Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netanyahu's policy speech

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver a speech outlining his administration's policy concerning Iran and the Palestinians at 1:15 ET (8:15 local time). Sources close to the PM have indicated that he will announce several preconditions for restarting stalled negotiations with the Palestinian Authority but that the speech itself will primarily focus on Ahmadinejad's apparent reelection in Iran's recent disputed presidential elections.

Netanyahu is expected to endorse the two-state solution, provided that a future Palestinian state be demilitarized, have no control over its electromagnetic spectrum, and yield control of its airspace to Israel. He is also not expected to change his public stance on settlement construction, continuing his disagreement with the Obama administration. However, some sources have indicated that he will voice his support for the 2003 Road Map.

All said, my major fear is that respected Western media outlets will hail this as a major shift in Netanyahu's stance toward the peace process, which if his speech goes as has generally been hinted, will not signal any shift whatsoever. Netanyahu's current refusal to endorse a two-state solution is at odds with the previous 16 years of Israeli policy and his possible endorsement of the Road Map is puzzling, to say the least. The Road Map stipulates, in no uncertain terms, that Israel must halt all settlement construction (including natural growth) in phase 1 of the document. Israel initially accepted the Road Map "with reservations" before then PM Sharon rejected it over the settlement obligations. It should be noted that it is generally held that the Palestinians did not meet their phase 1 obligations either.

I'll attempt to post an English transcript as soon as one is available.

Update: U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell, briefed earlier on the speech by Netanyahu, has described the PM's peace policy as "not adequate."

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