Peace or the West Bank?

Unlike previous announcements of settlement building, the latest announcement of 558 new settlement homes will be met with silence. The Americans have learned, it will take more than that to derail a peace process.

While these stuttering talks continue, the Palestinians have come out with compromise measure after compromise measure. They have been met by a deeply uncomfortable Israeli leadership. As the talks that were once widely ridiculed bring Israeli security needs and a Palestinian state closer the coalition government becomes weaker.

The divisions that were ignored when it was thought that these talks would fade away have become more pronounced now there is a chance for success. The Prime Minister once said;

If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel’‎”

When he made that statement few doubted him, but what about now? What about now that Abbas has realised that Palestinian strength lies in not in terror but in testing our claims to want peace more than anything else?

The Israeli public went with Barack when he pushed for peace, they went with Sharon when he pushed for peace and with Olmert when he pushed for peace. When the Palestinians pushed these opportunities away the Israeli public went to the Likud. A party whose founder would be turning in his grave if he thought that the current premier was even negotiating over the land promised to the Jews by God. The Likud is a party that was created with the intention of settling that land and making it Jewish, permanently.

This must weigh on Bibi while he sits in negotiations. Now is the critical moment when he is forced to confront a changing strategic reality. One that has rendered a great deal of the security argument vis a vis the Palestinians moot.

The head of the Palestinian Authority is consenting to an “indefinite presence” of a US led, NATO force on its own territory and for IDF forces to conduct a phased withdrawal over a 3 year period. We in Israel are now confronted with the dilemma of having to admit that the reason Israel is so hell bent on hanging on to the West Bank isn’t merely security.

This is the land God promised to our people, the land our forefathers lived in and are buried in, the land Jewish Kings and warriors fought over and shed blood conquering, defending, losing and ultimately conquering once more. This is the land that causes us to question our very essence as a people, as a nation.

If it’s possible to liberate dust, rocks and graves then the IDF did precisely that in 1967. But no more. The people born and raised among the dust and rocks have their own way of seeing things. They have a right to. They had no right to rise up and murder us. The horror they inflicted upon was indiscriminate slaughter, waves of terror that served only to strengthen our resolve. From bus bombings to airplane hijackings. We beat that terror, we won the wars and the battles…and yet the Palestinians remain.

But what do we do now? What do we do now that our enemy is prepared to both abandon terror and to pursue sovereignty just as doggedly as we did some 6 decades ago?

They are certainly campaigning diplomatically for us to be forced out of the West Bank and they are meeting with success in every theater.

Ironically this is what we have been screaming for them to do for decades, now that they are doing it the Israeli government looks like a deer stuck in the headlights.

The choice by Abbas to put down the gun but to raise the megaphone has our politicians running for cover when they should be jumping for joy. The terse statement by Defense Minister Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon that Israel “will manage without a peace deal” lay the Likud bare. Looking to a past with longing, a promise made by God who has yet to fulfill that promise. They should be looking forward to a future where we achieve things our forefathers never could have dreamed of. That future is waiting for us.

I say that the truth is we can’t have it all. We took the land but we weren’t fated to make it ours. We have enough, give the Palestinians theirs, let the Americans patrol it and look to the future of Israel rather than the past.  

About the Author
Marc Goldberg is the author of Beyond the Green Line, a story his service in the IDF fighting through the al Aqsa Intifada
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