The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY URI DROMI

WHAT HAS caused the Prime Min­is­ter to — ap­par­ently — change his mind and ac­cept the 1967 borders as a ba­sis for peace talks?

Surely he hasn’t, in the past few weeks, dis­cov­ered some new data which sheds a dif­fer­ent light on the ques­tion of de­fen­si­ble borders.

Rather, it is the Septem­ber dead­line — when the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly is likely to ac­cept a Pales­tinian state. It seems that, in a last-minute at­tempt to pre-empt the vote, Mr Ne­tanyahu, slid­ing down his slip­pery slope, has dropped one more prin­ci­ple.

First he spoke the un­speak­able when he agreed to a two-state so­lu­tion, which was a huge re­ver­sal of his long-held at­ti­tudes: just read his book, Place Un­der the Sun, in which a Pales­tinian state is por­trayed as a mor­tal dan­ger.

And now, not only a Pales­tinian state, but with the 1967 borders as a start­ing point.

In the mean­time, the Pales­tini­ans flatly re­jected the of­fer to re­sume the talks.

We are left, how­ever, with ques­tions about Mr Ne­tanyahu’s con­duct; in­deed, his stature as a leader. It is not new that he yields to pres­sure — for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Yitzhak Shamir once said that when it comes to re­silience at the helm, he pref­ered Shi­mon Peres over Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. A strong state­ment by a staunch Likkud­nik. And why, for heaven’s sake, wait for the last mo­ment, when we saw

IT WAS al­ways on the cards that Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu would make some sort of diplo­matic push in Au­gust to fore­stall Pales­tinian at­tempts to get recog­ni­tion for state­hood at the United Na­tions the fol­low­ing month.

While much is be­ing made of whether Bibi’s ap­par­ent ac­cep­tance of the 1967 lines as the ba­sis for pro­posed talks rep­re­sents a climb-down, the real is­sue, as ever, is whether the Pales­tini­ans are se­ri­ous about ac­cept­ing a Jewish state in the Mid­dle East at all.

What, af­ter all, does it re­ally mean to call the borders that ex­isted be­fore the Six-Day War a “base­line”, “ba­sis”, or “frame­work” for peace talks? Sure, it’s the end of the Greater Is­rael pro­ject. But that was only ever a dream of a tiny mi­nor­ity and al­most no-one in Is­rael has be­lieved it to be prac­ti­ca­ble for decades.

So all it comes down to is pub­licly say­ing what ev­ery­one who has ever ar­gued for a two-state so­lu­tion has al­ways known: that bit over there is go­ing to be the Pales­tinian state and this bit over here is go­ing to be Is­rael.

The other is­sues can be worked out with a bit of good­will and a readi­ness to com­pro­mise. Sim­ple, re­ally. Ex­cept that the whole thing’s a mi­rage in the desert as long as the Pales­tini­ans re­main fun­da­men­tally op­posed to the long-term ex­is­tence of Is­rael, as the polling ev­i­dence shows. And this is why Mr Ne­tanyahu’s in­sis­tence that they recog­nise Is­rael as a Jewish state is so im­por­tant.

If the con­flict was about who would com­pro­mise on what over land, it would never have be­gun. In 1947, David Ben Gu­rion ac­cepted a two-state so­lu­tion, on much worse terms than the one cur­rently en­vis­aged, by agree­ing to UN Res­o­lu­tion 181: a two-state so­lu­tion with Is­rael’s bless­ing, from day one of the con­flict.

The Pales­tini­ans re­jected it, point blank, just as they have re­jected ev­ery other com­pro­mise along such lines.

When you boil it all down, it is le­git­i­macy, not land, that has al­ways lain at the root of it all. Get­ting the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship to teach its peo­ple that Jewish state­hood in the Mid­dle East is ev­ery bit as le­git­i­mate as ev­ery other form of state­hood in the re­gion is the key to ev­ery­thing. Sixty-seven lines or no 67 lines, the rest is de­tail. Robin Shep­herd is di­rec­tor, in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, at the Henry Jack­son So­ci­ety and owner/pub­lisher of The Com­men­ta­tor


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