Saturday, January 19, 2013
Netanyahu hits back at Obama: I won’t capitulate - “we’d get Hamas 400 meters from my house.”(TOI).ays after President Barack Obama was quoted as castigating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for ostensibly turning Israel into a pariah nation and threatening its long-term survival, Netanyahu hit back Saturday night, declaring that if he were to capitulate to demands for a retreat to the pre-1967 lines, “we’d get Hamas 400 meters from my house.”
According to a report Tuesday by Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama has begun repeating the mantra that Israel under Netanyahu “doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”
Israelis can and will decide for themselves who best represents their interests, Netanyahu retorted in a Channel 2 interview. Alluding to Obama’s calls for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the pre-1967 lines with land swaps, and a halt to building over the pre-67 lines in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “When they say, ‘Go back to the ’67 lines,’ I stand against. When they say, ‘Don’t build in Jerusalem,’ I stand against.”
He added: “It’s very easy to capitulate. I could go back to the impossible to defend ’67 lines, and divide Jerusalem, and we’d get Hamas 400 meters from my home.” That would not happen under his leadership, he said.
“It’s easy to do, and they’d applaud,” he went on, presumably referring to the US-led international community. “They’d applaud just like they applauded the parties (in the 2005 Israeli government) that pulled out of Gaza. Those parties got applause, and we got a rain of rockets.”
Netanyahu said that no matter what pressures were applied, “I have to stand up for our vital interests… when speaking in Congress, and at the UN.”
In a newspaper interview on Friday, Netanyahu also pledged not to dismantle any settlements in the next four years if he is reelected prime minister on Tuesday, as polls suggest he will be.
Netanyahu did praise Obama for backing Israel during November’s Operation Pillar of Defense against terror groups in Gaza, and for joining the effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive.
“With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation,” Goldberg added. “And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah — one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend — it won’t survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term one.”
Goldberg added that, as regards Netanyahu’s handling of the Palestinians, “the president seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise.”
But it is in terms of American diplomatic protection — among the Europeans and especially at the UN — that Israel may one day soon notice a significant shift. During November’s vote on Palestine’s status, the U.S. supported Israel and asked its allies to do the same” — without much success. “When such an issue arises again, Israel may find itself even lonelier. It wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. failed to whip votes the next time, or if the U.S. actually abstained.
I wouldn’t be particularly surprised, either, if Obama eventually offered a public vision of what a state of Palestine should look like, and affirmed that it should have its capital in East Jerusalem.”Read the full story here.