Israelis will have security when Palestinians have hope
Op-ed: Had Netanyahu instilled hope and initiated, instead of the dangerous foot-dragging which has been characterizing his years in power, he would have secured Israel's position as a Jewish-democratic state, safe within its borders, for generations.
Speeches and futile cabinet meetings won't change what is happening these very moments between us and hundreds and thousands of young Palestinians. We will have security when they will have hope.
Their hope has been consistently fading for years. At the same time, our hope - for the fulfillment of the Zionist vision of a safe, democratic and thriving state for the Jewish people - is disappearing as well.
The violence, which has reached a murderous high in recent weeks in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, should not surprise anyone. The Israeli security organizations warned of it, journalists familiar with the situation on the ground wrote about it, and diplomats around the world warned that it may erupt because of the stalemate in the peace talks. But the prime minister and his government were apparently blind to it. Whether intentionally, in an oversight or by negligence.
Had the prime minister looked at reality courageously, he would have taken the United Nations podium, only a week ago, and delivered a pivotal, relevant, realistic, creative speech, one which could influence and create a hope for change, and would have also acted on his words. A speech about the relations between us and the Palestinians, which will determine our future.
Netanyahu could have called on the Egyptian president, the Jordanian king, the Saudi king and the leaders of the Gulf emirates to launch a sincere dialogue based on a battle against Iran, which is nuclearizing itself with aggressive expansion ambitions, and a joint battle against terror, extremism and fanaticism. Subject to Israel's reservations over the Arab peace initiative, Netanyahu could have called for a discussion of the initiative as a framework for a regional dialogue, ahead of a normalization in the relations.
He could have, if he wanted, called for an immediate resumption of the negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of an agreement of two states for two people, in a serious, ongoing and binding process which would lead to a moderation of the conflict, and later on, in a gradual but continuous process, to a solution of the core disputed issues.
If only he had said: "The road is full of deep potholes, but our goal is to find ways to overcome the difficulties. When the blood boils, revenge and anger arrive, together with despair, bereavement, mistrust and frustration. Even a non-radical person is then flooded with emotions and the rhetoric overshadows the hope. Abbas, stop the incitement and the spreading of hatred. There must be ways to solve, or at least moderate, even complex, violent and extended conflict between communities like ours. It is our responsibility as leaders."
Israel's Declaration of Independence says: The United Nations' recognition of the right of the Jewish people to establish their state is irrevocable. This right is the natural right of the Jewish people in their own sovereign State. This Zionist vision cannot be fulfilled unless a border exists between the Jewish people's democratic and safe state and a demilitarized and durable nation state of the Palestinian people.
Had Netanyahu seen himself as responsible to work to defend this vision, he would have called for negotiations on two states for the two people, with an acceptable border based on the 1967 lines with land swaps. Had he been brave and creative, he would have declared that in order to secure Israel's future as the Jewish people's nation state, Israel would have no sovereign demands east of the security barrier, and that he planned to pass a law for the evacuation, compensation and absorption of our settler brothers in Judea and Samaria.
These are the pioneers of our time, the prime minister would have said in his UN speech and then at the Knesset, the Israeli governments' emissaries throughout the generations. They led the battle for the State's independence and security, and some of them will relocate, while 80 percent of them, the residents of the large settlement blocs, will be an inseparable part of Israel in its determined borders, with or without an agreement.
If only Netanyahu had said: "Alongside an unequivocal and uncompromising war on terror, incitement and de-legitimization, and regardless of the way the Palestinians address what I say, I believe it is my responsibility to outline a temporary border combining the settlement blocs, which will encircle a clear Jewish majority in a real democracy within safe borders, thereby also restoring the trust which is missing today from the negotiations on the acceptable future border."
But Netanyahu has not said that, and he hasn't acted anyway. And reality is deteriorating, and people are paying with their lives and with their bodies, with bereavement and loss.
Only an internalization of the urgent and crucial need for real diplomatic progress to mark a border between two nation states, and later, for solving the conflict, will prevent an intensification of the external flare-up and of the internal rift. And more importantly, it will stop the deterioration to a futile and futureless life in one state, which will not be egalitarian or will not be the Jewish people's state.
Had he said that, and acted, and instilled hope and initiated, instead of the dangerous foot-dragging which has been characterizing his years in power, Netanyahu would have secured the State of Israel's position as a Jewish-democratic state, safe within its borders, for generations.
Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher, Orni Petruschka are the founders of non-partisan political movement Blue White Future.