In March 1973 the Israeli prime minister Golda Meir visited US president Richard Nixon in Washington. He told her that the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was prepared to negotiate a full treaty, and Meir assured him that Israel wanted peace, but that she would prefer an interim agreement as Cairo was not to be trusted. She said Egypt’s primary aim was to force Israel to withdraw to the line of 4 June 1967, then resurrect the UN plan for the partition of Palestine that had been adopted in 1947; a solution to the problem of Palestine would have to be discussed with Yasser Arafat and “the terrorists”.
Israeli journalist Aluf Benn reported this conversation, on the basis of documents disclosed by Wikileaks, and drew a parallel between the situation then, when Israel’s refusal to negotiate led directly to war and to Egyptian troops crossing the Suez Canal in October 1973, and prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s current evasive response to President Barack Obama. Benn notes that Netanyahu, who returned from the US and rushed to the front in October 1973, “would do well to refresh his memory by listening to the tape of Meir and Nixon and asking himself what he can do to avoid repeating her mistakes and keep from dragging the country blindly toward a second Yom Kippur disaster” (1). In that war the Israeli army lost 2,600 troops.
Israel’s refusal to accept Obama’s proposal to halt settlements on the West Bank (but not in East Jerusalem) for three months in return for unprecedented promises – or bribes, according to columnist Thomas Friedman (2), who is not known for sympathy to the Arabs – confirmed that Obama is unable to exert any real pressure on Israel and that Netanyahu rejects any compromise. Netanyahu, like his predecessors, claims to want peace but he wants the humiliating peace imposed by conquest and based on denial of Palestinian rights. In secret negotiations over the past year, he has repeatedly told the Palestinians they had to accept Israel’s “security concept”, keeping Israeli troops stationed in the Jordan valley along the “barrier” (on the Palestinian side) and the occupation of a substantial part of the West Bank (3). He did not say how long the occupation would last.
Avnery concludes: “Somebody wrote this week that America’s support of Israel is a case of assisted suicide. In Israel, assisting suicide is a crime. Suicide itself, however, is allowed by our laws. Those whom the gods want to destroy, they first make mad. Let’s hope we recover our senses before it is too late.”