I just kind of half-watched Netanyahu’s speech while I was grilling some chicken. I noted that he did recognize the need for a two-state solution. That wasn’t really much of a concession, but it’s the first time that Bibi has made it. Other than that, he offered absolutely nothing. He called for a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He promised not to build new settlements but rejected Obama’s demand that there be a total freeze with no natural growth of settlements. He called for Fatah to forcibly reduce Hamas’s military capability (I’m not sure in the exact language he used). He demanded repeatedly that the Palestinians recognize unequivocally Israel’s right to be a Jewish state.
Netanyahu is in a difficult political position and I did not expect him to be making many concessions. I am not going to get upset about mere rhetoric and positional posturing. So, aside from the fact that Netanyahu made zero progress in changing the tone of the dispute, my only major criticism is that he rebuffed Obama on the natural growth question. The obvious response is to insist that natural growth be checked and make it clear to the Israeli electorate than Bibi is being forced into a decision he opposes.
We shall see.