Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Livni is not the answer

Ted Belman

The Jerusalem Report has a major article, The Livni Beat, which attempts to explain Livni’s politics.

In Livni’s view, the occupation of Palestinian territory must be wound up for two reasons:

- to ensure that Israel will remain democratic with a Jewish majority, and to preempt attempts

- to use the ongoing occupation to deligitimize the state.

That’s what is motivating the present government to pursue the negotiations. Its unfortunate that the writer calls Judea and Samaria, “Palestinian territory”. Such a reference may have come from Livni and that is part of the problem. So long as Israel thinks of it as Palestinian, Israel will give it up. In truth it was promised to the Jews and they are entitled to call it theirs and keep it.

The first reason doesn’t stand up. Demographic studies which are now two years old and are constantly being updated confirmed that If Israel were to annex Judea and Samaria, the Jews would outnumber the non-Jews by a ratio of 2:1 for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, a Constitution could be drawn up which would ensure that Israel is a Jewish state and would ensure citizenship to all who qualify. But many Israelis don’t want another 1.5 million Arabs in their state even if Israel gets to keep all the land. That is why the Jordanian solution interests many. There is no question that the current government wants to end the occupation because of the damage it does to Israel’s legitimacy. The negotiations are not intended to achieve real peace but to achieve international legitimacy. The government is worried about what the gentiles think. The Right will have none of it. It prefers to keep the land and the world be damned.

Our readers have often debated whether Israel must bow down to world opinion or can in some way thwart it. Moses condemned the twelve spies for asking on their return whether the Israelites could defeat the Canaanites. The question should have been, how can we defeat them or, in this case, thwart them.

To begin with Israel is discredited in part because it doesn’t argue the justice of its cause. Israel has left the field wide open to the Palestinians to demand justice. In reality the Jews can make a far better case for justice but they don’t. That’s a large part of the problem.

Another part of the problem is that the West doesn’t care about justice and prefers to side with the Arabs to maintain good relations.

Finally, Israel doesn’t argue for an alternate solution thereby leaving only the two-state solution on the table. As long as it is on the table, Israel is putting itself at a disadvantage. Of course it is going to result in deligitimation and demands for retreat.

Now if Israel were to call a moratorium on the process for a two-state solution, if not the outright abrogation of it, and were to put other options on the table it could easily make the case that they are more viable and have a better chance to end in peace. Once again the West doesn’t care about a good solution, it just wants to please the Arabs.

Nevertheless, Israel would gain legitimacy by putting forward a more rational solution.

Where is it written that the US can’t be convinced to back a different solution. I believe in time it will be. Sooner or later the US will accept that the two-state solution is an impossible dream or vision, if you will, and will start to entertain alternatives.

Jordan has quietly made it known to the US that a Palestinian state would be a danger to it. Jordan much prefers that Israel remain in in Judea and Samaria. There are many in the US who prefer the Jordanian option and we have to keep pursuing it. Jordan is also have discussions with Israel.

But after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was followed by an increase of rocket fire on Israeli civilians, Livni remarked that next time “we can’t just throw the keys over the fence” - not even for the sake of international legitimacy. In other words, there will have to be agreement with the Palestinians and possibly international guarantees before Israel makes any further withdrawals.

Thus Livni is talking about a negotiated withdrawal rather than a unilateral withdrawal.

Livni is currently negotiating a deal known as the “shelf agreement” with the Palestinian Authority, so called because both sides know that it will remain unimplemented until conditions are right. For Livni, it is intended partly to show the international community that Israel is prepared to go all the way towards a two-state deal, even if it can’t be implemented because of continued Hamas-initiated violence from Gaza.

One of the problems with this thinking is that the agreement won’t be implemented but will cast a giant shadow over all that goes on and there will be no going back.

Nowhere in this article and unfortunately in her thinking, does the horror of uprooting 200,000 Jews from their homes factor in. Surely that should o’er weigh the desire to accommodate the world. It should also make the two-state solution a no go area.

As late as one month ago, Bush reiterated that Israel is entitled to defensible borders. His letters of ‘04 said so also and both presidential candidates have agreed on this. The only odd man out is Israel. She prefers not to even mention it for fear of killing the negotiated withdrawal. The same goes for Jerusalem. If she insisted on keeping it, it would mean the end of the negotiated withdrawal.

Now who wants that?

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