Text size

The gate was not thrown open last night, although a narrow crack appeared, which in itself is noteworthy. Another small brick was removed from the barricades of the occupation: A right-wing leader said he supports Palestinian statehood.

"Demilitarized, Demilitarized," he repeated; now all that remains are the utmost margins of the fantasizing, embittered right-wing, a group finally left isolated and abnormal. They are a dangerous contingent, but they are few.

(Click here for the full text of Netanyahu's speech.)

The brave call by Uri Avnery and his friends more than four decades ago echoes from wall to wall to this day. Two states for two peoples.

It is too late to frighten anyone and there are too few left who can be frightened. There is still no guarantee for some kind of practical action, but there is cause for a small celebration - the joy in eyes searching by candlelight for the gates of hope. In this light, it was somehow possible to find that joy.

Netanyahu adopted the language of the day before yesterday. No Palestinian people, rather a "Palestinian population" that lives in Judea and Samaria. He invoked the infamous lexicon of Golda Meir, not of occupation rather "Israeli presence" in the West Bank.

There was also the repeated flight from the subject of final borders, the lack of even superficial reference to the road map peace plan, the repetition of "Jerusalem forever undivided," the repeated claim that "they started it," and the ridiculous, excessive demand that Palestinians recognize the Jewish state by one who has failed to recognize the Palestinians as a people.

There was also the ludicrous reminder of the need to build kindergartens in the settlements, even though anyone who is really serious about founding a Palestinian state not only would not be building kindergartens, but would need to begin dismantling them immediately.

But let's leave the toddlers aside for the moment; although this was a small step, it was a large one for Netanyahu, it must be admitted. Also, it was a good speech.

It lacked the pathos and the typical fear-mongering. Netanyahu's "we want peace" was pronounced just like his classic "they are afraid" line, another sign of a change in rhetoric that cannot be ignored.

A Palestinian state did not come into being Sunday and if the Israeli society continues with its blindness and timidity, it will not arise in another two generations. But neither did Netanyahu scuttle the possibility, nor did he miss an opportunity, and at least didn't close the door entirely.

American threats are more real to Netanyahu than the threats posed by right-wing leader Yaakov Katz, and this is a good thing.

Barack Obama can put his feet up on the table and be satisfied. Look what can happen in a matter of weeks: Mr. Iran can become, for a moment, Mr. Palestine.

Behind a decorative, dismal background, a hall filled with far too many knitted skullcaps broke out in mechanical rounds of applause, which as one TV anchor said, brought to mind the pictures from the speech in Cairo, and even if it was a less-stirring speech, we will always remember Netanyahu for his Bar-Ilan speech.

The world has again come back to the United States: Netanyahu proved Sunday that when America wants it, even pigs can fly.

Well, maybe not quite, but at least it can have these words spoken: A Palestinian state.