Fareed Zakaria is one of the most original and interesting political thinkers in America today. His latest book, "The Post-American World," was a best-seller and has also been translated into Hebrew. After Operation Pillar of Defense,
Zakaria published a resonating opinion piece on his personal blog and later in the Washington Post, titled "Israel
dominates the new Middle East."
"We’re in a new Middle East," Zakaria wrote, "but it’s one in which Israel has become the region’s superpower… Israel’s astonishing economic growth, its technological prowess, its military preparedness and its tight relationship with the United States have set it a league apart from its Arab adversaries."
And what is his conclusion? "Peace between the Palestinians and Israelis will come only when Israel decides that it wants to make peace."
Zakaria, who also hosts a daily political program on CNN, is not exceptional in his commentaries and conclusions, which are so different from the Israeli dialogue of both the Left and the Right. Articles of a similar nature have been published on the electronic editions of influential magazines and blogs.
The Atlantic magazine posted an op-ed on its popular website about the Israeli economy's endurance, which could have been written by Finance Minister Steinitz. An article published on the blog of the important Foreign Affairs magazine detailed Hamas'
seven big mistakes. On the website of the American Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams, a former top US national security official, wonders "why did Hamas want to provoke an Israeli attack?" In Open Zion, a new blog by Peter Beinart, a left-wing independent journalist and political pundit, Gil Troy writes about "Hamas' totalitarianism, cynicism, evil and toxicity."
Hamas has neither sympathy nor understanding among American public opinion leaders. It's a good thing that Israel dealt Hamas a blow it hadn't dreamed of, they say. But, they add, Israel must not be tempted, following the ceasefire, to negotiate with Hamas. It must ensure that Hamas is not perceived as part of the Arab Spring, but rather as part of the Arab winter whose time has passed. Therefore, Israel must reopen the clogged pipe of the peace process, from the position of strength confirmed in Pillar of Defense.
This is where the Palestinian bid for an upgraded UN status,
which the General Assembly is expected to vote on in the coming days – maybe even on Thursday, on the historical date of November 29 – comes in.
A detailed analysis of the Palestinian request has been conducted by Dr. Oded Eran, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies and formerly the head of Israel's negotiations team with the Palestinians, and Prof. Robbie Sabel, a former legal advisor of the Foreign Ministry. Without saying so explicitly, the two describe the Palestinian bid as a document Israel could live with, and even gain from if it is adopted by the UN.
The draft Palestinian bid for a non-member status refers to “a State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 borders." Jerusalem's status is not even mentioned in the operative paragraph of the draft, Eran and Sabel note. They let us understand that an adoption of the bid by the General Assembly would not hurt Israel and might even benefit the Jewish state when it is faced by the state of Palestine "on the basis of the 1967 borders."
The Israeli government can and should take a big, decisive step in the direction Eran and Sabel are pointing to, and declare that it is removing its objection to a resolution granting the Palestinian Authority a non-member status at the UN. Israel should even vote in favor of the resolution. Such a move poses no risk to Israel, but has a host of benefits:
government will immediately rid itself of the "peace refuser" curse, our relations with the moderate Arab world and with the leaders of the Arab Spring will change at once, and the Palestinian people will realize that the Palestinian Authority is their future and Hamas is their past.
Our history is filled with cases of military victories followed by political defeats. Pillar of Defense may be another such case – or may not. It only depends on us, as Fareed Zakaria says.