For Netanyahu's government this
is a heavy blow. For the past fifty
years, Israel's entire concept of national security has been
based on the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. This alliance has
provided Israel with exclusive American support against the entire
Arab world, so much so that at times it has been hard to determine
whether it is the dog that is wagging its tail or the tail wagging
Now this is all changing.
Even though the American-Israeli alliance
continues to exist, it no longer is exclusive. It has to coexist now
an American-Palestinian alliance, and although there is no real parity,
nevertheless the balance has been altered.
Two men are responsible for this
change: Arafat and Netanyahu.
Long ago Arafat set in motion
ago a political strategy whose sole
objective was to achieve this change. He has adhered to it with
astounding patience, in the face of failures and humiliation, despite
daily invectives from a large portion of the Palestinian intelligentsia.
Clinton's day in Gaza will also be Arafat's personal victory.
Netanyahu has helped Arafat
along by making a series of mistakes. He has
made Clinton dislike him personally, by attempting to use the American
extreme right wing to force the president's hand. Netanyahu is also
directly responsible for Clinton's visit to Gaza.
It happened in this manner:
Netanyahu and his people invented the story
that "The Palestinian Charter has not been changed." This is a lie,
intended for the sole purpose of justifying Netanyahu's continuing
violations of the Oslo Accords. Netanyahu has learned from his
that if one repeats a lie enough times, it becomes the truth, and the
bigger the lie, the more convincing it is.
However, there is also another
rule: The propagandist always becomes a
prisoner of his own propaganda. He may not always convince someone
but he always, always convinces himself.
Since he vowed not to retreat
from Palestinian territories "as long as
they refuse to change their charter," Netanyahu was forced to insist
on that at the Wye Conference. So Clinton came up with a brilliant
He would go to Gaza himself, in order to take part in a conference to
which members of the Palestinian National Committee would be invited,
and he would get them to express their support for the abolition
of the already-abolished charter paragraphs.
Netanyahu did not dare object.
After all, it was he who had invented
this idea. Plain and simple, he dug himself a hole.
similar thing is happening to him regarding the matter of Palestinian
prisoners. Netanyahu has repeated ad nauseaum his catch-phrase
their hands." He vowed never to release the owners of these hands.
now he is trapped by these four dumb words like a bird in a
In every war, both sides have
"blood on their hands." Ariel Sharon has
blood on his hands. Every combat soldier has blood on his
hands. Over the century of war between Israel and Palestine, tens of
thousands have been killed, and only the draft-dodgers and the
Yeshiva-scholars have no blood-stained hands. From the point of view
of current international law, there is no difference between soldiers
in uniform and guerrilla fighters. There is no difference between a
pilot who rains bombs on civilians from the air and an underground
fighter who plants the bomb on the ground. Each side claims that its
man is a "hero" and the other one is "a murderer."
When war is over, prisoners are
released. Even Nazi soldiers, who had
destroyed Russia and had been taken prisoner, were released after the war.
There are no differences between Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian
prisoners of war.
But Israel has always insisted
on regarding the Palesininian fighters as
simply criminals. Words such as "murderers" and "blood on
their hands," which served as a propaganda tool during the war,
became obstacles as soon as Israel embarked on the road to peace.
Yitzhak Rabin, too, did not dare release all of the Palestinian
prisoners the day after signing the Oslo Accords (as Gush Shalom
advised him), thus missing a historic opportunity to jumpstart the
peace process. Now Netanyahu is entangled in the coils of his own
An Arab story: In a certain
city, riots broke out because of the scarcity
of flour. The mob started to march on the Sultan's palace. In
save his master, the vizier spread a rumor that there is a flour give-away
at the city gates. The mob turned around, rushing toward the gates,
followed by the vizier himself. "Why are you running? You know very
that it is just a lie!" the Sultan asked. But the vizier, in his
responded: "And what if it is true?"