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A Palestinian state is in Israel's best interest

Forget the Right’s fear-mongering: by disarming Hamas and establishing a joint force in the Jordan Valley, a Palestinian state will only serve as a security asset to Israel.

By Ilan Baruch

Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2013. (photo: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell)

Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2013. (photo: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell)

When it comes to its enemies, Israel has always had a tendency to define threats against its security according to military and terrorist capabilities. The motivation to harm us is viewed as axiomatic, and there is no point in thinking twice: every military or terror capability can be put down with our own military actions or deterrence.

Israel will always prefer the military solution when possible, while ignoring the question of our policies’ influence on the motivations to fight us. This is where our biggest source of denial comes from. Hamas is portrayed by both the media and the security establishment as an enemy that threatens to destroy Israel. Therefore, we must always respond to our enemies with military strength alone. Is it possible that not a single person in the country’s political echelon who believes that the security establishment’s focus on military strength only increases the hatred against us?

In these past elections, right-wing propagandists, led by Netanyahu, repeated the mantra that the establishment of a Palestinian state within the framework of “two states for two peoples” will constitute a threat to Israel’s existence. Experience shows, they claimed, that all territory that we have evacuated has become a base for terror against us: south Lebanon, Gaza.

The Right provides voters with a political-security outlook convinced that the conflict cannot be resolved. Where exactly did the Zionist Camp tell its voters that a lack of a Palestinian state only worsens our security situation, and that its establishment as a result of a viable agreement is in the best interest of the state’s security?

Both the outgoing and incoming Netanyahu governments worship the status quo for the sake of maintaining stability. According to Netanyahu, a peace process that will lead Israel to evacuate the West Bank will rip from Israel’s hands the means of security and transfer them over to the Palestinian government. The Palestinians will not know how to block terrorist groups such as Hamas or Islamic State. Thus, the establishment of a Palestinian state, at this moment, undermines Israel’s security interests.

The Palestinian leadership sees things differently. It chose security cooperation as the only option for promoting Palestinian interests. The Israeli public does not know how to assess the political price paid by the Palestinian leadership, and the Israeli government is intentionally in denial of this very price, since it does not want to address the question of what the Palestinians will get in exchange for their cooperation.

Read more: It’s time for a one-state solution

But the truth is that one can put together a peace agreement that will satisfy Israel’s security needs and turn the neighboring Palestinian state into a strategic asset. The government denies the advantages this will provide our national security, typically by using ideological rhetoric rather than talking security. It is clear to all that a peace agreement, an end to the occupation and moving toward neighborly relations between two sovereign states will mean ending the settlement enterprise.

Taking practical steps

The establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will cooperate on issues of security, policy and economy will provide Israel with significant security advantages, which in turn will lead to significant political advantages. Firstly, ending the occupation will greatly lessen both the security-related pressures and resources spent on a hostile Palestinian population, even if it is passive much of the time, which has been under Israel’s control for nearly five decades. Building military capabilities will change over time, and will improve our ability to answer real threats in our region.

The answer to the concern over foreign armies or terrorists entering the Palestinian state, as well as terrorism coming directly from Palestine, will be found in the quality of our security coordination with the Palestinians. This coordination will improve greatly from the moment that the Palestinian side can present it as a matter between two sovereign states, rather than as a component of occupation.

Members of Mahmoud Abbas' Presidential Guard look on during PA minister Ziad Abu Ein's funeral, Ramallah, December 11, 2014. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Members of Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidential Guard look on during PA minister Ziad Abu Ein’s funeral, Ramallah, December 11, 2014. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

As for the struggle against terrorism, it is clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state will allow its government to enforce the rule of law, similar to what happened with the establishment of the State of Israel. This means that all Palestinian militant groups will disarm and transfer their weapons to the general security forces.

This will also include removing Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the list of “terrorist organizations,” and formally allowing them into the Palestinian political system. This can take place as part of a “hudna” — a long-term ceasefire between the two states, which will be enforced by the UN Security Council.

We can deal with the possible threats looming in the Middle East — from Iran to the Islamic State — by investing in the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom, fortifying the eastern border of the Palestinian state and spreading joint forces (comprised of Jordanian, Israeli, Palestinian and American soldiers) along the Jordan Valley, in accordance with long-term, strategic agreements.

All of this is possible if the sides are willing to move toward an agreement. The Israeli government’s foot-dragging does not stem from security concerns, but rather from the settlement enterprise and the aspirations of powerful forces who seek to complete the annexation of the homeland for generations to come.

Ilan Baruch, former Ambassador of Israel to South Africa, is currently actively involved in the Peace NGOs Forum. This article first appeared in +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Pedro X

      Welcome to Comedy Central in the Tel Aviv bubble. Tonight we have Ilan Baruch. Ilan give us your best joke. Ilan “with pleasure”.

      Ilan:

      “it is clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state will allow its government to enforce the rule of law, similar to what happened with the establishment of the State of Israel. This means that all Palestinian militant groups will disarm and transfer their weapons to the general security forces.”

      The audience: “uproarious laughter”.

      Ilan they are laughing at you, not with you. Ben Gurion imposed the rule of law and one army for one state by military force. The Haganah literally sunk the ship of opposition forces to enforce the rule of one gun in the Israeli state.

      The PA has consistently refused to disarm the militant factions. When Arafat had the ability to do so, he did not. Now the PA has not the means to destroy Hamas’ and Islamic Jihad’s military capabilities and impose an one state one gun policy on them. The Hezbollahization of half of the Palestinian country has already taken place. The Palestinian public and Islamic Jihad and Hamas say that no one has the right to disarm them. To think that militant groups would simply hand in their guns is sheer lunacy.

      If Palestinians want peace and a two state solution, they need to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad now. The Palestinians needs to stop incitement to violence and terrorism in their mosques, schools and media. They need to create an atmosphere in the Palestinian population that peace is desirable and that the conflict will end with any agreement. The Palestinian leadership must tell its population there is no right of return under any agreement with Israel and Israel will remain a Jewish state. The Palestinian leaders will have to tell their people that Israel will retain a military presence in Judea and Samaria for many years and that the majority of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will remain with land swaps with Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Roberto Z

        Pedrito Equis says:

        “Ilan they are laughing at you, not with you. Ben Gurion imposed the rule of law and one army for one state by military force. The Haganah literally sunk the ship of opposition forces to enforce the rule of one gun in the Israeli state.

        I think they are not laughing at Ilan, but at your poor logic Pedrito. Ben Gurion was able to impose the rule of the law on unruly violent factions (and got away with sinking the Altalena) once an Israeli state had been created. Ben Gurion never attempted to take such steps before statehood was achieved. If (to comply with British demands) Ben Gurion had forcefully disarmed Lehi and similar groups (with the needed violence) before independence, the Jewish population would have condemned him for doing the colonial masters’ dirty work at the expense of fellow Jews, who (rightly or wrongly) were also fighting for independence.

        “If Palestinians want peace and a two state solution, they need to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad now.”

        The fact that the PA has mantained for several years a security agreement with the IDF doesn’t count much in the argumentation of Pedrito Equis. The fact that Hamas has been practically expelled from the WB doesn’t count either for Hasbarah peddlers. No no no, that’s not enough !, sayeth Pedrito, the PA needs to go on and do what Ben Gurion never did before statehood: the PA needs to disarm and subdue (likely with extreme violence) all unruly factions like Hamas and Yihad just to comply with the Bitakhon of the masters.

        After all, what has the Palestinian Authority gained from its security cooperation with the IDF? Nada, cero-cero. It has not moved the Israeli government an inch towards Palestinian independence.

        “The Palestinian leaders will have to tell their people that Israel will retain a military presence in Judea and Samaria for many years …”

        And you expect the PA to quietly comply with this diktat? and you expect the Palestinian population to agree with this? Had Ben Gurion agreed to an extended British military presence after independence he would have been regarded as a Quisling.

        What (unfortunately) most Jewish Israelies fail to understand is that the Hasbarah + Bitakhon arguments have been defeated long ago by a 20-0 score. They are easily deconstructed and debunked as worn down propapaganda (and no, I am not voicing pro-Palestinian propaganda). In spite of the sarcasm and the same ol’ same ol’ tirades, Pedrito Equis fails to counter the compelling argument espoused by Ilan Baruch: Israel is not going to find a more amenable Palestinian leadership in the future, so if the two states never happen, the security and stability of the Israeli Jewish population may worsen a lot in the mid to long term.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          “Ben Gurion never attempted to take such steps before statehood was achieved.”

          Prior to independence, Ben Gurion forced an agreement on Lehi and the Igrun that they would surrender their guns and their men would be incorporated into the main army. Irgun right around the time of independence attempted to bring in 1000 fighters and their own guns and ammunition for their fighters. The Irgun delayed the shipment into June, 1948. Ben Gurion caused an ultimatum to be issued by the armed forces requiring the arms to be surrendered. The Irgun had minutes to respond. When Irgun did not, it was attacked and defeated. Ben Gurion imposed by military might one government one gun in Israel. And this was done in the middle of a war brought by the Palestinian Arabs and their brethren.

          The Palestinians have had nearly 22 years since Oslo agreements were signed to find an one government one gun solution. They have two governments and many terrorist factions which are well armed. Arafat was supposed to fight and terrorism but instead nurtured and grew it. He used violence as an instrument to get what he could not at the bargaining table. He overplayed his hand with the second intifada and his terrorist armies were crushed. Because of Arafat and terrorism, the road to Palestinian statehood became littered with bodies of dead Israelis and Palestinians.

          Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza now have armaments superior to those held by the PA. Because of the IDF presence in the West Bank, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have not been able to overcome the PA. Because Hamas and Islamic Jihad go to war with the IDF every two years, and the PA incites individual acts of terror, rejects the right of Jews to have their own state and the right to security, there has been no progress on the peace front.

          Hamas’ considerable infrastructure in the West Bank suffered a serious blow last June not due to the PA but due to the IDF. Without the IDF, Hamas’ plot to overthrow the PA in the West Bank may have succeeded. So, it is very much in the interests of the PA to cooperate in matters of security with Israel.

          However, preserving the PA and Fatah privilege in the West Bank is not the same as doing what is necessary for peace or a Palestinian state. In the West Bank the PA needs to stop glorifying terrorists. It needs to stop handing out plaques to the families of suicide bombers recognizing their contribution to the Palestinian killing of Israelis. It needs to stop its yearly celebration of terrorists who killed Israel civilians. It needs to stop the non stop incitement to harm Israelis, such as the song that called Palestinians to run over the 2 month old Israeli baby. The PA needs to change the school system which instills a hope to become a shahid killing as many Israelis as possible to those wanting to become doctors, engineers, plumbers and welders. The PA needs to show the West Bankers that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are murderous thugs who harm Palestinian interests.

          Because the PA does not provide an environment conducive to peace, but to violence, the Palestinian people see violence as their best means to get what they want. PSR poll after poll show that Palestinians in the West Bank want Hamas tactics and arms imported into the West Bank, despite knowing the cost of doing same.

          If the PA wants peace it needs to act like it. It needs to turn away from demonization and return to cooperation with Israel on all fronts, just not security in the West Bank. It needs to tell the Palestinian public that there will be no right of return and all of the Jewish citizens living in Judea and Samaria are not leaving. It needs to tell them, as Abbas as recognized, that after the establishment of an Palestinian state Israel will still maintain a military presence in the Palestinian territories for years until it is safe to leave.

          Reply to Comment
          • Roberto Z

            “Prior to independence, Ben Gurion forced an agreement on Lehi and the Igrun that they would surrender their guns …”

            All this happened after the British colonial masters had left. Ben Gurion did not take these forceful measures following orders from the colonial masters. The State of Israel is the power that holds the key to Palestinian statehood, so it plays the role of the British government in the mandate. You demand that Palestinian independence should be conditioned to the PA disarming and subduing all unruly factions. Obviously, the PA refuses just as Ben Gurion (heading the opinion of the Yishuv mainstream) refused to take forceful action against Lehi and the Irgun before the British left. Abbas’ attitude today is as understandable as Ben Gurion’s attitude in 1948.

            “The Palestinians have had nearly 22 years since Oslo agreements were signed to find an one government one gun solution. They have two governments ….”

            The Palestinians had no sovereign government after Oslo. It has always been a caricature of a state, with all symbols of statehood (flag, hymn, etc) but without real power. Arafat was not the ruler of an independent state, he was the leader of some sort of semi-autonomous entity whose freedom to act (even internally) was severely constrained by Israel. I am not a fan of Arafat and agree that the PA has a lot of blame of the current situation. However, I dispute your erasing of the context in describing these facts: the PA is not a state power parallel (and opposed to) Israel, it is completely subservient and dependent on Israel. You cannot erase this context when making judgements.

            “Hamas’ considerable infrastructure in the West Bank suffered a serious blow last June not due to the PA but due to the IDF. Without the IDF, Hamas’ plot to overthrow the PA in the West Bank may have succeeded. So, it is very much in the interests of the PA to cooperate in matters of security with Israel.”

            All this is disputable. Most of the dirty work in weakening Hamas in the WB was done by the security forces of the PA (just as Hamas erased Fatah in Gaza without any aid from the IDF). However, the point is that you do not value the security cooperation of the PA. The fact that such cooperation happens (and it has prevented a lot of terror acts from the WB) is already surprising given its political cost, and it has not produced any practical result for them in terms of Palestinian independence. Yet, you place further demands on the PA: security cooperation is not enough, they need to take down Hamas and Yihad. They will not do it, just as nobody in their situation would do.

            “PA needs to stop glorifying terrorists. It needs to stop handing out plaques to the families of suicide bombers recognizing their contribution to the Palestinian killing of Israelis. It needs to stop its yearly celebration of terrorists who killed Israel civilians. It needs to stop the non stop incitement to harm Israelis, …”

            I don’t dispute many of the points you mention. I agree that the Palestinian society needs to change, just as the Israeli Jewish society needs to change. However, these changes will not happen while the status quo holds on and by decree. Under current circumstances Palestinian hostility and incitement against Israelis will not change, just like hostility and incitement of Jewish Israelis against Palestinians will not change. You cannot demand change of attitudes as a condition to grant Palestinian independence. A peace agreement (if it ever happens) will be an agreement between two nations that profoundly dislike each other, not between a Denmark-like and a Sweden-like nation, but between nations in which large number of citizens hold legitimate grievances for acts of violence and death. After the agreement the wounds may heal, not before.

            “If the PA wants peace it needs to act like it. It needs to turn away from demonization and return to cooperation with Israel on all fronts, just not security in the West Bank. It needs to tell the Palestinian public that there will be no right of return and all of the Jewish citizens living in Judea and Samaria are not leaving.”

            These are a lot of demands of concessions from the PA. And what would be the demands on concessions to Israel? You don’t mention a single concession from Israel: every concession you mention must be from the Palestinian side.

            However, just by reading your list of demands in the real context makes it self evident that your acceptance of a possible Palestinian state is just empty rhetoric. You say that the PA must accept that “all of the Jewish citizens living in Judea and Samaria are not leaving”. Presumably, you mean that this applies even settlers far from the green line in the midst of dense Palestinian population, or the Jewish colony in Hebron. While I would agree that nobody should be displaced (not even settlers), the point is UNDER WHICH CONDITIONS these settlers would stay: would they stay as Israeli residents in the Palestinian republic, abiding by Palestinian law? I doubt very much that this is what you mean. More likely, you mean (as the settlers believe) they would abide by Israeli law and their settlements would be enclaves annexed to Israel. Therefore, since most would work inside the green line and their security and mobility concerns would be paramount, special roads would be needed, and special resources allocated, and, well we all know the end of the story: a Palestinian “state” bisected by special roads and military garrisons and road blocks.

            So, don’t be surprised if Palestinians reject your “generosity” with utter contempt. Don’t be surprised that in most of the western world your arguments smack to colonialism. Perhaps the right wing will get away with all this, after all hasn’t China and Russia got away with ruling over the Tibetans and Chechens? However, 1000 million Chinese can grant full citizenship to 20 million Tibetans without becoming a binational Chinese-Tibetan state. Can Israel grant citizenship to all its Palestinian subjects? While most Jewish Israelis abhor the notion of a binational state, they keep opposing REAL Palestinian independence. They keep looking at the world with the deceptive mirrors of Hasbarah and Bitkhonism. Sooner or later this will lead to a disaster.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      There are a couple reasons that a viable Palestinian state is good for Israel’s security.

      Primarily relative to Israeli existential invocations, is that Israel’s “existence” is only threatened in the context of a multi-front war. There are enough people and groups very angry with Israel, so as to motivate mass demonstration (storming the gates), which are encouraged by similar demonstrations on other borders with Israel. It can feel like, and is, “we’ve got them on the run”.

      Its actually a tide that can only go so far anyway, only so much water/momentum possible, not sufficient for regime change, but for lots of nihilist damage. The glee of prospect of “victory” is a false hope on the part of the proponents.

      But, the threats are invoked by the Israeli right routinely, and effectively. So so many buy into the “existential threat” possibility, and then reasoning, to be fearful rather than pragmatic.

      But, even to address the security danger of angry radical masses, to limit the number of fronts that require military presence, is critical. The current administration is willing to have aggressive relations with Lebanon, Syria, all Palestinian factions including Fatah, Jordan (in floating the “Jordan is Palestine” ‘proposal’, Gaza, Sinai. It is currently keeping good relations with Sisi’s Egypt.

      But, that would constitute five fronts. In Lebanon in 2006, there were three fronts brewing (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon), and Israel chose to just discontinue operations relative to Gaza and the West Bank – containment only, and focused military on Lebanon. It could not fight three fronts.

      A treaty with the PA, eliminates the West Bank as a military front, temporarily increases Gaza (in their struggle for palestinian dominance) but then decreases when PA unity occurs. Only the north ends up exposed.

      A big deal.

      That’s enough to reduce the military rah-rah ing, to reduce the military budget, to reduce animosity.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jello

        Except that the presumption that the Palestinians will set up a peaceful state is based on nothing as long as all Palestinian factions continue to proclaim that their goal is the destruction of the Jewish state and only disagree on the timing. It is about as credible and believable as the idea that Hamas and IJ will surrender their weapons.

        I have yet to hear the Palestinians accept the principle of ‘two states for two peoples’. That is the fatal flaw of all of these hopelessly optimistic prognostications that preach the benefits of surrendering territory and security to the Arabs.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Abu Mazen in his own words and in Arabic, translated here into English: “I have no problem negotiating with Netanyahu, because he represents the state of Israel. My hand is always stretched out. We made great headway in the negotiations with Olmert, in which we discussed everything, and suddenly he was distanced from the political arena. We say to the nation in Israel: Our hands are stretched out for coexistence between the two countries; do not chop off the hand that is stretched out in peace, because the alternatives do not help anyone. The alternatives are destructive. If you say you are opposed to the two-state solution, then what kind of solution do you want? Do you want racial discrimination or apartheid or a one-state solution? What exactly do you want?”

          Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            We expect the Palestinians to enter negotiations on the basis of the principle of “two states for two peoples” and to accept that the outcome of negotiations will be a Jewish State and a Palestinian State living in peace next to each other. Until that is the solution the Palestinians are willing to accept every other proposed formulation is some variation of “lets eliminate Israel” and just a disagreement over timing and means. This is why I fully support Netanyahu’s insistence on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as a basis for negotiations. If the Palestinians wish to avoid that formulation I would personally be satisfied with them accepting the principle of “two states for two peoples”. As of this moment the Palestinians explicitly reject either formulation and to me that means that they are unable and unwilling to put aside their narrative according to which the ultimate goal is the destruction of the Jewish State and the internal and external politics of a new Palestinian state will reflect that dutifully.

            Until they accept this principle the most likely scenario is that a new Palestinian state will be hostile to Israel and none of the supposed security or diplomatic advantages listed in this article will come to pass. Any “hudna” or “peace treaty” will just be a temporary ceasefire while the Palestinians build up their strength for the next confrontation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Whiplsh

            The two state solution envisaged by Arabs is different from two states for two peoples living side by side in peace. Both under the Arafat and Abbas negotiating teams, the Palestinians would not agree to the proposition that any agreement would end the conflict. The Palestinians have since 1967 seen their struggle as succeeding in stages. They want a Palestinian state followed by taking over Israel as another Arab state. Therefore, the Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will not agree that a peace agreement will be an end of conflict.

            This point really hit home when Tzipi Livni said that a peace agreement with Abbas would not result in the end of the conflict and Israel would still be subject to and have to fight terrorism. So why would Netanyahu enter an agreement with the Palestinians and give up territory if even Livni knows the terrorism will continue and continue from a better position of strength following the Israeli withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria?

            Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      David Shulman’s analysis of the Israeli elections in the New York Review of Books:

      http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/mar/21/israel-elections-ugly-truth/

      ..Palestinians are destined for the foreseeable future to remain subject to a regime of state terror, including the remorseless loss of their lands and homes and, in many cases, their very lives; they will continue to be, as they are now, disenfranchised, without even minimal legal recourse, hemmed into small discontinuous enclaves, and deprived of elementary human rights.

      Take a mild, almost innocuous example, entirely typical of life in the territories. Last weekend I was in the south Hebron hills with Palestinian shepherds at a place called Zanuta, whose historic grazing grounds have been taken over, in large part, by a settlement inhabited by a single Jewish family. Soldiers turned up with the standard order, signed by the brigade commander, declaring the area a Closed Military Zone; the order is illegal, according to a Supreme Court ruling, but the writ of the court hardly impinges on reality on the ground in south Hebron. Within minutes, three of the shepherds and an Israeli activist were arrested.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Pedro

      As always, the rights and compensation the Palestinians are due is completely subservient to Israel’s “security needs”. Israel has stolen from, abused, killed, occupied and lied about Palestinians for over 60 years. Israel has one right: pack its bags and get off the Palestinian land. If you steal someone’s house, you have ZERO right to “security needs”. The best way to improve Israel’s security is to bring justice to the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jello

      When have the Palestinians accepted the framework of “two states for two peoples”????

      Your entire premise is garbage. You are building a straw man argument and are doing a piss poor job at it.

      “This can take place as part of a “hudna” — a long-term ceasefire between the two states, which will be enforced by the UN Security Council.”

      What kind of “enforcement” do you expect from the UN Security Council? You might as well have a “hudna” enforced by the easter bunny and muhammad’s flying horse.

      “This means that all Palestinian militant groups will disarm and transfer their weapons to the general security forces.”

      And why in bloody hell would Hamas hand over its weapons to a government ruled by Fateh? I presume the response will be that the emerging Palestinian state will be democratic and the great champions of democracy in Hamas will wish to participate. Like Iraq. And Syria. And Egypt. And Jordan. And Lebanon. And Libya, And Saudi Arabia. Clearly there are lots of precedents for the emergence of a democratic Arab state. You are definitely on solid ground here.

      “The Palestinian leadership sees things differently. It chose security cooperation as the only option for promoting Palestinian interests. ”

      It chose security cooperation because its previous choice of launching suicide bombings against Israeli civilians was met by overwhelming force. It will continue with security cooperation as long as it is assured that the alternative is ruin and destruction. An Israeli withdrawal will be deemed weakness and suddenly, like with the withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, the Arabs will question once again whether they can get more by killing Jews than by maintaining security cooperation. Welcome to the Middle East children.

      “The establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will cooperate on issues of security, policy and economy will provide Israel with significant security advantages,”

      Will it now? Will there be unicorns too? A more nuanced way of phrasing this would be saying that the establishment of a Palestinian state might provide Israel with significant security advantages as long as the body politic of that state is not dominated by parties that are committed to Israel’s destruction. Since all Palestinian parties, including Fateh, at the moment reject the idea of a Palestinian side-by-side with a Jewish state, what exactly is your presumption of peaceful neighborly relations based on other than wishful thinking?

      “Is it possible that not a single person in the country’s political echelon who believes that the security establishment’s focus on military strength only increases the hatred against us?”

      I am sure they consider this and have decided it is better to say alive and increase hatred against us rather than being killed. In any case, Arab hatred towards us is not exactly something new, nor do I really believe it has any further to grow. When 75% of the Palestinian population supports the murder of Israeli civilians within Israel and treats suicide bombers that murder indiscriminately as heroes I frankly couldn’t give two figs about increasing the hatred. What? 80% will support murdering me instead of 75%? I had this argument with a professor once on whether Israeli security precautions can stop suicide bombers. His argument was similar to yours – that heavy-handed tactics increase the motivations of Palestinians to launch suicide bombings and so they are counterproductive. My argument was that it is very much possible to stop suicide bombings by eliminating the capabilities of the Palestinians to launch attacks against us by disrupting their networks and increasing the difficulties for them in getting to our population as well as increasing pressure on the Palestinian population. The suicide bombings stopped because the Palestinian society could no longer handle the confrontation and were seeing only negative results from their continuation. He was wrong then and you are wrong now. Until this war ends we are enemies, we should treat each other as enemies, and enemies more often than not hate each other. To expect anything else is the domain of naive idealists.

      “The Israeli public does not know how to assess the political price paid by the Palestinian leadership,”

      The Palestinian leadership pays a price for brainwashing their people to hate Jews while carrying out security cooperation with Israel. The Palestinian pays a price for its own contradictory policies, of which the former is completely and entirely (schools, media, mosques) under its control. It is absurd that the Palestinians insist on a price for preventing their own people from murdering Jews. What would prevent their state from continuing to insist on additional concessions to prevent its people from trying to murder Jews? Would it be the belief of the Palestinian leadership in living in peace next to a Jewish State? Seems unlikely given that the Palestinian leadership categorically rejects this very idea.

      “But the truth is that one can put together a peace agreement that will satisfy Israel’s security needs and turn the neighboring Palestinian state into a strategic asset. ”

      The truth is that your argument is based on wishful thinking. The same kind of wishful thinking that declared that Hezbollah would no longer be a threat after the withdrawal from Lebanon. The same kind of wishful thinking that declared that a withdrawal from Gaza would not lead to rockets on Tel Aviv. The same kind of wishful thinking that led people to celebrate the Arab Spring. People make fun of Netanyahu for being pessimistic about the events in the region. Unfortunately Netanyahu has been consistently correct and those who base their prognosis on wishful thinking have been consistently wrong. Your article might sound reasonable to someone who doesn’t live here. To those of us that do it is the same old naive garbage we have been hearing for 20 years from the Israeli left and which has gotten less and less convincing as time has gone by. But a “New Middle East” is just around the corner if only Israel surrender some more land to the Arabs. Right?

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        UN report from the Committee On The Rights of the Child:

        http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC-C-ISR-CO-2-4.pdf

        “…Land confiscation, large scale demolition of Palestinian houses, expulsion of Palestinian and Bedouin families from homes they have occupied for generations, discriminatory building regulations, especially in East Jerusalem which continue to result in hundreds of Palestinians families and their children being displaced, homelessness or in constant fear of eviction and demolition..”

        Reply to Comment
    6. Ben

      I have to shake my head and chuckle at the recalcitrance and obstinacy and artifice of the right wingers on this page. No real conversation is possible. Sanctions, divestment, boycotts will inevitably be necessary. You can’t negotiate with fanatics who think they are owed capitulation and who always have one more hoop they’ve invented to demand be jumped through before we really really know the Palestinians in their heart of hearts have become Zionists.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jello

        We don’t expect them to become Zionists. We expect them to actually declare that they are interested in ending their war with us. So far no luck. Bring on the sanctions or whatever. They just drive voters to us.

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        • Ben

          I just quoted the Palestinian leader Abu Mazen, above, to precisely that effect, the end the war. Now, predictably you will start in on Hamas blah blah blah and throw in Hezbollah and Isis for good measure, but you and I both know that if you WANTED to shore up the right people on the Palestinian side instead of relentlessly vilifying and undermining them, you could make the API work towards a lasting secure peace. You don’t want peace you want capitulation which you jello especially arrogate a right to. Enough said. Israel is fast losing it’s friends. Time and demographics are not on your side. I think your confidence is misplaced. You think otherwise. Nothing more to say.

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          • Jello

            You quoted Abu Mazen that he wants to negotiate and that he wants “two countries”. What he is not willing to talk about in front of his people is that one of those countries will be a Jewish State. That is the principle of “two states for two peoples” that the Palestinians are as of yet unable to stomach or accept. Instead they continue to insist that whether now or later Israel cease to exist and whether there will be two countries or one they insist that neither of them be Israel. And they teach their children accordingly. And this is the ‘moderate’ Palestinians, and not, as you know, Hamas and Islamic Jihad which explicitly declares that they wish to destroy us. A Palestinian state with those building blocks can only be persistently hostile to Israel.

            There will be no peace until the Palestinians explicitly admit that they have failed to destroy the Jewish State and that they are actually going to have to live in peace next to it. If you want to call that “capitulation” then it is you that doesn’t want peace, not me. There is no practical benefit of signing an agreement with the Palestinians until they actually want peace with Israel and not a “hudna” or “cease-fire” as the author suggests. Such a “cease-fire” agreement would only lead to a pause in hostilities until the Palestinians decide that they are in a position to launch another round of hostilities. It would not bring peace. It would only bring rockets and suicide bombers closer to our cities.

            Time and demographics are both working quite well for us. As for our “friends”, the quotes that come to mind are “Lord protect me from my friends, I can take care of my enemies” and “With friends like these who needs enemies?”

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    7. Ben

      It is interesting, and telling, that Pedro X and Jello felt the need to come out in force with extra measures of derision today–because this article by Ilan Baruch is especially articulate in undermining the constant meme they push about incorrigible turrurists and the impossibility of peace and how the hatred and animosity is just inexplicable and has nothing to do with Israel’s behavior it’s just those Palestinians can’t stop hating Jews sigh whatever can we do blah blah blah. Ilan Baruch here very articulately undermines their whole structure of excuse making and blame externalizing. It’s an important statement that goes to the core issue. Bookmark this page. Thank you +972.

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      • Jello

        Actually he does a piss poor job. He starts with a false premise and arrives at a hopelessly naive conclusion. The extra topping of derision comes naturally when dealing with nonsense.

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    8. Bryan

      If the policy advocated by Pedro X, Jello, Whiplash and other fanatics actually worked they would have reason on their side, but the approach has been an abject failure during the six decades it has been employed. Brutal reprisals against infiltrators by Unit 101 and the Qibya Massacre of 1953 only led to increased Fedayeen raids. The attempt to wipe out Arafat’s feeble forces at Karameh in 1968 immensely increased the influence and recruitment for the PLO. The eventual violent suppression of the non-violent First Intifada and the immediate hail of live fire against demonstrators on the outbreak of the Second Intifada ended options for peaceful resistance and produced the suicide bombers. The invasion of Lebanon gave birth to resistance by Hezbollah, and the constant attacks on farmers and fishermen in Gaza brought reprisals from the feeble rockets of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Ilan Baruch has the good sense to know that when banging your head against a brick wall gives you a headache its time to change your approach, but our resident head-bangers here continue to insist that there is no alternative, rather than more honestly to admit that we have chosen to live by the sword and we want to die by the sword too.

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      • Jello

        The Fedayeen raids stopped because their hosts were afraid of escalation. The PLO has learned through tough lessons that violence against Israel doesn’t work. It has in the meantime chosen to collaborate. Jordan and Egypt have made peace with Israel because they knew they couldn’t win a war. The suicide bombers, which grew out of our withdrawal from the Palestinian cities, were stopped because the Palestinians couldn’t handle the consequences. Hezbollah, which grew strong as a result of our withdrawal from Lebanon, has been sitting quietly on the border for almost 10 years after getting its nose blooded. Hamas, which grew strong because of our withdrawal from Gaza, is preventing other groups from launching rockets against us despite us being told that war can’t stop the rockets. Our enemies are collapsing and fighting amongst themselves. We have chosen to live by the sword because there is no alternative in the Middle East. You are either strong or you are dead. If you are strong your enemies will make peace with you. If you withdraw your enemies just get stronger.

        I am going to go have lunch at a nice restaurant by the beach, on which I will spend way too much because it is always full of people that have lots of money to spend, and you can tell me about how much of an abject failure our approach has been.

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        • Ben

          Yah, you’re all strong and invincible when you want to occupy and keep ’em down and be “the boss” but you’re all weak-kneed and scared suddenly whenever anyone wants to make peace. This is transparent. No one is fooled.

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          • Ben

            Multiple personality disorder: the proud, strong, invincible, armed to the teeth, aggressive Israel suddenly flips into the “alter” of the weak, scared, we are so small, so vulnerable Israel whenever sharing the land and making peace is brought up. And then back again. A display masking underlying motives that are unspoken.
            As Efraim Halevy said, “I think we find ourselves in a moment of national paranoia. It is not appropriate to our reality, our ability. We are the strongest country in the Middle East, and the strongest country in the Middle East should not be saying every day that it is in danger of destruction. Israel cannot be destroyed and it is about time that the citizens of Israel understand that, internalize it and behave appropriately.” Efraim Halevy is way more credible than you. It’s not even close.

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          • Jello

            We are strong but also vulnerable. There is no contradiction between the two. We can crush our enemies but they are capable of inflicting significant damage to us. If we naively take risks we can significantly increase the damage our enemies can cause us. Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2015 are far stronger than they were in 1998. That is the reality and it mostly has to do with regional trends over which our control is minimal.

            I do not have a problem with partitioning the land but it makes no sense to do so in a way that inevitably leads to a hostile state growing next door which dreams of our destruction and acts accordingly. I believe that will change but it will take some time for the current trends in the region to support that. And yes, we are strong enough to wait for that to happen. I think Efraim Halevy is correct that there is no reason for existential paranoiia but that doesn’t mean one must wear rose-colored glasses when looking at the available options.

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          • Ben

            Rose colored? One of you two is color blind and I don’t think it’s him. Geez, if it’s not multiple personality disorder it’s hysterical color blindness. It’s always something.

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        • Bryan

          Have it your way if you like Jello, that disproportionate over-reaction and collective punishment are well-proven, highly effective means of overcoming all opposition and resolving problems, though scarcely anyone agrees with you, and another commentator in this thread, going by the name of Jello, argues: “Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2015 are far stronger than they were in 1998.” But much as you try to, you cannot have it both ways – (a) brute force always triumphs (b) the entire Arab world and the entire Western world are against us – you cannot be both (a) the toughest and nastiest bully on the block (b) an eternal victim for ever vilified by others. Please do get treatment for your mental and social disorders.

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    9. Ben

      Ok, +972 ‘leftists’, we just got a super endorsement from Naftali Bennet. He’s lumped us with “senior Israeli defense officials.” “Leftists and senior defense officials.” Apparently “leftists and senior defense officials” are in cahoots together in an eeeeevil plot to undermine the country. God does this not show the crazy extremism of the hard Right like nothing else can? “Senior defense officials” are “interfering.” O….K….Naftali, you’re playing with a full deck…sure you are…and you’re not a fascist masquerading as a democratic politician…oh nooooo….

      http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Leftists-ex-security-chiefs-harming-Israels-drive-against-Iran-nuclear-deal-396665

      Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett on Thursday accused “leftists and senior defense officials” of undermining the Israeli government’s global campaign against Iran’s nuclear program.
      “Stop interfering,” Bennett wrote

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