History of Palestine: Netanyahu- the Peace Sabotage
History of Palestine: Netanyahu- the Peace Sabotage Last updated on Thursday 22nd April 2010
As Israel prepared for elections in May 1996, most Arab leaders felt that the incumbent, Prime Minister Shimon Peres, would lead to new peace agreements such as those already concluded between the PLO and Jordan.
In fact, Peres was a strong supporter of peace between Arab and Jew and his party had dropped opposition to the formation of a Palestinian state. Peres had also indicated his willingness to return the Golan Heights in exchange for peace.
It was therefore an unpleasant shock for many when Peres was defeated at the polls. The winner was Binyamin Netanyahu, a far more conservative politician who was not in favour of returning the Golan Heights or of establishing a Palestinian state. In addition, he was against any division of Jerusalem and he supported new Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Netanyahu's victory upset Arab leaders, who held a summit in June 1996. By presenting a united front, the Arabs hoped to convince Netanyahu to change his mind or at least to soften his stand on certain points. The Arabs called on the Israeli government to honor the agreements signed by the previous Prime Minister (Peres) and Arafat -- an obvious reference to the incomplete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Hebron in the West Bank.
An Arab statement at the summit also sought the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon, and adherence to the land-for-peace principle first enunciated at the Madrid meeting in 1991.
In late July 1996 Netanyahu said the Arab statement was "one-sided". An impasse has been reached and no immediate solution is in sight. By November 1996, it was clear that Netanyahu had definitely slowed the process with predictable results in all quarters most directly affected by it.