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Palestinian protest for right of return (Photo: AFP) Photo: AFP
Palestinian protest for right of return (Photo: AFP) Photo: AFP
Anti-Oslo protest (Photo: Zoom 77) Photo: Zoom 77
Anti-Oslo protest (Photo: Zoom 77) Photo: Zoom 77

Time for new thinking

Op-ed: Notion that Palestinians should get greater sovereignty a recipe for violence, instability

Yoel Meltzer
Published: 03.26.12, 00:30 / Israel Opinion

Roughly 20 years ago Israel made a decision to bring back from exile in faraway Tunisia its most bitter enemy, Yasser Arafat, and deposit him together with his close associates on our own doorstep. Still further, not content with the shock value of such a startling move, the leaders of the day outdid themselves by actually helping to arm and train Arafat’s newly created “police force.”


Underlying this odd yet bold course of action was the assumption that the only way to achieve stability in the region is to boost Arab sovereignty - a kinder way of referring to the minimization of Israeli sovereignty. By now, there is no doubt that this belief has had an enormous influence in shaping the policies of successive Israeli leaders for nearly two decades.


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Moreover, although it's true that when the Oslo process was launched many observers believed that the reasoning behind such gamble was sufficiently sound, two decades of experience have demonstrated the fact that the essential assumption was clearly wrong: Reduced Israeli sovereignty does not lead to local or regional stability. It never did and it never will.


In fact, the very opposite is true, as this school of thought exudes a defeatist attitude and projects a message that "we're wrong, the land is not ours." This, in turn, empowers our enemies to act in a more brazen manner. The result is that local and regional instability is perpetuated, not eradicated.


Tit-for-tat reprisals

This flawed line of reasoning, despite some good intentions, is the real driving force behind the many diversified attacks on Israel since the dawn of Oslo. Moreover, it makes no difference whether the attacks are against Israel's legitimacy, such as the international BDS campaign or annual "Apartheid Week," or against Israel's very existence, such as the countless terrorist attacks or missile barrages from Gaza. Ultimately, they're all a result of Israel's indefatigable attempt to grant further Arab sovereignty at the expense of Israeli sovereignty.


What's more, when facing military attacks, Israel is reluctantly drawn into yet another round of tit-for-tat reprisals – you kill, we kill, you kill, we kill – which do little, if anything, in diminishing the constant Arab-Israeli tension.


In order to finally change the seemingly endless cycle of insanity for both Jews and Arabs, Israel needs to take a clear look at reality and change the paradigm. As the only source of real stability in the entire Middle East, it’s a no-brainer that the exact opposite of the Oslo assumption is true. Namely, real stability can be achieved only by increasing Israeli sovereignty, not reducing it, while increasing Arab sovereignty will only lead to Israel's demise.


Although such change in direction at this late stage of the game would not be easy for Israel, it's simply a must, not just for those of us who happen to be alive today but for future generations as well.


Yoel Meltzer  is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem.



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