MK Danny Danon 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset)
Talk of renewed negotiations with the Palestinian leadership has taken center
stage over the past few weeks, with US Secretary of State John Kerry adopting
Kissinger-like shuttle tactics in the hope of brokering an agreement on starting
talks between the two sides.
In defending her desperate attempt to bring
the Palestinians back to the table, our lead negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni, took offense at comments made by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who
dismissed any talk of a two-state solution at this juncture. Livni called on
Prime Minister Netanyahu not to allow “Danonism,” as she coined it, to run amok
in his government.
Similar comments made by Economy and Trade Minister
Naftali Bennett, who dismissed concessions to the Palestinians, were likewise
criticized by President Shimon Peres, who referred to Bennett as “a senior
minister, but not a senior policy maker.”
Do the views of Danon and
Bennett represent the extreme elements of the current government, as Livni and
Peres suggest, or are they simply voicing mainstream opinion? In 2009 I worked
with Likud head and then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu on that year’s
national election campaign. One of the main themes, which we repeated
incessantly, was that any territory abandoned by the IDF would be taken over by
Hamas and by extension, Iran. As Netanyahu pointed out, this is exactly what
came to pass in both Lebanon and in Gaza. Where Israel walked away, Iranian
proxies bent on Israel’s destruction filled the void, and war inevitably
followed in the form of the Second Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, and
Operation Pillar of Defense.
Politically speaking, Netanyahu’s focus on
security over pipe dreams has seen him twice elected prime minister during the
past four-and-a-half years. Meanwhile Livni’s dogmatic obsession with a peace
agreement has seen her fall from grace – from opposition leader at the head of a
party with 28 Knesset seats to overseeing a faction of just six in the current
More importantly, though, during that period, the
geopolitical developments in our region have clearly illustrated the folly of
the fixation on withdrawal. Our most powerful neighbor Egypt has fallen into the
hands of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, the forefathers of Hamas in
The Brotherhood’s political chief Mohamed Morsi has refused to meet
with Israeli leaders since being elected as president one year ago, further
strengthening the justifiable misgivings felt in Jerusalem over the changing of
guard to our south.
With Morsi's rule looking ever more tenuous, a future
of increasing Egyptian uncertainty appears almost certain.
In Gaza, the
IDF was forced into launching an operation last year after Hamas intensified its
attacks on innocent civilians in the south of the country. As Israel responded
to these hostilities, Hamas showcased its long-range arsenal to the world by
shooting dozens of missiles towards Tel Aviv and the center of
Only the impressive and much celebrated debut of the Iron Dome
prevented the situation from deteriorating much further.
Lebanon, Iran’s other high-profile proxy, Hezbollah, effectively initiated the
downfall of the Lebanese government and engineered a hostile takeover.
Syria, more than 100,000 people have been killed so far in a civil war which has
torn that country apart. Iran and Hezbollah have brazenly taken up arms in
defense of the oppressive and tenuous rule of the Assad regime, pitting
themselves against extremist Sunni elements with ties to al-Qaida. Israel has
been anxiously monitoring developments as the fighting inches ever closer, and
mortar and missile fire spills over our border with increasing
A byproduct of the turmoil in Syria is the speculation that
US troops are stationed on Jordanian soil to prop up the fragile Hashemite
regime, which is being threatened daily by radical elements both on its borders
In our wider geographic sphere, Iran continues to not only
actively promote terror and violence against Israel through its proxies, but
marches largely unabated towards nuclear armament. Iraq remains extremely
unstable with global extremists vying for influence and creating havoc in the
process. Meanwhile, the government in Yemen was overthrown in 2011, and the
country has become probably the most active hub of global
Given all that has transpired over the past several years on
our borders and beyond, are we better positioned to roll the dice with
territorial concessions to the Palestinians ala Tzipi Livni, or not? Do we live
in a more stable region than we did in 2009, which could successfully integrate
a new and likely fractious state? Or will we instead be creating another island
of instability, an additional base for radicals? Netanyahu’s words from 2009,
his warning that where the IDF leaves, Hamas and Iran will enter, ring truer
than ever today.
Albert Einstein famously posited that the definition of
insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results.
Repeating the mistakes of Lebanon and Gaza will not bring peace but rather
bloodshed. This is not ‘Danonism,’ it is simply realism.Ari Harow served
as bureau chief to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is currently president
of 3H Global.