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The Palestinian initiative to declare an independent state through United Nations authorization is a prescription for crisis, and opportunity. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, having set in motion a political campaign whose fate is hazardous, decided that diplomatic confrontation with Israel is a more effective method than political negotiations to advance Palestinian interests.
The Palestinians never really understood, and could never agree, why they should have to engage in protracted talks in order to get what they believe to be theirs by national right. That Israel should withdraw from all of the post-1967 territories was always an absolute tenet of conviction, and not just a policy demand. It was humiliating for the Palestinians to banter and barter for liberation and statehood, which Israel tenaciously blocked by military force and political resolve.
The present political course pursued by the Palestinian Authority leadership is symptomatic of an ingrained attitude of avoiding reality, while preferring drama and pathos in the global theatre. Arafat is gone but his artful legacy lives on. Those who thought Abbas and Fayyad had chosen institutional development and a responsible repertoire of politics will be disabused by the upcoming post-Arafatian antics at the UN General Assembly.
It is not the Israeli reality in Judea and Samaria which will come crashing down in late September, but rather the Palestinian myth. This is not because America will not favor or finance the statehood ‘leap of faith’, but essentially because Israeli withdrawal is not in the political cards. Withdraw to where?
It behooves those with map in hand to appreciate the claustrophobic pre-67 Israeli borders, the proximity of Kfar Saba to Kalkilya, the short distances from Shuafat to Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem, and the spread of Jewish settlements that entrench Israel’s presence in most of Judea and Samaria, and East Jerusalem.
The Israeli-Palestinian crisis of September will exacerbate the political deadlock and cause the situation on the ground to rapidly deteriorate into clashes and violence. The Oslo process since 1993, exuding enthusiasm and fanfare, Noble prizes and grand summitry, has been a failure. There is little trust on the popular level and even less political maneuverability for a resolution on the official level. Unbridgeable policy gaps have confounded agreement on the outstanding, unresolved, and permanent status issues – Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, and borders – without which peace cannot be consummated.
It is high-time to draw conclusions and change political course. Oslo is dead and the Palestinians are intent on burying it.
A paradigm shift requires an intellectual release from the mental tyranny of Oslo, in order to think ‘out of the box’. Israel will be the only state west of the river, the Jewish national entity the sole collective ideological enterprise, and the Israeli Army the singular military force assuring order and stability for all. There is no room for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, beyond the fact that one virtually was installed in the Gaza Strip in 2007.
The years since 1993 have demonstrated, what logic posited as common sense, that Israel’s safety demands a permanent military presence in the territories, to combat and contend with terrorism and assure that weapons’ smuggling and other pernicious security ills do not evolve from an Israeli pullback from the river. In our precarious political environment, with players ranging from Hizbullah and Iran to Al-Qaeda and Hamas, Israel’s military alertness and security preparedness are intertwined with maintaining the geographic resources in her possession today.
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