by Saud Abu Ramadan
Palestinians harbor a high anticipation after U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a historic speech from Cairo on June 4 to the Muslims, but their hope for a statehood evaporated following the Israeli prime minister's remarks on the future of peace in the Middle East.
In Sunday's speech at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Benjamin Netanyahu called for peace with the Arabs and the Palestinians, but he conditioned the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Both the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) led by pro-Western President Mahmoud Abbas, and opposition groups, mainly Islamic Hamas movement, slammed Netanyahu's speech.
The countermeasure for the Palestinians is to end their two-year political rift, currently another obstacle against Washington's peace attempts, and for Arabs to break off all ties with Israel, said analysts.
CAREFUL READING OF SPEECH
As'ad Abu Sharkh, a political analyst and a professor at al-Azhar University in Gaza, believed the speech "is only a continuation of Zionist policy," because "it carries with it an ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, by denying the Palestinian right of return and self-determination."
He said Netanyahu wants to keep the Palestinians under the name of the so-called "The Ground State" as Israel controls air, water and electricity while continuing settlement construction, adding "I believe that this is the concept of peace for Israel."
Abu Sharkh said the Palestinians should not be shocked or despaired after they listened to Netanyahu's speech. "The only thing they have to do is to be more united and rearrange their internal affairs."
Though Netanyahu said Israel does not want more wars, the speech "can never be considered as a peaceful speech. It was an attempt to mislead the international community, as it was obvious that he didn't say he wants to completely stop settlement," said Talal Oukal, a Palestinian academic at al-Azhar University in Gaza.
"Netanyahu believes that he is pleasing America and the Arabs, but in fact his speech is absolutely leading the whole region to a war. His remarks are for sure completely rejected on both Palestinian and Arab levels," said Oukal.
Netanyahu in his speech urged the PNA and Hamas movement, which has been ruling the Gaza over the past two years, to end their political feud in order to challenge the plans of the hawkish Israeli leader and his right-wing government.
Senior Hamas movement's leader Ismail Radwan told Xinhua "What is needed now to be done is to stop immediately all ties with Israel."
The PNA slammed his remarks, saying it fails to offer any opportunity to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region that ends the occupation and establishes an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Palestinian Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rdineh said Netanyahu's speech "had blown up all former peace initiatives and anticipations," adding "Netanyahu has put more obstacles before all the exerted efforts to end the conflict and achieve peace."
"Not recognizing Arab east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and his attempts to resolve the refugees question outside the borders of the state of Israel would never lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the region," said Abu Rdineh.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called on the Arabs "not to make any political normalization with Israel before Israel shows a clear commitment to the Arab peace initiative and ending the military occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied in the war of 1967."
"The first choice for the Palestinians is to get back to their national unity because if they remain divided, Netanyahu would succeed in finding the excuse to implement his plans," said Oukal, adding "they must keep addressing the international community with both languages of peace and struggle."
He also said "after this speech, the Arabs should immediately sever all relationships with Israel and end normalization. Israel now is challenging the whole world, therefore Palestinians should press the world to impose sanctions on Israel if not responding to UN resolutions."