The next century requires a restart

For nearly 100 years, we have been told that the right path for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is through diplomatic negotiations and Israeli concessions.

June 12, 2019 20:33
4 minute read.
YITZHAK RABIN, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres in the movie ‘The Oslo Diaries,’ about the attempt to

YITZHAK RABIN, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres in the movie ‘The Oslo Diaries,’ about the attempt to bring peace to the Middle East through the Oslo Accords during the 1990s.. (photo credit: SAAR YAACOV)

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is “to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If we will apply this to the attempts to promote various political and peace processes in the region, then perhaps we’ll need to have many people committed to mental hospitals for insanity.

For nearly 100 years, we have been told that the right path for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is through diplomatic negotiations and Israeli concessions, with the aim of giving them parts of the Land of Israel or a state in Judea and Samaria.

It was the Palestinians who systematically violated the agreements and caused rivers of blood to flow from the beginning of Zionism to the establishment of the State of Israel. From 1948 until 1967, they lived under Jordanian control and not under Israeli “occupation.” But this did not prevent them from establishing a murderous terrorist organization – the PLO – whose aim was to completely destroy the State of Israel. The Six Day War began after three neighboring Arab states rose up to destroy the Jewish state.

The Oslo Accords were stopped because of serious disturbances by the Palestinian Authority, while the weapons given to the Palestinian police were directed at IDF soldiers. The summit meetings between then-prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert with the leaders of the Palestinian Authority in 2000 and in 2008 also failed because of their delusional demand to allow more than 100,000 Arabs to cross into the State of Israel as if they were “refugees.”

In recent years, when Israel wanted to return to the negotiating table, the talks were halted in light of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s demand to release murderers who were holders of Israeli ID cards. Israel even froze all construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months, as a gesture of goodwill, and Abbas still held on to his refusal to sit down and try to reach understandings.

A PEACE AGREEMENT is a convergence of common interests, when each side realizes that this is the best point in time when it can achieve its maximum desires. For years, everyone has tried to make peace between Israel and the PA on the basis of political or national interests. Time after time, it blew up in our faces.

There is only one conclusion: there is no chance today of integrating such interests. The minimum that the Palestinians demand to receive is not close to the maximum that Israeli governments can give. Therefore, any move to solve the national-political issue will fail – again and again.

Anyone who wants to succeed in bringing peace to the region is obligated to do a “restart” and create a different kind of thinking, which includes other interests. The proper way is to put economic and civilian development at the top of the priority list, and to move the political issues to the bottom, if anywhere.

There are areas of cooperation today based on the interests of economic development, education, transportation, tourism, quality of life and a comfortable environment for the two populations in the region. At the same time, intensive work is required to develop road, electricity and water infrastructure, something that has not been done here for many years.

Already today, the Israeli presence in the region helps raise the quality of life for both populations. The best example of this is labor relations, which drastically reduce the unemployment rate among Arabs in the region and enable them to make a respectable living.

The figures speak for themselves: in Judea and Samaria, the unemployment rate among Arab residents is 18%, while in the Gaza Strip, the estimation is 52% unemployment. The main reason for this is the employment capacity of Israeli industry, including agriculture, which is made possible by the IDF’s military and intelligence supremacy in the region.

This is the challenging task for the coming years: creating a quality of life together with civilian security for the residents, which will calm the area and keep extremist elements away. Globalization has taught us that not everything depends on territory and country, and that quality of life with individual rights is not measured solely by one’s national and geographic identity. In an unprecedented manner, globalization opens up a variety of possibilities for quality of life and personal development for the private individual. We see it taking place every day.

True, there will be many opponents who will cry out, attack and perhaps even turn to terrorism. But these will be the cries of the collapse of the old generation, which is returning to its failed ways – to those acting via the path of insanity, according to Einstein’s definition.

We believe in the right of the State of Israel’s sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. We are native to the region and our historical connection here is stronger than any other narrative. This right gives us authority, but it also gives us responsibility to care for the future of the region and for all who live here.

The task today is to deepen our roots here and strengthen the Israeli presence – along with a different type of thinking that will bring a better future for all of the people of Israel and the world.
The writer is director-general of the Yesha Council.

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