The virtue of doing nothing

By Vic Rosenthal

Do we need a peace plan?

We keep hearing about the importance of solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, of the need to come up with a plan for a two-state solution that will provide security for Israelis and nationhood for Palestinians, or even (possibly a bit disingenuously) one for a change in the nature of the state of Israel so that there could be one big state in which Jews and Arabs could live together democratically and happily.

Unfortunately, no such workable plan is available, or likely to be in the near future. There are not enough Palestinians who want the former enough to overcome the enormous difficulties that would stand in the way of making a viable state out of the tiny, poor West Bank and Gaza strip. Hamas – the most powerful political force among them – doesn’t even pay lip service to the idea. Even if the unpopular Mahmoud Abbas were to honestly be in favor of it, his Fatah constituency is not. It would be hard enough if the Palestinians wanted it, but they don’t. The one-state plan? It’s as believable as the Arbeit Macht Frei sign.

So what to do? I suggest that we do nothing.

We are not going to get a secure peace out of complexities like the Byzantine Livni plan, with its provisional borders, states that aren’t states, and political horizons, whatever they are. I suggest that Israel simply face the fact that the present mood of the Palestinians, plus the pressure being exerted from such directions as Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, is such that the large-scale “peace process” should be put on hold. In the meantime, negotiations with the Palestinians should concentrate on solving small problems as much as possible while maintaining Israel’s security. The fact is that the “peace process” so far has only had the effect of encouraging the Palestinians in their belief that a combination of diplomacy and military pressure would ultimately reverse the nakba of 1948. This is Arafat’s legacy, and what has to change before any two-state plan can work.

Possibly, if Israel survives long enough, such a policy will encourage the growth of a leadership among the Palestinians that truly does desire a state alongside of Israel. Unfortunately various forces in the region, including Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Syria and Iran appear to be well along in their preparations for yet another war of attempted annihilation against Israel. Part of the strategy for Israel has to be to win a resounding victory in this coming conflict, to prove yet again that it is not going to be dislodged by force.

In my opinion the top priorities for Israel must be military preparedness as well as internal issues, such as finding a way to provide for the aspirations of the Israeli Arab minority that will not compromise the Jewish nature of the state. This in itself is a massively difficult problem which nevertheless has to be solved.

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