This Is Netanyahu's Aha Moment - or Is It?

Recent remarks by former Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser indicate that the prime minister has no genuine interest in opportunities to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

The extensive interview former Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser gave to Ari Shavit , is depressing proof of the damage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governments have caused to Israel. Hauser boasted about the country’s new foreign policy. He called Netanyahu's 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University “a watershed” that “brought about a historic turning point. For the first time, a Jabotinsky-school prime minister adopted the idea of a historic compromise based on a two-state solution."

But Netanyahu's acknowledgement of the rightness of the two-state solution is for the most part an admission that he had been on the wrong path for 16 years, after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset, in January 1993: "Iran is in the initial stages of an effort to acquire an unconventional [weapons] capability in general and a nuclear [capability] in particular." Rabin continued: "We are monitoring the Iranian nuclear activity, together with other parties in the international community. They have not hidden the fact that the possibility that Iran would possess a nuclear weapon should be worrying, and that's one of the reasons why we have to take advantage of the window of opportunity and advance toward peace."

Hauser acknowledges that in the Bar-Ilan speech, Netanyahu was forced to "bend in the wind," that is, to respond to international pressure, mostly from the United States, but Hauser also boasted: "[Netanyahu] placed on the table a formula that did in fact accept the two-state idea, but transformed it into a more correct idea of two nation-states … demanding that the State of Israel be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people ..."

This demand, contrary to Hauser's claim, is an unnecessary burden on negotiations toward an agreement, and Israel rightly has not demanded it of any other country, including Egypt and Jordan, with which it signed peace treaties.

At best it reflects a lack of self-confidence and an absence of leadership. And at worst its purpose is to scuttle an agreement.

What is obvious from Hauser's remarks is that Netanyahu mainly deals with threats; unlike Rabin in January 1993 he has no genuine interest in opportunities, which are capable of minimizing such risks as a nuclear Iran.

Now, Hauser contends, "Netanyahu understands that things have changed in the past 20 years and that the solution of 2023 will not be the solution of 1993.” What has changed are the governmental stability in Israel Arab neighbors (although the peace with Egypt survived the Muslim Brotherhood's government); the extent of Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, which grew at an unprecedented rate; the willingness of the Palestinian leadership to maintain security and advance the two-state solution and Iran's significant progress toward acquiring nuclear weapons.

What has not changed, apparently, is a prime minister who does not recognize the urgency of a peace agreement and the need to strive toward it with full force.

Flash 90