By Moshe Dann
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.