The Israeli media and public are not too excited over the resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and rightfully so. The leftists are saying that the Netanyahu government will thwart any agreement, and that’s true. The rightists are saying that the Palestinians will thwart any agreement, and we would do well to remember that this is true as well.
There are indeed many people, ranging from Meretz to Kadima members, who still believe that the Palestinians will very soon sign an agreement on partitioning the land. After all, behind closed doors they say that they’re sorry for rejecting former Prime Minister Olmert’s generous offer. However, talking behind closed door isn’t enough. For 17 years now, the Palestinians have been agreeing to strike deals behind closed doors, yet for 17 years these deals evaporate the moment people come out of the room.
Yet perhaps the explanation is simpler. Perhaps this was no coincidence. Perhaps the Palestinians know what they’re doing. Perhaps, just like they say, they do not intend to renounce the demand of return (they refer to it as a “right,” even though international law does not recognize the return rights of refugees, and certainly not of their descendents.) Perhaps they indeed have no intention of renouncing Jaffa. Perhaps it is no coincidence that they refuse to recognize the Jewish people’s right for a state.
Perhaps there is sound logic behind all of this. Because if they still view Zionism as a colonial enterprise that invaded their land and must be expelled and have its state destroyed, the way to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state is simply to refuse to separate from it. All they need to do is avert partition, and wait.
The battle of demography
Without partition, Israel is the only Western democracy that keeps a whole population group without political rights, and this increasingly erodes our status. Our allies will eventually turn their backs on us too. Perhaps the Palestinians understand, just like many Israelis understand, that without partition we shall all be living in one state, where the Jews are the minority.
Members of the radical Right and radical Left comfort us by claiming it won’t be that bad. Some radical leftists think that one state will be a bi-national democracy, or a democracy devoid of nationality. The Mideastern Switzerland. Yet this is not just a misguided estimate, it constitutes deliberate blindness and dishonesty. One look at Gaza would be enough to remember why.
Yet the far Right has its own way of denying reality. Over there, they decided to provide us with custom-made demographic data that are in line with the arguments of settlement supporters. According to the message delivered by rightists, with Yoram Ettinger being the loudest among them, we have no reason to worry: As it turns out, demography is in our favor. They are premising this on a document called The Million Person Gap produced by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center.
Yet top demographers are unimpressed. University of Haifa Professor Amnon Sofer wrote that the document was produced for political aims and is no more than deception. Hebrew University Professor Sergio Della Pergola wrote that juggling the data would not change reality.
So perhaps we need to look reality in the eye, and accept two basic facts. The first one, as opposed to the leftist view, is that the current round of negotiations is no more than another attempt by two refusenik sides to buy time. The second fact, which contradicts the rightist view, is that time is in their favor, not in our favor. Our international status is being eroded and we are gradually turning into a minority in the Land of Israel.
Hence, we would do well to let go of the negotiations illusion and start to plan another unilateral move in Judea and Samaria – because the alternative to partitioning the land is Zionism’s demise.
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