Just do it
The life expectancy of the Sde Boker plan Olmert announced this week is about as long as the life expectancy of the convergence plan he announced much less than a year ago.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's latest spin is better than its predecessors. It is good that the prime minister of Israel is extending a hand in peace. It is good that the prime minister of Israel is reiterating the principle of commitment to evacuating territory and settlements. It is good that the prime minister is demanding the Palestinians renounce the demand to actualize the right of return. It is good that the prime minister is promising a significant improvement in the quality of our neighbors' lives on the road to creating a two-state reality. It is good that the prime minister understands that after he failed in one war, he must try to prevent the next war through a political initiative.
However, Olmert is Olmert is Olmert. As such, the life expectancy of the Sde Boker plan he announced this week is about as long as the life expectancy of the convergence plan he announced much less than a year ago. There is no chance the Palestinians will renounce the demand of the right of return in the foreseeable future. There is no chance the current government will be able to evacuate dozens of settlements in the foreseeable future. There is no chance of speedily building a stable two-state structure in the prevailing political climate of Israel-Palestine. The intent is desirable. The direction is the right one. But any connection between the important words of the spin and the historical reality is absolutely cynical.
If this is indeed the case, then what should the prime minister do? It's very simple: Do. Understand the immediate threat to Israel is Iranian, not Palestinian. Classify the Iranian nuclear threat as the national challenge of this generation. And appear before the nation and say that from this moment forward, all national resources will be used to deal with the historic threat. The entire country, with all its might and ability, will be harnessed in the joint effort the likes of which have not been seen since 1948.
What should be done? Do. Immediately activate the forum of prime ministers. Appoint Ehud Barak as defense minister, Benjamin Netanyahu as finance minister and Shimon Peres as the leader of an international "Stop Iran" public relations campaign. Replace the chief of staff and rehabilitate the Israel Defense Forces in a lightning operation involving the best of the majors general in the reserves. Recruit David Ivri, Uzi Dayan, Ephraim Halevy and Giora Eiland for a super-forum of a real national security council. Bring men of experience and vision like Dan Meridor, Moshe Arens and Yossi Beilin back into the center of strategic thinking. Turn Aharon Barak, Amos Oz, David Grossman, Aharon Appelfeld and Shlomo Avineri into Israel's speakers in Europe. Appoint Dov Weissglas, Alon Pinkas, Zalman Shoval and Itamar Rabinovich as members of an emergency task force whose job is to immediately improve our tainted relations with the United States. Send Uri Sagi to conduct delicate negotiations with the Syrians. Call up leading businessmen for reserve duty in key positions in government ministries and the state establishment.
What should be done? Do. Do everything Israel can do to sober up the international community at the last minute, to make the U.S. regain its composure. Develop a creative political initiative regarding Syria-Lebanon to try to keep Damascus away from the axis of extremism. And prepare Israel now for the possibility that Iran won't be stopped. Invest everything in creating a decisive deterrence to Iran and preparing Israel for a new era. Promise that Israel will be able to exist in security and hope, even in an extremist Middle East.
In the context of this comprehensive existential process, there is also room for an initiative involving the Palestinians. An initiative, not a spin. A realistic and cautious initiative that does not yield to Hamas and does not replicate the abandonment of the convergence plan. An initiative that does not distract the nation from the true challenge, the existential one, which it faces at this moment.