As we have seen in America and in nations all over the world, it is easy to be a politician but it is hard to be a statesman.
A politician is someone who plays the game of governing without the need, ability or desire to lead. They follow, they survive they cajole and they pander. A statesman is someone who leads, a person of principle who envisions, inspires, attempts and accomplishes great things. Statesman do so at great odds and against stiff opposition in many cases.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in his speech before the 2011 United Nations General Assembly in New York and his 2012 AIPAC speech in Washington, D.C. was a statesman. He laid out in great detail and based on fact the challenges, pitfalls, and promise of the Israeli/Palestinian relationship and the looming showdown with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Unlike the U.N. speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ,who not once mentioned or acknowledged Israel’s right to exist as a legitimate nation state, Netanyahu affirmatively acknowledged the right of a Palestinian State to live side by side with the State of Israel.
While the Palestinian president referred to Israel as an “occupying power,” Israel’s prime minister talked about a pathway to peace that was real and obtainable for Israel and the Palestinian people.
Despite the provocation of the Palestinian leader, the Iranian leader, and many other nation states at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu was principled, yet conciliatory and challenged Abbas to get back to the peace talks while the two leaders are in New York.
The Palestinians' application for recognition as a nation state from the U.N. before entering into a peace agreement with Israel is nothing more than a political stunt.
Today, the Palestinian people have all indicia of a state: They have defined borders, an elected government, a government infrastructure, police force and military, etc. The only thing missing is peace and security within their own borders and an ability to govern their own and live in peace with their neighbors.
The Arab Spring has taken all the attention and focus away from the Palestinians and the conflict with Israel. In order to refocus attention to the “plight of the Palestinians,” Abbas told the world he will demand that the U.N. recognize the sovereignty of the Palestinians' right to admission to the U.N. as a member state.
There is nothing more important to the plight of the Palestinian people than to make peace with Israel. U.N. recognition alone will not bring it. Once a true and lasting peace has been made between Israel and Palestine, then that will be the time for recognition by the world community of Palestine’s right to join the community of nations.
Statehood for any nation must be earned and can never be demanded. Unless and until the Palestinians make a lasting peace with Israel and unless and until the Palestinians are able to govern their own — based upon the principles of international law, norms and human rights — they are not entitled to recognition.
With regard to Iran, Netanhayu was clear. Iran is a clear and present danger to Israel and the world in their quest for nuclear weapons. The prime minister made it clear that Iran will not get them — and Israel will stop them from doing so. Iran is in full and complete control of their destiny.
Israel’s very survival in our time requires a statesman to lead it. I believe they have one.
A version of this article originally appeared on Newsmax.
Photo Credit: Secretary of Defense