Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Speech at Bar Ilan University
The speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, June 14 at Bar Ilan University's Begin–Sadat Center in Tel Aviv, came in the context of his attempt to respond and deal with a new political situation created by the new US administration and the EU. This new policy is aimed at aborting previous double-standard approaches for dealing with certain aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On the one hand, the US Administration has always demanded that Palestinians fully commit to the Road Map and its conditions, while it did not request the same level of commitment from Israel. It left Israel to behave according to its own convictions regarding settlements, borders, the wall and checkpoints. This has helped to justify the subjugation of Palestinians through imposing new realities in their daily life. From the US administration's first day in office, the differences in policy from George Bush's Republican administration were apparent. Statements from the new US officials began to address the danger of continuing with settlements in the Palestinian territories, mentioning Palestinians' right to self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian state. This change in American policy reached its climax during the speech delivered by US President Barak Obama entitled ''A New Beginning'' for reconciliation with the Arab and Muslim world at Cairo University in Egypt on June 4. President Obama publicly made defined and clear demands for halting settlements and recognizing the two-state solution, demands which mean a compliance with the Road Map.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech was more of an attempt at deceit and maneuvering. It was a desperate endeavor to please the US administration and the international community on the one hand and an attempt to preserve his narrow right-wing government, on the other. This was very clear by Netanyahu's many difficult if not impossible conditions which he set as prerequisites for his consent to the idea of establishing a Palestinian state. These conditions will effectively kill any prospect for negotiations on several issues. For example, demanding that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish identity of the state of Israel, the declaration that Jerusalem would remain the unified capital of Israel, the demilitarization of the future Palestinian state and monitoring of its borders, in addition to his total rejection of the right of return, leaves nothing left to negotiate over between the two parties.
Palestinian papers' coverage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech
The three Palestinian papers gave a lot of space on their front pages to Netanyahu's speech as main news items, in addition to local and international reactions to the speech which, as we mentioned before, was full of political pitfalls. The three papers also allocated their regular columns and cartoons to commenting on the speech. As expected, the three papers focused on four issues raised by Netanyahu. From a Palestinian perspective, these issues are the most difficult and dangerous, which are the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, rejection of a settlement freeze, Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel and rejection of the refugee right of return.