Bibi’s leadership test

Op-ed: Netanyahu must end ambiguity over Israel’s policy regarding Judea and Samaria

Moshe Dann, YNET

Thanks to uprisings throughout the Arab world, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has avoided one of the most difficult domestic – and international – issues on the table: the fate of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, “the settlements,” “the occupation,” and the “two-state” delusion.

Having recognized the “right of the Palestinian people” to a second, or perhaps third Arab Palestinian state, after Jordan and Gaza, and agreeing to a year-long moratorium on Jewish building beyond the Armistice lines of 1949 – a freeze which remains in place despite its expired time-limit and accomplished nothing except a fiercer Palestinian resistance to enter peace negotiations, PM Netanyahu’s leadership is being tested.

Diverting attention from what is happening at home to regional conflicts is an easy flirt that begs the question: What is the Israeli government’s policy regarding Judea and Samaria?

If the purpose of such ambiguity is to prevent the Americans from romancing the Palestinians at the UN, it is reckless fooling around; no one takes this ploy seriously. Palestinian leaders will not give up in the midst of a battle they believe they are winning. PM Netanyahu is trapped in a drama that leads nowhere, and further impedes Israel’s strategic and security interests.

If PM Netanyahu refuses to defend the right of Jews to live at least in Area C of Judea and Samaria, home to over 300,000 Jews, than why hold on as bargaining chips in a game of solitaire?

Either one must accept the Palestinian view that Jews have no rights in Judea and Samaria, that Israel’s presence there is “illegitimate,” and that Israel must withdraw to the Armistice lines of 1949; or, that Israel’s claim is legitimate, reasonable and justifiable. Netanyahu’s silence creates doubt and confusion.

Negotiations are relevant only when both sides want to resolve a dispute. This can’t work when one side sees the other’s existence as the problem. When negotiations replace war, they are useful. But when they only debilitate, they prolong the conflict and promote violence.

The Jordanian option

Israeli negotiators cannot offer anything that Palestinians will accept, and Palestinians refuse to meet Israel’s minimal needs, especially for security. That stalemate, however, is still in Israel’s favor; and it is precisely that imbalance that the international community would like to change. For Israel, however, that is a death warrant.

The presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, ironically, while seen as “obstacles to peace,” is in fact the only protection for the peace that now prevails. It is not perfect, but it is better than any alternative.

The refusal of many American Jewish communal organizations and a few leftist Israeli politicians and pundits to recognize this fact of life has undermined Israel’s ability to defend its reputation in the world.

The responsibility for changing this misconception lies primarily with PM Netanyahu. The longer he pretends that he is willing to sacrifice vital Israeli interests, the more dangerous his position becomes and the more distant a viable, realistic regional solution. Failure to provide an alternative, however, is a no-win position.

Placing the “Jordanian Option” on the table would ease the pressure on Israel to accept another Palestinian state and present a realistic solution to the refugee issue. Jordan is historically, demographically and logically a Palestinian state; there is no need for yet another. It can easily accommodate millions of Arab “refugees” and hopefully become a thriving, peaceful democratic state.

Destroying Israel to make way for Palestine hardly seems like a humanitarian alternative.

The author is a historian, writer and journalist

February 27, 2011 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. The article itself is written by Moshe Dann. I have knbown him for a few years now. I am in conversation now with the guy in charge of the hasbara for the PMO and with the guy in charge of the same with the FMO.

  2. Ted, you wrote: “Placing the ‘Jordanian Option’ on the table would ease the pressure on Israel to accept another Palestinian state and present a realistic solution to the refugee problem. Jordan is historically, demographically and logically a Palestinian state; there is no need for another. It can easily accommodate millions of ‘Arab refugees’…”

    Right on! Tell ’em, Ted! This is excellent! (And that’s the whole not-so-sneaky point of my murder mystery…)

  3. BlandOatmeal says:
    February 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    “PM Netanyahu’s leadership is being tested”

    By whom? I don’t see any serious challengers.

    You only know what you know but don’t know what you don’t. That said:

    There will be elections here or called by the years end.

  4. Israeli politicians of all stripes have made it impossible for any effective effort in Israel advocacy. They have done more harm to our national interests than all of our enemies and Obama combined.

    This essay should be read and viewed together with the above essaay also written by moshe Dann!

    Friendly Fire: Israel’s PR Snafu
    by Moshe Dann

    Schizophrenia is not a viable basis for foreign policy.

    or two decades Israeli government policy regarding “settlements” – the right of Jews to live in Judea, Samaria, Gaza (Yesha), eastern Jerusalem and Golan — and the “two-state plan” – the right of the Palestinians to establish a state on all, or nearly all of
    The media… identifies those who oppose settlements as the “peace camp” – implying that supporters of settlements favor war.
    that same territory — has been confused, contradictory and inconsistent.

    This schizophrenic position has led to paralysis of thinking, self-destructive unilateral withdrawals and concessions that allowed the continuation of terrorism, the emergence of a quasi- Palestinian state, and Israel’s increasing isolation and delegitimization.

    Efforts to combat delegitimization, therefore, are crippled by Israeli government policy which (1) has refused to assert the legal and historical rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria; (2) has refused to annex Area C of Judea and Samaria, in which all of the settlements reside, over 300,000 Jews and a relatively small minority of Arabs; (3) supports the establishment of a second Arab Palestinian state based more or less on the 1949 Armistice lines; (4) has implemented restrictions and freezes on Jewish building in Area C; (5) wantonly destroys Jewish homes in Yesha; (6) equates Zionism with Palestinianism.

    On one hand, Israeli governments have virtually conceded Jewish legal and historical rights in Yesha by refraining from presenting supporting arguments; instead, they acknowledge claims by Arabs and the international community that Israel has “violated international law and Palestinian rights” by “illegally occupying” areas conquered in 1967.

    On the other hand, all Israeli governments have permitted and supported Jewish building in these areas. This has encouraged BDS movements which condemn and delegitimize Israel for policies which are controversial, even in Israel.

    The failure of the Israeli government to clarify its policy and present a consistent position has created a vacuum into which friends and foes, Jews and non-Jews, Zionists and non-Zionists place the burden of blame on “settlers” and “settlements.” This is reflected in the media which identifies those who oppose settlements as the “peace camp” – implying that supporters of settlements favor war.

    Given the Israeli government’s ambivalence on this issue, its unilateral withdrawals and offers to remove all or most settlements, opposition to all settlements by the UN and the international community, and wide support for the PLO and the PA, it is no wonder that the Palestinian position has been consistent: “No to Israel as a Jewish state, no to interim borders, no to land swaps;” no to giving up claims to eastern Jerusalem, and no to canceling the “Palestinian right of return.

    Since Israel cannot make up its mind about the status of Judea and Samaria, why should anyone agree to any Jewish Israeli claims? As long as Israeli governments continue to support the two-state plan, rendering settlements as bargaining chips towards a future peace agreement, the question of who is entitled to Judea and Samaria has already been decided; what remains is only the timing and the price to be paid. Read More