Netanyahu's 5-point plan ignores Palestinians
“I am guided by several principles when it comes to the West Bank,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday in a speech in the illegal West Bank settlement of Revava. The principles he outlined are not benign, nor are they new. What’s surprising (and troubling) is that they were spoken out loud, as official policy.
I am guided by several principles when it comes to the West Bank. The first – this is our homeland. The second – we will continue to build and develop it. Third – not one resident or community will be uprooted in a political agreement. Fourth – the Israeli military and security forces will continue to rule the entire territory, up to the Jordan Valley. Fifth – I am working to get international ratification of these principles…I personally commit to this, and the commitment has no expiration date.
Most of us who are honest know that this agenda been in place for decades, but a public declaration like this indicates a new level of brashness. Each line item warrants alarm. Taken together, Netanyahu’s 5 guidelines are ruinous for Palestinians. Their now-overt nature suggests that international opinion matters not at all.
About 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank right now; hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living outside the West Bank also consider that region their homeland, and await the day when they can exercise their UN-mandated Right of Return.
Netanyahu’s principles completely ignore the existence of these indigenous Palestinians. The future does not bode well.
Read on to get a feel for the significance of his statements.
Netanyahu says, “This [the West Bank] is our homeland.”
From the beginning, Zionists assumed that it was just a matter of time before Jews dominated the West Bank and Gaza. Menachem Begin said of the 1947 Partition Plan, “The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized…Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for ever.”
The founders of Israel chased out 750,000 Palestinians and destroyed 300-500 Palestinian villages, Today they openly bemoan the “existential threat” of the remaining Palestinians: they are a nuisance that is jeopardizing the Jewishness of the Jewish State.
Netanyahu’s proclamation, “This is our homeland” does not address the issue of justice for Palestinians because Israel has no interest in that issue. Its government , military, and settlers will continue to do whatever they want to do, then pummel those Palestinians who dare to resist, and cry “anti-Semitism” when the world condemns them.
Netanyahu says, “We will continue to build and develop it [the West Bank].”
Since the occupation began in 1967, Israel has been confiscating and building on prime Palestinian real estate in the West Bank, then transferring its own population onto that land, regardless of the effect on Palestinians. International law considers every one of these actions illegal; the United Nations has censured Israel for these practices again and again.
Israel exercises full control over 60% of the Palestinian West Bank – where most of the natural resources are located – and at least partial control over the other 40%. Jewish-only settlement boundaries include plenty of space for expansion, while Palestinian towns are not permitted to spread out as their populations increase.
The utter disregard for Palestinian rights is clear in Israel’s policies such as using Palestinian land for dumping toxic waste; confiscating water pipes, solar panels, and even garbage trucks; using Palestinian neighborhoods for live-fire military training; and bulldozing homes, schools, and entire villages to make room for settlements.
Netanyahu’s declaration, “We will continue to build and develop” ignores the very existence of the Palestinians, let alone their wellbeing.
Netanyahu says, “Not one resident or community will be uprooted in a political agreement.”
It is no accident that he uses the words “resident” and “community” instead of “settler” and “settlement.” This recent shift in terminology is an attempt to make the illegal Israeli colonies more palatable, to normalize the status quo.
Netanyahu continues, “No communities will be uprooted. Not those of Jews, and by the way, not those of Arabs either.”
There’s another loaded word: Arabs. Not Palestinians. In March, he spoke on the topic: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else…The Arab citizens have 22 nation states around them and they do not need another.” There is no such thing as Palestinian identity.
Netanyahu expounds further on principle #3: “We don’t uproot people…We’re through with that nonsense. Israel under my leadership hasn’t returned and won’t return to the mistakes of the past.”
The “nonsense” and “mistakes of the past” no doubt refer to the dismantling of several Israeli settlements in 2005 – settlements that had been built illegally in Gaza. (Notice that the illegal construction of settlements wasn’t the nonsense – the destruction was.) At that time, about 8,500 Israelis were relocated with severance packages that Jewish Virtual Library estimated at $450,000 per family. The total cost of the operation was about $2 billion, which Israel asked the US to pay for.
Note that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been evicted from homes in which they lived legally, with no compensation. Their hardship doesn’t matter.
And Netanyahu’s phrase, “we don’t uproot people” is nothing short of preposterous. Displacement has been an ongoing reality for Palestinians since before the creation of the state of Israel, and has happened as recently as this week.
Netanyahu says, “The Israeli military and security forces will continue to rule the entire territory, up to the Jordan Valley.”
This amounts to permanent occupation.
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which is in itself illegal, includes layers of illegality that have created a deeply oppressive environment for Palestinians. The separation wall was declared unlawful in 2004 by the International Court of Justice; checkpoints severely limit movement, keep families apart, and keep children from school and patients from health care; the Israeli military is involved in midnight raids, detention of thousands of Palestinians every year, demolition of homes, and protection of illegal settlers as they vandalize Palestinian property and injure Palestinian people.
Netanyahu’s blatant promise to make the occupation permanent once again indicates utter disregard for even a hint of Palestinian self-determination.
Netanyahu says, “I am working to get international ratification of these principles.”
No, he’s not.
He knows these principles are unacceptable to the world because they are illegal and immoral.
The world has rebuked Israel again and again for contravention of multiple international laws, and for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The US government, as a fellow pariah state, might approve. A few lightweight countries, like the ones that pandered to Trump when he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, might go along for the ride. (“Four of the countries – Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau – have combined populations less than Boise, Idaho.”)
Netanyahu will just do what he wants to do (or needs to do to get reelected) with no regard for the rule of law or the welfare of Palestinians.
Zionists have always refused to acknowledge Palestinians’ legitimate needs. In 1948, Zionists refused to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Since then, they’ve ignored the ever-growing – and ever growing angrier – refugee population. They’ve ignored the existence of Palestinians inside Israel as well: the very use of the title “Jewish State” demonstrates this fact.
Now when Palestinians demand the right of return, or speak of a one-state solution, Israel and its partisans persist in utter self-centeredness: “oh no, we can’t do those things – we’d no longer be a Jewish State,” as though nothing else matters.
That’s how the Israeli prime minister can announce with great nobility and unmitigated Israel-narcissism that his people will reign forever and ever.
How do they think this will end? Perhaps the problem is, they don’t think.