Thursday April 24, 2014
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24.04.2014
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Dr. Haim Shine

Beware: Political trap ahead

The political storm in Israel is getting closer; I believe it may already be upon us. The brotherly tiff between Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett is just a short promo for what we can expect when an outline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is brought to a debate, an outline that is backed by the United States even if it is not totally agreeable to either of the sides.

Apparently, behind the scenes of the negotiations with the Palestinians some real drama is taking place. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is not wasting his frequent flyer miles for nothing on his trips between Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah. His optimism has a certain structural basis amid the realities of the situation. His incorrigible efforts to push for an agreement, even a partial one, expresses the desire of the U.S. to return to the hegemonic throne it once occupied when it came to matters of world politics.

The Americans are well aware of what is happening here; they speak with everyone and are always listening. They have especially sensitive antennas aimed at Israeli society. According to the American assessment of the Israeli public's positions, they are convinced that the key to a possible deal is in the hands of General John Allen. They believe that if the general can provide a sense to the Israeli public, through elected officials, commentators and enlisted media outlets, that the security arrangements he is proposing are reasonable -- they will be able to neutralize the right's opposition to territorial concessions, which are based on the Jews' historical rights in the Land of Israel.

U.S. President Barack Obama has already proven more than once lately that for him values are merely a product to be bartered, especially with the merchants in the Middle East. The Americans' conduct with Egypt, Syria and Iran is a strong expression of pragmatism instead of vision, tactics instead of strategy, weariness instead of determination, and weakness over courage. The American administration is convinced it is possible to sway Israelis to embark on what is a short road already soaked in blood, sweat and tears.

There is an American assessment, based on the political power map in Israel, that Lapid, newly elected Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog, Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri will support security arrangements that include considerable concessions, as well as on Jerusalem. They have said so clearly. With their verbal eloquence and rhetoric about a foolish peace they will do all they can to convince the public that there is no need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish national homeland, that we should allow for a limited number of refugees to return based on the principle of family reunification, and that in the digital age there is no longer the need for a physical presence in the Jordan Valley. With mystical fervor, very similar to Ariel Sharon's during his Gush Katif heyday, they will explain to us how the brave Israelis must give while the cowardly Palestinians must receive. Aristotle, thousands of years ago, said there is a very thin line between bravery and stupidity. On the Israeli side this thin line has been crossed more than once already, and the price for stupidity was paid by innocent Israelis who only wanted to return home in peace, in one piece.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to alter this dangerous script for Israel, the one currently being poured over by the Americans. In his speech before the Saban Forum he explained there would never be calm in the Middle East with Iran as a nuclear state. Under such circumstances there would be no reason for our extremist neighbors, near and far, to reach an understanding with Israel. Additionally, Netanyahu also reiterated his fundamental demand that the Palestinians declare an end to the conflict and their recognition of Israel as the national homeland for the Jewish people. Anyone with sense, and who has not grown tired of our national journey, knows that these demands are right and necessary and will either show the Palestinians are interested in peace or that they have merely adopted a sophisticated version of Arafat's violent doctrine of phases aimed at Israel's destruction.

I have warned people on the Right against putting their faith in Palestinian rejectionism. The Palestinians have learned from the Syrians and Iranians that deals can be signed, without the intention of fulfilling them and which provide them an umbrella of legitimacy to continue pursuing their malicious policies. The views of the silent majority in Israel are not being heard. There is a huge discrepancy between the atmosphere of gloom and defeatism manufactured by the media and the public's resolve not to fall yet again into a dangerous trap. Losing strategic assets and conceding the heart of Jewish existence in the land of our fathers with an undivided Jerusalem as its capital -- pose the real existential danger to the Jewish and democratic state.

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