Bibi's Never-Never Land

Toward the end of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the UN on 29 September, he made the following statement:

I'm ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel occupies a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.

Here Netanyahu skirts the issue that has bedeviled the Zionist movement since the beginning. As Jonathan Freedland wrote in the 14 August issue of The New York Review of Books:

It's well known that too many of the first Zionists had a blind spot when it came to Palestine's indigenous population. They were too eager to accept the myth of a land without a people for a people without a land.

Unless you regard as invisible the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank (by Israeli estimates), Israel is certainly occupying the land they live on.

Another bit of fantasy that emerged from Netanyahu's speech was the notion that in view of recent developments (the rise of a common enemy in Isis), a rapprochement between Israel and the Arab World could facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. This is a pipe dream, at least as long as the present government in Israel continues.