So be cynical and presume that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sunday speech on peace with the Palestinians isn’t going to commit Israel to anything major and will merely attempt to placate a ticked-off Obama administration. Eli Lake at The Washington Times says you’d be wrong and Netanyahu will instead for the first time embrace Palestinian statehood. That’s right: if true, Netanyahu is now ready to embrace what’s been a mainstream Israeli position for sixteen years. He’ll apparently conditionalize his support on restrictions for Palestinian sovereignty that very few people would support, particularly when demanded by an occupier — demilitarization, limited treaty-signing authority, no control over its airspace, no control over its electromagnetic spectrum, etc. — but, you know, baby steps.
More seriously, I met with Hagit Ofran, who runs the Settlement Watch Project for the Peace Now — long the vanguard of Israel’s peace movement — and she said that what she and the peace movement didn’t want Netanyahu to fail. She wants him to emerge as another Menachem Begin, a hardliner with the credibility to make real and lasting peace, as Begin did with Egypt. “I wouldn’t give up on Netanyahu,” Ofran said. If Netanyahu accepts Palestinian statehood, then he can expect broad support, both in Israel and in the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, the other day Marc Lynch read some Arabic newspapers and saw Hamas’ Khaled Meshal saying that Hamas wouldn’t be an “obstacle to a two-state solution.” Might Meshal be ready to step boldly into 1948?