A new peace is needed
Now that the old peace is dead, we must quickly replace it with a new, realistic peace.
First the old peace was lightly wounded. After Israel gave the Palestinians most of Gaza, the first bus blew up at Dizengoff Square. After Israel gave the Palestinians Nablus and Ramallah, buses started blowing up in downtown Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And after Israel suggested that the Palestinians set up a sovereign state on most of the occupied territories, they responded with a wave of terror. And as suicide terrorists were running amok in our cities, it started to dawn on people that maybe there was something defective about the promise of a great peace.
Then the old peace suffered moderate wounds. After Israel withdrew from south Lebanon, a Shi'ite missile base was set up there, which threatens the entire country. And after Israel withdrew from the Gaza settlements, the area became an armed Hamastan that continually attacked the south.
Both of these bold, unilateral and justified withdrawals yielded difficult results. When Qassam rockets fell on Sderot and Grads started landing in Ashdod and Fajr missiles hit Haifa, there started to be butterflies in our stomachs regarding what we might expect after the really big withdrawal.
After that, the old peace was seriously hurt. Tzipi Livni sat with Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala ) for a full year, but Qureia signed nothing. Ehud Olmert offered Jerusalem to Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas just disappeared. The fact that the moderate Palestinians were turning their backs on the most generous peace offerings Israel had ever made raised gloomy suspicions about their intentions. Were they really willing to divide the country into two national states that would live side by side with one another?
Finally, the old peace was critically injured. After withstanding an endless number of blows, even reasonable, moderate Israelis lost their faith in reconciliation. Even though they were still prepared to hand over the territories and divide Jerusalem, they sensed that there was no one to hand over the territories to, or with whom to divide Jerusalem.
That's why they abandoned the diplomatic agenda and started to address the socioeconomic agenda. They had lost the passion that enabled them to battle the right and the settlers. The Israelis' despair of ever achieving peace was no less a blow to peace than the blow dealt to it by Palestinian intransigence.
Now the old peace is dead. Really dead. The Islamic revolution in Egypt has removed the southern anchor of that promised peace. The murderous oppression in Syria has neutralized its northern guarantor, and the gradually warming relationship between Fatah and Hamas eliminates its central axis.
Anyone who observes the reality that has emerged around us now understands what was not fully understood a year ago: That the Arab awakening has killed the diplomatic process. In the coming years, no moderate Arab leader will have enough legitimacy or power to sign a peace agreement with Israel. What we've yearned for since 1967 and what we believed in since 1993 simply isn't going to happen. Not now, and not in this decade.
The confirmed death of the old peace is one of the most serious developments of 2011. Without a hope for peace, there is a greater risk that the Palestinian front will deteriorate. Without a peace process, there is a greater risk of an eruption in the Middle East. Without peace on the horizon, the occupation becomes more entrenched and threatens to bury us all.
That's why the death of the old peace requires some creative thinking about a new peace - a peace that won't be imminent, but gradual. A peace that won't be final, but partial. A peace that will not necessarily be based on signed agreements. A peace that will learn lessons from the death the old peace and will adapt itself to a new, stormy, historic reality.
This new peace won't be the peace of our dreams. It won't be the peace that puts an end to the conflict. It will not even be a peace that ends the occupation.
But perhaps this new, modest peace will enable us to forge a path through the storm, to manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and somewhat abate it. This new peace could provide Israel's center and left with a new, relevant diplomatic agenda. Now that the old peace is dead, we must quickly replace it with a new, realistic peace.