Iwould like to thank Martin Sherman for his scathing attack against me in his
article “The honorable thing to do” (Jerusalem Post, July 6, 2012). Although I
agree with Sherman’s criticism of President Shimon Peres’s last speech, that it
is wrong not to learn from the failures of the Oslo process, it is a great honor
to be attacked together with our president and Nobel Peace Prize
As is typical of those opposed to the two-state solution,
Sherman did not offer one constructive idea in his (over 2,200-word) article,
“due to constraints of space.” In fact, Sherman has no solution to offer to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict that guarantees the continued existence of Israel
as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people. Those who seek to control
all the land between the River and the Sea, preventing partition into two
states, and to continue to settle in the West Bank heartland, are anti-Zionists
and anti-democrats and are leading us to doom, and it is they “who need to bow
out of public life” before they achieve their goals.
I must relate to the
strangest of his many attacks: Sherman accuses me of not caring about Jewish
Wasn’t the State of Israel established in 1948? Haven’t we
already had Jewish sovereignty for 64 years? Did I miss something here? Sherman
called me seditious; this is nothing but vile slander.
If he believes I
am seditious, then let him press charges against me, and against The Jerusalem
Post for publishing a seditious article. And what was it that I said (and which
he only partially quoted) that he found “seditious”? I had written: “There can
be no equality in an Israel which is in conflict with the Palestinians. One
million Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot be equal when they are always
subject to be questioned about their loyalty. Of course they will be loyal to
their own people when their own state is fighting against them, denying them
basic rights and refusing to grant equal citizenship to those who were born as
The vast majority of Palestinian citizens of the State of
Israel are law-abiding. However, their loyalty is nevertheless constantly
questioned, for reasons that are understandable yet not acceptable in a
democratic state, and it is people like Sherman who are responsible for this,
I lived for two years as a volunteer community worker in the
Palestinian-Israeli village of Kafr Qara. I never felt that I was even at risk,
and everyone there knew I was a Jewish Israeli. Why doesn’t Sherman ask why,
after 64 years of statehood, 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are still
discriminated against? How can we as Jews accept that 20% of Israel’s citizens
are unequal based on ethnic-national discrimination? There is no excuse for this
in a state which thinks of itself as democratic.
It has nothing to do
with Palestinian citizens not doing national or army service. They were never
drafted, and this was the state’s decision, not theirs. Israel’s Druze citizens
do full military service, and are still discriminated against. How can this be
tolerable to you, Mr. Sherman, or don’t you care about democracy and democratic
values? The Oslo process failed not because the idea of two states for two
peoples is wrong, but because its implementation was carried out poorly, with
faulty agreements and continued resistance to deal with the real issues in
conflict, preferring to constantly create interim solutions.
Israelis were killed by Palestinians and more than 8,000 Palestinians were
killed by Israelis since the beginning of Oslo. That is not peace and surely
cannot be called a peace process. Nor can one deny its failure. As the slogan
went: “if this is peace, I don’t want it!” But this was not peace, both peoples
do not want it and both sides are to blame for its failure.
asked a very basic question: where is the current leadership leading us? I
really don’t know. But it is clear to me that if you (and the prime minister)
reject the twostate solution, an alternative plan must be offered. When I raise
this with the settlers in Hebron, they say “God will help us, God is on our
side.” That was also the late Hanan Porat’s answer regarding the disengagement
Is that your answer, Mr. Sherman? Are you a closet messianic?
You didn’t answer the question of how Israel can continue to be the democratic
state of the Jewish people if we won’t allow the Palestinians to have a state of
their own next to us.
They are demanding 22 percent of that area, not 50%
or more. They rejected the partition plan in 1947, fought against us in 1948 and
recognize that their bad decision cost them territory. The demand they presented
last year at the United Nations was for 22% of the land, not one inch more. They
have never demanded more in negotiations with us, either. They, and the world,
recognize Israel in 78% of the land, even though the partition plan, which we
accepted, offered us considerably less.
Yes, there are risks in moving
forward on peace with the Palestinians, but for one, Palestinian Authority
chairman Mahmoud Abbas is not Yasser Arafat; there is no duplicitous vagueness
about the absolute rejection of terrorism by Abbas.
We can and must learn
the lessons of the failed peace process (which I have been writing about for
years). We will undoubtedly make new mistakes, hopefully much less severe than
those we (Israel and Palestine) have already made. The amazing thing about human
beings is our ability to learn from our mistakes and hopefully not make the same
ones again. But the idea of partition was not a mistake, it was just never
Bush’s Road Map for Peace was the first attempt to apply
lessons learned from failure. Lesson one was that it is performance and
implementation that are important, not promises and declarations. The Road Map
process was based on measurable benchmarks. Achievements had to be made,
measured and verified before moving on to the next stage.
The Road Map
included a “monitor”– a third party that would determine whether the parties had
fully implemented their obligations. Unfortunately, in Bush’s version, the
monitor, an American general, was not permitted to publish his reports, so the
leaders were not accountable to their people for their failures. This was a
mistake, and in the future, monitors’ reports must be publicized.
Road Map required the Palestinians to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism,
dismantle and re-build their security forces, subject them to the rule of the
law and ensure that they are fighting against terrorism. According to Israeli
security officials, those benchmarks were met in the territory under PA control
(not Gaza). Israel was supposed to freeze all settlement building, remove
unauthorized outposts and re-open closed Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem
such as the Chamber of Commerce. It did none of those.
WE ARE still in an
interim period, 19 years after the Declaration of Principles (DOP) was signed in
1993. We never signed a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The DOP was an
agreement for an interim period of five years during which time we were supposed
to negotiate and reach peace. Those negotiations require both sides to come to
terms with mutual recognition, Palestinian statehood, (Israel already exists and
was recognized by Arafat), security arrangements, borders, Jerusalem, refugees
and natural resources.
None of that has been agreed on. There has never
been a declaration of peace between us. There is no peace and today there is no
peace process. The failure of those negotiations is owned by both
Remember Yitzhak Rabin? He was murdered by a rightwinger for
implementing that partial agreement. Rabin implemented his obligations under the
agreement, and so did Arafat, then. I was an advisor to a special Israel team on
the peace process that Rabin created from the intelligence community.
is impossible to know what Rabin would have done on the day after he was
assassinated, but I believe that the day he was killed was the day the peace
process began to die.
His successors (including Shimon Peres) helped to
destroy Oslo by not implementing Israel’s obligations and by doubling the number
of settlers in the West Bank (since 1993), trying to make the creation of a
Palestinian state there impossible.
Even Ehud Barak, the leader of the
“peace camp,” built more settlement housing in his term of office than Netanyahu
did in his first short term. The understandings between the parties broke down
as a combination of nonimplementation of obligations: non-withdrawal from
territory by Israel and use of violence by Palestinians. Israel ceased it
willingness to partition the land, and the Palestinians resorted to terrorism.
Both sides reneged on the agreement to partition the land.
There are many
myths about the negotiations, the offers, the rejections and the blame. The
offers made by Barak in Camp David were far-reaching, but not sufficient to
reach an agreement. Israel claimed it was the best offer the Palestinians would
ever get, but in Taba, some six months later, Israel offered more.
Camp David was the best offer, something is wrong with common sense logic. No
Palestinian could have agreed to the Camp David proposal, which granted them 89%
of the West Bank, cut into three cantons by eastwest Israeli corridors under
Israeli sovereignty and Israeli control of the external borders of Palestine –
nothing more than a sovereign cage.
The negotiations on Jerusalem and
refugees were not complete and the parties agreed to return to the
Between Camp David and Taba, the negotiators met 52 times even
though the second intifada had already started! The American bridging proposal
(The Clinton Parameters) came on December 23, 2000, less than a month before
Clinton left office. The Clinton parameters were used by both sides in the Taba
negotiations in January 2001.
The Taba negotiations were not completed
because they took place days before elections and public pressure forced Barak
to call them off. Then Sharon won the elections, and he had no intention of
allowing a Palestinian state to be created in the West Bank and Gaza.
unilateral disengagement of Gaza by Israel was not an act of peace; it was an
act of despair by Sharon who refused to negotiate with Abbas, calling him a
“chick with no feathers.” The de-legitimization of Abbas and his moderate camp
empowered Hamas and the radicals and their narrative is victorious in the
region, not the legacy of negotiations and diplomacy but the “victory of
resistance,” the victory of terrorism.
More than 650 rockets were shot
from Gaza into Israel before the disengagement and the Hamas victory, even when
we were in control and the settlements and army were still there. We will
unfortunately probably continue to experience rockets from Gaza until we manage
to conclude a real peace agreement with the Palestinian people.
AND Abbas made great progress towards reaching an agreement. The Olmert offer
was never rejected by Abbas, counter to Israeli mythology.
negotiations did not continue after Olmert made his “last offer” (and refused to
allow Abbas to have the proposed map to study).
They did not meet again,
Olmert was indicted for corruption, and after continuous rocket fire from Gaza,
Israel launched Operation Cast Lead. After that, Abbas could not continue the
negotiations. Both men today believe that if they had had more time to negotiate
they would have reached an agreement.
When an agreement will be reached
in the future, it will include a Palestinian state in 22% of the land (including
Gaza). In Gaza it will be implemented only after there is a regime there that
accepts all aspects of the agreement.
If Israel wishes to annex some 5%
or more of the West Bank in order to accommodate some 80% of the settlers under
Israeli sovereignty, it will have to give up equal territory from Israel
Israel has consistently demanded and the Palestinians have
consistently agreed that Palestine will be demilitarized.
agreed to a continued Israeli military presence along the Jordan River and on
the peaks of the mountain ridge in designated military locations over a period
of time to be negotiated. The Palestinians have agreed to the presence of a
multi-national force in the West Bank, which could be led by NATO. They have
agreed to discuss possible Israeli participation in that force.
security aspects of the agreement must be ironclad.
demonstrated over the past years his determination to enforce a zero-tolerance
policy regarding terrorism under his authority. That is certainly one of the
lessons learned, as well.
Those agreements must be tested over time and
must be monitored by third parties, reporting on implementation and breaches.
Israeli withdrawals will be gradual over a number of years and implemented in
accordance with the continuation of security implementation. Violations must be
dealt with immediately in a way which is agreed on by the parties as part of the
agreement, not as an afterthought.
How do we ensure the Palestinian state
will not be taken over by fanatic Islamic groups? The best way to ensure
Palestinian moderation and support for peace has always been by ensuring that
the peace process turns into peace. There must be full implementation of
obligations under the agreements (unlike what happened to each of the five
agreements signed by the two sides).
There must also be real economic
benefits to peace, which there weren’t in Oslo, at least for the Palestinians;
Israel which profited tremendously, as did some Palestinian officials, who set
up systems of corruption which have not been entirely eliminated until
The battle against corruption in the Palestinian Authority must
continue and must be part and parcel of progress toward peace, which means that
Israeli officials and former officials engaged in shady deals with the
Palestinians should be brought to justice along with their corrupt counterparts
Confrontation of the governments’ responsibility for
fighting a “culture of hate” and fostering a “culture of peace”must be as
important as the delineation of borders.
Tzipi Livni and Abu Ala agreed
to establish a technical committee for this purpose.
They did not
succeed, as the whole Annapolis process failed. Dealing with incitement,
state-sponsored, religious- based, or as a part of culture, must be dealt with
effectively by governments for peace to be real. This includes confronting
textbooks and classroom environments.
It must be done on both
At the present time there is only one solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict which ensures the existence of a democratic Jewish
nation-state: two states for two peoples.
Any other proposal rejects the
idea of a democratic Jewish nation-state, either rejecting the Jewish
nationstate part or the democracy part. It also ensures the continuation of an
acute and often bloody conflict between the two peoples living between the River
and the Sea.
The denial of the national political rights of one of the
peoples living here will continue to prevent peace.
The writer is the
co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information,
a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the
initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad