Bibi Netanyahu Responds To Criticism Of “Two-State Flip-Flop” And “Arab Vote” Comment
Much has been made of some statements by Binyamin Netanyahu during the recent Israeli election.
One was his supposed flip-flopping on a two-state solution.
On Monday, the day before the elections, Netanyahu was asked by an interviewer from Israel’s NRG website about policy on the Palestinians and said: “Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.” Asked in a follow-up if it was true that no Palestinian state would be established during his premiership if he were re-elected, he answered: “Indeed.”
The comment was an about face from Netanyahu’s landmark 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech, in which he declared support for a two-state solution.
Prompting this from the White House:
But perhaps the most ostensibly troubling was this:
Many felt this was racist. Again, the White House expressed their concern.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, meanwhile, addressed Netanyahu’s Election Day comments about Arab voters “going in large numbers to the polls,” saying that the US and the Obama administration were “deeply concerned” about rhetoric that “seeks to marginalize Israeli citizens.”
According to Earnest, that rhetoric “undermines the values of democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy, and an important part of what binds the US and Israel together.”
It also got the Jon Stewart treatment.
Regarding this second statement, I have to admit I was also troubled about it during the elections. While I am definitely right of center, I also believe that a key to peace is ensuring Arab rights in Israel (as they do have), and redressing any economic gaps and discrimination that may exist. But I did not believe Netanyahu was intending to be racist, although I understood that perception. I saw it more as scaremongering.
Now, in his first interview since re-election, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has explained both of these remarks (among other things).
Regarding the two-state flip-flop, Bibi’s explanation that he was talking of what is currently the situation, and not the two-state solution in principle, is plausible. It seems borne out by his words:
“Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.”
His responding “Indeed” to the contention that no Palestinian state would be established during his premiership if he were re-elected could be interpreted as his opinion on the likelihood of this reality changing.
But let’s face it. Bibi is a seasoned politician, and I suspect he worded it the way he did so he could appeal to his right-wing constituency while at same time be able to explain it this way after the elections.
Regarding the Arab vote comments, I accept his explanation. His wording was clumsy and divisive, but I do not believe he is against the Arab vote or Arab civilians of Israel. In fact, Bayit Yehudi’s Anett Haskia said a similar thing on election day – albeit worded better – and she is Israeli Arab!
It is also true that Bibi has a bit of Arab support. As Deebo showed in his recent post, 77% of the Bedouin Arab town of Arab Al Naim voted for Likud. There is also this photo going around.
So in short, I believe these statements were indicative of Bibi being a politician and not the satanic monster he has been made out to be.