Encountering peace: People of Israel – wake up!

I repeat Kerry’s exact words and believe in every single one of them: “A unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”

John Kerry (photo credit: REUTERS)
John Kerry
(photo credit: REUTERS)
John Kerry said the “A word” and was then forced to apologize.
I don’t have to apologize.
I repeat Kerry’s exact words and believe in every single one of them: “A unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”
If the two-state solution is dead, as it seems it might be, Israel will become a unitary state with two populations, one with privileges and political rights and the other living in Bantustans, surrounded, isolated from each other, with no real control over their lives, denied their political rights. If Israel does not end its occupation over the Palestinian people, sooner, not later, Israel will become a new form of apartheid.
No, not apartheid like South Africa was, but a new type of political discrimination, forced separation, with separate legal systems, separate roads and more. One society will be the masters and the other the servants. To a large extent this already describes the reality. We already have a unitary state reality, and it has existed for 46 years. With no real hope for political change that will bring about the end of the Israeli occupation over the Palestinian people, this can no longer be thought of as a temporary situation over disputed territories. With annexation or without it, Israel is and has been in full control over the territories for the past 46 years.
I want to be very clear: the failure of the most recent chapter in Israeli negotiations is the primary responsibility of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and not Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The failure is not about the refusal of Abbas to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. That is the trap that Netanyahu placed for Abbas to fall into. Abbas fell into the trap, stating that he will never recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He should have simply stated that this was not an issue that he would not answer.
The citizens of the State of Israel have to decide for themselves what is their state’s identity. Abbas’s responsibility is to say that he as the representative of the Palestinian people recognizes the State of Israel and its right to live in peace and security and that his goal in negotiations is to reach a comprehensive peace agreement which will bring about the end of the conflict and of all claims.
The people of Israel do not need or require the Palestinians to define Israel’s identity. This was a propaganda trick and trap of Netanyahu’s, who only wanted the negotiations to fail and to be able to blame Abbas for the failure.
Netanyahu has consistently refused to meet Abbas face to face.
He knows very well that in such a meeting he would be talking to a man who has constantly preached peace for his people and who has denounced terrorism and violence.
Abbas dismantled the infrastructure of Hamas terrorism in the West Bank and even today continues to fight against it in full cooperation with the Israeli security.
Even if the reconciliation process between the PLO and Hamas progresses, Abbas says that he and his government will continue to combat terrorism. Netanyahu has failed to issue one peace plan, one serious offer, a map that would put a border between the two states.
Netanyahu’s government, in fact no government of Israel, has ever officially supported the two-states solution. Never has there been a decision of a government of Israel setting the two-states solution as official policy.
I love Israel very much and I am proud to be an Israeli. These words I am writing pain me very much.
There is no solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict except for two states for two peoples. There is no acceptable two-state solution that will end the conflict that does not allow the Palestinians to have their state, without Israeli control, domination and occupation on 22 percent of the land between the River and the Sea. There is no solution to that conflict that does not have two capitals in Jerusalem in one open (physically) undivided city. There is no chance of peace without allowing the Palestinian refugees to determine their future in the framework of agreements that will include return to Palestine (their state) and some limited, symbolic, agreed-to return to Israel proper (and a lot of additional options of other countries willing to accept them).
The really sad news for Israel is that in the end the Palestinians will win and Israel will lose. I have no doubt about that. With all of the just claims that Israel can make for its existence and legitimacy, there are no just claims that it can make for denying the Palestinian people their basic political rights.
The justice of Palestinian freedom and liberation far outweigh any claims that Israel can make for continuing the occupation.
That is why Israel will lose and the Palestinians will win. We cannot even justify to ourselves why we deny the Palestinian people their freedom. Their cause is just and if we weren’t their enemy, with Jewish values in our hearts and our inclination as a people to fight for justice we would be supporting them wholeheartedly in their just cause.
But we are their enemy so we create answers and justifications for our unjust behavior: they aren’t a people, the occupation isn’t an occupation, settlements are not illegal – it is not illegal to build on our ancient homeland, they have autonomy, they control themselves, only 2% of them live in area “C”, etc., etc. No one serious seriously buys our excuses any more.
Netanyahu continues to confiscate their land, he continues to arrest and imprison them every single day, he continues to demolish homes, to destroy water wells, to control their economy, to threaten them with withholding their taxes which belong to them. Netanyahu has destroyed any chance of peace.
Netanyahu is leading Israel to pariah state status. Israel cannot win at this and Israel will not win at this.
Peace is possible, there is a partner for real peace on the other side. Netanyahu is right when he says that Abbas is not a partner to continue negotiations for the sake of negotiations. No, he is not a partner to agree to live without the same basic political rights that Israel demands for itself. It is time to say no to false negotiations – talking for the purpose of talking, that chapter has ended. That is what Netanyahu wants, but that is no longer possible. Now it the time to face reality, time to look into the mirror.
People of Israel – wake up! The author is co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew and The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas from The Toby Press.