Posted on May 16, 2009 in Washington Watch

If, as seems likely, Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous tenure as Israel’s Prime Minister demonstrates the path he will take as he assumes that position once again, Dr. Zogby’s writings from that time could serve as a cautionary tale.

 

A Disturbing Document


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday September 23, 1996

 

A disturbing yet significant document has recently come to my attention. Titled “A Clean Break,” it was prepared by what is described as “A Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000” and was published earlier this year by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Click here to download the PDF.

That Institute is headquartered in Jerusalem, but has also opened an office in Washington.

“A Clean Break” is a strategy paper that outlines a series of policy recommendations for the new Israeli government. The paper even suggested specific language which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should incorporate into his speeches during his July visit to the United States.

What makes the document significant is the fact that many of the recommendations proposed and even the specific language suggested appear to have been adopted by Netanyahu. The themes and policy proposals found in “A Clean Break” were echoed by the Israeli Prime Minister repeatedly during his many public addresses in Washington.


...It is clear that the peace process is in deep trouble today. In fact, it is correct to note that the process was in a downward spiral even before the new Israeli elections. But if the writers of “A Clean Break” are in fact influential in shaping [Israeli] policy, then the election of a Likud government presents grave new dangers not only to the peace process but to the peace and well-being of the entire Arab world.

 

 

In the Aftermath of Netanyahu’s Visit


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday July 15, 1996

 

Propaganda is what Netanyahu does best and he was in prime form during his visit to Washington. He has long been a master at creating slogans and repeating them often enough that they not only become convincing but agenda-setting ideas.

In the new Likud framework “peace and security” replaces “land for peace”. “Reciprocity” means Palestinians must act before Israel acts and Israel alone will determine when Palestinians have acted satisfactorily. “Negotiations with Syria with no pre-conditions” means that Israel will not leave the Golan, would prefer to see the Syrian regime changed and will insist that Syria remove terrorist groups from Damascus.

In reality those new slogans mean that Israel will not move forward with the peace process.

Finally, in an effort to redefine the U.S. agenda, Likud is once again relying on Congress to carry its load. This it will be recalled is what Shamir attempted to do after the Gulf War-only to be upended by then President Bush. Already there is anti-Syria legislation in the Congress attempting to punish and isolate that government.

 

The Hebron Agreement


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday January 20, 1997

 

What the Netanyahu government has learned is that the world community will not tolerate the view that the peace process is an internal Israeli issue. The successful completion of a lasting peace with the Palestinians is critical to the Palestinian people, all the Arab states with which Israel has previously made peace and is in the vital interests of the U.S. and major European powers.

 

Wither the Peace Process?


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday March 17, 1997

 

Netanyahu’s penchant for taking one step forward (only when he’s forced to do so) and then two steps back has pushed the Israeli-Palestinian track to the brink.

Whether Netanyahu is a captive of his far right coalition or its leader is now an academic question.

...Netanyahu’s concepts of peace, the process needed to achieve it, and its final outcome stand in stark contrast to those shared by his peace partners.

Peace, for the Israeli Prime Minister, appears to mean Arab acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the entire “land of Israel”. According to the tenants of revisionist Zionism as taught by Jabotinsky, a school of thought to which Netanyahu adheres, there is room for a minority people to live under Israeli sovereignty. But there is no room for Palestinian sovereignty in Eretz Israel. And peace is only possible when Arabs accept this view.

It appears that, for Netanyahu, the peace process is a means to accomplish this end. Within this process, tactical steps can be taken to pacify either the Palestinians, the surrounding Arab states, or the international community. But these steps must never relinquish final control or create “facts” which place limits in Israeli sovereignty.

 

The Bombing in Tel Aviv


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday March 24, 1997

 

The suicide bombing in Tel Aviv is a condemnable act. It is unjustifiable on moral grounds. And it is politically stupid as well.

On what possible basis can one excuse the slaughter of three innocents whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

...Netanyahu has built his entire career on acts such as these. They are what helped him into international prominence in the 1970’s and then elected him as Prime Minister in the 1990’s.

He will, no doubt, use this bombing to further justify his agenda of radically transforming the peace process.

 

Netanyahu’s First Year


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday July 7, 1997

 

[T]he Prime Minister can point to at least one area where he has succeeded. While feigning a commitment to honor Oslo, Netanyahu also committed himself to making a “clean break” with the Oslo ground rules.

The break was not so clean, but it has been real. In one year, the Prime Minister virtually dismantled the process he inherited. This is one area where he was true to his word, where he fulfilled his commitments.

...On the Palestinian front, Netanyahu also sought to and succeeded in writing his own rules, thereby ending progress on that track as well.

...At the beginning of his tenure, the U.S. urged Arabs to “wait and see” how the new Prime Minister would function. It was argued that Netanyahu may only be a captive of his right wing coalition and not its leader, and that as he gained experience and confidence, he might show himself to be a pragmatist who could lead his right-wing coalition to make the needed compromises for peace.

...Even more disturbing is the effect that Netanyahu has had on shifting the entire policy debate in Israel to the right. While seeking to lower Arab expectations of what peace will yield, Netanyahu has sought to raise Israeli expectations of what they can and must keep in any peace agreement.

 

Ze’vi Should Go


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday April 27, 1998

 

On the eve of yet another round of peace talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited the leader of the Modelet Party to join his coalition government.

The Modelet Party (Homeland Party) is not another far right Zionist grouping. It’s founding principle, as stated in its charter, is the call to transfer Arabs out of “Eretz Israel.”

“The sure cure for the demographic ailment is the transfer of the Arabs to Arab countries as an aim of any negotiations and a way to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict over the land of Israel.”

...Given this background one might well ask why Netanyahu has brought Ze’vi and his party into the government and why there has been no reaction to this disturbing move.

Ze’vi’s only pledge to Netanyahu apparently is that he will not support a no-confidence motion. But he has reaffirmed his strong opposition to Oslo and to surrendering any more land to the Palestinians. He has also refused to alter his party’s position on “transfer.”

 

The United States and the Israeli Elections


By James Zogby
Posted on Monday January 25, 1999

 

Despite Netanyahu’s rhetorical prevarications (as in “If the Palestinians will implement, I’ll implement”) no one in Israel or in the United States seriously believes him anymore. In fact, as if to make clear his refusal to implement the pact’s most basic provisions, i.e. Israel’s withdrawal from additional West Bank land, Netanyahu’s election campaign has unfurled a new slogan for use against his Labor Party opponent Ehud Barak-”Barak will hand over, Likud will keep.”

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