Bibi sent this Op-Ed to the Chicago Tribune because it is in Obama’s home state. Read between the lines. It is an attempt to talk the language of the left to make himself more acceptable to Obama and his camp.
By Benjamin Netanyahu, Chicago Tribune
December 14, 2008
The dream of peace, anchored in the vision of our prophets, has given hope to the Jewish people for over three millenniums and to Israelis for the past 60 years.
For nearly three decades, that dream seemed impossible. Then, suddenly, the Likud Party’s Menachem Begin signed a peace agreement with Egypt. Fifteen years later, Labor’s Yitzhak Rabin made peace with Jordan. For a time, it looked as if the dream would be fulfilled. [If Begin could do it, so can Bibi.}
But in the past decade, many have lost hope. Israelis have witnessed escalating suicide attacks and rocket barrages in the aftermath of well-intentioned diplomacy. Palestinians have seen their everyday situation worsen. Many now believe that peace is beyond our grasp. I disagree. I believe that peace is possible, but achieving it requires a new approach.
Rather than building peace exclusively from the top down in political agreements, this new approach must also focus on building peace from the ground up with economic development.
We must fundamentally improve the lives of our Palestinian neighbors so that they have a stake in peace. We need to help Palestinians expand their middle class, strengthen their civil society and provide hope for a better future. That is why in parallel to conducting political negotiations, my government will stress the need to help Palestinians rapidly develop their economy. [Bibi doesn’t want to say “no” to the peace process. Not good politics.]
By initiating large-scale infrastructure projects, by bringing jobs closer to Palestinian population centers and by taking steps to ensure that Israel’s legitimate security concerns do not seriously impede Palestinian economic growth, I believe we can make enormous progress in a short time. This has become all the more important in the wake of the economic turbulence sweeping the world. [Sounds like Obama]
Many billions of dollars have been given to the Palestinian Authority over the last 15 years with scant results. Much was lost to corruption and bureaucracy. We must ensure that this money reaches the Palestinians themselves, creating jobs and improving living standards. If I am elected prime minister of Israel, my government will assist this international effort by making Palestinian economic development a top priority and by investing in security systems that could improve the movement of people and goods. [Bibi the team player.]
I have been working for some time on a plan to couple political negotiations with economic development.
Economic development will not be a substitute for political negotiations but rather complement them. We will continue the political negotiations for a peace settlement with our neighbors, and by changing the situation on the ground we can create the context for their success. Until now, we have focused solely on the political track and have largely ignored the economic track. This will change under my government.
While there will surely be many skeptics, I intend to prove them wrong. Other intractable conflicts were ultimately resolved by economic and social development. Our conflict with the Palestinians can be tempered and resolved by pursuing a similar course.
I believe that if we proceed in the next few years down this new path of an economic peace intertwined with political negotiations, we can move rapidly toward peace and confound the skeptics.
Reaching out to our regional peace partners, Jordan and Egypt, to expand cooperation will also be critical to the success of these efforts. This should be done in trilateral forums (Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian and Israeli-Palestinian-Egyptian) and broader multilateral forums that can address the many regional issues (security, economy, water, etc.) that need to be resolved to reach a political settlement. [Bibi hints at changes in the peace process.]
I am confident that a determined effort to move forward can create a completely new reality that facilitates the achievement of a political settlement and a qualitatively different environment in which a return to war and violence seems inconceivable.
This approach can win the backing of a large majority of Israelis and can win the peace for us and our Palestinians neighbors.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the ninth prime minister of Israel, is the Likud Party’s candidate for prime minister.