Milestones along the road to a new Mideast peace
This peace will not be a peace of yet another glittering ceremony on the White House lawn. This peace will be the end product of a long and exhausting process of ending the occupation.
The first basic assumption of the new peace is that, in the coming years, no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will be signed.
Of course, we must keep trying. Some secret diplomatic team must always be maintained to conduct hushed-up negotiations to check whether it is possible. But the working assumption is that, in the current strategic environment, there's no chance of resolving the problems of Jerusalem, the refugees or Hamas. Someday there will be peace, perhaps, but not in this decade.
The second basic assumption of the new peace is that the threat posed by the occupation is no less serious than any other threat. The occupation threatens Israel morally, demographically and politically, and skews its identity. Continuing the occupation corrupts the Jewish-democratic state. It slowly changes its identity and threatens its essential existence. The status quo is cancerous, even if we don't feel it. If we don't end it, it will finish us off.
The third basic assumption of the new peace is that a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank can't be immediate, one-dimensional or far-reaching. It still isn't clear how we will withstand the Iranian missile bases that were set up in the north and the south, in Lebanon and Gaza, following the previous unilateral withdrawals, but it's clear that we won't be able to withstand a third such missile base in the center of the country. A withdrawal to the Green Line that doesn't address the missile danger will be destabilizing and will threaten national security.
The fourth basic assumption of the new peace is that while the new Muslim-Arab world won't allow for the signing of the old types of peace agreements, it could pave the way for new types of opportunities, alliances and understandings. We've lost the chance for formal peace agreements with secular, corrupt Arab despots, but there is a chance of reaching some fascinating, mutually beneficial deals with some of our neighbors. At the same time, an opening has been created for deeper understandings between Israel and the western powers that up to now have resisted trying to understand us.
The fifth basic assumption of the new peace is that we must act. If David Ben-Gurion had been alive today, he would have jumped at the new regional situation as if he had found a treasure. He would be searching for new allies, new strategic arrangements and new diplomatic understandings. Ben-Gurion is no longer with us, but his way of working is more relevant than ever. Faced with a regional storm, Israel must take the initiative.
These five basic assumptions bring us to one conclusion - we need a new diplomatic paradigm. The Oslo Accords are no longer relevant, and the Camp David and Annapolis outlines are past their expiration date. Peace with Syria is no longer on the agenda for now. Those ossified, obsolete ideas must be replaced with creative ideas for a new peace.
The new-peaceniks will agree to the following: Israel is prepared to freeze construction in settlements that are beyond the new separation line; Israel is prepared to operate an evacuation-compensation program in settlements beyond the separation line; and Israel is prepared to evacuate some 20 whole settlements in the West Bank, whose abandonment will give the Palestinians a significant swath of contiguous territory.
In return, Israel demands that the international community recognize that the future peace will be peace between the Jewish-democratic state and the demilitarized Palestinian state. Israel demands that the international community recognize that the new separation line is a legitimate line of defense until peace is reached. Israel demands that the international community recognize that the Jordan Valley is a crucial security zone in which special security arrangements must be made, even if peace is reached. Israel demands that the international community sign treaties with it and grant it a security net, and it demands a guarantee that any territory it withdraws from will remain totally demilitarized.
And Israel suggests that the international community enter into a true partnership with it, so that together they can advance a controlled and careful plan for dividing the land.
It's time that we all raised our heads, opened our eyes and took a really good look at where it is we're living. This peace will not be a peace of yet another glittering ceremony on the White House lawn. This peace will be the end product of a long and exhausting process of ending the occupation.
The process will have to be gradual, creative and real. But it must begin now. A new peace, now!