Intermountain Jewish News

Sep 02nd

Defensible borders, not pious promises

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Surprise. Israel doesn’t trust US assurances on its security. Why? US didn’t stick by its assurances to Ukraine.

I. ‘Assurances’ to Ukraine

Secretary of State John Kerry will ask Israel to forgo territory and settlements if and when he unveils his plan for an Israel-Palestinian peace. Kerry will assure Israel that the security of Israel, without this territory or these settlements, will remain intact because the US will guarantee it.

The US and Russia guaranteed the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine in 1994 when the US pressed Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons. By “territorial integrity,” Crimea was included.

Twenty years later, Russia marched into Crimea and annexed it.

So much for the longevity and credibility of American assurances in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.

Kerry and Obama are now.

Israel must be forever.

Promises now are just that: words. Israel’s security depends on weapons, territory, economic strength and faith, not on words.

Israel gave up territory to the Palestinians in hopes of peace in 2005 — the territory of the Gaza Strip. Israel did not receive peace in return. Israel received exponentially increased terrorism from Gaza.

The same will occur if Israel gives up settlements on the West Bank to a state that does not regard a peace agreement as an end to a conflict.

How small a space can Israel be wedged into and how much terrorism can Israel tolerate before . . . before there is no more Israel?

Parchments. Promises. Good intentions. Hopes. Visions. Memorandums on Security Assurances.

You name it. Whatever is offered to Israel in exchange for settlements or territory is, in terms of Israel’s security, worth exactly what Russia’s and the US’s 1994 assurances to Ukraine were worth.

A lot, in 1994.

Nothing, 20 years later.

Nothing, when the assurances were needed.

Nothing, under radically changed circumstances.

Nothing, when Putin invaded Crimea this month and annexed it.

Nothing, when the players who issued the assurances in 1994 — such as Bill Clinton — were no longer in power.

In other words, nothing long-term.

II. Peace for the long-term

Israel must make peace with a long-term perspective.

A perspective that is a lot longer than Israel sustained in 1993 when Israel struck a deal for peace with Yasir Arafat on the White House lawn. What followed were multiple bus bombings. They were called “sacrifices for peace.” But there was no peace.

A perspective that is a lot longer than Israel sustained in 2005 when Israel withdrew all of its settlements from the Gaza Stip. What followed was the takeover of Gaza by Hamas and literally tens of thousands of missiles fired at Israeli civilians living in Sderot and other nearby towns.

However, when Israel made peace with Jordan in 1994, Israel gave up no territory in return.

That peace agreement has held.

And when Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel gave up the Sinai Peninsula, but no territory in Israel proper, whether that term is defined politically, historically or theologically. Israel gave up no part of the Land of Israel.

That peace agreement has held.

What has not held is something for nothing.

III. Something for nothing

The most recent example of something for nothing is the conditions for the peace talks begun by John Kerry eight months ago. Kerry told Israel: You must release Palestinians prisoners who have killed Israelis. Kerry told the Palestinians: You must agree to talk. Something for nothing.

Eight months later? No peace, not even a framework for peace — only an enhanced BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement against Israel. Only more international antagonism toward Israel. As these peace talks have all but failed, the American pressure is again on Israel and the Palestinians to make “hard decisions” — on Israel, to release still more Palestinian murderers. In exchange for what? For a Palestinian agreement to continue to talk. Something for nothing.

What is needed with the Palestinians is not prisoners for talks and not land for peace. What is needed is peace for peace.

We are prepared to see land swaps with the Palestinians for large settlement blocs. But as for the small Israeli settlements, sitting on tiny swatches of territory, the exclusive reason Palestinians want them is racist: to prevent Jews or Israelis from living in a Palestinian state. A pluralistic democratic state is anathema to the Palestinians. The Palestinians say so themselves. Their projected state must be all Arab and all Muslim.

The actual territory on which Israel’s small settlements sit is a fraction of a percent of the West Bank. The Palestinian intent in rejecting any Jewish communities in Palestine is made clear by its refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state: the continued hope for the destruction of Jewish Israel, starting with its Jewish settlements.

IV. ‘Peace’ is ‘end of conflict’

If this seems like an unwarranted deduction, or even paranoia, look no further than Mahmoud Abbas for substantiation. The head of the Palestinian Authority told President Obama just last week that the Palestinians will not agree to a peace deal with Israel if it includes a clause that the deal signifies “the end of the conflict.” That is the Palestinian vision of “peace”: no agreement to an “end of the conflict.”

Note: Israel is not demanding the destruction of Arab settlements within Israel as a condition for peace. Arab settlements dot the State of Israel throughout. The Israelis are expected to sustain these settlements in any peace agreement; the Palestinians should be expected to sustain Jewish settlements in any peace agreement.

It is only the Palestinians who demand the destruction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinian goal is not peace; rather, a first step toward the extirpation of a Jewish political, corporate presence in the Middle East.

The Obama administration, whose foreign policy has been battered from Libya to Syria to Ukraine, needs a foreign policy triumph. To attain it in the Middle East, the administration will offer Israel “assurances,” which will be “ironclad.” This is no reason for Israel to take a step toward suicide by agreeing to more “sacrifices for peace,” more release of murderers, more surrender of defensive borders (along the Jordan River), or more dismantling of settlements. Israel has to live with the consequences. John Kerry doesn’t.

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish


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