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June 06, 2013 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-06-06

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The Way Forward

Israeli ambassador: Palestinian state only attainable via peace talks.


Robert Sklar

Contributing Editor


he Palestinians should negotiate
with Israel because they want an
independent state. They tried
sidestepping negotiating by going to the
United Nations, but that didn't work.
And Israel is too powerful to conquer.
So talking is the only path toward sover-
eignty, a visiting Israeli diplomat said in
a JN interview.
"The problem is that Palestinian
leaders want to have an enforced peace
rather than a negotiated peace," said
Barukh Binah, deputy chief of mission
under Ambassador Michael Oren at the
Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.
An internationally imposed peace
would favor the Palestinian cause given
the anti-Zionist sentiment around the
world, according to that line of think-
ing. The Palestinians seek a state that
includes the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem
and as much of the West Bank as they
can claim.
The Bloomfield Township-based
Jewish Community Relations Council
(JCRC) hosted Binah's May 23-24 Detroit
visit. Concurrently, U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry toured the Middle East,
partly in hopes of setting the stage for
revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks,
which Israel supports, Binah said.

The Israeli Perspective

While here, Binah addressed the JCRC
board and appeared on both WJR and
WDET in addition to meeting with the
local press. He was Israel's Chicago-
based consul general to the Midwest,
including Michigan, from 2005 to 2008.
Meeting with the JN, Binah recalled
how the Palestinians gave peace a
chance via the 1993 Oslo Accords, but
eventually backed away from that prom-
ise of peace and launched the second
The split between Fatah, the party of
the Palestinian Authority governing 95
percent of the West Bank population,
and Hamas, the terrorist organization
ruling the Gaza Strip, may seem intrac-
table, but Binah says, "We have to start
somewhere and that has to be at the
negotiating table. I cannot be discour-
A nonstarter to talks has been
Palestinian insistence that Israel stop
settlement expansion. Binah reminded

30 June 6 • 2013

Diplomat Moving
On To Denmark

"We have to start somewhere and
that has to be at the negotiating
table. I cannot be discouraged."

- Barukh Binah

that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu froze settlement building for
10 months in 2009-2010 to no avail. As
the freeze was ending, the Palestinians
sought an extension before they would
come to the table.
"Settlements do not endanger the
survival of the future Palestinian state,"
Binah said. "They represent limited land
and mostly strategic points, such as hilly
areas. But Israel is more than willing to
discuss settlements without them being
a precondition:'
What does threaten the Jewish state is
any lapse of security.
"The Palestinians may want to talk
borders first, but we'll say security is the
most urgent issue Binah said. "We tried
unilateral disengagement from Gaza
in 2005, but that didn't work; it failed
because of the lack of security from
incoming missiles. Every city in Israel is
in range of missiles and hand grenades
from the West Bank:'
Israel must never waver in protecting
Ben-Gurion International Airport near
Tel Aviv. Disruption there would hurtle
the country into turmoil.
"We have no margins for error on
security, none whatsoever," Binah said.

Tough Surroundings

Israel lives in a volatile neighborhood.
It's a prosperous, Western-style nation
in a tumultuous region of Muslim
unrest. It holds its own thanks to two
pillars: a qualitative edge and a spe-
cial relationship with the U.S., Binah
said. Qualitatively, Israel has excellent
research universities, an advanced infra-
structure and a functioning democracy.
Politically, America, a superpower, is
Israel's strongest ally and supporter.
Militarily, Israel spends 75 percent of
its U.S. aid on U.S. military equipment
to defend itself. Such weaponry (for
example: the David's Sling medium-
range defense system) has coupled with
stricter construction-sheltering regula-

tions to toughen Israel's defense curtain.
"The threat isn't going away," Binah
said. "But we are developing ways,
means and methods to contain it."
He added, "The Palestinians must
change their sense of reality: Israel is
here to stay and has to be negotiated
with. Despite all the criticism one hears
about Israel, especially in Europe, the
U.S. is behind Israel 100 percent. That's
a fact of life the Palestinians have to live

Triggers Of Hate

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority
isn't helping its cause by continuing
to incite hatred and prejudice toward
Jews in its classrooms, on its TV shows,
through its music videos, in its mosques
and through political rhetoric.
Israel-based Palestinian Media Watch
(PMW) recently documented that U.S.
funding of the Palestinian Authority
helps support P.A. hate promotion, ter-
ror glorification and denial of Israel's
right to exist.
"Indeed, the report shows that hate
incitement and terror glorification form
the essence of the P.A.'s internal dis-
course in Arabic," declared PMW direc-
tor Itamar Marcus.
PMW reported that the official P.A.
daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, referred in
May to Israeli construction in the Negev,
part of the State of Israel, as yet another
"settlement:' underscoring the P.A.
vision of all of Israel as "Palestine" or
"occupied Palestine:'
"We already have lost more than one
generation of Palestinian children to
Palestinian incitement and blasphemy
toward Jews and Israel," Binah said.
"The Palestinians have to change that,
even grudgingly. They have to come to
agreement with us if they want their
own state.
"We support the idea of a Palestinian
state next to Israel. But we do not accept
a Palestinian state instead of Israel:'


arukh Binah, a popular
Israeli consul general during
his three years serving in
the Midwest, is leaving America
on July 29 to become Israel's
ambassador to Copenhagen, he
announced during a May visit to
The Tel Aviv native hopes to
work in Denmark until retiring
in 3-4 years. His wife is work-
ing toward a doctorate in Iraq-
U.S. relations through Haifa
University. They have two adult
daughters in Israel.
Binah has spent 15 years over
a 29-year span representing the
Embassy of Israel in the U.S. He
has lived in New York, Chicago
and Washington. He'll end up as
the longest-serving Israeli diplo-
mat to the U.S.
"I will miss America, but I
am very enthusiastic about my
new position," Binah said. "I
have always been fascinated by
Northern Europe."
Denmark appealed to him, out
of the European diplomatic posts
available, because of his long-
standing interest in Scandinavian
culture. His first encounter
with the Danes was in reading
Hamlet as a teenager. The Danish
castle Kronborg in Helsingor is
immortalized as Elsinore in the
Shakespearean play.
The Danish resistance, along
with many ordinary Danes, played
a key role during Nazi Germany's
occupation of Denmark in mov-
ing 8,000 Danish Jews by sea to
neutral Sweden in October 1943.
Binah will arrive in Copenhagen
in time to help commemorate the
70th anniversary of that historic

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