“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we
created them.” – Albert Einstein
As September 20 – and the Palestinian
unilateral initiative (UDI) for UN endorsement of a state within the 1949
armistice lines – approaches, Israeli policymakers would do well to adopt this
perceptive dictum as a conceptual compass and an operational guideline in
formulating effective responses to the looming diplomatic offensive.
The “Palestinian Problem” was created – or at least elevated
to its present prominence – by Israel’s recognition of the Palestinians as a
legitimate national entity. It can only be resolved – or at least reduced to
future insignificance – by retracting that recognition.
This must be done
by sustained assault on the Palestinian narrative, its factual authenticity,
moral validity and political legitimacy, and aim at undermining the material,
intellectual and emotional underpinnings of the Palestinian case for
Of course, this is easier said than done. However, this
difficulty negates neither the necessity nor the urgency.
longer action is delayed, the more difficult it will become.Defiance,
Indeed, it seems that in the corridors of power in Jerusalem, the
lessons of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington have
not been well-construed.
No one present in the US capital last May, when
he confronted President Barack Obama and mesmerized the American political
establishment with his rhetorical brilliance, could fail to feel the waves of
admiration, identification and support he generated.
message this response conveyed was: Defiance is far more efficacious than
Assertive self-respect resonates far better than fawning
self-effacement.Resolve trumps retreat
It was a message further
underscored by the recent flotilla fiasco, which – in the face of Israeli
firmness – evaporated like the morning mists. (Wednesday’s rejection of US
demands to apologize to Turkey is, hopefully, a well-overdue sign of a new
understanding of this.) This, then, is the spirit in which Israel must approach
the UN vote. It must bring home that the decision to recognize unilateral
independence will not be cost-free; it is liable to entail significant penalties
for those who endorse it – or refuse to thwart it.Inflicting costs
first, most immediate measure is to make it clear to the Palestinians – and to
their UDI supporters – that if it is independence they demand, then independent
they will have to be.
Accordingly Israel must convey in unequivocal terms
that unless the Palestinians abandon their UDI effort, it will cease to provide
every service and all merchandise that it provides them today. In other words,
no water, no electricity, no fuel, no postal services, no communications, no
port facilities, no tax collection or remittances will be supplied by
Indeed, what possible claim could be invoked to coerce one
sovereign entity to provide for another allegedly sovereign entity – and an
overtly adversarial one at that? After all, when Israel declared its
independence, no Arab country rushed to help it develop and evolve.
the opposite: The Arab world imposed embargoes and boycotts on it – and on
anyone with the temerity to conduct commerce with it.
This message need
not be delivered in a provocative, confrontational public statement, but through
confidential diplomatic channels to all concerned parties.
notwithstanding, there should be no doubt as to Israel’s resolve to implement
its stated intent – or as to the repercussions of thereof: The Palestinians will
have to find alternative sources for their utility requirements and day-to-day
It must be underscored that this burden will fall to those nations
that endorsed the unilateral measure – should they care to shoulder such an
onerous and expensive responsibility. It may be surprising how rapidly
international appetite for UDI wanes if its sponsors realize that they will have
to bear the financial consequences of its creation.Ending the charade
credibly conveyed, this declaration will compel the Palestinians either to forgo
their UDI initiative with massive loss of face, or to launch a huge and
humiliating appeal for urgent international assistance, exposing their total
dependence on the very body from which they seek independence.
way, it will demonstrate the futility of the endeavor for Palestinian statehood,
which almost two decades after the Oslo accords and massive investment has not
produced anything but an untenable, divided entity crippled by corruption and
cronyism, with a dysfunctional polity, an illegitimate president, an unelected
prime minister, and a fragile economy that, with its minuscule private sector
and bloated public one, is unsustainable without massive foreign infusions of
funds and the largesse of its alleged “oppressor.”
However, to generate
the necessary credibility, the Israeli government must halt its complicity in
perpetuating the farce that led to the current predicament.
trying to cajole an unrepresentative Palestinian leadership – with promises of
ever-increasing pliancy – to re-engage in futile negotiations, it must declare
that all previous offers are off the table, all previous agreements null and
It must announce that since agreement on a “twostate solution” has
proved unattainable, Israel will seek alternatives – now unavoidably unilateral
– to ensure its security and survival as the democratic nation-state of the
Jewish people.Containing the consequences
Yes, there will be diplomatic
consequences from such radical departure from established diplomatic convention
– but none as grave as those of continuing capitulation.
In this regard,
Israel must refrain from concessionary gestures that might afford the Obama
administration any political gain or foreign policy victories. Indeed, it must
distance itself from it as far as the niceties of diplomatic protocol permit
–leaving it to stew in juices of its economic woes and flounder in the moronic
morass of misconceived actions and misguided inaction that masquerades as its
“policy” in the Mideast.
Instead, energies should be channeled into
generating as much domestic pressure on the White House as possible to convey
that a failure to veto the Palestinian UDI move will entail dire domestic
political ramifications – and a windfall for Obama’s rivals.
the White House will not order a Security Council veto because it is the morally
right thing to do, but because it is the politically expedient thing to do. It
should remember that the present acrimony is “small potatoes” compared to that
which prevailed during the 1975 US “reassessment” of ties with Israel, when
Gerald Ford brusquely suspended all aid and new arms deliveries to the Jewish
This policy was reversed not because of moralistic second thoughts
on the part of the administration; as Ambassador to the US Michael Oren has
observed, it was only when “confronted with opposition from both houses of
Congress [that] Ford rescinded his ‘reassessment.’” Israel – and Netanyahu –
have demonstrated considerable clout in Congress. With the 2012 elections
looming, this must be utilized to the utmost to make withholding a veto of the
UDI bid too daunting to contemplate.
Moreover, today Israel has an
additional card to play: the Evangelical Christians, who by some estimates total
close to a quarter of the US electorate, and sizable minorities in other
countries across the globe. They comprise a political asset of huge and hitherto
sorely under-utilized strategic potential.
The plight of Christians under
Islam today, and the massive erosion of Christian presence in Christ’s
birthplace, Bethlehem – under the Palestinian regime – make any policy to
deliver control of Jerusalem’s holy sites to Muslim rule, as is implicit in the
UDI initiative, a cause for alarm not only for Jews. It is also a prospect of
the utmost gravity for hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, many of
whom are among Israel’s most fervent supporters and are searching vainly for
some sign of direction from Israel of how to express that support.
time has come to mobilize this asset and translate the potential into practical
In the US, it would be extremely difficult for
anyone to win elected office against the united will of this
To date, such unity of will has been lacking. But what could
be a better banner around which to rally such unity of will than the unity of
the holy city? What more effective vehicle though which to bring political
pressure to bear? Come September
Israel is far from helpless in facing the
Palestinian UN initiative. Much can be done to defuse it. True, it requires
political will, moral resolve and the appropriate “anatomical appendages” on the
part of Israel’s leadership.
So the only question is, will it rise to the
occasion...or be found wanting?