There is a rare opportunity today to advance a peace process as a result of interests we share with the Palestinians and moderate Muslim countries. We are all against a nuclear Iran and we will all continue fighting terror, mainly the radical terror which beheads and burns captives.
Peace, if and when it is achieved, will be the key for solving all the major problems in the areas of security, employment, education, welfare, housing, health and healing our relationship with the United States.
Only a state of peace will allow the State of Israel to allot the required resources to raise the standard of living and solve these problems. We and the Palestinians will have to make painful concessions, but the pain of concessions is much smaller than the pain of war.
I have fought in Israel's wars and participated in many anti-terror operations. Only those who were there are familiar with the horrors of war and the suffering inflicted on us, the winning side, as well. The fallen soldiers, the bereaved families and the wounded, who carry the scars of the war on their bodies, are the evidence of the terrible suffering.
Therefore, it's the Israeli government's duty to do everything in its power to prevent the next war, and to launch a war only as a last resort with the goal of defending the state and its residents.
Our generation has fought again and again in a bid to leave our children and the next generation a safe and thriving country living in peace with its neighbors, but so far we have been unsuccessful. A possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been outlined many times in numerous meetings between us. The main ingredients of a formula that could serve as a basis for negotiations are known.
What we are missing is a leader as great as David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, who made tough decisions, were not afraid to take calculated risks, were willing to make concessions, and totally committed themselves to serve the people and the country. They saw the State of Israel's best interests before their eyes, not their personal interests or political survival.
The stalemate and continuation of the current situation will lead to a serious deterioration in our situation. If we fail to separate from the Palestinians, in Jerusalem as well, we will see the establishment of an Arab state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and our state will come to an end.
Politicians who promise magic solutions to the social-economic problems without offering a solution to the diplomatic-security problems, mainly the Israeli-Arab conflict, are wrong and misleading. Some of them dismiss us with a disparaging wave of the hand, saying that there is no partner anyway. That's a lie. The 22 Arab League states, the Palestinian Authority and 35 other Muslim states which have adopted the Arab initiative are our partners. We, the voters, should demand that the different parties present their plan for resuming the negotiations now.
Some of the parties have published a platform with a diplomatic-security section addressing the situation in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately, they are using general and vague terms which point to directions, but as a result of the fear which has taken over the politicians, they won't specifically say that the border should be based on the June 4, 1967 borders and that the settlement blocs near the fence should be left under Israeli sovereignty. The politicians are also not saying that in order to prevent an Arab state, we must separate from the Palestinian in Jerusalem as well.
My concern is that those who are unwilling to specifically name the ingredients for a solution – ingredients which, as I said, have already been discussed and published and are not a state secret – will find it difficult to demonstrate the required courage in negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states, and will once again thwart the peace process' chance to succeed.
Major-General (res.) Danny Yatom, a former Mossad chief, is active in the Israeli Peace Initiative and Commanders for Israel's Security organizations.