No one can doubt Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu understands the many challenges facing Israel.

Whether his decisions — such as releasing murderers as part of getting the Palestinians to the bargaining table — are wise is subject to legitimate doubt.  I’d like to think he’s playing chess, not checkers, when it comes to the negotiations, and has an endgame with which we all will agree even if we don’t see what it is now.

Failure of the negotiations is an option and a likelihood, and my suspicion is that Bibi is preparing for that day.

Others are not quite so opitimistic:

Regardless, there were some words Bibi really needed to hear as the negotiations to negotiate got under way.   Those words, ironically, came from an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset, who bragged that “we” were here before “you,” and we will be here after you are gone.

As reported by The Times of Israel:

During a stormy debate in the plenum, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the lectern to admonish MK Jamal Zahalke for an insult the United Arab List MK had hurled at Strategic Affairs and International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud).

“You’re an enemy of peace,” Zahalke said to Steinitz. “We were here before you and we’ll be here after you’re gone.”

Despite the late hour — it was almost 3 a.m. — Netanyahu, apparently interpreting Zahalke’s “we” to mean Arabs and “you” to mean Jews, requested permission to speak and then retorted, saying, “I heard MK Zahalke’s statement. The first part is untrue, and the second won’t come true.”

Here’s Bibi rising to the defense, via Israelly Cool:

Of course, Zahalke then tried to walk back the obvious meaning of his words, via Times of Israel:

Zahalke explained that he hadn’t been referring to Steinitz or the Jews, but rather, “I meant that we’ll remain after racism is gone.”

Uh huh. In fact, in context his statements were clear, as explained at Israel Hayom:

Late Wednesday night, the Knesset voted on a bill to make the controversial “referendum law” a basic law, which would necessitate a national referendum on any peace deal that would require territorial withdrawals.

During the plenum debate, Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly) said that the bill was irrelevant because it referred to “occupied territory, and as such, what applies is international law; the referendum should apply to the nations of the world.”

Zahalka was subsequently heckled by Habayit Hayehudi lawmakers, who said, “You are the foreigners in this land,” to which Zahalka responded, “We were here before you and we will be here after you.”

The current comment is in keeping with Zahalka’s past statements against Israeli independence, such as in 2012:

Balad faction leader Jamal Zahalka said, “Independence Day is a day of mourning for the Palestinian people and on this day we remember the victims of the banishment.” Zahalka added that Palestinians will not forgive and forget until the “historic injustice” is reversed.

“We have seen with our own eyes how nations have broken free from cruel rulers, and this can happen to us, too,” the Balad MK said. “Palestinians and Jews deserve to live in freedom, peace and equality, without the Zionist hegemony,” Zahalka said.

Zahalka’s comments were a timely reminder of the difficulty of reaching a true peace agreement.


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