Time for a new Israeli diplomatic initiative

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In a week or two, Israel will again be the focus of a well-dressed international lynch mob.



According to news reports, President Barack Obama intends to use the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprised of the US, the UN, Russia and the EU, as a tool to ratchet up Western condemnations of the Jewish state. The report is expected to include even more expansive assaults on Israel for refusing to deny Jews our civil rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.



It will likely ratchet up the false claims that have already been made to the effect that Jewish cities, towns, neighborhoods and homes beyond the 1949 armistice lines are illegal and a threat to world peace.



The Quartet statement will also brutalize Israel for lawfully destroying illegal construction projects undertaken by the EU in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The EU engages in illegal building in order to subvert Israel’s rule of and enfeeble the IDF.



Around the same time that Obama has scheduled his newest assault on Israel, France is expected to convene a so-called peace conference. The stated purpose of the conference is to restart the fraudulent peace process which the Palestinians killed nearly 16 years ago and have never agreed to resuscitate.



The novel aspect of the French conference, which neither Israeli nor Palestinian diplomats will attend, is that other than the misleading headlines referring to their pow wow as a peace conference, the French are making no effort to hide that the sole purpose of their initiative is to condemn Israel.



The purpose of the conference is to provide diplomatic cover for the French government to recognize a state called Palestine. When then French foreign minister Laurent Fabius announced the conference in January, he said that whether or not the conference leads to peace, France will recognize “Palestine.” And just to be clear, the “Palestine” France intends to recognize will be located in land controlled by Israel and to which Israel has a valid claim of sovereignty.



In the face of the approaching international onslaught, thought leaders and politicians on the Left insist that Israel must act. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, they argue, must participate in the Paris conference, and he must announce an initiative now to vacate Judea and Samaria, or to stop allowing Jews to exercise their legal right to build homes in the areas and in Jerusalem.



If Israel takes the initiative, the reasoning goes, then the international community will lay off of us. They will see that we are serious about wanting peace. They will stop believing that we are anti-peace. And they may even notice that the reason there isn’t any peace here is because the Palestinians reject Israel’s right to exist, not because Israel is oppressing them.



There are two basic problems with this approach.



First, it is wrong.



And second it is counterproductive.



Israel today is in the same position it has been in for at least 16 years, since Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yassir Arafat rejected statehood and peace and launched the largest terror war against Israel we had ever seen, under the flag of jihad.



Ever since Arafat walked away from the negotiating table at Camp David where then prime minister Ehud Barak offered him a state on half of Jerusalem, all of Gaza and 92 percent of Judea and Samaria, the position of the international community has been that Israel wasn’t sufficiently generous, not that the Palestinians reject peace.



In 2003, facing growing US pressure, then prime minister Ariel Sharon listened to the voices insisting that Israel would find itself isolated if he didn’t take the initiative.



As then president George W. Bush formed the Quartet and published the most anti-Israel diplomatic document ever to see the light of day in the form of the so-called Roadmap for Peace, Sharon took heed of the same voices that now insist that Netanyahu must preemptively cave to pressure.



Sharon announced that Israel was leaving Gaza and northern Samaria and that to this end, he would forcibly remove ten thousand law abiding citizens from their homes, farms and communities, vacate the international border between Gaza and Egypt and remove every IDF soldier from the areas.



Sharon and his advisers were sure that the international community would be impressed with his boldness. The striped pants diplomats in Brussels and Washington would finally admit that Israel wasn’t the problem, the Palestinians are.



They would finally lay off of us.



In the event, after spending a news cycle or two joining Sharon and his media flaks in demonizing the peaceful farmers of Gush Katif, the Western media and the leaders of the international community determined unanimously that in light of Israel’s radical initiative, unprecedented in the history of nations, Israel was still “occupying” Gaza.



It was the determination of the Americans, the French, the UN, the Russians, the EU and CNN, that Israel continues to bear legal responsibility for the lives of the Gazans. Israel continues to be responsible for feeding them, giving them free electricity, giving them free medical treatment, and protecting them from Hamas terrorists, which the people of Gaza overwhelmingly elected to rule them ten years ago.



In light of this experience, it is clear that the claims by the wise men of the Left that Netanyahu must follow in Sharon’s footsteps is utterly wrong and indeed, insane.



By offering up more of its land, all Israel will do is reinforce the false view that there is something legally or morally wrong with Israeli control over its capital city and historical heartland. And that’s the heart of the matter.



It isn’t that Israel cannot use diplomatic initiatives to improve its international position. It’s just that the Left’s view of diplomacy have things precisely backwards.



To strengthen its diplomatic position, Israel has to stop playing this sucker’s game. It has to stop playing the patsy.



The Left is right about one thing. Israel should announce a new diplomatic initiative. But its initiative should be acquisitive, rather than self-destructive. It should be based on actual rights, not on mythical wrongs.



To this end, Israel should announce that given the Palestinians’ rejection of the rationale of land-for-peace which stands at the root of the long defunct peace process, and given the absence of any Palestinian constituency that supports the two-state formula under which a Palestinian state will live at peace with the Jewish state, Israel no longer believes it is possible to effectively govern Judea and Samaria through a military government.



As a result, it is enacting a process of gradually applying Israeli law to the areas, to ensure their proper governance under Israel’s liberal legal code. The process will begin in areas not under the direct jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. That is, new initiative will first be implemented in the areas commonly known as Area C.



We can take for granted that such an act by Israel will be universally rejected and condemned by the international community. But at least it will change the narrative.



If Israel takes this initiative, for the first times since 1993, we will be able to stop granting legitimacy to Fatah, the terror group that runs the PA.



Last week, even Canada’s Federal Court recognized that Fatah is a terror group. And yet, so long as Israel continues to bow and scrape and justify its existence to the French, to the Obama administration, to the UN and the EU, the obvious fact that the Palestinians writ large are the obstacle to peace will remain largely hidden from view.



An Israeli initiative to assert its legal rights to Judea and Samaria is the only way to break the juggernaut of the international lynch mob. The time to act is now.


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.



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