Netanyahu Ahead of Trump Phone Call: I Am Willing to Give Palestinians a 'State-minus'

Guide for the Dumbstruck Dove

The January 25 elections brought to the surface the deep current that flows through the Palestinian consciousness: the fervent desire for Israel's destruction and the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of its existence.

Five years ago, Yossi Beilin published "Madrich Leyona Patzua" ("Manual for a Wounded Dove") in order to defend the Oslo Accords and to explain why, in his opinion, they failed.

Beilin attributed the collapse of the talks at Camp David between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat; the start of the intifada that followed; and the resultant election of the Likud and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to mistakes made by both sides. He lays much of the responsibility at the feet of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was prime minister from 1996-99.

The Israeli left, Beilin's intended audience, needs a new book of rules to keep it from abandoning its fundamental belief in the possibility of ending the conflict with the Palestinians through an honest compromise that would permit both peoples to live side by side peacefully, in separate and sovereign states.

At first glance, the results of the elections in the Palestinian Authority were the death knell for the left's way of looking at the world: when the majority of the Palestinian people votes for a party that, for religious reasons, rejects the right of the Jewish people to have a state on part of the Land of Israel, it affirms the Israeli right's understanding of the essence of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Palestinians are proving that they reject Israel's very existence, partly on the basis of religious beliefs, and that even if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, the Palestinian demand for control over all of the biblical Eretz Yisrael would remain. In other words, the January 25 elections brought to the surface the deep current that flows through the Palestinian consciousness: the fervent desire for Israel's destruction and the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of its existence. When that is the situation, then what validity do the Israeli left's offers of compromise have, and what is the point of additional withdrawals?

The moral justification for ending the Israeli occupation still holds, even under current conditions. The occupation causes terrible injustices to innocent Palestinian civilians and it has a corruptive effect on Israeli society. The occupation is bad news on the practical level as well. For nearly 40 years it has affected Israel's development and its international relations, and created a serious internal conflict.

Anyone who wants to write a new guide for the dumbstruck dove should remember these home truths. Ruling over another people is a recipe for disaster.

Putting an end to the occupation is still the order of the day, even after the Palestinian Authority elections. It is difficult to calculate the contribution of the occupation to the success of Hamas, to determine the extent to which its victory reflects the heartfelt desire of the Palestinian people (and the Arabs in general, in light of the nature of the Arab regimes and the status of Islam within them) versus the extent it is a product of their suffering under Israeli rule.

The Palestinians, who in 1996 chose Fatah and Arafat to rule over them, once more have proved their penchant for voting in favor of authoritarian leaders. True, they do this through democratic means, but their preferences point to a mentality that longs for a firm hand.

When Hamas rules Gaza and the West Bank, it will impose a way of life resembling that of the ayatollahs in Iran.(Acording to a secular Palestinian observer, one of its first steps will be to Islamicize the textbooks and the education system in general). The Palestinian public has proved that it is ready, if not willing, to accept this regime.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the rise of Hamas also reflect a desire to strike a blow against Israel. Just as the Israeli public voted in Ariel Sharon as prime minister in a landslide on February 6, 2001 because they saw him as a leader who could break the back of Palestinian terror, so, too, did the Palestinians vote last week for Hamas because they see it as a movement that will force Israel to end its occupation. This teaches us about the connection between Israel's behavior and the deepest moods of the Palestinians.