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Netanyahu Gets It

2:02 PM, Apr 4, 2014 • By ARYEH TEPPER
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So the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are, predictably, collapsing. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the frustration of his manic peacemaking efforts by quoting an ancient complaint, "There’s an old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Now it's time to drink and the leaders need to know that."

Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

To which one might respond with the words of Psalms: "Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding."

The secretary of state's hubris is cause for wonder. What is the metaphorical water to which Kerry refers? A two-state solution. In Kerry's view, the two-state solution is clearly in the interest of both parties: the Palestinians get their state and Israel gets to preserve its democratic character. And he cannot understand why in the world Netanyahu and Abbas just don't get it.

But Netanyahu gets it. Netanyahu gets that Palestinian violence against Jewish settlement in the land of Israel dates back to the 1920's, well before the West Bank was "occupied" and the state of Israel even existed. Netanyahu gets that the Palestinian "right of return" is a thinly veiled attempt to reverse the results of 1948. Netanyahu gets it that the root of the conflict lies in the principled refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish nation-state in the "Arab Middle East."

The present administration will stubbornly cling to its intellectual prejudices. One can only hope that subsequent administrations will be sufficiently tough-minded to see Palestinian rejectionism for what it is. After all, viewed in light of Palestinian rejectionism the sad history of Middle East peacemaking makes perfect sense.

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