Benjamin Netanyahu – hero or villain?

Benjamin Netanyahu is about to make an historic visit to Australia. Should he come and how should he be received?

Having just guided legislation through the Knesset ‘legalising’ the illegal: settler outposts on private Palestinian land; he has seemingly set in motion an unstoppable movement which, taken to its ultimate conclusion, could deprive Palestinians of every inch of their ancestral land and establish Israel, a state devoid of morality or conscience.

No wonder his President and Attorney General advised against it!

How does one get into the mind of the most extreme right wing figure ever to hold the reins of power in the State of Israel?

Born in 1949 he is the first Israeli Prime Minister to have been born in the State of Israel. Aged 17, in 1967 he fought in the six day war and was involved in many subsequent Israeli military operations.

Clearly this experience has formed the person we see today.

He believes in pre-emptive strikes. He looks upon negotiation as weakness. He understands military force to be the primary mark of the nation’s strength. He appears not to trust anyone or rely on anyone.

It appears he uses military force as a political tool and relies upon the inculcation of fear in an ‘existential threat’ to gain the support and ongoing loyalty of his citizens for the extreme measures he takes. (see speeches in the lead up to the 2015 Israeli elections).

What are the outcomes?

Peace talks

Peace talks since the 1990’s have as their foundation the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

These talks set the rough parameters for an eventual settlement of difference, outlined the issues that needed to be resolved and established a tentative timeframe. Netanyahu opposed the Oslo accords from the outset.

While it is true that Palestinians shared misgivings about some of the details, Netanyahu was and remains trenchantly opposed to an outcome which cedes to Palestinians territory which might resemble autonomous statehood. He has said he supports a ‘two-state’ solution but refuses to enter talks in good faith that could bring about a just and peaceful solution.

The pro-Israel lobby continually bleats that the Palestinians have been offered peace but have never accepted it. While it is true that Palestinian leadership has let opportunities for progress slip, Netanyahu’s attitude to the Oslo Accords makes clear that this accusation is false.

Under Netanyahu’s leadership (he will soon become the longest serving Israeli Prime Minister in the nation’s history) there has never been open good will shown towards a just outcome.

This situation also makes nonsense of insistence by the Australian government that the only way forward is for the two parties to enter direct negotiation.

How can the Palestinians, conflicted as they are in their own political leadership, negotiate with an oppressor who views negotiation as weakness? Continue reading

  • George Browning is President, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. He was formerly Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , , ,