Myth: No one can lecture us on the Middle East. The complexities of the situation and the mentality of the peoples of the Levant make peace impossible between Israelis and Palestinians. Due to the continued state of conflict with no chance of peace, settlers should be enabled to continue to populate their biblical homeland despite the international outcry.
Fact: The complexities of many areas of conflict are just as intricate, if not more than here. Peace processes and the resolution of conflict have taken place in many regions while Israel now falls far behind in any serious diplomatic initiative.
Findings: The Irish conflict goes back in history more than 300 years and was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century which incorporated within it the use of terror, bombings and forms of violence against civilians similar to that in the region of the Middle East. The conflict of religions, the quest for geographical expansion and control, the presence of military occupation, discrimination and the use of terror are all common denominators. Yet while Israel has deepened its settlement and quest for sovereignty over occupied territory and the Arafat regime endorsed a second intifada, the Irish began resolving differences in the 90s, and a peace agreement has been signed and implemented.
In South Africa few if any ever envisaged a peace process and the establishment of a full democracy. Yet in 1994 a challenging peace process successfully ended racial domination and enabled the establishment of a free democratic South Africa.
These are two conflicts that were seemingly impossible to solve – and there are more – that were resolved while Israeli and Palestinian leaders have moved deeper into the quagmire of irresolute non- diplomacy.
The one factor that brought about resolution in these conflicts unlike in the case of Israelis and Palestinians, was the understanding by leaders that peace is a necessity and will only come about through a compromise of assets, whether it be land, resources, dominance or moving past the national narrative towards a new one of hope.
This situation of continued impasse has empowered settlers to create a reality on the ground that could bring about literally a No state solution: Consecutive Israeli governments have consistently fallen in line and endorsed extremist settlement endeavors. By breaking down any trace of a formal border with Palestine, by rubbing out the green line in its text books and maps and by purposely leveraging the separation barrier intended for defense in order to incorporate settlement blocs, the instruments of state have by default, created a Greater Israel. One in which Jews will within the decade, be a minority within their own state. This in turn leads either leads to No Jewish State or No democratic state. It brings an end to the Zionist idea and spawns one state for all its peoples whether in the short term or the long term thereby putting extremist anti-Zionists and fanatic settlers who prefer biblical land assets over statehood, effectively in the same camp.
Fantasy: Settlement in occupied territory will continue and a Jewish rebirth will take place. Palestinians will be granted Israeli Identity cards like those in East Jerusalem (without voting rights) and Sheikhs and Rabbis will determine policy for a happy-family religious non-democratic state.
Myth: The occupation is the fundamental source of conflict between Israel and Palestine. Remove the occupation and peace will follow.
Fact: The occupation is not the obstacle to peace. Settlement in occupied territory is.
Findings: The myth that the removal of occupation will bring peace in its wake is generally purveyed by the far left in Israel and abroad or by those Israelis who believe in a unilateral withdrawal. Unfortunately there is no basis for this hypothesis. On the contrary: we know that a unilateral withdrawal did not bring peace after the Gaza withdrawal and Israelis across the board will not accept a militant Palestinian state within several kilometers from Ben Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv.
The only track for real peace is the Roadmap for Peace and ultimately the foundations set down in the Geneva Initiative which guarantee Israel’s security and grant Palestinians an independent state. This means a serious framework of negotiations and willingness to work towards a two state solution. This cannot gain traction as long as the extreme settler wing continues to dictate policy within the Likud ruling party, supported by ultra nationalist parties on whom the coalition balances.
While Palestinian leadership failed dismally in 2000 by sponsoring and opening the gates for the second intifada at the very watershed when peace may have been negotiated, the Government of Israel has consistently sponsored and initiated settlement in the territory designated for a future Palestine.
If we examine the current situation since 2005, Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has fully met the Roadmap requirements which included dismantling the infrastructure of terror and creating a viable structure of law and order. Israel has failed in meeting the basic requirements: freezing settlement and dismantling illegal outposts.
Stage one therefore requires bringing about an end to the settlement endeavor, a true discourse within Israel and the Jewish world regarding the dangers of visceral impulses to own and control land outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders and the formulation of a plan to end the 45 year occupation. Failing that, Judea and Samaria’s Council, its leaders and the fundamentalist extremists who lead the Greater Israel movement shall continue being the tail that wags the dog and destine the Jewish people to lose its precious democracy.
Fantasy 1: Everything is fine, nothing will change and continued settlement and occupation has long- term sustainability.
Fantasy 2: Israel can exist and survive as a discriminating theocracy rather than a democracy.