The Israeli right exploited its great political victory in the late 1970s and early 1980s to plant a minefield on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. The name of that minefield was the "Jewish settlements" - a monumentally foolish project. However, when, in 1992, the moment arrived for the Israeli left to attain a political victory of its own, it did not exploit that victory to dismantle or, at least, thin out the right's minefield, but instead planted around it a minefield of its own. This minefield was called the Oslo accords - the Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles - or good intentions.
Thus, what is happening today on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip is simply that the foolish land-mines sown by the right the length and breadth of the territories during the 1980s are being detonated by the foolish land-mines sown by the left in those very same areas during the 1990s. The communities set up on the basis of the right's illusions are now being attacked by the Palestinian militias that have been armed by the left's illusions. The result, of course, is an endless series of explosions that is expected to grow steadily worse over the next few months and which could, ultimately, ignite an all-out Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In view of the above, it is incumbent on every influential Israeli player, at the start of this difficult summer, to do everything to prevent war - not to try to achieve a just solution or to bring peace or to expand borders, but simply to help prevent the outbreak of war. Nor is it really important right now what the precise name of that war is - whether the "War of the Settlements" is better than the "War of the Oslo Accords." What does matter, however, is that everything should be done to prevent it: Every fixed pattern of thinking should be broken and every effort should be made to transcend petty political considerations in order to prevent that war from breaking out.
And here a special obligation rests on the shoulders of the Israeli left - the same Israeli left that has not yet fully recovered from the shock of its major failure in misreading reality and in misunderstanding the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. That same Israeli left that has still not found out how to courageously and honestly deal with the collapse of the political solution it had believed in, and which it had recommended for an entire generation.
However, the Israeli left must also face the fact that it cannot sit on the sidelines, whining and sulking in the opposition's corner. The Israeli left must do far more than just issuing the call (justified in itself) for a dismantling of the settlement land-mines - because the left cannot avoid its own share of responsibility for the situation that has been created and because it must understand that, if a war breaks out, the left will be held partially to blame for it. Thus, the left must abandon its present pattern of protest and weeping, not so that it can conduct a policy of subversion or adopt an isolationist stance, but so that it can do what it is in a unique position to do: To reduce the danger of war by unequivocally condemning Palestinian violence; by denying the limited international legitimization that is being given to Palestinian violence; by explicitly saying to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that, as long as he continues to employ force, he will find all Israelis united against him and that, as long as he continues to attack and kill Israelis, they will join forces to fight him.
However, the side that has the greatest obligation to prevent war is the Israeli right - that same right whose failure to propose a political solution is leading it place groundless faith in the use of force. That same right whose inability to offer hope is leading the extremists in its midst to develop a dangerous longing for a big cataclysmic bang that will in one instant remove all of the Oslo land-mines from the map. That same right that still refuses to acknowledge that, in its leading Israel to places where it should not be and to acts that it should not commit, it is actually undermining the very foundations of its own security. The Israeli right has denied Israel the opportunity to follow its own sense of direction and has led Israel to turn its back on its own solid sense of identity and on its own sense of justice regarding its struggle.
The nationalist right must understand that the errors of the left are not transforming the right's historic blunder into a wise course of action. The nationalist right must therefore realize that its dream of war has no future and that it has no mandate for its war plans. Furthermore, this nation will not agree in the current period to support a war of banishment, or a war that could have been avoided. And any attempt by the right to drag Israel into redemptive military action or into a war that will dramatically change the rules of the game will only plunge the right's own communities and the entire country into disaster.
Israelis cannot afford the luxury of deluding themselves. All Israelis are standing in the very heart of a double minefield that they themselves have created. All Israelis are trapped in an intolerable strategic position that they themselves - rightists and leftists alike - have produced. In such a situation, mud-slinging and rock-throwing by left and right are worse than ridiculous: they are dangerous. Moving very slowly and with great caution and wisdom, Israelis must clear these land-mines one by one. Neither the right nor the left has any other alternative. The only alternative is war.
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