The events of the past few weeks in the territories, Jerusalem and Washington provide laboratory proof of a truth that many people have known for years - without a forced solution, there will be no peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Indeed, from the Oslo Accords to the futile talk about the Annapolis process and the nonsense stories of the past year, all attempts at direct dialogue have failed for one major reason: Neither side has the moral and political fortitude to recognize the finality of the situation at the end of the War of Independence. The Arabs are not capable of coming to terms with their defeat and burying the dream of return, while the Israelis are not capable of holding back the urge to expand in Jerusalem and the territories.
The Israeli political elite is divided between those who seek to continue to push out the Palestinians from the Land of Israel as much as possible and those who, for fear of the settlers, do not dare take a stand against the annexation that is becoming ever more entrenched. The destructive result is that Israel's leaders do not move a finger to give the Palestinians the minimum of incentives required for coming to terms with the great rupture that the War of Independence created in their history.
Were Israeli society prepared to pay the price for peace, its government would not be fanning the flames of conflict at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Sheikh Jarrah and the Shoafat ridge, nor would it be wrestling with the United States over expanding the settlements. Were it serious about its intentions, the government would immediately put a lid on Jerusalem's lunatic mayor.
After all, how is it possible to demand that the Palestinians recognize the results of the War of Independence and the legitimacy of the Jewish state if Israel takes the liberty of continuing to seize their lands? How is it possible to move forward when the government continues to invest giant sums in the territories and create facts whose only purpose is to create an irreversible situation?
The conclusion is that if building in Shoafat and Silwan is the same as building in Tel Aviv in the eyes of the Israeli government, the only solution is an imposed one. The statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the name of Defense Minister Ehud Barak as well prove that the demand for direct talks is nothing more than endless foot-dragging until the Arabs throw us a lifeline in the form of a foolish act of their own, or until a new regional crisis occurs and perhaps even a war with Iran. Then the game can continue.
Both sides, therefore, require incessant pressure accompanied by an immediate response to any violation of a commitment, and whenever necessary, painful sanctions. Ultimately, the exploitation of the two sides' political vulnerability, with the aim of ending the long war over the land, is a quintessential national interest of everyone who lives here.
For a long time now, the continuation of the settlement project has stirred severe doubts across the world about the nature of the Jewish national movement. Its enemies see it as proof that the Israeli desire for expansion and the cynical denial of human rights for the Palestinians are built into Zionism's very substance and are not a function of one coalition majority or another. The urge to continue the occupation is what arouses abhorrence among the intelligentsia both in Europe and America. Europe is not hostile to Israel, it merely is repulsed by the Israeli policy in the territories and is fearful of a general regional conflagration that could imperil it as well.
To the same extent, there is no greater mistake than the distorted impression of Netanyahu's reception at the AIPAC conference. AIPAC is a forceful and power-hungry lobby, but it represents only a minority of America's Jews. It has no presence among the Jewish cultural elite and at the universities where the political, economic and cultural leaders of the future are studying. Worse still, it derives most of its strength from its ability to raise large sums of money to threaten venerable liberal candidates for Congress whose positions don't find favor with the Israeli right. In this fashion, AIPAC causes the liberal elements in the American elite to loathe it.
Indeed, there is a clear danger that a process will take place in America like the one that has matured in Europe - if the entire Jewish national movement is identified with the nonstop expansionist momentum, the history books will say that between the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and in the fields of settler thuggery throughout the West Bank, the foundation stone for a binational state was carved.
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