Israel's Peace Plan Marks a New Era in the Country's History and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel has entered a new era of thinking and policy in which old categories of left or right, hawk or dove are irrelevant under a national unity government bringing together the two main ruling parties.
How did this new paradigm arise?
Between 1948 and 1992, the Israeli consensus was that the PLO and most Arab states want to destroy Israel. When—or if--the day comes that they’re ready to negotiate seriously we’ll see what happens.
Then came the Oslo agreement and a huge shift. The governing view was that maybe the Palestinians and Arab states learned the cost of their intransigence enough to make peace possible. The left thought a deal could bring real peace; the right thought it was a trick leading to another stage of conflict on terms less favorable to Israel. But both expected a deal to materialize.
The year 2000, the Camp David failure, the Syrian and Palestinian rejection of generous offers, and Second Intifada destroyed illusions in Israel.
Since then, Israel has groped for a new paradigm. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered unilateralism; Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni constantly offered more in exchange for nothing. But the more they did so, the more international abuse Israel received.
Now a new approach has finally emerged capable of reversing this situation. It goes like this: Israel wants peace but doesn’t hesitate to express not only what it wants and needs but also what’s required to create a stable and better situation. To ensure that violence and instability really ceases requires:
--Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Without this step, the aftermath of any “peace” agreement would be additional decades of Arab effort to destroy Israel in all but—temporarily—name.
--Absolute clarity that a peace agreement ends the conflict and all claims on Israel. Otherwise, the Palestinian leadership and much of the Arab world would regard any “peace” agreement as a license for a new stage of battle using Palestine as a base for renewed attacks and demands.
--Strong security arrangements and serious international guarantees for them. Have no doubt; these will be tested by cross-border attacks from Palestine.
--An unmilitarized Palestinian state (a better description than “demilitarized”), with the large security forces they already have: enough for internal security and legitimate defense but not aggression.
--Palestinian refugees resettled in Palestine. The demand for a “Right of Return” is just a rationale for wiping Israel off the map through internal subversion and civil war.
If Israel gets what it requires—and what successful peace requires—it will accept a two-state solution, a Palestinian Arab Muslim state (the Palestinian Authority’s own definition) alongside a Jewish state, living in peace.
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