Mideast diplomatic calm cannot hide a building storm
The situation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab world should have opened the eyes of the Israel's leaders, who should have realized that an Israeli initiative is needed to guarantee national security.
After September comes October. Quiet. Peace on the House of Israel. Barack Obama gave a Zionist speech at the United Nations, and Mahmoud Abbas gave an anti-Semitic speech at the United Nations, and all is right with the world. Benjamin Netanyahu showed them, and gave it to them, and Netanyahu once again proved that he's a real man. And so, on the eve of this Yom Kippur, as on the eve of that Yom Kippur, all is calm.
The borders are quiet, the territories are occupied, the forces are ready. We are waiting for a call from the Palestinians, even though we know the phone will never ring. We prefer the status quo with Yitzhar to a breakthrough without Yitzhar. We are building in Gilo, in the main settlement blocs, beyond the main settlement blocs. We are carrying out Hanan Porat's master plan without Porat's messianic fervor. Fear not, O Jacob My servant, do not be so pessimistic. For Israel is not widowed, and the Glory of Israel will not lie.
One little problem: September isn't a date, September is a process. And the process of September is still at its height. The danger of September has not passed. What the Palestinians really want is to reach the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In order to do so they are still trying their power in the UN Security Council. In order to do so they will take their case to the UN General Assembly. The anticipated failure in the Security Council will improve their chances in the General Assembly and after the General Assembly.
Thus, at the end of this Gregorian calendar year or at the beginning of the next Gregorian calendar year, a new political-legal situation might arise in Palestine. The organizing principle of the peace process will cease to organize. The 18 years of the Oslo plan will come to an end. The Israelis and the Palestinians are on course for a political and legal head-on collision. Sooner or later, the collision will echo in Tahrir Square. Perhaps it will already be spring, maybe even summer - but September will surely come. September will strike us with all its force.
A second little problem: Hamas. Buckets of ink have been spilled in criticizing Operation Cast Lead, but Operation Cast Lead stabilized southern Israel. It gave Gaza-border communities there 33 months of near-calm. But the problem that is beyond the calm is still there. The problem that is beyond the calm is growing stronger every month. Advanced weapons are being smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Libya. Advanced weapons are flowing into the Gaza Strip through the chaos of the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian-Israeli alliance that contained Hamas no longer contains Hamas. Thus with every passing day Hamas' relative power increases. With every passing day the deterrent effect of Operation Cast Lead declines.
Hamastan today has a capability it did not have in the past: the capability to undermine the stability in the Middle East. Hamastan today has no interest in using this new capability; it is waiting for the results of the vote in the UN and of the election in Egypt. It is letting the Palestinian September and the Egyptian Spring realize themselves. After the political dust settles, however, Israel will also face a new situation in the south. A situation in which any harsh action against Gaza's Muslim Brotherhood could rouse the Muslim Brotherhood in Istanbul and in Cairo.
A third little problem: The new Arab world is about as stable as nitroglycerin. No army is threatening Israel directly, but any border incident could potentially turn into a dramatic crisis with Israel. Therefore today, more than ever, Israel must be capable of applying force. But in its current legitimacy status Israel cannot apply force. Without a diplomatic Iron Dome, its strategic situation is dire.
These three little problems should have been a wake-up call to Jerusalem. The sensitive situation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Arab world should have opened the eyes of the Israeli leadership. It should have realized that to guarantee national security it must announce an Israeli initiative. But as on the eve of that Yom Kippur, so too on the eve of this Yom Kippur: All is calm. The borders are quiet, the territories are occupied, the forces are ready. We are waiting for a call from the Palestinians that will never come. Fear not, O Jacob My servant, do not be so pessimistic. For Israel is not widowed. The Glory of Israel. Peace on the House of Israel.