The main thing to keep in in mind about the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby J Street is that it is a creature of the Obama Administration.
So what are we to make of the latest J Street initiative, which appears to call for the US to impose a map on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA)?
…whether direct talks resume or not, we believe the time has come for American efforts to shift from a heavy focus on getting the parties to decide whether to keep talking – to one that puts fundamental choices squarely before the parties about whether and how to end the conflict.
Therefore, we believe that it is time for the Obama Administration to adopt a “borders and security first” strategy that focuses on delineating a permanent border between Israel and a future state of Palestine, based on 100 percent of the land beyond the 1967 Green Line with one-to-one land swaps, as well as finalizing the necessary security arrangements for a two-state agreement. Such a strategy should be adopted with or without a 90-day extension of the limited moratorium on settlement construction.
Setting an agreed-upon border would both create positive momentum to address other final status issues and eliminate the issue of settlements as a barrier to continued negotiations, as Israel and the Palestinians would be able to build where they please within their established borders.
Let’s look at what they are asking for:
First, J Street is prepared to give up on the idea of direct talks, which means they realize (correctly) that there is no intersection between Israeli and Arab bottom lines, and that therefore the talks cannot succeed.
This is because the Arab leadership doesn’t accept the existence of any Jewish state, and so the only way to proceed is to keep (more or less) the status quo while helping the Arabs learn that they need new and different leaders. But of course neither J Street nor the administration gets this.
So they are suggesting that the border be delineated now. This is the important part of the proposal (I’ll get to the “security arrangements” later). Once a map has been drawn and somehow given legitimacy, then the argument that the 1949 lines are not borders goes away. One side is Israel, the other becomes Palestine. At this point there would be no obstacle to declaring the Arab state.
One would expect that the land swaps would be defined so as to keep some of the large settlement blocs in Israel. At best, perhaps a hundred thousand Jews would have to leave their homes in what would be ‘Palestine’. Of course, no Arabs will be forced to move, regardless of boundaries. After all, that would be racism [sarcasm alert].
Needless to say, this is a bad outcome for Israel, which loses control of the territory in return for basically nothing: no recognition of Israel as Jewish state, no renunciation of further claims or ‘right of return’, and no end of conflict. Consider also that only about 8,000 Israelis were evacuated from Gaza, and the social repercussions continue today. Multiply that by at least 12. And I haven’t even mentioned Jerusalem, the holy sites, etc.
Although they say that it will create “momentum to address other final status issues” it will do the opposite. Once Israel relinquishes control of the land, the Arabs have no reason to give up anything. What would it get them?
What about the “security arrangements?” Well, this is supposedly what Israel gets. Israel’s concerns about a Gaza-like terror state being established a couple of miles from its international airport can’t be denied. Unlike the Gaza strip, it would be an internationally recognized state which can make treaties and invite foreign armies, etc. So there has to be a way to guarantee Israel’s security, or at least to pretend to do so, once she has been forced to live within indefensible borders.
This is especially true because once the IDF leaves the territories, there will be nothing to prevent a takeover by Hamas (the ‘Palestinian security forces’ will not stand for a day).
So there will be some kind of guarantee, perhaps involving NATO peacekeepers or even Americans. But none of these will be prepared to die for Israel, and either they will be gone after the first large-scale terror attack against them, or they will be as ineffective as UNIFIL is in enforcing the arms blockade against Hizballah.
Understand that the concern for security is lip service. What is important is to create ‘Palestine’. That is the objective of the Obama Administration.
So the interesting question is “why is J Street floating this idea?” Are they announcing the administration’s intent? Or is it just a threat — this is what will happen if we don’t get a freeze?
My guess is that it is actually the position of the administration. The freeze seems to be a non-starter, with the PA refusing to accept it unless it explicitly mentions Jerusalem. Not to mention the fact that the Palestinians have no incentive to restart talks if the alternative — as J Street suggests — is an imposed map!
What I would like Israel to do is agree to the freeze on condition that the Arabs commit in advance that any agreement must include the following:
- Recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people
- Renunciation of all Arab claims against Israel, including for ‘right of return’
- Agreement that the treaty marks the end of the conflict
It seems to me that these principles represent the minimum requirements for a treaty that will actually be a peace agreement, and not simply the document of surrender that the Arabs have been demanding. Otherwise, talking about borders is premature.
The Arabs seem to have defined the problem as Israel’s possession of Arab land. Israel needs to take control of the story and bring it back to reality, which is that the problem is Arab aggression against the legitimate state of Israel.