Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Israeli Initiative-Newsletter 15

May 28, 2009
Dear friends,

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington has caused resurgence of public debate regarding alternatives to the two-state solution, an idea that America has been pushing for the past few years. Opposition to the two-state solution comes not only from the right wing in Israel, but is gradually becoming the quiet acquiescence of the general public. As time goes on, calls against the two-state solution are becoming more and more dominant.

Yuval Diskin, head of the GSS, stated that there is no future in negotiations with the Palestinians. Giora Eiland, former national security advisor, continues to reiterate that Hamas’ dominance of the Palestinian street makes negotiations with the Palestinians irrelevant and unproductive. Moreover, Eiland said that the maximum amount of territory that Israel can relinquish to the Palestinians will not be nearly sufficient to procure support for such a plan amongst the Palestinian people. Last week the Jerusalem Post featured an article by Uri Bar Zohar, a historian and former Labor MK, which asserted that the Jordanian option should be resurrected as the Palestinian option cannot bring peace.

Even prior to the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, opposition to the two-state solution was already being voiced. MK Danny Danon (Likud) convened those close to the Prime Minister to reaffirm the party’s rejection of the two-state solution. These feelings were expressed by Limor Livnat, who said that the negotiations with the Palestinians so far “have not brought any positive results”. After Netanyahu's return from the meeting wuth Obama, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) has organized a very successful conference in the Knesset, to discuss alternative policies to the two-state solution. The Israeli Initiative was one of the alternatives, and we look forward for the next steps of this public debate.

In retrospect, there is no doubt that these statements had a strong influence in helping the Prime Minister withstand the American pressure of agreeing to a two-state solution.


Only a few days ago we celebrated the forty-second anniversary of Jerusalem’s unification, an achievement of the six day war. That war made clear that Israel’s existence is no longer in question, left Israel defendable borders, and gave Israel the ability to deter her enemies.

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is beautiful as always, and a place where it is possible to walk securely in all parts of the city. However, the joy is not complete. While forty years have passed since the six day war and more than sixty years since Israel’s establishment, Israel’s legitimacy to exist is still being challenged.

There are various explanations for this, some deeply entrenched in psychological stereotypes of the west, which see the Jews as a persecuted and exiled nation, but have difficulty seeing them as a sovereign nation. However, these thought patterns in the west need to be legitimized by some basis in reality. This basis is provided by the Palestinian refugees.

With the establishment of Israel’s statehood came the refugee problem. These refugees continue to hinder Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world. The time has come for our Government to cease being afraid to deal with the refugee problem and initiate a change in the international community on this issue.

The current path in the Middle East peace process is heading in a direction which will not provide practical solutions. There is one change that can be effected which can potentially redirect the peace process and open new windows of opportunity. This change is the dismantling of the refugee camps and the rehabilitation of the refugees. Rehabilitating, or resettling those who choose such, is the key to shifting the course of events. It is urgent that this process begin, even if only a small number of refugees are aided. Breaking the stagnant situation will shift the nature of ‘the Palestinian problem’ in the eyes of the public from a political issue to a humanitarian one.

May we all enjoy a Happy Shavuot,
Yoav Sorek
Director, the Israeli Initiative

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