A 2001 recording shows the Israeli prime minister telling a family he never intended to meet the goals of the Oslo Accords, of Washington’s ignorance and his conscious deceit of then-President Clinton in the 1990s and that policy to the ends of ‘collapsing’ the Palestinians as his preferred strategy in the occupied territories (8:44):
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliberately ‘sabotaged’ a agreement with Palestinian representatives to withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territories during his first term in office from 1996-1999, he revealed in a 2001 tape broadcast Friday night on Israel Channel 10’s “This Week with Miki Rosenthal.”
He communicated, the strategy of his administration was to push hardest against the Palestinians to make them ‘fear collapse’ and lay down to the occupation and manipulate the Clinton Administration, Jonathan Cook reported yesterday at The National:
Seated on a sofa in the house, he tells the family that he deceived the U.S. president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the U.S.-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process.
He dismisses the U.S. as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel “absurd”.
He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats.
The contemptuous view of Washington Mr. Netanyahu demonstrates in the film will confirm the suspicions of many observers—including Palestinian leaders—that his current professions of good faith should not be taken seriously.
More significantly, he has so far avoided engaging meaningfully in the limited talks the White House is promoting with the Palestinians while the pace of settlement building in the West Bank has been barely affected by the 10-month freeze, due to end in September.
In the meantime, planning officials have repeatedly approved large new housing projects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank that have undercut the negotiations and will make the establishment of a Palestinian state—viable or otherwise—far less likely.
Of the Palestinians, Mr. Netanyahu said: “The main thing, first of all, is to hit them. Not just one hit, so many painful its that the price will be to heavy to be borne. The price is not too heavy to be borne, now. A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing.”
The Oslo Accords, brokered by the Clinton Administration and signed in 1993 by then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was an agreement in principle on the process by which Tel Aviv would end the occupation of the 1967-conquered West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mr. Netanyahu said he was asked, after Mr. Rabin was assassinated in 1995, “Will you act according to them?”
He told the family that in public he always said ‘yes’, but added: “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines.”
“No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site,” he added. “But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were.”
To which Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com noted, “Easy: the Accords had a loophole big enough to drive an IDF tank through, premising the handover of ‘land for peace’ on the condition that the land in question encompassed neither settlements nor military sites.”
Mr. Netanyahu went on to add: “I received a letter—to my and to Arafat, at the same time—which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to my and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.”
When asked about the truism that such actions outrage the world, he says, “The world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending.
“I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved…. They won’t get in our way. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway. I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.”
He told the people in the video that his father told him, “It would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal.”
Mr. Netanyahu went on to add: “The trick is not to be there and break down. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.”
The so-called ‘concession’ to perpetuate and expand the occupation, Mr. Cook added:
He therefore signed the 1997 agreement to pull the Israeli army back from much of Hebron, the last Palestinian city under direct occupation, as a way to avoid conceding more territory.
The “trick” that stopped further withdrawals, Mr Netanyahu adds, was to redefine what parts of the occupied territories counted as a “specified military site” under the Oslo accords. He wanted the White House to approve in writing the classification of the Jordan Valley, a large area of the West Bank, as such a military site.
“The scene was both pathetic and outrageous,” Gideon Levy wrote last week at Ha’aretz, adding that “this is the real Netanyahu” and hoe deceptive it is to collectively blame the powerless Palestinians for the Palestine-Israel conflict being nowhere near a resolution:
No more claims that the Palestinians are to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords. Netanyahu exposed the naked truth to his hosts at Ofra: he destroyed the Oslo accords with his own hands and deeds, and he’s even proud of it. After years in which we were told that the Palestinians are to blame, the truth has emerged from the horse’s mouth.
These remarks are profoundly depressing. They bear out all of our fears and suspicions: that the government of Israel is led by a man who doesn’t believe the Palestinians and doesn’t believe in the chance of an agreement with them, who thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes. There’s no point in talking about Netanyahu’s impossible rightist coalition as an obstacle to progress. From now on, just say that Netanyahu doesn’t want it.
Mr. Raimondo added the only surprise is that after all of these years, such comments and sentiments from leadership in Tel Aviv would be a surprise. The actually existing relationships and power brokers between Washington and Tel Aviv have never showed a sign of weakness and are strengthening.
He aptly asked:
- “What’s interesting—and embarrassing—about this leak isn’t the ‘revelation‘ that Israel’s amen corner in America exerts a decisive influence on U.S. policymakers: who didn’t know that?”;
- “After all, it’s odd when you think about it: why would the mightiest empire the world has ever seen – a nation that spends more on its military establishment than all other nations of the world combined – kowtow before a country barely the size of Delaware? How is it that every attempt to heal this breach in our national security armor and our interests in the region – the running sore of the Palestinian question—has ended in utter failure, due entirely—as Bibi boasts—to the efforts of the Israelis to undermine it? How does the prime minister of a dinky little country almost entirely dependent on American largess stand up to the Emperor of the World—and win?”
The answer, Mr. Raimondo wrote, is that “American imperialism has spawned a global hegemon quite unlike the empires of the past”, adding that:
this democracy we claim to practice is the fatal chink in our armor, the means by which a much weaker enemy can easily manipulate and even fatally undermine us from afar, without any show of force except political strength. And this strength need not be derived from the support of the American majority. Since most could care less about foreign policy matters, this indifference allows a weird coalition of pro-Israel neocons, Democratic party “liberals” in debt to pro-Israel donors, and fanatical Christian “Zionists” to dominate the debate, capture elite opinion, and set U.S. policy on a course Bibi admits is “absurd.”
What this conundrum underscores is the truth of the Paulian–paleoconservative principle, repeated many times in many different ways in this space, that you can’t have a republic and an empire: it’s one or the other. This is true not only because empires are constantly defending and extending their frontiers, and are in a state of constant warfare, which requires a centralized authority and the consolidation of State power, but also due to the peculiar vulnerability of democratic institutions to foreign subversion. An America that refused on principle to interfere in the affairs of other nations would have little or nothing to fear from foreign lobbyists and fifth columnists: on the other hand, a “democratic” empire in which the emperor is subjected to all sorts of political pressures, including the necessity of raising obscene amounts of money just in order to keep his throne, is indeed “something that can be easily moved,” as Bibi put it.
President Barack Obama reaffirmed that the “bond” between Washington and Tel Aviv was “unbreakable” and “special”, during a press conference this month with Mr. Netanyahu, though Israel continues to expand its occupation of Palestinian territories.
“The Palestinian leadership said Saturday it wants ‘clarity” regarding the U.S. position on Israeli settlements and Jerusalem before moving to direct peace talks,” the Agence France-Presse reported over the weekend, confirming that any poetry given to create the avatar of being for Middle East cannot be isolated from an actual end to stealing Palestinians’ land to expand Jewish settlements.
The Israeli Supreme Court is beginning to step in and argue the illegality of the government’s settlement construction.
[h/t: Philip Weiss posted a transcript of the recording at his site, Mondoweiss, with Dena Shunra]