Twice this past week Secretary of Defense Panetta demanded that Israel needed to take risks in order to get the Palestinians join them at the negotiating table. Since Israel has granted concession after concession over the past forty years in order to continue to be rebuffed by the Palestinians then met by even steeper demands in order to fail to reach solutions, perhaps Israel should try a different set of risk. Israel has granted so much that the Palestinian demands for resumed negotiations have gotten to the point that meeting them would remove any need for negotiations. What is left to negotiate should Israel grant that borders be defined as the 1949 Armistice Lines that existed until the 1967 Six Day War, the “Right of Return” for all Palestinian refugees, stopping all construction beyond the Green Line, and removal of all Jews in order to allow the Palestinian state be Jew free? Should anything else need to be addressed at negotiations, I feel sure that it would be added onto the list of preconditions before negotiations would be resumed. So, why not take a new tack.
Israel gave the Palestinians full autonomy over their core areas and shared authority in areas where both Jews and Palestinians resided with Israel retaining full control over a remaining section of the West Bank. In return for this the Palestinian leadership showed their appreciation by launching the intifada in 2000 that murdered over one thousand Israelis in the resultant terror violence. Israel removed their troops from southern Lebanon which resulted in the Second Lebanon War. Israel destroyed all the Jewish neighborhoods in Gaza and gave the Palestinians full autonomy in an experiment with the intent and hopes that the Palestinian leadership could rule themselves and prove their ability to live side by side with Israel in peace. In return they got Hamas whose desired aim is to murder every Jew on planet Earth launching thousands upon thousands of rockets into civilian areas, attempted kidnapping of citizens and soldiers with one successful abduction who was held in unknown conditions for over five years. And there were also Palestinian claims that the return of Gaza was insufficient and that many of the neighborhoods and kibbutzim closest to Gaza were built over destroyed Arab villages and rightfully belonged to the Palestinians and that Gaza should be enlarged to include these areas. In all too many cases, history has shown that every time the Israelis gave in on concessions the Palestinians responded with violence, death and destruction. By now, it should be obvious to many observers that giving concessions not only does not work, it is a very bad idea.
So, what should Israel try that would take the situation between them and the Palestinians in a different direction. There is one poll question which produces a result which many find surprising, that when asked whether they would rather live under Palestinian rule or Israeli rule, the majority of the Arab population of East Jerusalem chooses to remain under Israeli jurisdiction and reject Palestinian rule as shown and discussed here, and http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/05/05/Poll-says-East-Jerusalemites-prefer-Israel/UPI-41761304608417/ target=blank>here and even here.. This gives Israel an opportunity to grant the residents of East Jerusalem their desires and stated preference with annexation of East Jerusalem and attached close-in suburbs and neighborhoods placing them permanently under Israeli rule. Leave the possibility that the intent is to follow this annexation with others where and when similar polls call for similar actions. Place the option before the residents of the West Bank that they have the opportunity to choose Israel and are not trapped with the inevitability of being forced under Palestinian rule. And for those who are yelling red faced in rage at their computer screen about such a move being against international laws and the Geneva Convention, think again. Israel gained the West Bank directly from a defensive conflict. Even if you believe that Israel initiated the 1967 War when they preempted the Egyptian and Syrian attack which was imminent and obvious with the massing of troops on both borders with Israel, Jordan was pleaded with by the Israeli leadership not to join the war and ignored such pleas and attacked Israel who then diverted troops heading south through the Negev to head east and northeast in order to intercept the Jordanian assault. As far as the war with Egypt and Syria, once Egypt had blocked Israeli shipping from passing through the Red Sea, they had committed a casus belli for war. By any and all international law and Geneva Convention, Israel is within her rights to retain all the lands they had gained in 1967 and defended against a second attack in 1973.
It is time to try a completely different track and instead of taking a timid and apologetic approach, try a new and bolder approach and take the initiative. The time has definitely arrived for Israel to implement an option that has been available to them but ignored since the end of the six Day War, simply annex the areas which the Israeli leadership believes is necessary to assure defensible borders, exactly what is called for in United Nations Resolution 242. Just because Israel has attempted to work with the adversarial nations and forces against her does not mean that Israel is obliged to continue down this track as it has become detrimental to Israeli existence. By taking a more assertive stance and no longer attempting to mollify the un-mollifiable, Israel might discover by being assertive and showing the ability to be self-serving and departing from the subservient position that the Palestinian leadership might also change their demanding and immutable attitudes and honestly attempt to reach an accord leading to a permanent peace agreement. Even if the Palestinians continue in their deceitful wagering of a war of attrition and refusal while playing the world’s propensity to take the side opposing everything Jewish which is borne out by the historic record, Israel could simply continue to annex land until she reaches a point where desirable and defensible borders have been established and then simply ignore any and all demands for further communications. That may leave some land mostly around Nablus for the Palestinians to have their own state and continue to demand to their heart’s desire and who knows, somebody might actually bother to continue to listen to them, probably in the western parts of Europe or parts of the Middle East. Eventually their cries will fall on deaf ears as eventually everybody will tire of their lamentable pleadings. What is it that some would claim, that the entire world would turn against Israel? Please explain how that would differ wildly from the current situation. Popularity and Israel will never be long-term companions just as Jews and acceptance in the lands of others has always worked so well over time. Perhaps time has come to give Israel one last request and then simply leave her alone and reap the rewards of her discoveries which Israel has always shared generously and expecting so little in return. To expect more would have been sheer lunacy and it is always better to expect that which is likely and perhaps be surprised rather than to expect much and be discontent when receiving so much less. So, surprise Israel and give her a real chance at survival, after all, that is what is being negotiated, not borders, but simply Israel’s survival.
Beyond the Cusp