Regaining credibility

    The settlements in the West Bank have always been a pertinent topic when evaluating the current dispute between Palestine and Israel. While the former has often plead for their restriction, the latter has failed countlessly to address the current situation unfolding, as some 350,000 settlers now reside in the area. Often times the center of the ongoing dissension between both groups, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has failed to palpably alleviate the issue during his tenure, further diminishing the probability of creating a viable solution in the region. 

    In a 2009 speech at the Bar Ilan University, Netanyahu addressed the Israeli people in an attempt to bolster his second campaign, laying out a tangible vision for peace entailing a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel. Citing the importance of mutual respect and amity, Netanyahu’s speech prompted a stirring response from many Israeli citizens, many of whom believed and welcomed the notion of recommencing relationships with their neighboring Palestinians.

    Despite such optimistic professions, Netanyahu’s speech failed to provide any meaningful results, as his stance on the settlements and Israeli-Palestine relations have become increasingly stringent and uncompromising. In his most recent bid for a fourth term in office, Netanyahu effectively nullified the speech delivered at Bar Ilan, renouncing his commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and encouraging right-wing Israeli Jews to cast their votes to dilute the swaths of Israeli Arabs who were going to the polls and voting against the Prime Minister’s Likud Party.

    Regarding the settlements, Netanyahu’s options remain limited but essential to the potential of salvaging any remnants of an agreement between both parties. The Prime Minister must first and foremost accept a freeze on any imminent construction plans and recall his support for the growth of Israeli cities such as Ariel and Beit Horon in the West Bank. During his campaign, Netanyahu attested to the growing importance of Ariel, claiming it to be the “heart of Israel.”

    Pertaining to his faltering relations with the Obama administration, the countries’ relationship has never been one of more pressing concern. In 2009, the Obama administration demanded a 10-month settlement freeze, an announcement which fell on deaf ears in Israel, and has yet to be implemented within the region. In order to assuage an infuriated Obama administration, entitle the Palestinians to their rightful territory as established by the 2003 Geneva Accord, and regain his international credibility, Netanyahu must gradually halt any further construction of Israeli settlements and respect the boundaries of the pre-1967 borders.

    While Netanyahu’s decisions have, in recent times, been marred by controversy and stirred unprecedented anti-Jewish bigotry, the futile and insane war Hamas initiated last summer must, at the very least, be taken into account when evaluating the Prime Minister’s tentative stance on any imminent two-state solution. Launching rockets toward Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s commercial airport, Hamas and other terrorist groups continue to demonstrate the volatility of the region.

    However, Netanyahu’s hypocrisies and consistent backtracking have alienated non-Israelis and non-Jews globally. Recently proclaiming his support for the expansion of existing settlements, Netanyahu has appeased right-wing parties and citizens throughout the country, many of whom still hold the Prime Minister’s stance as too liberal. Having lived and been to Israel countless times, I wince at the current prospects ahead for the country. Netanyahu’s statements not only repudiated his past stance on Israeli-Palestinian relations, but also proliferated anti-Israel sentiments globally. How could I, or any other non-Israeli for that matter, possibly want to defend a one-state solution? The Prime Minister has only affirmed a burgeoning notion held by many of his skeptics: That his true position all along was one opposing a two-state solution, and that he wasted the Obama Administration’s time by feigning to endorse two states.

    Netanyahu has proven his worth time and time again as a political tactician. Yet amid the euphoria of victory, and major reaffirmation of faith in his leadership, Netanyahu will need to take heed of the fact that a substantial proportion of European nations have relentlessly criticized his policies on the settlements and Israeli-Palestinian relations. His rhetoric often does beg the question: Will two-state solution ever come to fruition? Only time will tell, and until then, Netanyahu will have to rebuild and consolidate his relationship with the White House.

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