‘Two-state solution’ irrelevant; new thinking needed to resolve conflict
Moshe Yaalon, former IDF chief of staff, YNET
It is not in vain that Michael Oren’s book “Six Days of War'” begins with Fatah’s botched terror attack under the orders of Yasser Arafat on the night of December 31st, 1964.
The attack aimed to strike at the national water carrier and to ignite the region. Its failure didn’t prevent the rising Fatah leader from publishing an official victory statement that glorified the “Jihad duty” and to set January 1st 1965 as the date marking the organization’s establishment.
Indeed, the Six Day War changed the face of the Middle East. From a historic perspective it can be viewed as marking the beginning of the end of national-secular Arab ideology, which in turn encouraged the emergence of Islamic-Jihadist ideologies; it can also be viewed as marking the beginning of the end (temporarily?) of conventional wars between armies and the shifting of the threat on the State of Israel.
However, I am of the opinion that more than anything the Six Day War influenced the way Israelis perceived themselves, it also impacted internal discourse pertaining to border conflicts and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On the one hand, Israeli self assurance, which was naturally emboldened by the shining military victory, led to complacency until the outcome of the Yom Kippur War, while on the other hand it led to the willingness for territorial concessions aimed at achieving peace.
The cornerstone of Israeli policy since the end of the war did not advocate annexation of territories nor a return to 1967 borders.
This perception, along with failed political conduct to date, has ultimately led to significant erosion in the achievements of the Six Day War and has vastly detracted from the Israeli position, while also adversely affecting the Zionist narrative and its achievements.
Israelis who sought to reach final-status agreement with the Palestinians through “land for peace” obscured the difference between resolving the conflict with Egypt via Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Those same elements went even further by obscuring the Palestinian demand for all of the Land of Israel rather then territories occupied in 1967 only, and ignored the persistent Palestinian refusal – which has been in place since the birth of Zionism – to partition the nation.
These elements vastly contributed to the erosion of Israel’s positions upon recognizing the Palestinian peoples’ right for self determination without insisting on mutual Palestinian recognition for the Jewish people and an independent Jewish State.
The self assurance that came in wake of the Six Day War created a sense of being “strong enough to take risks” – which is reminiscent of the time of the Oslo Accords. This self confidence led to the loss of the attitude associated with a society facing constant struggle.
The sincere desire to achieve peace was interpreted as fatigue and led to public willingness to accept the “golden calves” presented as hope by politicians, spin doctors and the media, but which were quickly shattered.
Those striving to return to 1967 borders, from within Israel and abroad, are taking advantage of the Six Day War triumph to argue that the problem lies in the “occupation” and that Israeli relinquishment of these territories will bring the longed-for peace.
Yet the botched terror attack on December 31, 1964 reminds us that Palestinian terror began prior to the takeover of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Since then, additional proof accumulated over time attests to the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to end the conflict based on such a solution.
Moreover, recent statements by leaders of the Israeli Arab community expressed their refusal to recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish State.
Events of the past years, the Palestinian failure to adhere to agreements and obligations within the Oslo framework, the launching of a terror war in September 2000, and the situation in Gaza following disengagement – could have served as opportunities to “reveal the true face” of the Palestinian leadership and its intentions to undermine the irrelevant concept of a “two state solution” within the ancient Land of Israel’s western borders.
Grounding the “two-state solution” discourse to a halt among the Israeli public and in the international arena is a prerequisite for encouraging a new direction of thought with regards to the conflict and possible ways of resolving it.
The key to moving away from this concept is Israel’s clear understanding of the problem, forging internal agreement around this understanding, and a willingness to struggle for it.
The shining victory of the Six Day war has paradoxically turned into the starting point of the “retrenchment and withdrawal battle” over the Zionist narrative we are currently engaged in – until we make an about face.