Netanyahu's Message: Peace Is Up to the Arab States

By Cal Thomas Los Angeles Times Syndicate | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 3, 1996 | Go to article overview

Netanyahu's Message: Peace Is Up to the Arab States


Cal Thomas Los Angeles Times Syndicate, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


At a brief news conference after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly laid down the choice for Arab nations and the Palestinians. They can have peace or they can have terrorism - but they can't have both.

It was a response to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's veiled threat at the Cairo summit meeting of Arab leaders that if Israel does not commit itself to relinquishing the West Bank and the Golan Heights, as well as allowing the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, he cannot guarantee that terrorism won't resume.

As with so many things in the Middle East, definitions can be obscured in the pursuit of objectives. The Arab leaders accepted Syrian President Hafez Assad's definition of terrorism in this meaningless language: "While the Arab leaders deplore all attempts to label legitimate national resistance as terrorism, they condemn all forms of terrorism.`

Netanyahu has avoided announcing whether he will adhere to a "land-for-peace" formula. He has indicated that to do so might serve as a "precondition" to talks. The Arab leaders want him to confirm Israel's commitment to all previous agreements and resolutions, but Netanyahu says only, "Let's talk."

A subtle shift has taken place in the region since Netanyahu's election. Israel continues to want peace, but it is no longer going to appear to be begging for it. Netanyahu's message is that real peace is not Israel's to make, rather it rests on a decision by the Arab states and the terrorist organizations some of them support to give up their goal of eliminating Israel and exterminating the Jews.

Israel's enemies must prove they are good "credit risks." They are the ones who have defaulted so many times before, including on deals involving exchanges of land for "peace," which brought only more war and terror.

America's record of truth-telling is not without blemishes, and so Israel should be careful before committing its security to the United Sta tes. As former Knesset member Elyakim Ha'etzni noted in a Jerusalem Post column, presidents and secretaries of state in the past have lied to Israel.

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