction. I’m mentioning all of these things – and there are many others that I could raise here – because these could afford me many reasons to walk away from the table. But I haven’t walked away from the table. I want to give these talks a chance to succeed. And I very much hope that President Abbas will have the same attitude. I expect him to sit down with me even when we disagree, and to work with me through those disagreements in a sincere effort to forge an historic compromise, which I believe is possible.
We got rid of the preconditions before the talks. We can’t reintroduce them five minutes after the talks begin.
Israel gets little if any credit for this, and the chattering class doesn’t demand that Abbas extend (or even come up with, for there has never been one) a moratorium on killing Jews or teaching anti-Semitism to Palestinian children.
But Bibi has a larger point to make, which, despite his complimentary words for the president and secretary of state (on whom the words are lost), gets to the heart of the matter and the pointlessness of peace talks:
It’s time for the Palestinians to do something they have refused to do for 62 years. It’s time for them to say yes to a Jewish state. Now what does it mean to recognize the Jewish state, or the nation-state of the Jewish people? It means that the Palestinians recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in our historic homeland. I recognized the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and sovereignty. They must finally recognize the Jewish people’s right to self determination and sovereignty. … It’s important because the Palestinian leadership must begin to make clear to its own people that they are making a permanent peace with the Jewish people, a people that has a right to be here, a right to live in its own state and in its own homeland.
Which is why Abbas will never do it. So what is the point, then? The Obami shouldn’t lose face, our sympathetic ally has determined. Unlike the Obama administration, the Netanyahu government sees no benefit in embarrassing its ally, nor in emphasizing the gaps in perception between the U.S. and Israel. There is another reason for Bibi to put the spotlight on Abbas’s refusal to recognize the Jewish state as the Jewish state. In case the Obami were contemplating an imposed peace deal, Bibi has raised a red flag: what’s the point if Abbas won’t give up finally and completely the fight for a one-state solution?