Israel should start by drawing its own final borders
No point in asking PA to recognize Israel as Jewish state, remove inciting textbooks from schools
By Shimon Shiffer, Ynet Op-ed
February 13, 2013
Following the announcement of President Obama’s expected visit to Israel, we once again heard the usual proposals for the resumption of the negotiations with the Palestinians. Former senior American officials, the “usual suspects” Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller, Dan Kurtzer and Martin Indyk, bombarded us with suggestions for “trust-building measures” that have never advanced the sides toward an agreement: Israel has been asked to make gestures such as releasing prisoners, giving up lands and removing roadblocks, while the Palestinians were asked to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jews, fight terrorists and remove educational material that incites against Israelis from school curriculums.
In the US they say, “There’s no business like Shoah-business.” Well, the peace process also promises those who are involved in it a guaranteed income for life.
As someone who has been covering the “peace business” conducted between Israel and its neighbors for close to 30 years, I have reached two conclusions. Let’s begin with the former senior officials in Israel and America, who appear again and again with the same “merchandise” in an attempt to complete the negotiations with the Palestinians. These officials do not get tired of mentioning ideas that have been proven to be ineffective and do not believe they should leave the stage to others and work behind the scenes. They should have said: “We tried; we failed; now we will let others take our place.” But no.
Those who wish to succeed in the journey to end the conflict, which is filled with disappointments and pain in light of the thousands of victims on the Israeli side, should think outside the box, look at the reality and begin from the end. The next Israeli government must do something that previous governments avoided doing, and that is to decide on the permanent borders it seeks within the framework of an agreement with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s new coalition must propose a new outline for an agreement and decide what Israel can cede and what it will keep. There is no more room for ambiguity and demands that are mainly declarations that cannot be backed up. We do not need the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and there is no point in dealing with the textbooks used in the Palestinian Authority. Don’t deal with the other side; just determine the territory that will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever. In other words: Netanyahu, tell us what the government’s plan is and how you plan to preserve Israel’s democratic nature and separate the country from the Palestinian people.
The same goes for the Palestinian side. They too must begin from the end: Declare what the permanent borders of the Palestinian state are and explain how they see the conflict coming to a close. After we get an idea of how the conflict will end, we will ask the US to convene the leaders of both sides, and the only superpower that is accepted by both Israel and the Palestinians will fill in the gaps with content and guarantee that the agreement will be implemented in full. But not before each side declares what its final goal is. Otherwise, we will continue to fund “peace initiatives” and legions of peace wheelers and dealers who will continue to fly business class and meet in magnificent mansions around the world to draft hollow position papers.
These same globe-trotters will leave us in the field, bleeding, moving further away from what can be done today but will be impossible to implement a year from now.
Simon Shiffer is a ‘veteran commentator’ for Yedioth Ahronoth. Israel’s largest circulation paper in Israel.