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      Op-Ed: Obama and Kerry Demand a Map, Not a Freeze

      Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:01 PM
      Israelis do not want a bi-national state. Nor do they want to give things away now and cry later.


      Shmuel Rosner in the New York Times, under the title “Please – Draw me a state” wrote

      “The core issue right now is, how do we get sovereignty for the Palestinian people and how do we assure security for the Israeli people?” That is to say, settlements no longer rank high on his agenda because “if we solve those two problems, the settlement problem will be solved.”

      In the past Obama has mooted this idea by saying if you first agree on borders then you agree where settlements can be built.

      Rosner argued that

      "Basically, he replaced the contentious issue of settlements with an even more contentious matter: boundaries."

      As Obama explained in both Ramallah and Jerusalem, drawing the future border of a Palestinian state — “real borders that have to be drawn” — is the crux of the matter. Indeed. Jerusalem had good reasons to object to a settlement freeze — including for making the Palestinians less likely to compromise — but it also knew that any freeze would be, or could be, temporary and reversible. Drawing a border between a state and a would-be state is a far more significant step, and potentially far more permanent.

      "If settlements are about claiming disputed territory, delineating borders is about giving it up, which is a considerably more sensitive move."

      Today we read that Israel has agreed to impose a de facto freeze on construction on all the settlements save for the settlement blocs. Isn’t that like drawing a map. Where we build will presumably remain in Israel and where we don’t will be given up. But it is not as bad as presenting a map.

      David Newman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University in Borderline Views: The Obama and Kerry map, comments on the matter.

      "Since [Oslo], there have been numerous attempts at map-drawing. Various versions of borders have been proposed at countless “track II” discussions, by geographers, cartographers and diplomats. Government ministers, each of whom has had aspirations of being the ultimate “peace maker,” have proposed new contours for the future borders of a two-state solution. In reality, they are not vastly different from each other.

      "They all use the Green Line as a base from which they try to deviate so as to incorporate as many of the settlements as possible, especially those in relative proximity to the Green Line. During the past decade, some of these cartographic scenarios have also included the proposal for land swaps, with Israel annexing settlement areas inside the West Bank, in return for which the Palestinians would receive land inside Israel which is unsettled and, in this way, maintain the same proportions of land for Israel and the West bank which existed prior to 1967."

      But, he says, since that time the settler population has doubled.

      He errs in claiming that,

      "The construction of the Separation/Security Barrier/Wall/Fence has been the only attempt to actually implement a border on the ground and although it can be removed far more quickly than it was ever established, its course indicates the political thinking of Israeli leaders during the past decade concerning the ultimate route of a border.First and foremost the fence location was to protect Israel from suicide bombers and was stated to not be a border to satisfy the Supreme Court."

      He comments in detail on the position of Min. Naftali Bennett,

      "It is no surprise that the new Economy and Trade minister, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, has suggested that the separation barrier should ultimately be removed and that Palestinians should eventually be allowed back into the Israeli workforce. This is, in his worldview, the only way to prevent the two-state solution, to which he is totally opposed, from eventually becoming a reality. For Bennett and the new right-wing coalition government, any talk of borders has to cease. In their view Israel has to return to a situation in which the entire territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is a single entity, never to be divided."

      The crux of the problem as he sees it, is that,

      "The far Right (continued occupation) and the radical Left (a binational state) share the same basic criteria – namely, that we should not be drawing borders and that we should be relating to the entire territory as a single political and administrative unit. Despite the geographic similarities however, the contrasting sets of power relations are clear for all.

      "Under a Bennett solution, there would be first- and second-class citizens and the state would retain its formal Jewish status, while under the binational scenario, all would be equal and there would no longer be a State of Israel defined by its Jewish identity.

      "What Bennett and his supporters on the Right constantly fail to realize is that, by the abolition of borders, and the continued construction of settlements throughout the West Bank, they are the people who, more than any others, are bringing about the one-state scenario and the end to the Jewish state."

      I beg to differ.

      He comes to his conclusion because the ’67 lines plus swaps would necessitate the evacuation “of tens if not hundreds of thousand settlers” and that is “simply not going to happen”.

      No Israeli government has the ability to implement such a scenario in the face of the massive opposition it will entail. There will always be settlements on the wrong side of the border, even those borders which have been drawn to include the major settlement blocs close to the Green Line.

      According to his thinking,

      "But the ultimate removal of borders will eventually bring about one of two equally unacceptable scenarios for most Israelis – either apartheid and institutionalized discrimination or a binational state."

      Again, I beg to differ.

      Israel would ensure equal civil rights to all should the land be annexed and thus in no way would it be an apartheid state. The “institutionalized discrimination” refers to what flows from Israel being defined as a Jewish state as proposed in the Jewish Nations Bill. Such an outcome would be totally acceptable to most Israelis. All Arab states are Islamic states and many European states are Christian states as provided it their constitutions. Israel could pass a basic law making the state a Jewish state. Nothing wrong with that.

      Furthermore, annexing all the land would put an end to the alleged right of return. The so-called refugees would have to be resettled as all refugees are. Dividing the land would open up the possibility that a million Arab “refugees” would be settled in the new State of Palestine. This would greatly destabilized Palestine and Israel.

      What most Israelis are against is giving the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, citizenship. It is for this reason that Bennett is only proposing, at this time, annexing Area C with its 60,000 or so, Arabs. Thereafter negotiations would commence on the refinement of their present autonomy in Areas A and B augmented by some of Area C. During negotiations Israel could financially induce Arabs to emigrate. These negotiations could go on for decades.

      What a huge majority of Jews are against is a binational state.