Now it is Israel that is endangered most by its leaders and maximalist stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolating his country, and, to be blunt, his hard line on settlements seems like a national suicide policy.It's funny how he decries Netanyahu's "maximalist" stance without actually defining what exactly that stance is. Is it maximalist to build units in a subdivision of Jerusalem that everyone knows will remain part of Israel even in a final negotiation? I don't think so. Does Kristof even know what the defitinion of a maximalist is? According to Merriam-Webster it is "someone who advocates immediate and direct action to secure the whole of a program or set of goals". So a maximalist Israeli stance would be "we are annexing all of the West Bank and kicking out all Palestinians who don't swear fealty to the Jewish State". It would not be someone who has accepted a two state solution and called for direct negotiations at the UN and accepted the quartet negotiations proposal, as Netanyahu did. I just don't see how Kristof thinks it makes sense to call Netanyahu maximalist when he is offering to meet 90-95% of the way and the Palestinians seem reticent to give up anything at all?
Nothing is more corrosive than Israel's growth of settlements because they erode hope of a peace agreement in the future. Mr. Netanyahu's latest misstep came after the Obama administration humiliated itself by making a full-court diplomatic press to block Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. At a time when President Obama had a few other things on his plate — averting a global economic meltdown, for example — the United States frittered good will by threatening to veto the Palestinian statehood that everybody claims to favor.
With that diplomatic fight at the United Nations under way, Israel last week announced plans for 1,100 new housing units in a part of Jerusalem outside its pre-1967 borders. Instead of showing appreciation to President Obama, Mr. Netanyahu thumbed him in the eye.
O.K., I foresee a torrent of angry responses. I realize that many insist that Jerusalem must all belong to Israel in any peace deal anyway, so new settlements there don't count. But, if that's your position, then you can kiss any peace deal goodbye. Every negotiator knows the framework of a peace agreement — 1967 borders with land swaps, Jerusalem as the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states, only a token right of return — and insistence on a completely Israeli Jerusalem simply means no peace agreement ever.
It's very clear from Kristof's own piece that it is the Palestinians themselves who are maximalist. Note the portion where he says "every negotiator knows the framework of a peace agreement — 1967 borders with land swaps, Jerusalem as the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states, only a token right of return". Isn't that pretty much everything that the Palestinians officially want? What do the Israelis get in such a framework? Practically nothing. How is this not, therefore, a maximalist position from the Palestinian side? And Israel is just supposed to accept this? Also, the fact that the Palestinians already turned down an offer from Olmert that would have ceded Israeli control over 100% of the West Bank (with land swaps) including ceding Israeli sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem, proves that the Palestinians are the ones that are completely unreasonable and probably hell bent on destroying the entire Jewish State (and just about all its Jewish inhabitants).