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The Netanyahu administration not a partner for Middle-East peace

(The Economist Blog) – Perhaps they have not been willing to have their faces rubbed in Israel’s Jewishness by Mr Netanyahu? Perhaps they read of Mr Netanyahu’s pandering to his hard-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose party, Yisrael Beitenu, has launched a slew of new bills discriminating against Israeli Arabs, and they recoil from this new, supremacist form of Israeli “Jewishness”?

TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLE

There is an expression in Jewish-Israeli lore, too, for this attitude. It was coined by the late Israeli statesman, Abba Eban: “Can’t take yes for an answer.”

    “Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has not always been averse to using the term ‘two states for two peoples’. Indeed, contrary to comments by Netanyahu, US special envoy George Mitchell has asserted in repeated briefings that both leaders have at least agreed that the goal of the negotiations should be the establishment of ‘two states for two peoples’ rather than just ‘two states’.”

Tzipi Livni claims that she was actually the one who first voiced the current Israeli demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel’s Jewishness, while serving under Ariel Sharon. She raised it, she explains, specifically in the context of the negotiation over the Palestinian claim to a right of return for the 1948 refugees and their descendants. That negotiation moved close to closure under Mr Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, with the two sides agreeing to a limited return for some refugees, to an internationally-funded resettlement programme for others, and, most importantly in Ms Livni’s view, to a solemn recognition of the Palestinian state as the place where the national aspiration of the Palestinian people would be realised. In parallel, the Palestinians would solemnly recognise Israel as the Jewish state where the Jewish national aspiration is realised.

Ms Livni, now leader of the opposition, accuses Mr Netanyahu of purloining and deliberately perverting this thinking for the precisely opposite end: to put a spoke in the wheels of peace talks and historic reconciliation.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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