National unity and Israeli sovereignty

Understandably and regrettably, that is not shared by most Israeli-Arabs who consider themselves to be Palestinians.

Graffiti in Hebrew sprayed in Deir Istiya, 'over Judea and Samaria there will be a war.'  (photo credit: VILLAGE COUNCIL OF DEIR ISTIYA)
Graffiti in Hebrew sprayed in Deir Istiya, 'over Judea and Samaria there will be a war.'
National unity is critical for a national ethos, an authentic Zionist vision with a comprehensive agenda. National cohesion is essential for Israel’s future; it will strengthen the social and political bonds that are fundamental to our success and overcoming our enemies. It means a government “of, by and for” the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. That depends, primarily, on implementing Israeli sovereignty as an expression of our national identity, who we are, and our purpose, why we are here.
First and foremost, national unity depends on focusing on what unites us, our common aspirations and commitments: building and protecting Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. Understandably and regrettably, that is not shared by most Israeli-Arabs who consider themselves to be Palestinians. While Israelis celebrate Independence Day, the founding of the State of Israel, Arabs mourn that event as the Nakba, a catastrophe.
For Palestinian nationalists, that is an undeniable dilemma: accepting Israel’s existence and its sovereignty means denying the basic Palestinian narrative and hopes for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.” It means that the PLO and Hamas covenants that call for eliminating Israel are no longer relevant. It is a denial of their raison d’être.
Uprisings throughout the Arab and Muslim world led by Islamists such as Iran, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Muslim Brotherhood have exacerbated conflicts between Sunnis and Shi’ites, fomenting chaos and leading to the slaughter and displacement of Muslims, especially in Syria and Iraq. Palestinian nationalists understand that, ironically, without Israel’s presence, they too would be engulfed by these powerful forces.
Absent any possibility of resolving these conflicts and ending terrorism, the Israeli government needs to confront one of the most difficult issues: the fate of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, “the settlements,” “the occupation” and the “two-state” delusion. Since Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War, however, the government has been ambiguous and sometimes confusing.
RECOGNITION OF the “right of the Palestinian people” to a second or perhaps third Arab Palestinian state, after Jordan and Gaza, and opposition from the EU, the UN and others to Jews building beyond the armistice lines of 1949, has resulted in a fiercer Palestinian resistance to any accommodation and their refusal to enter peace negotiations and end the conflict. In addition, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic States call for Israel’s elimination.
If the purpose of ambiguity is to deflect Arab and Palestinian opposition at the UN, it is reckless folly; no one takes this ploy seriously. Palestinian leaders will not give up in the midst of a battle they believe they are winning. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trapped in a drama that leads nowhere, and further impedes Israel’s strategic and security interests.
If Netanyahu refuses to extend sovereignty to Area C in Judea and Samaria, home to over a half-million Jews, and defend the right of Jews to live there, then why suggest that it is a bargaining chip to support a “two-state solution” that has been rejected by Arabs and Palestinians? Why hasn’t the government accepted the Levy Report, an authoritative study written by the late High Court justice Edmund Levy, which supports Israel’s claims of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria?
Either one must accept the Arab and Palestinian view that Jews have no rights in Judea and Samaria, that Israel’s presence there is “illegitimate,” and that Israel must withdraw to the armistice lines of 1949; or, that Israel’s claim is legitimate, reasonable and justifiable. Ambiguity creates doubt and confusion.
Negotiations are relevant only when both sides want to resolve a dispute; it can’t work when one side sees the other’s existence as the problem. When negotiations are an alternative to war, they are useful. But when they only debilitate Israel, they prolong the conflict and promote violence.
Israeli negotiators cannot offer anything that Palestinians will accept, and Palestinians refuse to meet Israel’s minimal needs, especially for security. That stalemate, however, is still in Israel’s favor; and it is precisely this imbalance that the international community would like to change. The EU, for example, promotes a Palestinian state on the 1949 armistice lines. For Israel, that is a death warrant.
The presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, while seen as an “obstacle to peace,” is, ironically, the only protection for the peace, safety and security that now prevails there. Although not perfect, it is far better than any alternative. Refusing to recognize this fact of life has undermined Israel’s ability to defend itself and its reputation in the world.
Destroying Israel or abandoning Jewish communities in Area C to make way for another Palestinian state is not a “humanitarian” alternative; it leads to chaos and genocide. Israel’s national unity and its sovereignty, therefore, is a matter of our survival; it is an expression of our dignity and self-respect. That is and should be of concern to Jews and to the world.
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist in Israel.