Gershon Baskin believes that it take two sides to make peace, but the adoption of a clear strategy and policies that advocate reaching a two-state solution is much more likely to succeed than the current strategy of entrenchment of Israeli control and creeping annexation.
The “post truth” era has arrived to Israel.
Every tool of rhetoric, demagoguery and enhancement of fear is utilized in order to entrench the state of denial. First find the enemy, then the collusion and then the ultimate statement of “fact” – the whole world is against us.
The ground has been prepared over years. God is on our side – the Biblical promise of the Land, history, heritage, tradition, millennia of persecution, dispersion, and yes, the miracle of Zionism. We will not be victims, we will not turn the other cheek. We will take our destiny in our own hands. After the Holocaust, the moral imperative of the creation of the State of Israel was accepted by the world in the United Nations of all places. But almost immediately afterwards, it became UM-Shmum – it doesn’t matter what the world says, it only matters what the Jews do.
The issue is not President Obama and his “scheme” to take revenge against Netanyahu. The issue that we should be discussing is why is there unanimity in the world on the positions stated in UNSC Resolution 2334 and why can’t Israel see what rest of the world sees? The world is not against Israel. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the nations of the world support Israel’s right to exist and that is expressed in the resolution itself. The resolution supports the State of Israel legally and legitimately on the lines of 1949, not 1947, which comprises 78% of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
The resolution “calls upon all States… to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
The reason behind this call is “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, (which) has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
Settlements are a major obstacle in the path of reaching the only possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that entitles Israel to continue to be the nationstate of the Jewish people. The same institution that once voted to equate Zionism with racism has adopted the most Zionist Security Council Resolution in its history, and yet the Israeli body politic can only see it as antisemitic and anti-Israel.
Anyone who supports the two-state solution should see this resolution as the new Kaf-Tet of November – the cornerstone of international legitimacy for renewing and completing a peace process on that basis. The resolution clearly states that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations. The resolution accepts Israel’s position that the conflict can come to an end only through a negotiated agreement. In all previous negotiations with the Palestinians the principle of territorial swaps has been accepted, taking cognizance of the impossibility of returning to the June 4, 1967 borders.
This will not change.
The resolution speaks directly about the de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-state solution, “and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace; including immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror… refraining from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric.” This is exactly what Netanyahu calls for all the time.
The Resolution is answering Israel’s most basic interest as an affirmation of Israel’s need for peace with its neighbors “to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap.”
The resolution is not against Jewish prayer at the Kotel or Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. This is not a re-statement of the UNESCO Resolution that ignored Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and the Kotel. It is against the illegal transfer of civilians from Israel to the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which are territories that Israel agreed would be included in permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians.
The Oslo Declaration of Principles from September 1993, accepted with enthusiasm by the people of Israel, stated: “It is understood that these negotiations shall cover remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.”
Now at the end of 2016, getting ready to mark 100 years since the Balfour declaration, 70 years of statehood and 50 years of occupation, reality is hitting us directly between the eyes. The panic, hysteria, public rhetorical lynching of one of the most pro-Israeli American presidents in history, the shaming of the leaders of friendly nations that voted for the Resolution, the naming of a French peace initiative “worse than the Dreyfus Trial” – all of these are acts of self-inflicted insanity. These days are so reminiscent of the years before the end of South African apartheid. The denial of reality and the virtual celebration of global isolation is the same mood voiced by South Africa’s white leadership before they forced themselves to understand that their dream of continued control without democracy had to come to an end.
That is where Israel is heading, but for us there is a shortcut to redemption based on the Zionist dream of a secure and safe democratic state of the Jewish people.
The world cannot force us to do what we don’t want to do. Eventually we will make the right decision for ourselves.
However, that decision is time-linked. Today we can chose the two-state solution, which enables us to continue to exist as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people. In a very short period of time, with continued settlement building, Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the international community no longer seeing the two-state solution as viable, the only choice will be to transform Israel into a bi-national democratic state that is not the nation-state of the Jewish people nor the nation-state of the Palestinian people. It will not be a peaceful bi-national state.
The decision to be made is in our hands, not in the hands of the United Nations. Yes, it take two sides to make peace, but the adoption of a clear strategy and policies that advocate reaching a two-state solution is much more likely to succeed than the current strategy of entrenchment of Israeli control and creeping annexation.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.