Netanyahu bows to Obama, accepts Palestinian "state"

By Ori Lewis

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks off stage after delivering a foreign policy speech at Bar-Ilan University on June 14, 2009 in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv. Netanyahu accepted on Sunday the U.S.-backed goal of a Palestinian state but didn't meet President Barack Obama's demand to stop Jewish settlement expansion. (Photo by Baz Ratner-Pool/Getty Images)RAMAT GAN, Israel (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Sunday to uncommon pressure from Washington by finally giving his endorsement -- with conditions -- to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

But in a speech answering President Barack Obama's address to the Arab world 10 days ago, the right-wing leader's defense of Jewish settlement on occupied land may fail to dispel tension with the White House, as the two men try to set new terms for the Middle East peace process in their first months in office.

Obama called Netanyahu's shift in position on Palestinian statehood as an "important step forward," even as aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were denouncing the speech as "sabotaging" negotiations by restating Israel's refusal to share the city of Jerusalem or accept Palestinian refugees.

Netanyahu, who has refused to back a state for Palestinians since he took office in March, said he would now endorse the establishment of a such a state -- but only if Israel received in advance international guarantees the new nation would have no army and Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state.

"If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitarization and Israel's security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state," Netanyahu said at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv.

"If (Obama) looks at the glass as half-full, this should be sufficient," Israeli political scientist Eitan Gilboa said of the speech as a whole. "But if he is looking for confrontation with Israel, he would say the glass if half-empty."

A senior European diplomat in the Middle East questioned how far it changed the substance of Israel's approach. "It's goodwill and good words but I don't think it's going to appease the Americans," the diplomat said. "He's trying to gain time."

WHITE HOUSE WELCOME

"The president welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech," the White House said.

"The president is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples."

Palestinian leaders have rarely made an issue of Israel's insistence that their future state should not have an army in a position to threaten its neighbor, but they have rejected the demand that they explicitly accept Israel as a Jewish state.

To do so, they have argued, weakens the position of the 20 percent of Israel's citizens who are Muslim and Christian Arabs, and undermine a key demand for a right of return to what is now Israel for millions of Palestinians classed as refugees since the flight of Arabs during Israel's creation in 1948.

The White House reference to Obama's support of "a Jewish state of Israel" may reassure Israelis, who will also hear in his reference to "the historic homeland of both peoples" an echo of Netanyahu's robust defense on Sunday of the Jews' 3,000-year-old claim to the land and to the city of Jerusalem.

Palestinian leaders voiced their opposition, especially to the Israeli premier's flat rejection of any right of return for refugees or of a division of Jerusalem, where Palestinians want to have the capital of their new state.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said: "Netanyahu's remarks have sabotaged all initiatives, paralyzed all efforts being made and challenges the Palestinian, Arab and American positions."

Saeb Erekat, who has negotiated interim peace accords, said: "The peace process has been moving at the speed of a tortoise. Tonight, Netanyahu has flipped it over on its back."

He reiterated the Palestinian demand that Israel freeze all expansion of the settlements that are home to some half a million Jews in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

SETTLEMENTS DISPUTE

Obama, too, in what has been the frostiest spell in U.S. relations with Israel in a decade or more, has made a halt to settlements a personal demand. Netanyahu repeated his agreement not to build more settlements but indicated he still wanted to allow what is called "natural growth" of existing ones.

"We have no intention of building new settlements," he said. "But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children."

Netanyahu is conscious that a harder crackdown on settlers could fracture his right-leaning coalition government.

The White House did not comment on settlements but did say Obama would ensure all parties "fulfill their obligations." Under the 2003 "road map to peace," worked out under U.S. sponsorship, Israel committed to freezing settlement activity.

Netanyahu reiterated his readiness to meet all Arab leaders in the region and urged Palestinians to resume peace talks.

It was not immediately clear whether Abbas would accept Netanyahu's call to resume talks. Abbas has made a halt to settlement a condition for renewing negotiations.

With Gaza in the hands of Abbas's Islamist rivals Hamas, who reject interim peace deals and continue to attack Israel, there seems little immediate prospect of ending more than 60 years of conflict. However, diplomats say, engagement by Obama that puts pressure on all sides has raised hopes after years of stalemate.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous, Dan Williams and Joseph Nasr in Jerusalem and Mohammed Assadi and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, writing by Jeffrey Heller and Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem)

Copyright 2009 Reuters. click for restrictions

Eric Weinstein, managing director of investment firm Thiel Capital and host of "The Portal" podcast, is not a conservative, but he says conservative and center-right-affiliated media are the only ones who will still allow oppositional voices.

On "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week, Eric told Glenn that the center-left media, which "controls the official version of events for the country," once welcomed him, but that all changed about eight years ago when they started avoiding any kind of criticism by branding those who disagree with them as "alt-right, far-right, neo-Nazi, etc.," even if they are coming from the left side of the aisle. But their efforts to discredit critical opinions don't stop there. According to Eric, there is a strategy being employed to destroy our national culture and make sure Americans with opposing views do not come together.

"We're trifling with the disillusionment of our national culture. And our national culture is what animates the country. If we lose the culture, the documents will not save us," Eric said. "I have a very strongly strategic perspective, which is that you save things up for an emergency. Well, we're there now."

In the clip below, Eric explains why, after many requests over the last few years, he finally agreed to this podcast.

Don't miss the full interview with Eric Weinstein here.

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Glenn Beck: Why MLK's pledge of NONVIOLENCE is the key to saving America

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Listen to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s pledge of nonviolence and really let it sink in: "Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory."

On the radio program, Glenn Beck shared King's "ten commandments" of nonviolence and the meaning behind the powerful words you may never have noticed before.

"People will say nonviolent resistance is a method of cowards. It is not. It takes more courage to stand there when people are threatening you," Glenn said. "You're not necessarily the one who is going to win. You may lose. But you are standing up with courage for the ideas that you espouse. And the minute you engage in the kind of activity that the other side is engaging in, you discredit the movement. You discredit everything we believe in."

Take MLK's words to heart, America. We must stand with courage, nonviolently, with love for all, and strive for peace and rule of law, not "winning."

Watch the video below for more:

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Conservatives are between a rock and a hard place with Section 230 and Big Tech censorship. We don't want more government regulation, but have we moved beyond the ability of Section 230 reforms to rein in Big Tech's rising power?

Rachel Bovard, Conservative Partnership Institute's senior director of policy, joined the Glenn Beck radio program to give her thoughts and propose a possibly bipartisan alternative: enforcing our existing antitrust laws.

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Dan Bongino, host of The Dan Bongino Show, is an investor in Parler — the social media platform that actually believes in free speech. Parler was attacked by Big Tech — namely Amazon, Apple, and Google — earlier this week, but Bongino says the company isn't giving up without a fight. In fact, he says, he's willing to go bankrupt over this one.

Dan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail what he calls a "smear" campaign behind the scenes, and how he believes we can move forward from Big Tech's control.

"You have no idea how bad this was behind the scenes," Dan told Glenn. "I know you're probably thinking ... well, how much worse can the attack on Parler have gotten than three trillion-dollar companies — Amazon, Apple, and Google — all seemingly coordinated to remove your business from the face of the Earth? Well, behind the scenes, it's even worse. I mean, there are smear campaigns, pressure campaigns ... lawyers, bankers, everyone, to get this company ... wiped from the face of the earth. It's incredible."

Dan emphasized that he would not give up without a fight, because what's he's really fighting for is the right to free speech for all Americans, regardless of their political opinions, without fear of being banned, blacklisted, or losing jobs and businesses.

"I will go bankrupt. I will go absolutely destitute before I let this go," he said. "I have had some very scary moments in my life and they put horse blinders on me. I know what matters now. It's not money. It's not houses. It's none of that crap. It's this: the ability to exist in a free country, where you can express your ideas freely."

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