Netanyahu Treats Negotiations Like a Joke

In his remarks at the State Department on Sept. 2, Benyamin Netanyahu made a joke out of the peace negotiations by urging his counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, to adopt the position that “There is no contradiction between a nation-state that guarantees the national rights of the majority and guaranteeing the civil rights, the full civil equality, of the minority.” To me, this is nothing more than a transparent ploy to preemptively defend Israeli apartheid from becoming a point of negotiation in the talks.

What transforms the ploy from being simply a defense of racism into a sick joke is the fact that the man whom Netanyahu is lecturing has no interest in distinguishing between national and civil rights of Palestinians. The Palest8inian Authority has inherited the Palestine Liberation Organization’s the principle of equal rights of all Palestinians whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. Netanyahu’s comments would be more appropriate if his interlocutor were Hamas, which has adopted Israel’s peculiar notion about a distinction between national rights and civil rights, claiming, as Israel does, that while there should be no discrimination in the civil rights of law-abiding citizens, nonetheless the land of Palestine (to Hamas) or to Israel (to the Zionists) is a trust of single group (Muslims to Hamas, Jews to Zionists).

Even if Netanyahu and Hamas are correct on this point (and I would be fascinated to hear the debate), as a practical matter it is a step backwards in the peace process to try to convince Abbas to adopt their point of view. If the U.S. administration wants the peace talks to be anything other than a joke, they need to invite Hamas to the talks and immediately start to try to convince both Hamas and Netanyahu that the citizens of any nation-state should have the same national and civil rights as any other. That is, after all, America’s great contribution to the evolution of human governance.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D
Minaret of Freedom Institute

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