When this war ends, and it will end, the people of Israel will have to look
back, as they look forward to voting on January 22, and decide if having a war
every four years or so is really what they want for their future. It is
undeniably a great feeling of solidarity and patriotism to watch our great war
machine provide us with security. The wonderful technology that Israel has
developed that can shoot rockets out of the sky is a genuine miracle.
rally around the flag and our troops, former generals parade through the
television stations and speak about how moral we are and how evil is our
Television journalists, military correspondents and political
commentators share their wisdom on how deep to go, how hard to hit, how many
troops should be sent in, can it end without a ground attack, should we bring
down the Hamas regime, how much does the Egyptian president hate us, how much do
we hate him, and his friend the Turk? It is all part and parcel of a country
under attack going to war.
But soon it will be over, and while the news
producers will want to spend more time analyzing the war, our real focus should
be on who will bring us a better future.
Unless we elect leaders who
intend to utilize the last war to prevent the next one, we will be electing
leaders who intend to use the last war to prepare for the next one – which will
probably take place during their term of office. Yes, we always need to be
prepared for war, and I trust that the Israeli army will continue learning its
own lessons from this war, studying every sortie, every piece of equipment,
every order given and draw up the plans for the next time around. From the
government and our leaders I expect something else.
I want to know what
they will do to prevent the next war, not how they plan to fight it. The only
leaders worthy of my vote are those who will tell me exactly how they plan to do
In order to prevent the next war we have to do something to change
the regime in Gaza. That’s right – we do need a regime change in Gaza because it
is impossible to make peace with Hamas as it is today. Regime change is
possible. But it is not possible for Israel (it is possible from a military
point of view; we can bring down the Hamas regime, kill most of its leaders,
arrest the others and destroy their physical presence, but to do this Israel
will have to reoccupy Gaza for a very long period of time). It is the residents
of Gaza and the Palestinian people that will have to change their regime for it
to be meaningful and lasting and provide the foundations on which we can build
What is necessary for Israel to do to bring down the Hamas regime?
The answer is quite simple – make peace with the Palestinian people through
their legal representative – the PLO and its chairman, Mahmoud
This war will probably end before November 29. On that day of
great significance to the State of Israel and the Jewish people, when in 1947
the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish state, Jews around the world and
in our land danced hora in the squares – free at last, free at last, thank God
almighty, we are free at last (as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said). The
Palestinian people will be seeking their day of liberation in the same
international forum on the anniversary of that famous day.
the legitimacy at the same time that Israel did – the partition resolution was
for the creation of two states in this land. The Palestinian people rejected it
then, but now they have accepted it and will attain recognition of their
statehood. Instead of getting about 50 percent of the land, they are settling
for only 22%, and by token of the same resolution recognizing the Palestinian
state, full legitimacy and legality will be granted to the Jewish state (as it
was called in the resolution in 1947) on 78% of the Land. That Israel does not
support this resolution is a complete anathema to any Zionist logic. This
resolution is the most Zionist resolution ever brought to the General Assembly
of the United Nations.
I expect the leaders that I vote for to
immediately call for negotiations with the PLO on the basis of the only
realistic plan to make peace with the Palestinians.
They need to put the
last round of proposals on the table, the ones that Olmert discussed with Abbas,
and then close the gaps rapidly. They need to focus on how the realization of
that agreement will include unambiguous and verifiable mechanism to ensure
implementation and compliance with agreements. The must focus on providing clear
and defined plans to fulfill the promise of real peace through enabling real
state-to-state and people-to-people cooperation that will build a new
relationship between all of the people living on this small land.
leader with vision will understand that the West Bank and Gaza are both part of
that future Palestinian state. The peace treaty will make it clear that Gaza
will only be part of the state when there is a regime there that supports the
terms of the agreement. The treaty will also include the plan and the map for
the physical Palestinian sovereign route that will connect their two territories
– a bridge, or dedicated road, a tunnel, a sunken road or any combination of
these. An intelligent leader with vision would include in their work plan the
beginning of the construction of that 40-kilometer connecting route. They would
bring the construction of the route up to one kilometer away from Gaza so that
the people of Gaza would see the possibilities before them.
With a peace
treaty in hand, the real possibility for freedom and liberation and the hard
evidence of the reality that could exist when that last kilometer is completed,
I have little doubt that the people of Gaza would either change their regime or
My vote will go to those leaders who present me a future of
promise, a future of peace and understanding with our neighbors and not those
who promise me a better war.
The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the
Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for
Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for
the release of Gilad Schalit.