Thursday, December 30, 2010
Unite on defensible borders
December 30, 2010
Over the past two years, there have been repeated pleas for our politicians to recognize the gravity of the global and domestic challenges facing us, suspend conventional party politics, and work in unison to advance the national interest.
In recent months, the situation has deteriorated, and we are now confronted by an avalanche of global hostility. Irrespective of the rights or wrongs, realpolitik has led to automatic condemnation and demonization. We are generally regarded as a rogue state, responsible for global instability, thus effectively assuming the role of Jews in the Middle Ages, who were blamed for all the woes of mankind. The UN and its appallingly misnamed offspring, the Human Rights Council, are poised to carry a new wave of resolutions condemning, demonizing and launching boycotts against us.
The Durban anti- Semitic hate fest will be reconvened next year. More importantly, there is a campaign supported by the majority of nations to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, taking no account of our legitimate security needs.
The Obama administration is aware that the American people support Israel and thus, in all probability, will veto the most hostile onesided resolutions at the UN Security Council. But we should be under no illusions. Despite the recent congressional elections, foreign policy is largely controlled by the White House, and there is no evidence of a change in Obama's ongoing determination to "engage" or appease the Islamic world, even if that means distancing the US from this country.
The greatest threat is the intensification of global initiatives in which our security needs are ignored and attempts made to force us to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, which were never regarded as borders. There is a real concern that in the not-too-distant future, while purporting to be acting in "an evenhanded manner," the Obama administration may itself move in that direction.
TODAY, THE vast majority of our leaders and people would willingly accept a two-state solution. Ironically, it is the Palestinian Authority, no less than Hamas, whose true objective remains the elimination of Jewish sovereignty rather than independence. And of course, we have the additional threat of a nuclear Iran committed to wiping us off the face of the earth.
No other state is challenged to justify its very existence, and surrounded by so much hatred. The security threats we face today are no less severe than those we confronted in 1948, 1967 and 1973.
During former times of national crisis, our leaders set aside partisan political aspirations and devoted themselves to working in concert in defense of their homeland. It may indeed be impossible to create a national unity government, but surely today's crisis is sufficiently acute for mainstream politicians to suspend their political differences and face up to their national responsibilities by displaying a willingness to show the world a consensus that the country must under no circumstances further compromise its key security interests.
There may indeed be differences over the determination of final borders and some settlements. But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beiteinu and Ehud Barak of Labor surely all recognize that it is crucial to retain defensible borders and the major settlement blocs. They surely also concur that prior to making further concessions, there must be a clear formula to ensure that a future Palestinian state will be demilitarized, and would not merely become a platform from which Iran can launch new attacks. There should be affirmation by all mainstream parties to stand firm on these issues.
Livni should follow the example of Netanyahu when he was leader of the opposition. When travelling abroad, he avoided publicly condemning government policy. During the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, he even provided his services to the government to promote the country's case to the global community.
The current situation is appalling. Instead of behaving responsibly, Livni continues to indulge in the most partisan political infighting.
When Netanyahu introduced the settlement freeze, she bitterly condemned him. Yet when he refused to extend the settlement freeze, she castigated him for undermining the US-Israel relationship. At the recent Saban Forum in the US, in the presence of PA representatives, she condemned her prime minister for lacking the will or desire to reach a peaceful accommodation.
From within the cabinet, both Lieberman and Barak criticize the policies of their own government to curry favor with voters.
Setting aside the merits of much of his argument, the outburst by Foreign Minister Lieberman publicly repudiating the policies of his prime minister made the government look like an unruly soccer team, and if repeated will bring about the downfall of the coalition.
US critics of Netanyahu try to rationalize the distancing of the Obama administration by alleging that the current coalition is right-wing and intransigent. However the reality is that, with only minor exceptions on the far Left and extreme Right, all MKs affiliated to the mainstream parties endorse a two-state solution, have no desire to rule over Arabs, and are willing to make territorial concessions - provided that basic security requirements are not compromised.
Furthermore, based on the political outlook of most Kadima members, aside from minor nuances, even a Kadima-led government would not deviate significantly from the current policies of the Likud, which enjoy the support of most Israelis. Livni should also be aware that her attacks on the government have not increased her popularity. To the contrary, the public is far more likely to reward the opposition if it exercised restraint and displayed bipartisanship on critical issues.
Despite American public support and the fact that President Barack Obama has taken a few steps backward, we face extraordinarily difficult days. The US need only stand aside and give a wink to the Europeans and others to proceed with an imposed solution, which would almost certainly deny us our basic security requirements and pave the way for our enemies to embark on renewed aggression.
There is a real threat by our adversaries to impose a "peace" upon us which would have chilling parallels to Munich and the "peace" imposed on Czechoslovakia. We should be clearly aware that the Europeans have been sending clear signals suggesting they would not be averse to repeating the same perfidious behavior.
If mainstream political leaders display solidarity on the core issues, in addition to neutralizing the campaigns against us, this would enable us to expose the intransigence of our impotent and duplicitous "peace partner." Furthermore, it would provide a dramatic morale booster, creating an atmosphere of optimism for the future and leading to a host of other beneficial consequences.
We are entitled to expect and demand that our political leaders suspend their differences and act in the national interest before it is too late.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post