For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be His own treasure, out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Four years ago newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech at Bar Ilan University fully endorsing the two-state solution. Four years later, Netanyahu took the podium at the central Israel university with a changed tone.
Speaking at the 20th anniversary of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the Israeli primer blamed the stagnation of the peace process on the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State and expressed serious doubts about the two-state solution, according to The Times of Israel.
“The Palestinians must abandon their refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have their national state,” he said.
Netanyahu dismissed claims that Israel’s presence in the Judea and Samaria stood at the heart of the conflict, stating instead that as long as the Palestinians don’t internalize the Jewish state’s right to exist, there will not be peace.
“In order for the process in which we find ourselves to be significant… in order for it to have a real chance of success,” he said, referring to the current rounds of negotiations begun this summer, “it’s necessary to hear the Palestinian leadership finally say that it recognizes the right of the Jewish people to a state of its own, which is the state of Israel.”
“I hope that it shall be so, so that we can advance a real solution to the conflict,” continued Netanyahu.
The prime minister also called for Palestinians to give up on their demand for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to areas now inside Israel. “The Palestinians must abandon their [demand for a] right of return,” he said.
And he said any agreement would need to address Israel’s security needs. “After generations of incitement, we have no confidence that recognition [of Israel] will trickle down to the Palestinian people. Therefore, we need very strong security arrangements, and to go forward without blindness.”
In 2009, also speaking at Bar-Ilan University, Netanyahu said that “if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.”
At the time the speech made headlines as being the first time an Israeli PM had openly endorsed the two-state solution.
Netanyahu also addressed the Iranian nuclear issue, reiterating his distrust of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s peace overtures to the West at the United Nations and saying Iran aspires “to rule the entire Middle East” and destroy the state of Israel.
He repeated his insistence that Iran abandon its uranium enrichment capacity and dismantle its plutonium core, saying those apparatuses are “not necessary at all for [civilian] nuclear energy,” and that only a state seeking a bomb would refuse to give them up.