The Dust Is Settling on Netanyahu's Peace Fraud

I expect the Labor Party and Isaac Herzog to recognize the opportunity and the historic responsibility that lies at their doorstep. Joining the government can ignite a real diplomatic process.

Emil Salman

The dust is beginning to settle from the collapse of Benjamin Netanyau’s peace fraud. Three of the architects – Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman – are trying to convince one another, and us, that you can sell to the world the story of the Palestinians being responsible for the failure of the diplomatic process.

“The way of peace they know not, and there is no right in their goings; hey have made them crooked paths, whosoever goes therein doth not know peace. Therefore is justice far from us, neither doth righteousness overtake us.” (Isaiah 59:8-9).

I don’t need Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) or Knesset approval to define Israel as a Jewish state. The Declaration of Independence defined Israel as a country of all its citizens: “It will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex.” As long as there will be a Jewish majority, Israel will remain a Jewish nation state. The trio, by rejecting the ending of the occupation, endangers this majority and thus the state’s Jewish identity.

Abu Mazen doesn’t scare me, but Bennett does. His policies perpetuate the leprous occupation, and crowns the Palestinians over us by way of their “one state” in which the Palestinians will be the majority. Bennett bears responsibility for the affliction of Jewish terror on the hills of Palestine and now in Israel, which stains me, together with his people and his “brothers.”

Please, don’t count me with these brothers of yours. Abu Mazen’s technocrats don’t worry me, rather your “technopath” Uri Ariel, whose diplomatically disruptive behavior managed to break the American camel’s back, which you and your like burdened to the point of exhaustion by sabotaging negotiations. Developing markets are necessary for economic development, and the boycott you brought doesn’t allow that.

Using our religious sources and Zionism as a hatchet to cut a conquering and arrogant nationalism is opposed to Jewish values and the values of Zionism in our day. In the latter part of the 19th century, at the dawn of the Zionist movement, familiar places like Hebron, Jerusalem and Bethlehem were priceless in attracting the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. Today – when most of the people who could have immigrated to Israel have already done so, and fulfilling the goal of a national home mainly requires our continued existence in Israel – Tel Aviv, Dimona, Beit Alfa and Ma’alot are no less important than Jerusalem. They are more important than Hebron, which can remain outside our borders, and we can honorably and proudly live with having a Palestinian stamp in our passports. It’s time to update Zionism with a proper dose of Israeliness.

The sabotage of the diplomatic process has put me, and people with similar views, in a harsh moral dilemma. But even more, it is a folly that cannot be forgiven. The ethical dilemma of how to treat those controlled by us pales when compared to the grave danger to our existence as a state.

We have no economic viability, present or future, without expanding the economic pie we are creating to provide for our society. The defense minister, who takes an irresponsible risk in seeking to increase the security chunk of the pie while speaking of the illusion of our non-dependence on the world and the international boycott, demonstrates folly too dangerous to describe.

The economic boycott of Israel will no doubt grow if Israel won’t smarten up and find a way to end the occupation and its control of another people, and be perceived in the eyes of the world – and not only in empty Independence Day speeches – as a peace-seeking nation. Such a boycott will critically limit our ability to develop economic power to meet our needs.

For our sake, and not for the Palestinians’, it is vital and urgent to end the occupation before the international boycott gains power. Anyone involved in international markets sees the process developing. Only a demagogue of public squares can ignore it.

As for our status among the nations, we should strive for three goals as quickly as possible: ending the occupation, an authentic diplomatic process to achieve an agreement with the Palestinians, and reaching a peace deal that will lead to regional cooperation and socioeconomic growth. Even if all three are not possible now, reaching any of them alone is vital to our existence and will improve our situation beyond recognition. Netanyahu’s preaching and Ariel’s punishment will only distance us from the world.

Our perception as pursuers of peace in the eyes of the world is worth billions of shekels annually by expanding potential international markets and increasing state revenue from industrial and agricultural exports. Ending the occupation is also worth billions of shekels, both by itself and as a fruit of confirming our peaceful intentions in international eyes. Any of these achievements will make possible improvements in social welfare and education. The economic influence of ripening the process toward peace will beget regional cooperation which, even if the chances are small, will be vast and bring us to the pinnacle of economic power, which few countries in the world enjoy.

There is no other way, Yair Lapid, to fulfill your dream and your economic promises to Israeli citizens than truly leading toward a solution of peace (even if it isn’t achieved) and ending the occupation (even unilaterally). I heard your call in the economic conference in Herzliya a few days ago, for a determined pursuit, even if it be unilateral, to fulfill Israel’s critical goals of separation and security, in order to ensure a Jewish and democratic state and to prevent our isolation, which could lead to an economic holocaust.

You also remarked that we are at a dead end in the diplomatic process. There cannot be renewal of the peace process with the current coalition. It does not promise much beyond the prime minister’s political survival, which as a citizen interests me less. The call is to you, to make every possible effort to help the Labor party recognize its critical ability to balance the government by joining it, perhaps replacing Bennett.

But more than I expect it of Yair Lapid, I expect the Labor Party and Isaac Herzog to recognize the opportunity and the historic responsibility that lies at their doorstep. Joining the government can ignite a real diplomatic process.

True, if the process succeeds only part of the praise will go to Labor and Herzog, and that is no simple concession for politicians, but it seems to me that if there is someone capable of conceding his personal glory to achieve the country’s critical goals, Herzog is the man.

Another matter of concern for Herzog is how they won’t do to him what they did to Mofaz, who joined the government with 28 Knesset members and left with his head hanging. A pact between Yesh Atid and Labor is needed for this, which is a challenge for both parties. You have before you an opportunity to fulfill a “practical vision,” even if the phrase sounds like an oxymoron.

The curse of political obstinacy in the face of the hope of ending the occupation does not leave any choice but to choose the way of peace for the sake of our own good, our welfare, our security and our justice-seeking spirit.

After the above-quoted passages, in which Isaiah describes the ways of people who do not know peace, he turns to promises to those who pursue and obtain peace:

“Arise, shine, for thy light has come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee ... For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron; I will also make thy officers peace, and righteousness thy magistrates.” (Isaiah 60:1, 17)

The writer is a knowledge-based industrialist and former pilot.