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While everyone has been wondering if Bibi Netanyahu will agree to a two state solution, they overlook the point that he had already made that declaration when he met with Obama a few weeks back, but according to Washington Times investigative reporter Eli Lake when Bibi makes his big speech he will say those magic words that everyone wants to hear:

The Israeli and American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Times on Thursday that Mr. Netanyahu, in a major speech Sunday, will, however, set Israeli parameters for recognizing Palestinian sovereignty.

The officials said Mr. Netanyahu will emphasize Palestinian obligations under the “road map” to peace in the Middle East — a three-phase process for negotiations initiated by the George W. Bush administration, which so far has not been followed.

Any discussion of a two-state solution and negotiations on so-called final-status issues — including the borders of a future Palestinian state — would represent a major modification of Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign platform in which he promised a “bottom up” approach to negotiations focusing on economic issues.

The conditions he is expected to put forward include:

  • Any Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without an air force, full-fledged army or heavy weapons.
  • Palestinians may not sign treaties with powers hostile to Israel.
  • A Palestinian state must allow Israeli civilian and military aircraft unfettered access to Palestinian airspace, allow Israel to retain control of the airwaves and to station Israeli troops on a future state’s eastern and southern borders.
  • Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state, a nod to the hawkish side of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition that has raised concerns that the Palestinian Authority, which nominally governs the West Bank, does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The State Department declined to comment on the details of what Mr. Netanyahu is expected to say.

While both Mr. Netanyahu and President Obama have emphasized the need for the wider Arab world to support negotiations by recognizing Israel, the two leaders have clashed over Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Netanyahu has asserted Israel’s right to expand settlements to account for “natural growth,” meaning the children of nearly a half-million Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

While this wll be seen as a major change it really isn’t, when Netanyahu met with President Obama he said that Israel does not want to rule the Palestinians and that if they agree to recognize Israel as a Permanent Jewish State, as opposed to a hunda (temporary peace), there can be a demilitarized Palestinian State:

….I share with you very much the desire to move the peace process forward. And I want to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately. I would like to broaden the circle of peace to include others in the Arab world, if we could, Mr. President, so — this (inaudible) that one shouldn’t let go, maybe peace with the entire Arab world.

I want to make it clear that we don’t want to govern the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with them. We want them to govern themselves, absent a handful of powers that could endanger the state of Israel. And for this there has to be a clear goal. The goal has to be an end to conflict. There will have to be compromises by Israelis and Palestinians alike. We’re ready to do our share. We hope the Palestinians will do their share, as well. If we resume negotiations, as we plan to do, then I think that the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; will have to also enable Israel to have the means to defend itself. And if those conditions are met, Israel’s security conditions are met, and there’s recognition of Israel’s legitimacy, its permanent legitimacy, then I think we can envision an arrangement where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in dignity, in security, and in peace….

For those of you who are about to start screaming about a Netenyahu sell-out, keep this in mind, it takes two to tango. Bibi has laid out some very reasonable guidelines, which the Palestinians will never agree with. So trust me, don’t flip out, take a some decaff and a Valium and watch it all unfold.

This is a master stroke. For the last three years Israel has been doing nothing but making One-sided concessions. Sunday Netanyahu is going on the offense by changing the way the “game is being played. Instead of a Palestinian State being the “given” and the argument being about the form the state will take, the State is the negotiation chip and  the the discussion will be about what the Palestinians have to do to get a state. Bibi is trying to ensure that Abbas will have to make concessions before he even gets to talk about the specifics of a state.

If you would like to read Eli Lake’s full report click below

Netanyahu opens to Palestinian sovereignty

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