Guest Columnist: Correcting the mistakes of the past
The Islamic republic of Hamas in Gaza is in fact a Palestinian state with a democratically elected government.
By DAVID HA’IVRI
One of the greatest problems of the State of Israel is the fact that our leadership has never determined in advance what the policy should be on any important issue. Everything is up for discussion and we therefore find our society constantly debating the most basic things. Key issues like national borders, Jewish identity and expectations from minorities never seem to be out of the scope of public debate. Our own uncertainty breeds confusion for our friends and neighbors, both here and abroad.The borders of the State of Israel have never been determined by our leadership based on an understanding of our national interests.Rather, the borders came about by chance, as a result of wars forced upon us by the Arab countries who banded together in an effort to annihilate us in 1948 and then again in 1967.The de facto borders are the result of the territory lost by the Arabs in those wars.The so-called pre-1967 borders had no resemblance to the suggested UN partition plan of 1947, a plan that was rejected by all Arab countries and – ironically – embraced by the Jewish leadership. At the time, they were happy just to be acknowledged in any way, and to receive any part of our historic homeland.Arab residents of areas that were captured by the IDF in that first war in 1948 were granted full Israeli citizenship. They have since been granted all benefits awarded to Jewish Israelis and are expected to fulfill some civil obligations, but not all. They are exempt from military or national service, but benefit from university scholarships and representation in the Knesset. They enjoy the full extent of Israel’s democratic nature, and some take advantage of this in an extreme way when they use their freedom of speech to defame the very state that grants them those freedoms and rights.The areas captured in 1967 were never officially annexed. The Arab residents were not incorporated as citizens. Rather, their municipal services are provided by the civil administration, a subdivision of the government. Acting schizophrenically, Israel refrained from annexing the area captured from Jordan, while it invested major resources in developing and settling Jews in communities built throughout the region.AdvertisementSince the 1977 Camp David accords, the Israeli leadership has been debating different forms of autonomy to be granted to the Arab population in areas captured in 1967. This debate has evolved into the presently popular concept of a “two-state” solution. At the basis of the theory of the two-state solution is the establishment of a new Arab country called Palestine, which would be located on the territory captured from Egypt and Jordan.THIS CONCEPT was tested when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and it failed terribly.All Jewish communities, homes and businesses were destroyed and the Jewish residents were displaced. The local Palestinian population elected its own government through democratic elections. Hamas won those elections and have been firing rockets into Israel’s cities ever since. Not only has this development been a disaster in terms of the relations between Israel and the Arab population of Gaza (many of whom worked for Israeli employers before the change of government), but also for the local Arab population whose standard of living has deteriorated dramatically as a result.The Islamic republic of Hamas in Gaza in is fact a Palestinian state with a democratically elected government, which has cut off all ties with the “moderate” PA leadership under Mahmoud Abbas. The proposal to establish a second Palestinian state in the “West Bank” clearly ignores the factual results of the establishment of the first one in Gaza. Abbas is well aware of the strength of Hamas in the West Bank and that is the reason why he canceled municipal elections that were supposed to be held last July. It is obvious that a pullout from the West Bank and the establishment of a second state west of the Jordan River would mean the development of a hostile Islamic country alongside Israel. The new country would have the advantage of the mountain ridge overlooking all of the highly populated central region from Gedera to Hadera, Tel Aviv and Ben- Gurion Airport, and the ability to launch rockets toward these cities, whose fate would be like the fate of Sderot and Ashkelon.THESE FACTS are known, yet they still do not answer the recurring question: What about the Palestinians? Don’t they deserve a state of their own? And if not, then Israel must offer them full citizenship and voting rights. Wouldn’t this threaten its Jewish character? Here is my response: Is that so? Where are all of the spokespeople of democracy and civil rights when it comes to all other countries in the Middle East? Do Jews, Palestinians or women, for that matter, have rights in any of Israel’s neighboring countries or in the Palestinian Authority? Has anyone bothered to suggest international sanctions or even send a flotilla to protect the oppressed Coptic Christians in Egypt or the Kurds in Turkey or to save women for “honor killings” by family members throughout the Muslim world? Israel was founded and formed to be a Jewish state. For the moment, let’s put aside the historical and biblical rights of the Jewish people to this land. The League of Nations, which gave international consent to the British Balfour Declaration, is the same international body which established four other new countries in the area after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Those countries are Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and they are all far behind Israel (West Bank included) in offering democracy and civil rights.The failure of the proposed two-state solution must bring brave leadership to come forward with a wise alternative that will bring stability and peace to the region.We only need one state – Israel, which will include all territories currently under its control, while ensuring the rights of all individuals, regardless of race, religion, color or sex as long they are loyal. This will be a state with the necessary laws in place to protect its continued Jewish character for future generations.That is a value which has priority above and beyond the wisdom of mimicking American-style Western multicultural democracy, which grants a vote to every man regardless of his nationality.With this policy in place, many non-Jewish Arab Israelis on both sides of the 1967 Green Line would choose to live in Israel as loyal citizens enjoying benefits not offered in surrounding Arab countries, even at the cost of not having full democratic political rights. This is what is needed to determine the national character of the country.The writer is the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. He lives with his wife and their eight children in Kfar Tapuah.