Encountering Peace: The clock is ticking

If there will be no Palestinian state, there will eventually no longer be a legitimate democratic Jewish state either.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a peacemaker in Israel. The achievements of the Palestinian Authority of the past years in reestablishing law and order, deploying US-trained forces throughout the West Bank, and security cooperation with Israel in combating terrorism have all been erased from the public awareness and discourse in an instant following the horrific terrorist attack against the Fogel family in Itamar.
Once again we hear in the media and from our leaders and politicians that there is no Palestinian partner for peace. Despite the fact that President Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Palestinian daily papers all condemned the attack, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said this “was not good enough.”
Incitement against all Palestinians, as if each one of them killed the Fogel children and parents, is the tone in the public sphere. Those of us who work for Israeli- Palestinian peace are personally attacked in the media, on Facebook and in emails as if our hands held the knife. The “Left” in general is being accused of encouraging Palestinian terrorism. The hate language against those of us who support peace is rising to a dangerous level. On my Facebook page I am told “Kahane was right.”
Meir Kahane once told me directly that “after we take care of the Arabs, we will take care of you too!” After the murders in Itamar, the government requested a report on the “Palestinian incitement index.” The main findings were that Palestinians name public squares and buildings after terrorists. The government ministers, interviewed about what they heard, also said the PA engages in incitement in its state-controlled media and mosques. None of the ministers provided any specific examples. In fact, none of them probably know that sermons are completely controlled by the PA, and that incitement against Israel is prohibited.
None of them probably know that Palestinian daily papers have several pages translated from the Hebrew press, but the Israeli public has no real firsthand knowledge about anything to do with Palestinians other than the myths and lies fostered by our politicians from the Right, and by settlers who seek to delegitimize the Palestinian national struggle. The ignorance is bewildering, and enables the belief that the Palestinian support of a boycott against settlement products is incitement. Minister of Science Daniel Herschkowitz said on Reshet Bet radio that the Palestinians incite against Israel because they “don’t have a single positive word to say.”
Let’s get real. Palestinian history is a narrative in which Israel is/was the enemy which has stolen their land, turned them into refugees, denied them their freedom and prevented the creation of a Palestinian state on only 22 percent of Palestine. Palestinians are denied dignity by Israel; even the Palestinian Authority is subjugated to Israeli authority.
Abbas and Fayyad cannot move freely within the West Bank; all their movements must be “coordinated” with the IDF. Palestinians have control over less than 40% of the West Bank, while Israel and the settlements control more than 60%, and the settlements are expanding all the time. The government announced after the Itamar murders that it decided to build more homes for Jews.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the “price tag” should be 1,000 Jewish homes for every murdered Jew. How could any Israeli expect Palestinians to have “positive words” about Israel? Israel does not want peace. It is becoming increasingly clear that our leaders are not willing to make the concessions necessary to end the conflict with the Palestinians. It is “politically correct” to speak about a two-state solution, but acting on it is a different matter. So instead, our leaders offer proposals to which they know there is not a Palestinian on the planet who would agree, such as another long-term interim agreement. Oslo was supposed to be a five-year interim agreement. The evidence provided in the Palestine papers leaked on Al Jazeera demonstrates how far the Palestinians are willing to go to make peace. There is a Palestinian partner; there doesn’t seem to be an Israeli partner.
THE ITAMAR tragedy has let loose a new barrage of hatred against Palestinians – not against the murderers, but against the Palestinian people. The continuing refusal of the Israeli public to recognize that it is our own government which is not a partner for peace may soon become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Palestinian willingness to agree to a mini- Palestinian state on 22% of the land will soon disappear. The winds of change are blowing around the world.
The lack of recognition of a Palestinian state next to Israel while Palestine is being recognized by most countries is creating dissonance between what should be politically inevitable but seems next to impossible.
Israel is in danger of delegitimizing its own existence by denying freedom to the Palestinians. This is not acceptable. I condemn, unconditionally, along with all Israelis and Palestinians, the terror attack in Itamar. We must also recognize that Itamar houses some of the most fanatic settlers, and must be removed, because it does not wish to live in peace with the Palestinians. The way to remove it is through political conviction and action. If Itamar and other settlements like it remain, there will be no Palestinian state.
If there will be no Palestinian state, there will eventually no longer be a legitimate Jewish democratic State of Israel either.
The writer is co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (www.ipcri.org) and is now in the process of founding the Center for Israeli Progress (http://israeli-progress.org).