Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Netanyahu Video Showing How Israeli Leaders
Control US Presidents Through the Israel Lobby
By Jonathan Cook
The Netanyahu video
Ma'an, 19/07/2010 12:54
There is one video Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, must
be praying never gets posted on YouTube with English subtitles. To date, the
10-minute segment has been broadcast only in Hebrew on Israel’s Channel 10.
Its contents, however, threaten to gravely embarrass not only Netanyahu
but also the US administration of Barack Obama.
The film was shot,
apparently without Netanyahu’s knowledge, nine years ago, when the
government of Ariel Sharon had started re-invading the main cities of the
West Bank to crush Palestinian resistance in the early stages of the second
At the time Netanyahu had taken a short break from politics
but was soon to join Sharon’s government as finance minister.
visit to the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank to pay condolences to the
family of a man killed in a Palestinian shooting attack, he makes a series
of unguarded admissions about his first period as prime minister, from 1996
Seated on a sofa in the house, he tells the family that he
deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was
helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between
Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank
while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby
destroyed the Oslo process.
He dismisses the
US as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular
American support for Israel "absurd."
He also suggests that,
far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the
Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority
led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli
All of these claims have obvious parallels with the current
situation, when Netanyahu is again Israel’s prime minister facing off with a
White House trying to draw him into a peace process that runs counter to his
As before, he has ostensibly made public
concessions to the US administration -- chiefly by agreeing in principle to
the creation of a Palestinian state, consenting to indirect talks with the
leadership in Ramallah, and implementing a temporary freeze on settlement
But he has also enlisted the
powerful pro-Israel lobby to exert pressure on the White House,
which appears to have relented on its most important stipulations.
The contemptuous view of Washington Netanyahu demonstrates in the film will
confirm the suspicions of many observers -- including Palestinian leaders --
that his current professions of good faith should not be taken seriously.
Critics have already pointed out that his gestures have been extracted
only after heavy arm-twisting from the US administration.
significantly, he has so far avoided engaging meaningfully in the limited
talks the White House is promoting with the Palestinians while the pace of
settlement building in the West Bank has been barely affected by the
10-month freeze, due to end in September.
In the meantime, planning
officials have repeatedly approved large new housing projects in East
Jerusalem and the West Bank that have undercut the negotiations and will
make the establishment of a Palestinian state -- viable or otherwise -- far
Writing in the liberal Haaretz newspaper, the columnist
Gideon Levy called the video "outrageous." He said it proved that
Netanyahu was a "con artist … who thinks that
Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes."
He added that the prime minister had not reformed in the intervening period:
“Such a crooked way of thinking does not change over the years.”
the film, Netanyahu says Israel must inflict “blows [on the Palestinians]
that are so painful the price will be too heavy to be borne … A broad attack
on the Palestinian Authority, to bring them to the point of being afraid
that everything is collapsing”.
When asked if
the US will object, he responds: “America is something that can be easily
moved. Moved to the right direction … They won’t get in our way … 80 percent
of the Americans support us. It’s absurd.”
He then recounts
how he dealt with Clinton, whom he refers to as "extremely pro-Palestinian."
“I wasn’t afraid to manoeuvre there. I was not afraid
to clash with Clinton.”
His approach to White House demands to
withdraw from Palestinian territory under the Oslo accords, he says, drew on
his grandfather’s philosophy: “It would be better to give two percent than
to give 100 percent.”
He therefore signed the 1997 agreement to pull
the Israeli army back from much of Hebron, the last Palestinian city under
direct occupation, as a way to avoid conceding more territory.
trick,” he says, “is not to be there [in the occupied Palestinian
territories] and be broken; the trick is to be there and pay a minimal
The “trick” that stopped further withdrawals, Netanyahu adds,
was to redefine what parts of the occupied territories counted as a
“specified military site” under the Oslo accords. He wanted the White House
to approve in writing the classification of the Jordan Valley, a large area
of the West Bank, as such a military site.
“Now, they did not want to
give me that letter, so I did not give [them] the Hebron Agreement. I
stopped the government meeting, I said: ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the
letter came … did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Why does this matter? Because
at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo accords.”
Last week, after
meeting Obama in Washington, the Israeli prime minister gave an interview to
Fox News in which he appeared to be in no hurry to make concessions: “Can we
have a negotiated peace? Yes. Can it be implemented by 2012? I think it’s
going to take longer than that,” he said.
There must be at least a
very strong suspicion that Netanyahu is as firmly committed today as he was
then to destroying any chance of peace with the Palestinians.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist
based in Nazareth, Israel. A version of this
article originally appeared in The
National, published in Abu Dhabi. It is reprinted by Ma'an with the
The video can be watched at: