lieberman solemn 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
It seems the controversies and pain in Palestinian- Israeli relations never end.
It’s enough to make people even more despondent about the possibility of peace
and turn toward extremism, not as a solution but rather as a means of either
defending one’s sense of being right or to justify the
Israel is in that position today in part because it allows
the conflict to worsen. There’s no real progress.
Little by little,
though, Israel is becoming isolated in the world. And worse, more and more
Americans are starting to recognize that it is as much a part of the problem as
So what can Israelis do? Well, they can turn to people
like Avigdor Lieberman, a politician often shrugged off as representing far
right-wing extremism. But he’s not just any politician. He is the foreign
minister, though far from the stature of a man like Abba Eban, the former South
African-born statesman who became Israel’s most eloquent spokesperson. And
Lieberman is also deputy prime minister under Binyamin Netanyahu. As wild as
they are, his ideas cannot just be brushed aside.
Last week, Lieberman,
unveiled his blueprint for peace in an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post. He chose
this Englishlanguage publication as a clear sign he is trying to speak to the
American public – and a clearer sign that he realizes that attitudes toward
Israel are changing fast, with which I agree.
The failure of the peace
process is falling on Israel’s shoulders. Netanyahu won’t fully freeze
settlement expansion, continues to insist that Jerusalem cannot be shared, and
uses disturbing policies meant to restrict non-Jewish life there.
face of these policies, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been
left with little choice but to reject negotiations, including the ridiculous
process of negotiations at a distance called proximity talks. Lieberman, with
the backing of some of the Israeli public, represents a frightening future for
those who believe two states and compromise are possible.
Lieberman blueprint, instead of swapping land for peace, Israel would draw new
borders, kind of trying to redo the 1947 UN partition plan which divided
Mandatory Palestine into two criss-crossing states whose borders were based
mainly on where most of the Jewish population was located. Lieberman’s idea is
basically a repeat of the idea that some suggest caused the problem in the first
Lieberman also says he wants most if not all of Israel’s Arab
citizens to be drawn out of Israel so that the “Jewish state” can really be all
Jewish. Israelis fear that the non-Jewish population might one day exceed the
Jewish population and while the fear is exaggerated, Lieberman’s idea falls
right into the hands of the Palestinian extremists who are calling for the
creation of one state in which Jews, Christians and Muslims – well, basically
Israelis and Palestinians, since there are so few Christian Palestinians left –
would simply come together and live in peace.
THINGS MUST really be bad
for Lieberman to take his ideas into the English forum. Yet this will only serve
to push more and more Americans to recognize that the conflict is not being
resolved and Israelis and the Palestinians are headed toward an even more
cataclysmic future, one that Americans will probably have to pay
There is a choice, though. Israelis could push their government to
do the right thing. Instead of Lieberman’s blueprint, Israelis could
proposals Ehud Barak supposedly offered during the failed
talks with Yasser Arafat. The “best offer” was far from great and all it
was just a little more creative compassion to work. Share Jerusalem.
importantly, Israelis could overcome the obstacle that made Barak’s
impossible for Arafat to accept by recognizing and addressing fairly the
of the Palestinian refugees.
But that option is missing one ingredient. A
leader with courage. Someone like, well, the late Egyptian president
Sadat. In 1977, Sadat did something so dramatic that he singlehandedly
the dynamics of the Middle East conflict.
Is there a Sadat in Israel
today? Or are leaders like Netanyahu and Lieberman all Israel has to
courageous leader must surface, someone who can do the unthinkable to
Israel and make peace a reality.
A new era of cooperation could eliminate
all of the conflict and one day we all may look back at today and wonder
this insanity all came to be.The writer is an award- winning
and Chicago radio talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com