A Critical Analysis of Netanyahu’s September 23, 2011 Speech to the United Nations

Prof. Paul Eidelberg, President
Israel-America Renaissance Institute

Part III. Netanyahu’s Self-Entrapment

Netanyahu’s September 23, 2011 speech to the UN revealed a prime minister trapped in the Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement of September 13, 1993. Step by step that agreement led him to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria on June 14, 2009 Bar-Ilan University, and without any expression of outrage from that religious institution or by the public at large. How did Netanyahu trap himself in this ignominious as well as anti-Jewish cul-de-sac?

In March 1993, Israel’s government was headed by Labor Party chairman Yizhak Rabin. In that month, the Central committee of the Likud party convened and appointed Benjamin Netanyahu as its leader. An eminent Likud member proposed a resolution to the effect that a future Likud Government would not be bound by any Labor-government agreement that compromised the security of Israel. This resolution was intended to short circuit Labor’s desire to recognize the PLO, the first step toward establishing a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu rejected the resolution on the grounds that a democracy must honor its agreements. This was an utterly fallacious opinion since no government is bound to an agreement that may eventually lead to its destruction. Nevertheless, the present writer was asked by a prominent Likud figure whether the United States had ever violated a treaty with a foreign power. I consulted my constitutional law books and unsurprisingly found that the U.S. government had in fact reneged on a nineteenth-century agreement with China, and that the government’s decision had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thus, on May 6, 1882, an Act of Congress was approved which declared that after ninety days from the passage of the Act, and for a period of ten years from its date, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States is suspended, and that it shall be unlawful for any such laborer to come to, or, having come, to remain within the United States.” The Court ruled, with regard to the treaties of the country, that “circumstances may arise which would not only justify the Government in disregarding their stipulation, but also demand, in the interests of the country, that it should do so; [of which] there can be no question. Unexpected events may call for a change in the policy of the country.”[1]

At first blush it appears that Netanyahu succumbed to his ignorance of the law governing treaties. However, common sense alone dictates that if one party to an agreement repeatedly violates that agreement—as the PLO did on an almost daily basis—the other party has every right to abrogate the agreement at its own discretion. Of course, to have abrogated Oslo would have required politically courageous prime minister on the one hand, and a very different policy toward the Palestinians on the other.

Whatever the case, Mr. Netanyahu entrapped himself in the Oslo Agreement six months before that agreement was consummated. It should also be emphasized that the legality of the agreement was challenged by eminent Israeli citizens in a 78-page petition drafted by Attorney Howard Grief and submitted to the High Court of Justice (file HC 33414/96). The Court, notoriously left-wing, dismissed the suit as non-justiciable without discussing the merits, even though the petition accused the government of having violated several laws of the Knesset included sections 97, 99 and 100 of the Penal Law, which designates and prohibits four kinds of acts as treason:

1. the category of acts which “impair the sovereignty” of the State of Israel—section 97(a);

2. the category of acts which “impair the integrity” of the State of Israel—section 97(b);

3. the category of acts under section 99 which give assistance to an “enemy” in war against Israel, which the Law specifically states includes a terrorist organization;

4. the category of acts in section 100 which evince an intention or resolve to commit one of the acts prohibited by sections 97 and 99.

The punishment prescribed in the Penal Law for the first three kinds of acts of treason is death or imprisonment for life. Yielding Jewish land to the PLO does appear to be a prima facie violation of the treason law. This said, let us make a thought-experiment.

If a Prime Minister of Israel signs an agreement with his country’s enemy, an agreement that requires him to obscure the murderous creed and history of the enemy and even lie about the enemy’s bellicose intentions, a train of untoward consequences will follow affecting that Prime Minister’s successors. Suppose he is followed by six prime ministers. If the sixth prime minister were to reveal the truth about the enemy in question, he would be impugning the integrity of each and every one of his predecessors. And if a prima facie case could be made that that agreement constitutes a violation of the law governing treason, then, if that sixth prime minister revealed the truth about his country’s enemy—with whom that first prime minister entered into said agreement—he would be impugning all his predecessors, casting upon them the taint of treason. This is a mendacity trap from which no prime minister can readily escape.

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