Half a century after the victory in the Six-Day War, 40 years after its most important political benefit in the separate peace with Egypt, half a decade after the implosion of the Arab structures around it, Israel needs a different strategy vis-à-vis the Palestinian issue. Israel should have adopted such a strategy at the latest when the “Peace Process” predictably failed in Oslo, Camp David, and Annapolis. But it’s not too late to finally abandon the fantasy of peace with the Palestinian national movement and move to an admittedly less desirable yet much more realistic proposition of unilateral disengagement from the overwhelming majority of the West Bank. Three questions beg a detailed and responsible answer: Why isn’t peace a possibility? Is there a viable alternative? How would it work?
Why no peace?
Peace, in the sense of termination of conflict and end of claims, where both sides are free to pursue their own separate nation-building projects—an Arab state of Palestine and a Jewish state of Israel—has been consistently rejected by the Palestinian national movement. Manipulative or ignorant Arabs, Westerners, and Israelis who claim that the Palestinians have all but abandoned their insistence on the “right of return”—the destruction of the Jewish state by demographic means—can no longer successfully cheat mainstream Israelis. “Let me put it simply,” said President Abbas, in January 2014: “The right of return is a personal decision. What does this mean? That neither the Palestinian Authority, nor the state, nor the PLO, nor Abu-Mazen [Abbas], nor any Palestinian or Arab leader has the right to deprive someone of his right to return. … The choice is yours. You want to return? You will return. … Even a father cannot forgo his children’s right.”
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