Deep freeze now or Mideast meltdown later

(By Jeff Daube)
The freeze deal has failed, and negotiations have broken down. This could be a good thing.
A freeze is still very much in order for Israel, only not the Obama construction kind. Rather, an absolute halt to all negotiations, direct or indirect, on the runaway concessions train of the last 17 years.
And Israel must not for a moment contemplate resumption, despite the inevitable pressure barrage, until it completes a systematic reevaluation of its foreign policy and security needs. Think of it as the Israeli version of the United States'' NIE (National Intelligence Estimate). A National Israel Evaluation, if you will.
The realities are undeniable - albeit too grim or inconvenient for Israel''s leadership, it seems, which has yet to develop a coherent and visionary plan to address all of the big picture concerns.
The new holistic approach would examine the fundamental problems more broadly and deeply than ever before. I propose nine to start.
1. Uncertain outcomes and relationships.
The international reactions to the prejudicial Goldstone Report and incendiary Gaza flotilla, each time catching Israel unawares on the acceptability of defensive action, were tough reminders that we must factor in worst case, not just best case, scenarios.
Moreover, friendly nations can and often do turn ambivalent or openly hostile, as is the situation today with Iran and Turkey, once fairly dependable Israeli allies who have joined forces against it. The changing attitudes among US presidents alone should make Israel wary - from unfriendly Carter to friendlier Reagan and Bush II (1st term), to tepid Bush II (2nd term), and now aggressive Obama.
2. The long history of unreliable US commitments.
From one administration to the next, American presidents resort to diplomatic dementia when they decide guarantees made earlier no longer serve US interests.
Remember LBJ’s failure to implement in May 1967 the Eisenhower promise to keep the Straits of Tiran open to Israeli shipping? Or how about Nixon’s abrogation of his own pledge to get Egypt to remove anti-aircraft missiles from the Suez Canal, causing hundreds of additional Yom Kippur War casualties?
Count among the numerous other US betrayals Clinton''s Wye Agreement double cross regarding freedom for Jonathan Pollard, and Obama''s quashing of the Bush Letter so he could delegitimize Israel''s major settlement blocks.
3. An entire region in danger of erupting.
If Israel were to unilaterally withdraw tomorrow from all disputed territories, it would have little if any beneficial impact on anti-Israel antipathy throughout the Middle East, including the adamantly anti-normalization streets of peace partners Jordan and Egypt. Nor on the internecine conflicts across the Arab states, as Wikileaks has just confirmed.
On the contrary, Israeli strength - perceived and actual - is essential to maintain as it is the only regional stabilizing factor today against radical Islam, which is gaining ascendancy in the absence of effective international deterrence. As goes Israel, so goes the neighborhood.
4. Regional elements having a vested interest in fueling local conflict.
Autocracies must deflect domestic attention toward an external enemy such as Israel in order to maintain legitimacy at home, which is why they could never countenance a true peace agreement.
Iran and Syria not only threaten Israel directly with nightmarish weapons, but also provide the blood supply to Israel''s local adversaries who are their proxies, notably Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. At the same time, Al Qaeda and other interlopers in Gaza are radicalizing junior league radicals to serve their own interests. And then there are the other regional players - to varying degrees, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, the Sudan and Turkey - whose adverse roles are sometimes more subtle but never insignificant.
5. The probability of a failed Palestinian state.
Organic internal divisions, a jihadist insurgency, endemic corruption, total dependence on massive Western aid, glorification of terror and hate indoctrination - these plainly are not the building blocks for a viable, civil society and neighbor. And what about the destructive Hamastan elephant in the room?
Why are we rushing to introduce yet another unstable state into the Middle East, a vacuum sure to be filled by the region''s belligerents keen on sowing additional conflict?
6. The impossibility of demilitarization for any sovereign state.
PM Netanyahu''s proposal notwithstanding, it is folly to believe this could be enforced, even with international guarantees.
And we know what such guarantees are worth - from American-trained Palestinian forces training their guns on Israelis during the Second Intifada, to Hizbullah rearming for years on UNIFIL''s watch, to EU monitoring-personnel fleeing from the Kerem Shalom Gaza border crossing at the first sign of violence.
Denying a nation''s right of self-defense is a contravention of international law, in any case.
7. The myth of PA/Fatah moderation.
It is hard to conceive of the primary funder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as moderate, or the government that has been conducting a virtual lovefest for arch-terrorist Dalal al Mughrabi, naming events, city squares and summer camps after her.
Pronouncements at last year''s Fatah Congress and unabashed statements since by Palestinian leadership - Abbas, Fayyad, Qurei, Erekat, Zaki, Dahlan and Sha’ath - indicate that "armed struggle" is still in play. The latest news is no different with senior PLO official Rabbo and others threatening that all previous agreements requiring them to stop terror may now be canceled.
8. A Palestinian leadership and polity that still cling tenaciously to the 1974 Phased Plan.
Little is said in non-Arabic these days about the longstanding strategy devised by Yasser Arafat to eliminate Israel in stages by manipulating her into concession after concession.
From Hebron to Beit El and then “settlement” Jerusalem, from Arab autonomy in the Galilee to the hoped for eventual takeover of Haifa and Tel Aviv - each negotiated or de facto territorial withdrawal is hailed as a tactical victory en route to a “liberated and Arab Palestine."
Attempts by the Palestinians to garner endorsements for an unfettered, non-negotiated state, Fayyad''s game changer threatened for August 2011, also should be viewed through this prism.
9. An aimless peace process steadily veering away from its founding principles.                  
The gulf between Oslo understandings and ever changing expectations continues to widen. So wide, in fact, that all-but-certain Knesset candidate Yair Lapid thinks “the time has come to separate the question of establishing a Palestinian state from the question of peace.”
I am no fan of Oslo, hopelessly flawed yet sustained for the sake of maintaining process, but where are Oslo''s supporters on the matter of slippage from its original tenets, especially those based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338?
Neither sovereign statehood for the Palestinians nor a return to 1949 armistice lines were stipulated in previous agreements. On the other hand, negotiations as the sine qua non for resolving outstanding issues most definitely was. That is, real negotiations: not unilateralism by another name with talks subject to imposed preconditions, and not with an illegitimate partner, Abbas, whose term of office ended in January 2009.
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It is likely an exhaustive review of the facts would require a complete inversion of the "paradigms that have taken root here for 17 years," per DPM Moshe Ya''alon last spring. The Stabilization Plan put forth by Jerusalem Post editor Caroline Glick could be an appropriate starting point after that, but there is much else to explore between the binary of "two states" is good, status quo is evil.
First freeze, then deliberations, finally a reality-based master plan. Consequential steps must not be taken otherwise.
The risk of annihilation for Israel conjoined with regional conflagration should be evident by now.
Jeff Daube has been the director of the Israel office of the Zionist Organization of America since its inception and his aliya. Previously a pro-Israel advocate on Capitol Hill, Jeff makes the case for a strong and secure Israel on behalf of American citizens living in Israel and their families, friends, colleagues and supporters in the US.