Ted BelmanThe author is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.
I attended an all day conference in Tel Aviv on Monday entitled The Arab Peace Initiative (API) – Current Status, backed by the S Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Studies and highlighting the Israel Peace Initiative (IPI). As you can imagine there were a lot of leftists there.
The IPI supports “the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza on the basis of the ’67 lines and territorial swaps on a 1:1 basis in limited scope.” The state will be “demilitarized with strict security measures on its borders.” And of course, Jerusalem to be divided and refugees to return only to Palestinian state with symbolic and agreed exceptions”
There is little difference between their plan and that of the API.
The predominant message at the conference was that the API is a great opportunity for Israel and shouldn’t be missed. Most speakers lamented the fact that it has been ignored by the Israeli government. They were despondent that their views were out in, guess what, left field.
They waxed eloquent on the benefits to be derived from accepting the API and having normal business and diplomatic ties with all the Arab countries.
As for the Arab Spring, one speaker thought it was good for achieving regional peace.
No one worried that experience teaches us that we can’t trust Arab promises and commitments set out in any peace agreement.
No one mentioned how the Arabs are dedicated to destroying Israel and that Islam prohibits the establishment of a non-Islamic state in Islamic lands.
Some of the "memorable" quotes, “Israel must accept either occupation or peace”, “Israel is endangered morally but not militarily or existentially”, |”peace will reduce cost of security”, “if we do nothing, then we will become an apartheid state”, the “desire for political gains prevents acceptance of API”, “the right is delusional because they are ignoring Israel’s ongoing delegitimation”, “we don’t want to become a bi-national state”, etc.
As for the Arabs, they accuse Israel of not wanting peace and not being a partner for peace. Gee that’s what we say about the Mahmoud Abbas. As for the Arab Spring, one speaker thought it was good for achieving regional peace. Poor Abu Massen was pessimistic and so was one of the speakers who was the PA Minister of Prisoner’s Affairs. “Arabs want peace, Israelis don’t”, "Israel’s leaders are intransigent” he said.
Everyone in the US and the EU fell in love with Fayyadism. He had espoused building the economy and institutions first. But that was a dismal failure he said.
One professor talked about teaching his students the intricacies of the Khartoum Conference Resolution supporting the three “no’s”. He complained that they weren’t the slightest bit interested. To them it was irrelevant. Smart students.
But it must be said that the one thing notable about the API was that it offered recognition whereas this was rejected at Khartoum. That’s progress, I guess.
“Arab human nature has begun to change”, “Arabs are no longer afraid to speak out”. “This will serve Israel well”, they said.
Rabin once said “security is more important than peace”. One speaker then asked “what can be more important than ending the conflict”.
Col Adv Giad Sher, Co-Chairman of Blue White Future, thought Israel should draw a map and should agree that what is agreed should be implemented rather than the old formula “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. Then he said that if we can’t reach agreement we should unilaterally separate.
You will recall that Martin Sherman devastated this idea in The coming canard: ‘Constructive unilateralism’
I posed a “question”. The problem with the API is that it aims to replace UNSC Res 242 which is legally binding (which the API is not) and the basis of a negotiated peace. The API demands that 100 % of the territories be returned whereas Res 242 allows Israel the right to retain some of the land and to have defensible borders. I pointed out that Israel has already returned 90% of the territories and should be entitled to keep at least 10% of the remaining 10% which is only 1% of the original territories. I said if the API would be satisfied with 90% of what’s left then they would get the attention of the Israel government.
Dani Dayan was in the last panel and he let them have it. "We have been worshipping at the altar of the two-state solution for 20 years and gotten nowhere. Another 20 years won’t change that. This solution is like a mirage, It looks good in the distance but disappears when you approach it. And pursuing this solution religiously prevents us from pursuing other solutions."
Many in the audience were very vocal in their rejection of what he was saying and wouldn’t let him speak. Dayan said, “I am willing to leave the podium if you like.” That shut them up.
Dayan who quit his Yesha post to come out in support of Bibi in the last election, said he honestly doesn’t know if Bibi is sincere in accepting the two state solution and he thinks about it a lot. He stressed that “the settlements have created an irreversible reality”.
Not a message the left wants to hear.
The IPI announced the results of a new poll.
- 36% of Hebrew speaking Israelis not familiar with the API
- 56% of those who were accept it.
- If Bibi recommends the deal deal along the lines of the API, 69% would support it.
- Who do you prefer lead negotiations for a deal
Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the public wanst to end the conflict even on the terms of the API, especially if Bibi recommends it.
I don’t believe thes results for a minute. Many polls say otherwise.
The conference organizers said that rather than attack Bibi we should encourage him to make a deal.