The Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, might have been a bit surprised tonight to have heard Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say, in a speech that had a big advance build-up, that he views them essentially as a bunch of intruders: “In the very heart of our Jewish homeland today there is a large population of Palestinians”.
Netanyahu said that Palestinians are living in the Jewish homeland and they must recognize Jewish right to be there.
Netanyahu’s speech, at Bar-Ilan University not far from Tel Aviv, was planned and designed as the answer to U.S. President Barak Obama’s speech to the Muslim world from Cairo University on 4 June.
“Our links with the land of Israel, and the presence of Palestinian people living here, have led to many problems”, Netanyahu said.
What the Palestinians have to do, for peace, is “to accept that the Jewish people have a right to live in its historical homeland”, Netanyahu said. “If Palestinian leaders say these simple words to our people, then the path/road will open up”.
Palestinians must accept “the State of Israel as a Jewish State”, Netanyahu said.
Palestinians could live as a “free” people, side-by-side with the Jewish people, with each having its own “national existence”, Netanyahu said, if (1) they recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, and if (2) they agree that “the Palestinian entity must be demilitarized”, with Israel having a real defensive edge.
But the question is is about what Netanyahu means when he suggests that the Palestinians, in his vision, would be “free”.