Within the context of what appears to be an international consensus to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – through the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza to live in peace side-by-side with the state of Israel – one could be puzzled to witness the Israeli leadership efforts to stop international recognition of such Palestinian state at the United Nations and other International fora. In theory, the establishment of a Palestinian state on any part of Palestine should mean final recognition by the Palestinian leadership of the lawful existence of the state of Israel on the other parts of Palestine. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect that Israeli leaders would seize any such opportunity and run to the United Nations with the Palestinian leaders for the recognition of a Palestinian state.
Unfortunately for peace lovers, this logical deduction does not take into consideration the nature of the state of Israel, neglects the Zionist ideal, and totally ignores the self-image in which the current Israeli leadership perceives itself. This perspective might also include some wishful thinking mixed with hope for peace.
However, a closer attention to the facts reveals a different picture. Current Israeli leaders do not see themselves only as protectors of earlier Israeli leaders’ achievements. They believe in the Zionist ideal and consider themselves, in addition to protecting earlier achievements, to be pioneers in the Zionist project of establishing the state of Israel as Jewish and democratic. For the state of Israel to be both Jewish and democratic, it must have a solid Jewish majority with demographic structure that cannot be altered with the passage of time. Therefore, no matter how one looks at it, the goal of establishing a Jewish and democratic state requires the ethnic cleansing – voluntary or involuntary – of most of the non-Jewish population within the territories of the state. This is the truth of the Zionist experiment in Palestine, to which the current Israeli leadership remains faithful.
Earlier Israeli leaders’ achievement can be summarized in solidifying international recognition of the state of Israel over approximately 78% of the total territory of Palestine; i.e. the territory inside the Green Line, known as the 1949 armistice line and sometimes referred to as the June 4, 1967 borders. In addition to the 78% of Palestine, current Israeli leaders see most of the West Bank as part of their state, and they see all of Jerusalem (East and West) as their state’s eternal united capital. Furthermore, they see the presence of Palestinians in what they consider to be the territories of their state as the greatest existential threat to the state of Israel. There are many reasons given for their claims over additional territories in the West Bank, including without limitation water and other natural resources and security considerations.
The only Palestinian state/states that the current Israeli leaders would be willing to recognize and live with is a fractured state/states that would include Gaza and some scattered, fragmented, and disconnected population centres in the West Bank. Such state(s) would be established with so many military and economic restrictions that would guarantee its/their total dependence on – and vulnerability to – the state of Israel in every facet of life in perpetuity. Anything else is seen by the current Israeli leadership as an existential threat to the state of Israel with which they cannot live.
The Zionist ideal is clear. It calls for the land of Palestine to be under Jewish sovereignty and the Palestinians (including most of the more than 1.5 million Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship) must be encouraged or forced to leave by all means necessary. That is the bitter reality of the situation that explains the actions taken by Israeli leaders whose commitment to the Zionist ideal is total.
The state of Israel is not ready for peace because the Zionist project has not been completed. Until Israeli leaders believe that the Zionist project is fulfilled, one would expect those Israeli leaders to talk more and more about peace and peace processes for public consumption purposes, and to prepare a lot more for war and conflict for purposes of self-protection and realization of the Zionist ideal. Any other reading of the actions by the current Israeli leaders is naïve, wishful thinking, and/or representative of an uninformed perspective.
The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, is attempting to deal with this reality within its limited capacities and capabilities in a world environment that seems unable to stop the Zionist movement due to the unconditional support provided to it by European countries and the United States of America. It would be presumptuous to assume that the Palestinian leadership is not aware of the facts as they are. A more reasonable reading would suggest that the Palestinian leadership is attempting – within the enormous restrictions imposed on it – to uncover the truth and make it available to the international community through its diplomatic efforts at the United Nations and elsewhere.
Hope is the stuff from which life is made!