In an English-language statement targeted to foreign audiences, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, September 9, that the Palestinians wanted to found a state devoid of a Jewish population and termed this “ethnic cleansing.” His remarks drew sharp criticism from the US officials at the State Department as well as from others in various international and local arenas.
In his video message posted on his Facebook page, Netanyahu implied that the US and other countries that support the uprooting of Israeli West Bank settlements as part of a deal establishing a Palestinian state were supporting the ethnic cleansing of Jews.
Sources say that the Obama administration views Netanyahu’s latest Facebook message as aimed at the US policy concerning the settlements. Last week, after Israel approved the building of 284 new housing units in West Bank settlements, the United States said the policies could expand settlements in a “potentially unlimited way.” US officials said the criticism from the US State Department marked the first time it has suggested in public that Israel may be moving towards unlimited settlement expansion on land the Palestinians seek for their state.
After viewing Netanyahu’s video clip that was circulated on social media, US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said at a briefing in Washington that the Israeli leader’s words were “inappropriate and unhelpful.” “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” she said.
In the video message, Netanyahu termed as “outrageous” the demand by the Palestinian leadership that a future Palestinian state be without Jewish settlements, and equated this condition with “ethnic cleansing.” Of course, Netanyahu, a master in the art of obfuscation and blaming the victim, doesn’t at all see as outrageous the nearly half a century of military occupation of the West Bank, during which the lives, property, freedom of movement, and the ability of Palestinians to work, study, receive adequate timely medical care and be united with family members are entirely subject to the whims of the Israeli army and the government to which it is subordinate. The unrelenting campaign aimed at making the lives of Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza, insecure in the extreme — doubtless an encouragement to emigration — including mass “collateral” killing, maiming and dispossession during brutal military operations, the slow but steady expulsion of long-time residents from lands purported to be “state owned” (by which state?), such as the ongoing uprooting of Palestinians from Area C, and the outright theft of the larger part of Palestinian water resources, somehow none of this is in the least “outrageous” for the Middle East’s Sultan of Sanctimony, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
But perhaps the most outrageous aspect of Netanyahu’s two minute address was his cynical, even facetious attempt to hold up the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel as proof of Israel’s magnanimous and peace-loving nature: “… no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel — that they’re an obstacle to peace. That’s because they aren’t. On the contrary. Israel’s diversity shows its openness and readiness for peace,” he said. (We recall that it was precisely this community, which the prime minister characterized as “flocking to the polls in droves,” that inspired Netanyahu’s hysterical plea over social media last election day, March 17, 2015; a “politically incorrect” gaff which he purportedly apologized for — but only after 15 months had elapsed!)
Under no circumstances could one expect Netanyahu to explore, let alone admit to, the faulty logic behind the narcissistic chauvinism, nor the historical developments, belying such hubris: not the mass expulsions of Palestinians when the state was established; not the absolute refusal since then to allow refugees to return to their homes and property (including 20% of the Palestinian citizens of Israel who are internal refugees); not the Military Rule under which these citizens of Israel lived until 1966 as a means of appropriating their lands; not the institutionalized discrimination of non-Jews formulated in key legislation passed by Israel’s ethnocracy nor their continued economic deprivation, even today, entrenched in ideologically-skewed budgetary allocations; not the war launched by Israel in 1967 to “finish the job” of gaining control over all Mandatory Palestine between the river and the sea; and not the project of settling — to date — more than half a million Jews in the territories then conquered and occupied in order to ultimately frustrate any attempt at establishing an independent Palestinian state.
Talk about outrageous!