If we stick to the idea of the complete Land of Israel, we will soon be left with no State of Israel, and if we are left with no State of Israel, we will be left with no Land of Israel. In the best case scenario, we will become beholden to the good graces of a Palestinian state that will include the Whole Land of Israel.
That's the whole story. It is also the reason that Ariel Sjharon changed his mind, and Ehud Olmert changed his mind, as did Tzipi Livni, Dan Meridor, Tzachi Hanegbi, Michael Eitan and many other "Whole Land of Israel" proponents both in and out of the Knesset.
These people fought against us in election campaign after election campaign and portrayed us as defeatists, as people who lacked a real connection to our national roots. But eventually they came around to see just how wrong they really were. 39 years of mistakes and waste, of settlement and bloodshed.
Democracy or nothing
Either we will have a Jewish democracy here, with a stable Jewish majority and equal civilian rights for all – or we will have nothing. And sinful ideas such as transfer, or proposals to have Israeli and West Bank Arabs vote for the Jordanian parliament, or limiting Israeli citizenship to those people who sing Hatikva and wave the flag on Independence Day are baseless, unethical and impractical.
The Zionist idea has not taken root on the map. Our historical borders have changed occasionally. Like all nations, we have a tendency to particularly remember the short moments, like when King David ruled over wide swaths of land. But this has no relevance to the 21st century.
We would have been happy with the mini-state we were offered in 1936, before the Peel Commission decided to rescind the offer to create two countries here. We also could have saved at leased some victims of the Holocaust if we'd had such a state at that time.
We danced all night when the U.N. decided to establish a Jewish state without Jerusalem, Jaffa or Nahariya in 1947, and when we expanded our borders during the War of Independence, we were thrilled. From 1956- 1967 we even enjoyed relative prosperity and security.
From victory to danger
After the Six Day War we had big eyes. We wanted Sharm al-Sheikh and the Golan Heights and Gaza and the West Bank. We settled these areas at the expense of our poor, and we became occupiers – "enlightened" at first, not-so-much later on, instead of unilaterally setting our borders and getting out of most of the territories.
Six days of illustrious victory has brought us to a point where our very existence is in danger. The danger to stay in the territories has become our biggest curse. We have paid a stiff international and economic price for this mistake, and suffered much bloodshed – especially during the Yom Kippur War. That war would never have happened if we had left most of the territories immediately after occupying them.
The argument about the Whole Land of Israel is an argument between post-Zionists willing to stick to every centimeter of the Land, with or without Jewish sovereignty, and between Zionists who believe a Jewish state is correct and proper even today and that this country has a Jewish majority – and who therefore support dividing the land.
Saving the state
The Land of Israel west of the Jordan River will have a Palestinian majority in another four or five years. If we continue to rule this entire area (directly or indirectly), the Palestinians will come to us with a simple demand: One man, one vote. They will tell us not to worry about taking down settlements, dividing Jerusalem, creating a Palestinian state or anything else.
This, in turn, will create one, large state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, but it will not be the State of Israel.
The Whole Land of Israel – or in other words, Israeli control of the western portion of the Land of Israel – is not an alternative to a Jewish state in part of that territory. Apart from the ethical questions, legal and security questions involved, the Whole Land of Israel is simply impractical.
Dr. Yossi Beilin is the chairman of the Meretz party