Netanyahu admits blocking establishment of Palestinian state

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) chairs a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defence, in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2023. [Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP]

In a startling admission at a Tel Aviv press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged publicly his pride at blocking the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“I’m proud that I prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state,” said Netanyahu before offering an ahistorical account of the so called peace process and the 1993 Oslo Accords, to justify his opposition to the international consensus for ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

The deal signed by the then Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin saw the Palestinians concede 78 per cent of their historic land. For the sake of peace, Palestinians also recognised the Zionist state of Israel, despite its history of ethnic cleansing and brutal military occupation.

Refusing to acknowledge that decades of violently supressing the Palestinians’ right to self-determination has fuelled Palestinian resistance — indeed, ignoring 75 years of military occupation altogether — Netanyahu claimed that, “Everybody understands what that Palestine state could have been, now that we’ve seen the little Palestinian state in Gaza.”

The misrepresentation continued with Netanyahu going on to say that, “Everyone understands what would have happened if we had capitulated to international pressures and enabled a state like that in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank], surrounding Jerusalem and on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.”

The Oslo Accords peace agreement was signed by the PLO, an umbrella group representing the largest body of Palestinians. The PLO not only recognised Israel, but also gave up the right to armed resistance for the sake of peace. However, in the three decades since the accords were signed, Israel has continued with its settler-colonial annexation of Palestinian land, and has never once accepted existing alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state.

Analysts agree that such a state is the only way to end the conflict. Israel, though, refuses to accept this, opting instead to maintain its occupation in pursuit of so-called “Greater Israel”. The blueprint for this is said to take in all of Palestine, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan and part of Iraq, and southern Lebanon.

Admitting that the peace process is a charade, Netanyahu explained that he “inherited” the Oslo Accords. “The decision to bring the PLO from Tunis, and plant it in the heart of Judea and Samaria [West Bank], and in Gaza, was a decision made and implemented before [I] became prime minister,” he pointed out “It was a terrible mistake.”

Turning on the journalist who had asked the question, Netanyahu added: “You and your journalist friends have been blaming me for almost 30 years for putting the brakes on the Oslo Accords, and preventing the Palestinian state. That’s true.”

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