Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opted for common language during his speech at the end of last week: “We are willing to make concessions for peace, but we won’t be suckers,” he told members of his Likud party at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds – an address that already has been dubbed “the suckers speech.” Perhaps he wanted to flatter Likud members by speaking in their language, perhaps he thought he was speaking as a candidate at an election rally and not as prime minister. In any case, it is hard to fathom a serious statesman using such vulgar language.
But Netanyahu’s statement also raises a series of disturbing questions in terms of its content. Concessions are essential now to improve Israel’s position in the world and to jump-start the stalled peace process. Such concessions have absolutely nothing to do with being “suckers.” It is actually the prime minister’s attitude of refusal on the matter of freezing settlement construction that could cause serious political damage. If Israel makes concessions, it will not be a sucker; if it continues to refuse, Netanyahu’s term will be apt.